Bible scholar Bart Ehrman says that the Gospels are at odds with each other on important points regarding the life, death and divinity of Jesus. In his new book, Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don’t Know About Them) Ehrman examines how these contradictions affect our understanding of the historical Jesus — and of the authors of the Gospels. Ehrman is a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the author of more than a dozen books, including Misquoting Jesus and God’s Problem.
JOHN POWERS: Near the end of E.L. Doctorow’s novel The Book of Daniel, its alienated young hero goes to Disneyland. Walking through the park, he points out that much of Disney’s work is derived from dark, subversive writers like Lewis Carroll, Mark Twain and the Brothers Grimm — but that his movies and rides erase all the darkness and subversion; Disney turns their stories into sentimental lies. I thought about this when I picked up Geoffrey Brock’s brisk new translation of Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio. Although the story of the puppet-boy is part of our modern mythology, like Peter Pan or The Wizard of Oz, I soon realized that I didn’t have a clue what was in the 1881 original. Everything I knew about Pinocchio had come from the 1939 Disney cartoon that I saw as a kid and still love today.
Now, the rudiments of Collodi’s tale are similar to what most of us remember from the movie. Pinocchio is a puppet, fashioned in the workshop of the craftsman Gepetto, who has adventures that turn him into a real boy. Along the way, he gets suckered by a scheming fox and cat, goes to a seductive toy land where boys are turned into donkeys and gets swallowed by an enormous fish. When Pinocchio lies, his nose grows. Yet for all these familiar things, Collodi’s book is, from the beginning, a very different — and much wilder — experience. Gepetto isn’t a kindly old man — he’s hot-tempered and grindingly poor. There is a talking cricket, but it’s not named Jiminy, doesn’t wear a top hat, and gets squished by Pinocchio 12 pages in when it tries to give him advice. This lack of sentimentality runs through the book, whose sense of reality reflects the harshness of life in Collodi’s Tuscany. This is a place driven by hunger, brutality, greed and social injustice. MORE
Astrophysicist NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON is Director of the Hayden Planetarium and the Rose Center of Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Tyson has long been in the center of a dispute between scientists and the public over Pluto’s planet credentials. In 2006 The International Astronomical Union (IAU) officially demoted Pluto to “dwarf planet” status. Tyson’s new book, “The Pluto Files: the Rise and Fall of America’s Favorite Planet” is a minihistory of planets, and tells the story of how Pluto was downgraded after holding the post of most popular planet. Listen to the mp3
NEAL BASCOMB, author of “The Perfect Mile” and “Red Mutiny” tells the story of the manhunt of Nazi war criminal Adolph Eichmann. His new book is “Hunting Eichmann: How a Ban of Survivors and a Young Spy Agency Chased Down the World’s Most Notorious Nazi.” Listen to the mp3
The collapse of the banking system explained, in just 59 minutes. Our crack economics team—the guys who explained the mortgage crisis, Alex Blumberg and NPR’s Adam Davidson—are back to help all of us understand the news. For instance, when we talk about an insolvent bank, what does it actually mean, and why are we giving hundreds of billions of dollars to rich bankers who screwed up their own businesses? Also, two guys go to New Jersey to look at a toxic asset.
Global superstar Tom Jones is “opening up shop” once more with the release of 24 Hours, his first U.S. album release in more than 15 years. The exuberant performer first rose to fame in the early 1960s, but it was his hit single “It’s Not Unusual” in 1965 that made him a living legend. Jones’ clean-cut style, infectious blues and energetic pop tunes have helped him sustain a long career that continues unabated. With 24 Hours, perhaps his most intimate album to date, Jones opted to get more involved in the songwriting process. The result is a highly personal collection, including a soul-baring track written for his wife of more than 50 years, Linda. The album also features a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “The Hitter” and a collaboration with Bono. The genre-crossing crooner talks with host David Dye about how the vintage sound of new music by Amy Winehouse and Duffy inspired him to recapture the essence of his ’60s-era work. He’ll also share some priceless memories of encounters with Elvis Presley and Otis Redding.
TOM JONES: Delilah