• <b>Bonhams Skinner, Jan. 23 – Feb. 2:</b> [Black Sun Press] Proust, Marcel, 47 Unpublished Letters from Marcel Proust to Walter Berry, Paris: The Black Sun Press, 1930. $400 to $600.
    <b>Bonhams Skinner, Jan. 23 – Feb. 2:</b> Williams, William Carlos (1883-1963), <i>Spring and All,</i> first edition, Paris: Contact Publishing Co., 1923. $400 to $600.
    <b>Bonhams Skinner, Jan. 23 – Feb. 2:</b> Washington, George (1732-1799), Autograph Letter Signed. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams Skinner, Jan. 23 – Feb. 2:</b> Poe, Edgar Allan (1809-1849), Autograph Letter Signed. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams Skinner, Jan. 23 – Feb. 2:</b> Thoreau, Henry David (1817-1862), Autograph Manuscript. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Bonhams Skinner, Jan. 23 – Feb. 2:</b> [Paris Commnue], Photograph album. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Bonhams Skinner, Jan. 23 – Feb. 2:</b> Fleming, Ian (1908-1964), <i>Casino Royale,</i> first edition, London: Jonathan Cape, 1953. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Bonhams Skinner, Jan. 23 – Feb. 2:</b> Audubon, John James and the Rev. John Bachman, <i>The Quadrupeds of North America,</i> New York: V.G. Audubon, 1849, 1851, 1854. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Bonhams Skinner, Jan. 23 – Feb. 2:</b> Lewis, C.S. (1898-1963), <i>The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,</i> first edition, London: Geoffrey Bles Ltd, 1952. $600 to $800.
    <b>Bonhams Skinner, Jan. 23 – Feb. 2:</b> [Bhagavad Gita] Wilkins, Charles, trans., <i>The Bhagvat-Geeta, or Dialogues of Kreeshna and Arjoon…,</i> first edition, London: Printed for C. Nourse, 1785. $700 to $1,000.
    <b>Bonhams Skinner, Jan. 23 – Feb. 2:</b> Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, <i>Faust: Eine Tragodie von Goethe,</i> Hammersmith: Printed by T.J. Cobden-Sanderson & Emery Walker at the Doves Press, 1906-1910. $800 to $1,200.
  • <b><center>University Archives<br>Rare Manuscripts, Books & Sports Memorabilia<br>February 1, 2023</b>
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> Thomas Paine ALS Confirming Christmas Eve Attack Likely Based on Anti-Christianity, “The account you heard of a man firing into my house is true.” $24,000 to $35,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> George Washington Gives a Horse and Guns to His Loyal Guard 10 Days Before Resigning as Commander-in-Chief. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> John Hancock ALS, “General Howe is bent on coming here” - Troops, Martha Washington, & 1777 Continental Congress, to Wife Dolly! $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b><center>University Archives<br>Rare Manuscripts, Books & Sports Memorabilia<br>February 1, 2023</b>
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> Abraham Lincoln Boldly and Fully Signs Appointment of Consul Who Would Facilitate Bond Sales in Europe Financing Civil War. $6,000 to $7,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> The Rarest of Dual Signed Kennedy Items! 1963 Christmas Card with "Blessed Christmas" Removed at the Last Minute for Kennedy's Jewish Friends. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> George Gershwin Signed Contract for 1st Production of <i>Porgy and Bess,</i> Also Signed by Dubose Heyward & Ira Gershwin, Historic! $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b><center>University Archives<br>Rare Manuscripts, Books & Sports Memorabilia<br>February 1, 2023</b>
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> Einstein Signed, “Two years after the fall of the German Goyim” 1st Ed. of <i>Mein Weltbild.</i> $12,000 to $14,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> Walt Disney <i>Fantasia</i>-Era Boldly Signed TLS Re: "Special Effects Department," PSA Certified Authentic & With Phil Sears COA. $6,000 to $7,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> 1996-97 Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls Home Game-Worn Jersey Showcasing "Light" Evident Use, MEARS A5. $6,000 to $7,000.
    <b><center>University Archives<br>Rare Manuscripts, Books & Sports Memorabilia<br>February 1, 2023</b>
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> Wayne Gretzky’s 1994 All-Star Used Game Jersey, Inscribed to Former MLB Player! $4,500 to $5,500.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> <i>The Astronauts</i> Signed by All 7 Mercury Astronauts! $4,000 to $5,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> Fabulous Edison, Firestone, Burroughs Signed Journal With 44 Original Photos, Very Rare. $4,000 to $5,000.
  • <b>Il Ponte, Jan. 31:</b> BLAEU, Joannes and Martinus MARTINI - <i>Theatrum orbis terrarum, sive Novus Atlas. Pars sexta. Novus Altas Sinensis.</i> Amsterdam: Blaeu, 1655. €8.000 to €12.000.
    <b>Il Ponte, Jan. 31:</b> ORTELIUS, Abraham - <i>Theatrum orbis terrarum.. Nomenclator ptolemaicus.</i> Antwerp: Christopher Plantin, 1579. €10.000 to €15.000.
    <b>Il Ponte, Jan. 31:</b> PIRANESI, Giovanni Battista - <i>Carceri d'invenzione.</i> [Rome: G.B. Piranesi, second half of the 18th century]. €20.000 to €30.000.
  • <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - November - 2019 Issue

An Atheist History of Jesus Christ, Cursed are the meek...

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In 1770, the atheist Philosopher Paul Henri Thiry, baron d’Holbach (1723-1789), revisited the history of Jesus Christ in his book Histoire critique de la vie de Jésus-Christ/A Critical History Of Jesus-Christ. Casting the light of reason over the New Testament, he challenged its infallibility, trying to free mankind from the devilish hold of the Church of Rome.

 

Remember! The Earth was, according to the holy and infallible Bible, only 5,748 years old, and the multitude lived their lives according to the rules set by the priests. Should someone point out a contradiction or inconsistency in the Book, they were told that God moves in mysterious ways. “In the name of these mysteries are we told to respect religion and those who teach it,” Holbach writes in Histoire Critique de Jésus-Christ. “Consequently, we may assume that the obscurity they contain was placed there on purpose.” He was one of those French Philosophers of the 18th century who considered that the Church had kept people in ignorance to maintain its earthly power—and decided to put an end to it.

 

Voltaire spearheaded this anticlerical movement, but he did it with—humour—some sort of restraint. Underlining some obvious mistakes in the Bible (the discovery of the New World was the first blow to its infallibility) made obvious by the progress of science, he concluded: “This is not a problem should we consider that God sent the Bible to make better Christians out of us—and not better geographers.” Voltaire fought against the Church, but not against religion, “the holy link of society.” His Epistle to Uranie (1732), which is reproduced at the opening of Holbach’s book, ends up on the lines: “He (God) judges us on our virtues, not on our sacrifices”—in both cases, He judges us. Voltaire was a deist— Holbach was an atheist: “Everything in (the Bible) is but disorder, obscurity, and barbarity of style—as if purposely trying to disconcert the ignorant, and disgust the learnt.” He doesn’t question the miracles of Jesus only, but the New Testament on a whole: “Four ignorant and illiterate men are the supposed authors of the theses memoirs (...). Nothing of all this has ever happened! The Gospels tell an Oriental tale that will disgust men of good sense. It was meant for ignorant and stupid people—the rabble; they are the only ones they can lure.” Cursed are the meek.

 

Fiat lux!

Holbach’s book “miraculously” came out: no date (circa 1770) and no author’s name—an immaculate conception, and a wise precaution. It has since been credited to Holbach by Barbier (Dictionnaire des ouvrages anonymes—Paris, 1874; tome 2, p647), and although condemned by censorship, it was reprinted in 1778 (fake address in Amsterdam). Holbach calling himself “an incredulous,” was “no victim of holy blindness.” Thus he went on the mountaintop and here is what his eyes beheld!

 

One day, the Archangel Gabriel came to Mary. Actually, it was most likely “a lover, who, making profit of Joseph’s absence, found a way to declare and satisfy his passion.” Joseph, her husband, flew into a rage upon finding out she had cheated on him, and probably threatened her with reprisals. She was thus forced to fly to Egypt with “his putative child”. There, the young Jesus learnt “a bit of medicine and a few things about spasmodic diseases of women—enough for the vulgar to see him as a sorcerer or a miracle maker.”

 

Did he learn a few tricks as well? Holbach suspects so. After 30 idle years, Jesus decided to preach, and turned to his cousin John, who was already baptizing people on the bank of the Jordan River. He went to “confer with him—or, if you want, to get baptized”, and they shared the roles. When John was arrested, “the Messiah*, fearing that his predecessor’s problems might get to him (...) went to hide in the desert, where he remained for 40 days.” Through a series of dubious miracles—“miracles cost Jesus nothing when they were planned beforehand, but he never made any improvised one, nor in the presence of people he considered as too clever.”—, Jesus soon gathered a “large crowd of lazy people” who suffered from “very convenient stupidity.” From the donations he required from his new disciples, he sometimes unexpectedly fed the multitude that was starving (the miracle of the loaves); other times, benefiting from circumstances, he gave the impression of walking on water.

 

Jesus met with what Holbach calls a legitimate resistance from the Jews, as he was openly challenging their laws and traditions. Furthermore, he was a “vindictive and turbulent man”; rejected by the Jews, he turned to the Gentiles. But he was losing ground. “At the end of his mission, the crowd doesn’t follow Jesus (...) In last resort, he tried to attract the Publicans, and the clerks, who were highly despised; they were but a weak support, and their company cost Jesus the sympathy of his last supporters.” He then decided to bring back Lazarus to life. But this miracle was one too many—Lazarus and Jesus were long-time friends and “the Jews felt so much malice that, far from converting, they seized the occasion to take serious measures against Jesus.” The messiah then went to Jerusalem on a donkey, “out of humility or because he had no choice”, to preach. His last attempt at rallying the Jews was a failure. “Our hero often loses his mind; his character is a mix of boldness and pusillanimity. Accustomed to shine in front of the vulgar, he didn’t know how to behave in front of vigilant and learnt enemies.” He was betrayed, arrested and the rest is... history? “I remain convinced,” Holbach concludes, “that this man may have been a fanatic, who genuinely thought he was inspired and sent by God to lead his nation—in a word, a messiah; and that he didn’t mind, in order to succeed, using the most efficient frauds to convince a people that would have never listened to him hadn’t it been for miracles.”

  

A modern reader left a comment on a platform about the recent reprint of this book: “Useless,” he wrote. “Our modern biblical scholars have found so much more relevant things in-between!” But you shall not judge a book by its contents only—the date it was published is of high importance! When the Earth was not even 6,000, it was quite courageous and bold to write such a reasonable book. Furthermore, there’s something exciting about Holbach’s vision of Jesus, especially from our modern point of view. Was Jesus an ordinary yet extremely intelligent man carried away by heavenly visions, passionately feeling the presence of God within? Did Christianity spring from built-up miracles and pious stupidity? Maybe, but at the end of the day, does it really matter? Could reason ever prevail in Man’s life? Man was created unreasonable, and he will always lend a keen ear to the good ole snake. Of course, France has overtaken religion, and chased it away from the core of its institutions. But in certain places where the Church still influences hundreds of thousands of lives, the question of the infallibility of the Bible remains—in this regard, Holbach’s book seems to be a reasonable enough read.

 

* Holbach objects: Jesus couldn’t be from the Tribe of David as required from the messiah if John’s mother, Elizabeth, was Mary’s relative. Indeed, Elizabeth was married to a priest (as the Bible reads), meaning she was, like her entire family (including Mary then Jesus), from the tribe of Levy.

 

- Histoire critique de Jésus-Christ, ou Analyse raisonnée des Evangiles (no place, no date—1770). Title page / Epistle (III to VIII) / Preface (XXXII pages) / 398 pages / 2 pages.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 8):</b> Lot 817. Bellin's complete five-volume maritime atlas with 581 maps & plates (1764). $24,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 8):</b> Lot 325. An early and important map of the Republic of Texas (1837). $11,000 to $14,000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 8):</b> Lot 45. De Bry's early map of North Pole depicting Willem Barentsz' expedition (1601). $3,500 to $4,250.
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 8):</b> Lot 154. Poignant map of the United States documenting lynchings (1931). $250 to $325.
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 8):</b> Lot 457. Extremely rare matching set of pro-German propaganda from WWI (1914). $2,000 to $2,400.
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 8):</b> Lot 815. Homann's world atlas featuring 110 maps in contemporary color (1751). $14,000 to $16,000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 8):</b> Lot 60. Miniature pocket globe based on Herman Moll (1785). $3,500 to $4,500.
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 8):</b> Lot 8. Visscher's rare carte-a-figures world map (1652). $14,000 to $16,000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 8):</b> Lot 158. Matching satirical maps of the US by McCandlish: "Ration Map" & "Bootlegger's Map" (1944). $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 8):</b> Lot 820. One of the finest English atlases of the early 19th century (1808). $4,750 to $6,000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 8):</b> Lot 59. Important milestone in preparation for 1969 moon landing (1963). $750 to $900.
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 8):</b> Lot 805. Superb bible leaf with image of crucifixion of Jesus with gilt highlights (1518). $800 to $950.
  • <center><b>Potter & Potter Auctions<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts,<br>including Americana<br>February 16, 2023</b>
    <b>Potter & Potter, Feb. 16:</b> [KELMSCOTT PRESS]. CHAUCER, Geoffrey. <i>The Works…now newly imprinted.</i> Edited by F.S. Ellis. Hammersmith: Kelmscott Press, 1896. $100,000 to $125,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Feb. 16:</b> [EINSTEIN, Albert (1879–1955)]. –– ORLIK, Emil (1870–1932), artist. Lithograph signed (“Albert Einstein”). N.p., 1928. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Feb. 16:</b> TOLKIEN, John Ronald Reuel. <i>[The Lord of the Rings trilogy:] The Fellowship of the Ring.</i> 1954. –– <i>The Two Towers.</i> 1954. –– <i>The Return of the King.</i> 1955. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Feb. 16:</b> CLEMENS, Samuel Langhorne ("Mark Twain") and Charles Dudley WARNER. <i>The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today.</i> Hartford and Chicago, 1873. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Feb. 16:</b> LOVECRAFT, Howard Phillips. <i>Beyond the Wall of Sleep.</i> Collected by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei. Sauk City, WI: Arkham House, 1943. $2,000 to $3,000.
  • <b><center>Swann Auction Galleries<br>View Our Record Breaking Results</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> Gideon Welles, <i>Extensive archive of personal and family papers of Lincoln’s Secretary of the Navy,</i> 1791-1914. Sold September 29 — $281,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Charles Addams, <i>Rock Climbers,</i> cartoon for <i>The New Yorker,</i> watercolor, ink and gouache, 1954. Sold December 15 — $37,500.
    <b>Swann:</b> Charlotte Brontë, <i>Jane Eyre. An Autobiography. Edited by Currer Bell,</i> three volumes, first edition, 1847. Sold June 16, 2022 — $23,750.
    <b>Swann:</b> Geoffrey Chaucer, <i>The Workes of Geffray Chaucer Newlye Printed,</i> London, 1542. Sold October 13 — $106,250.
    <b><center>Swann Auction Galleries<br>View Our Record Breaking Results</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> Dorothea Lange, <i>Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California (Destitute pea pickers in California. Mother of seven children. Age 32),</i> silver print, 1936. Sold October 20 — $305,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> George Washington, Autograph Document Signed, with two manuscript plat maps in holograph, 1751. Sold October 27 — $37,500.
    <b>Swann:</b> Winfred Rembert, <i>Winfred Rembert and Class of 1959,</i> dye on carved & tooled leather, 1999. Sold October 6 — $233,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> M.C. Escher, <i>Relativity,</i> lithograph, 1953. Sold November 3 — $81,250.
  • <b><center>Sotheby’s<br>Original Film Posters<br>27 January - 10 February 2023</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27-Feb. 10:</b> Vertigo (1958), poster, US. The ultimate poster on this classic Hitchcock title, one of three known examples. £40,000 to £60,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27-Feb. 10:</b> Lawrence of Arabia (1962), roadshow poster, US. £8,000 to £12,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27-Feb. 10:</b> Star Wars (1977), style C poster, printer's proof, US. £7,000 to £10,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27-Feb. 10:</b> The Navigator/ La Croisiere du Navigator (1924), re-release poster (1931), French. £5,000 to £8,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27-Feb. 10:</b> Bullitt (1968), special test poster, US. £3,000 to £5,000.

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