A Freethinker in Palestine1
Theosophist, December, 1882
Of Mr. Bennett’s abilities as a writer we have already had occasion to speak; so that we need only say that his present volume is in his characteristically quaint, strong, aggressive, and not over-polished style. We have Bhopa Raja’s word for it that “all commentators are perverters of the meaning of their authors”; so, bearing that in mind, we shall not risk a hard-earned reputation for fairness by going into any very extended notice of a work which is at once interesting and instructive beyond almost any upon Palestine that we have read. Critics too often criticize books without taking the trouble to read them, but we have read this one of Mr. Bennett’s from the first word to the last. He went to Palestine with two distinct ideas to carry out, viz., to see the country, and to tell the truth about it. To do the latter without fear or favour, to expose exaggerations of the old fairy stories about its ancient inhabitants, their rulers and the momentous events located there, required no little solid pluck; and our author’s sincerity and moral courage will not be doubted by anyone who follows his narrative and ponders his suggestive criticisms. The ideas of the pettiness of this so over-lauded land, in olden times as well as now, and the impossibility of many things having happened there that we are asked to believe in, force themselves continually upon the mind. It is a missionary book in the strictest sense of being calculated to do missionary work—against Christianity. Freethinkers, then, will prize it as highly as the great mass of Christians will hate it and loathe its author.
1. The Book of the Chronicles of the Pilgrims in the Land of Yahweh. By D. M. Bennett (N. Y., 1882).