Paul R.Finch’s controversial The Passover Papers: Controversy, Myth, Fairy Tales, and Nonsense is likely to either dazzle you or offend you depending on your beliefs and perhaps even your religion.
Today, Norm Goldman, Publisher & Editor of bookpleasures.com, is pleased to have as our guest, Paul R. Finch, author of The Passover Papers: Controversy, Myth, Fairy Tales, and Nonsense.
I definitely have a set plan. Make no mistake, this book wasn’t written just to be an interesting Bible Study, but strikes out at false doctrine that we cannot ignore. It must be recognized that religious deception is a phenomenon that is so insidious and detrimental to sound biblical teaching, that this book had to written, either by myself, or by someone concerned with the importance of this highly explosive subject. I feel that my perspective is unique and that no one else could have properly handled the specific issues that are poignant to the overall subject.
did you feel compelled to write this book and why do you think this
is an important book at this time?
The Passover Papers deals with a lot of biblical issues revolving around the controversy of the correct timing of the observance of the Passover delineated in the Hebrew Scriptures. However, this is just not a simple Bible Study, but has actually some very significant issues that touch upon Jewish and Jewish Christian doctrine that makes this a highly sensitive and emotionally charged study.
During the 1960’ and 1970’s I was a member of the World Wide Church of God. That Church believed that, although Passover was to be observed according to the Hebrew Calendar, this Church believed that the correct timing should occur a day earlier than the Jewish Religion teaches. Furthermore, it was believed by this Church that this understanding actually solves the problem of the chronology of Jesus’ death and Resurrection that is also a controversy.
I first wrote a paper in 1975, addressed to the doctrinal committee of that Church, which outlined what I believed were key issues in overturning the Church’s belief. The Church, of course, rejected the thesis of this paper. Since that time, many of the offshoot groups from that Church still cling to this erroneous belief inherited from its parent organization. Therefore, I was motivated into marshalling all the available evidence to finally put an end to this controversy once and for all.
Whom do you believe will benefit from your book and why?
Chiefly, the target audience, as I have stated, are the offshoot denominations of the World Wide Church of God, such as the Church of God International, the United Church of God, the Living Church of God, and so on. Secondarily, anyone who uncritically clings to these biblical issues as doctrine. It is hoped that this book will at least readdress the problem among these people, if not their church. And finally, this book stands out as a good example in correct Bible Study methods, versus methods that are truly deceptive.
What was the most difficult part of writing your book?
Books such as this one deal with a mountain of information. I could have even gone on further with additional evidence that I have which support my thesis. But there does come a point where you can beat an issue into the ground and make your reading audience weary of the evidence. So, I constantly had to trim down my material, and even then, it ended up with 340 pages.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I most certainly did. When I initially wrote my paper back in 1975 I took for granted that biblical days began at sunset. The most amazing discovery that I made was that there is a strong indication that the original method of counting days was from morning. I quote many Jewish scholars who believe this to be the case. Off course, whether or not this is true, at least it should be included in the discussion. But every Passover Paper that I have read bypasses this issue entirely. To me, that is one of the key issues to correctly understanding the entire problem and it is incredible that every one of these papers side step this significant point.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
This book is actually a second edition of an earlier edition that I wrote in 1998. Back then I only printed 500 copies. Within a year that supply was exhausted. Ever since then I have been receiving requests for that book and had to tell these people that it is out of print and that I had no intention of putting it back in print. Last year I was contacted by someone who asked me for the book and when I told him that it was out of print, he offered to republish the book himself. I said, Okay, but wanted to make some updates with new material, which I did, resulting in this second edition. I think that having this book back in print will make many long time supporters happy over that fact.
Can you explain some of your research techniques, and how you found sources for your book? As a follow up, did you rely on translations or are you conversant in languages such as Hebrew and Aramaic?
There are several questions here, which all are important, so I will address them one-by-one.
First of all, let me contrast my methodology with the standard method that many who write books employ. Most university professors teach their students to develop a “working hypothesis” of some subject, then review the evidence pro and con. Although this seems like a logical approach, what it often produces is a thesis where only the facts that promote the thesis are presented, but facts which conflict with that thesis are conveniently swept under the carpet. That is what happened with the many papers and books written on this subject. My approach is to put all the facts on the table and let the facts drive the conclusion.
Secondly, most of my research was conducted at the Olin Library at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut and the Sterling Library at Yale University in New Haven Connecticut.
Thirdly, although I consulted many different translations and commentaries, I am able to read Hebrew with a fair degree of competence. I studied modern Israeli Hebrew at Wesleyan University. I then studied Biblical Hebrew through the help of An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew by Thomas O. Lambdin. Furthermore, I studied New Testament Greek with the help of John Dobson’s excellent textbook on New Testament Greek. Contrast this with many who simply look up words in Strong’s Concordance and draw erroneous conclusions based upon ignorance of language grammar. I have exposed some of these phoney pronouncements in my book.
Can you tell us how you found representation for your book? Did you pitch it to an agent, or query publishers who would most likely publish this type of book? Any rejections? Did you self-publish?
I tried going to literary agents, publishers, and so on, but was rejected time and again. If your name is John Grisham, then publishers throw themselves at your feet. It has nothing to do with whether your book is good or not. If you are an unknown, you are practically stone-walled. So, I finally had to self-publish at my own expense. Marketing is also paid for by myself. And with limited funds, I have limited exposure. So I thank you for this interview.
Will there by any unique ways you'll be marketing your book that is different from how others authors market their books?
Besides putting ads in major magazines, I have decided to give free copies to reviewers, such as your self, with the hope that I will get some traction with favourable reviews. I have also sent free copies to major libraries across the country, such as the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library, Harvard, Yale, Brandeis, Hebrew Union College, and many more. I know that my book has a limited interest, and therefore a limited audience, but at least I can take comfort in the fact that my book is available to a new generation of biblical students across the country and maybe the books popularity will be a grass roots phenomenon.
Where can our readers find out more about you and The Passover Papers: Controversy, Myth, Fairy Tales, and Nonsense?
I have a web-site entitled www.sunrise-publications.com. Also, there is a web-site by the publisher whose URL is www.thepassoverpapers.com. And further, I have a newly created blog, viz.: http://paulrfinch.blogspot.com/.
What is next for Paul R. Finch?
Well, I also have another book out entitled: Beyond Acts: New Perspectives in New Testament History, which is now beginning to get some traction and is a well researched commentary on post-Acts history. Also, I intend to publish a book on the origin of the Hebrew Calendar. When I was at the Mendel Gottesman Library at Yeshiva University, I copied a lot of information that is unique to the subject and by carefully looking at the evidence, I believe I have discovered new information that has never been published before on the topic. Also, I am working on a five generation genealogy, entitled the Descendents of John Finch, d. Stamford, Conn., 1657. Plus, eventually I wish to publish some information on the canonization of the Hebrew Scriptures. So, I have my work cut out for me in the next few years.
Is there anything else you wish to add that we have not covered?
I just want to say that the Passover Papers is an essential book for biblical students because of its thoroughly researched contribution to biblical studies. It provides information that can not be found anywhere else, and no one else, except the author, could have produced this book. It has no axe to grind, is not religious propaganda by any Church denomination, nor supports anyone else’s views. It is a refreshing research that I believe is destined to be a classic on the subject. I challenge anyone, scholar or layman alike, to refute the arguments set forth in this book. I welcome criticism based upon accurate appraisal of the issues. I therefore encourage anyone to at least consider my arguments. They will be surprised.
Thanks once again, Paul R. Finch, and good luck with The Passover Papers: Controversy, Myth, Fairy Tales, and Nonsense.