The Atheist's Bible: The Most Dangerous Book That Never Existed (Paperback)
A comprehensive biography of the Treatise of the Three Impostors, a controversial nonexistent medieval book.
About the Author
Georges Minois is the author of History of Old Age: From Antiquity to the Renaissance and History of Suicide: Voluntary Death in Western Culture, the former published by the University of Chicago Press.
Lys Ann Weiss is an independent scholar in medieval studies who works in book publishing as an editor, indexer, and translator.
“I can’t speak enthusiastically enough for Minois’s excellent book. The Atheists’s Bible is more scholarly than Stephen Greenblatt’s The Swerve and less playful than the philological detective work that Robert K. Merton displayed in On the Shoulders of Giants, but it offers comparable intellectual pleasure. Lys Ann Weiss’s translation, moreover, reads beautifully.”
— Michael Dirda
“Just as in Umberto Eco’s novel The Prague Cemetery, if you create false evidence in order to discredit your enemies—be they Jews or Jesuits, Carbonari or Bolsheviks, Masons or the Vatican—you will soon find people eager not only to believe you but also to serve the cause you have been trying to undermine. The text that is the object of Georges Minois’ study, the Treatise of the Three Impostors, provides a perfect illustration of this peculiar dynamics of deceit, credulity and paranoia."
— Times Higher Education
“Georges Minois’s timely and elegant study The Atheist’s Bible is a landmark addition to both the history of ideas and the history of the book. The Treatise of the Three Impostors set a record for advance publicity—before it was finally published, intellectuals accused one another of writing it for nearly half a millennium. Its real author was not any single thinker but the cumulative, nervous imagination of the entire European intelligentsia. Like a Freudian id, it exposed the repressed, traumatic thought that all religion was a hoax: centuries before avowed atheism became possible, accusations that someone else had written the Treatise of the Three Impostors explored the particulars and possibilities of irreligion. Readers who are intrigued or scandalized by the diatribes of Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens will discover in The Atheist’s Bible that, as that other Bible says, there is nothing new under the sun.”
— Walter Stephens, author of Demon Lovers: Witchcraft, Sex, and the Crisis of Beli
“The Treatise of the Three Impostors is a book that enjoyed centuries of notorious nonexistence until (as Voltaire would say) it became necessary to invent it. Georges Minois writes with empathy, erudition, and a novelist’s sense of buildup and timing, weaving in the parallel story of Europe’s courageous freethinkers. In the face of today’s social and even legal pressures against criticizing religion, it is good to see an honorable French tradition asserting itself.”—Joscelyn Godwin, author of The Pagan Dream of the Renaissance
— Joscelyn Godwin, author of The Pagan Dream of the Renaissance