I completed the manuscript for "Nickel and Dimed" in a time of seemingly boundless prosperity. Technology innovators and venture capitalists were acquiring sudden fortunes, buying up McMansions like the ones I had cleaned in Maine and much larger. Even secretaries in some hi-tech firms were striking it rich with their stock options. There was loose talk about a permanent conquest of the business cycle, and a sassy new spirit infecting American capitalism. In San Francisco, a billboard for an e-trading firm proclaimed, "Make love not war," and then — down at the bottom — "Screw it, just make money."
When "Nickel and Dimed" was published in May 2001, cracks were appearing in the dot-com bubble and the stock market had begun to falter, but the book still evidently came as a surprise, even a revelation, to many. Again and again, in that first year or two after publication, people came up to me and opened with the words, "I never thought…" or "I hadn't realized…"
The issue of the alleged gullibility of ancient people has come up again in a recent thread. In that thread, I've linked to four relevant articles on the subject: here, here, here, and here. In this post, I want to quote some of the passages on this subject in a recent book, Paul Eddy and Gregory Boyd's The Jesus Legend (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2007). I recommend reading their entire discussion of the subject, such as on pp. 64-66, but here are some portions of what they wrote: