Badly edited, poor continuity and internal consistency Authors seem to change between books Plot is cliched and thin, with virtually no character development save for Judas Iscariot The main characters of Jesus and Moses are entirely one dimensional messianic figures The novel opens with Adam and Eve, and then ignores them for the next thousand pages or so The built in bookmark was a nice touch, but a little pretentious.Oddly, it wasn t shelved with the other fiction books. If you re a fan of Greek mythology, this one s for you A penchant for fiery places, gnashing of teeth, the number 666, miracle working zombies, and utter disdain for homosexuals and feminism are helpful, but not required Spoiler alert He dies in the end. The Holy, Inspired and inerrant word of God I can say no than READ IT I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate He suffered and was buried and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead whose kingdom shall have no end And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life who proceeds from the Father and the Son who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified who spoke by the prophets And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come Amen The Nicene Creed God s first foray into the world of literature has made quite a splash People the world over are talking about this book or series of books if you want to get pedantic and for good reason It makes some grandiose claims, it purports to be the complete authority on almost all areas of human endeavor aside from how to choose an internet service provider , and even makes threats to the reader.Of course, English is not God s native tongue and this book has been translated from the original aramaic and hebrew It was then further translated to greek and didn t even have a proper English translation until the late 1600s I have to say, either something was lost in the translation or the translator was going for a heavily stylized prose There s lots of thy, thou, and begat s throughout the book.As for the story itself, I was absolutely riveted From the auspicious beginnings let there be light what a clever way to get the ball rolling to the exciting ending with the horses and the destruction the story is full of violence, incest, adultery, begetting, and flaming bushes It never lets up.It does get a little preachy at times and I must admit to being quite bewildered at what God s real message is There are contradictions in the rules handed down gay sex is bad but love your brother, shrimp was not OK but now it is, etc and unraveling the books mysteries is going to be a not insignificant task for any reader.Taken as a whole, it s really hard to look past its faults I really wanted to like it and gave an honest attempt to understand its teachings But it seems to me that, if you re going to claim to be the source of all truth in the universe, you d have to do a lot better than this book does.One star. Great For All Ages All The Majesty Of The Authorized King James Version In A Beautiful Black Leatherflex Imitation Leather Binding The Words Of Christ Are Printed In Red And Names Are Written In A Self Pronouncing Way This Edition Features An Easy To Use Illustrated Bible Dictionary And Concordance, Which Adds To Your Understanding Of The Scriptures Full Color Endpaper Maps Illuminate The Bible Text This Edition Is Ideal For Gift Giving Since The Front Presentation Page Lets You Record The Occasion The Durable And Practical Black Leatherflex Binding Will Withstand Regular Use For Years I ve already done a review of the New Testament, so this one will focus on the first part of the book Looking at other reviews, most of them seem to fall into a small number of categories First, there are the people who are telling me that this is the word of God, and the greatest book ever written Second, there are the ones reacting to the first group and telling me that it s worthless Third probably the largest contingent , we have the wise guys making flippant remarks And fourth, we have a few purists recommending or disapproving of particular translations I don t really find any of these approaches very satisfying I can t accept the statement that this is the word of God, and all literally true to pick one of the standard examples, Joshua s making the sun stand still appears wildly far fetched I m sorry if that offends the Christians in the audience If it makes you feel any better, I ll offend the Scientologists too, and say that I don t believe that, 75 million years ago, Xenu, the dictator of the Galactic Confederacy, brought billions of his people to Earth in DC 8 like spacecraft, stacked them around volcanoes, and killed them using hydrogen bombs OK, I ll admit that I also like making flippant remarks But let s try and be serious for a moment, and apply normal critical standards to this work That involves comparing it other, similar, books What s similar to the Old Testament It s a tricky question To start off with, what genre does it belong to It was written so long ago that modern categories don t apply If you attempt to fit it into one of those categories, you find it s a bunch of things an epic poem, a religious allegory, a history, and a work of science Now, we think of those as being different But when the Old Testament was written, they were all mixed up together In particular, it s easy to forget that Science , as a concept, is a very modern invention As recently as the early eighteenth century, they called it Natural Philosophy.Considered as an epic poem based on a religious allegory, the Old Testament is often brilliant This is uncontroversial even Richard Dawkins is happy to agree, and quotes numerous examples in the relevant chapter of The God Delusion Obvious comparison points are Homer, Dante and Milton The only modern author I can think of is Tolkien All of those are arguably better taken as a whole in particular, they are coherent but, at least in my opinion, the best passages in the Old Testament are better than the best passages in the other books If you disagree, just, off the top of your head, quote me a passage from The Iliad, The Divine Comedy, Paradise Lost or The Silmarillion which you consider superior to the Twenty Third Psalm The Lord is my shepherd , if you re no good with numbers Maybe you can come up with something I m curious to see what it is To me, though, the serious competitor is the New Testament It s by no means inferior as poetry, and Jesus is a complex and interesting character than Jehovah The Old Testament position on moral and ethical issues now seems rather dated, and Jehovah, like Zeus and Odin, often comes across as not much than a wise tribal chieftain with unusually powerful technology Jesus, on the other hand, seems entirely relevant even today, and his bold and unconventional ideas still have the capacity to shock and amaze.Given the popularity of Creationism, I guess I have to say something about the Bible as a work of science I m inspired here to follow Feynman s treatment of Newton in QED, which I read last week Feynman is very respectful towards Newton, and says what a great man he was but he also points out where Newton got it wrong We just know now Well put in its historical context, I think that the Old Testament was way ahead of its time Quite apart from the fact that it s great poetry, Genesis is a remarkably sophisticated creation myth Consider the first few verses.In the beginning, God created the Heaven and the Earth And the Earth was without form, and void and darkness was upon the face of the deep And the Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters And God said, Let there be light and there was light.People who know about modern cosmology may want to nitpick this On the other hand, if you had to describe the first few minutes of the Universe to a bronze age nomad, I d like to see you do better You aren t going to be able to explain inflation and nucleosynthesis to them you ll have to improvise a bit, and take the odd liberty But, later on, there are definite mistakes For example, God makes the Earth before He makes the stars That s just incorrect, and there s no reason why it couldn t have been presented in the opposite order The author of Genesis hadn t got a telescope, and it was hard to figure this stuff out from first principles.To sum up considering that it was written well over two thousand years ago, the Old Testament is a startlingly good book that s still well worth reading today Before you knock it too hard, consider how few other books there are from that period that can make similar claims And, oh yes, I was planning to say something about translations I think some are better than others, but the point I wanted to make has already been made so much elegantly by Richard Curtis in his Skinhead Hamlet sketch I ll hand over now, and let him conclude by giving you his scholarly opinions on the New English Bible. Certainly not life changing or anything The plot was hard to follow and the editing was horrible The characters were painfully one dimensional and this Jesus guy delivered some of the worst dialogue I ve ever read All in all I found it too long and it took itself way too seriously The fact that it sells so well is beyond me and the way people hold it up you d think God himself had written the damn thing. As a work of fiction it s laughably bad and poorly conceived Giant logical fallacies, poor character development, and all the plots are scuttled by a magical, invisible entity that s petty, cruel, tyrannical, and amoral There is no central narrative that is worthwhile or even believable , and each of the chapters seem written by committee rather than a singular voice Clearly the book was so bad to begin with a team of editors had to step in and make major changes which means no part of this book is even meritorious or reflects an author s vision Frankly, I don t see this book having much of an impact. This is the only book you need for life This is life s instruction manual It will give you history, answers for EVERY issue of life, comfort in times of sorrow, encouragment, prophecy only book with prophecies that all came true and best of all the TRUTH of why we are here This book is actually made of 66 books written by 40 authors over 1500 years It has stood the test of time I encourage anyone to give it a try Please do not knock it till you try it And you dont have to start in the beginning Try the book of John it is a great place to start. Technically a re read, but I hadn t read most of it since I was a kid reading it in dull bits of church, and I think I must have skipped some, because I don t remember all of it.Going to review the books separately I read the New Testament first because it was research, then went back to the beginning.Matthew Nothing would cure me of any impulse towards Christianity than reading this Meaning, of course, that the pre Reformation church was right to tell people to look at the pretty pictures and go to mass but not read it.Mark This was the original, and there was also Q Oh dear So obviously not what the Church made of him later, in terms of being incarnate God, so obviously a confused person wandering about a backwater province of Rome feeling his way And John so obviously important in ways that are not what was made of the story later Fascinating to see this as a building block for such a teetering edifice.Luke How could anyone start off with this Bible and come up with the concept of biblical inerrancy It would seem plausible to me if they d come up with Lacan or Foucault based on having four contradictory accounts of the same events These things can not all be true if they contradict each other If they did the Flight into Egypt, then they couldn t have had the Presentation in the Temple And yet, I have stood in front of paintings of both done by pious people who aren t seeing the problem John I like this one best Entirely contradictory, but poetic.Acts of the Apostles I ve read this one relatively recently I like it It s an account of some ordinary people wandering around the eastern Med in the early Roman Empire trying to organize a cult Clearly a real account Perversely, I wish there were three contradictory versions of it Why didn t they start a religion where there are necessarily four contradictory versions of everything Why wasn t that a standard of truth That would have been really neat.Epistles What St Paul says they can stop with the food rules as long as they don t eat blood I what They ate blood all the time Christian Europe in the middle ages ate blood sausage and blood puddings and meat with blood, and they still do I never even heard this Do people read their own Bible Christians totally eat blood, right now This is worse than God hates shrimp , this is supposed to be the new dispensation, and the new dispensation is you can eat shrimp and bacon but not blood Guys Do your own religion right Pay attention.Generally reading the epistles is great, I love letters, and these aren t very different from reading the Patristic stuff I ve been reading, except that they re supposed to be canonical and holy in a different way people would be OK with St Basil being wrong but not these, they knot themselves into pretzels to make these right, except when they ignore them Interesting to compare.Revelation I can t help thinking about Slactivist s takedown of Left Behind all the time And having finished, back to the beginning.Genesis People say the Bible is like mythology, but it isn t It s like listening to old people tell long meandering stories where they leave bits out oh, actually, she was his half sister, so it wasn t a lie and motivations get left out Also, how did Rebecca s dad know about Abram and Sarai s name change Did they send him a name change card Abram and Sarai would like you to know that from now on, they want to be known as Abraham and Sarah Pronouns remain the same Thanks for remembering And why did Lot stay in the wilderness There were all those other cities he could have gone to Weird, weird, book.Exodus Orson Scott Card wrote a series of books where God is a broken computer It seems obvious to me reading this that God in this book is a stranded alien with very specific needs and very limited powers that mostly don t help much Seen in this way, he s the most sympathetic character He needs an ark to be carried in, and he needs to get back to the mother ship in Israel before it leaves He s degenerating all the time This makes so much sense I m surprised it isn t a an SF book and b a loopy Velikovsky theory.Leviticus More staggering around with the poor confused alien The Children of Israel sure did like to stop worshipping God and worship idols And the food rules Numbers More numbers than I could possibly have imagined Wow Where did this come from What purpose could it possibly serve This is even worse than the list of ships Am I supposed to remember all these names They re all so weird except for the occasional one that sounds like an American.Deuteronomy And Really Joshua You know what s weird Being in the POV of barbarians And then we came to the cities of civilization and we trashed them because we don t know about cities Barbarians do not normally write chronicles, and so that feels odd to me This should be cited by historians.Judges OK, so this is a chronicle Fine.Ruth Odd little episode It s odd generally to see how much space the bible stories have in the bible I don t understand why this incident survived and was important.4 Books of Kings These are actual historical chronicles and therefore quite interesting I now have a theory that following the rules is hard, and worshipping Baal and having bacon was very tempting If the alternatives are other monotheisms, then it s not so tempting, not like falling away into paganism, which they did at the drop of a graven image.2 Books of Chronicles Oh, I was supposed to be memorizing all these kings ready to get information about them When it said there was information there really was Who collated this Ezra This is great.Nehemiah Oh, first person, and events, not just ranting This is also great But I m trying to fit it together with actual history The Babylonians conquered them, and then the Persians conquered them, and then after this Alexander conquered them, and then they were Hellenistic and then Romans NB to God next time, consider giving your chosen people an island or possibly Switzerland Somewhere defensible and less in the way Cyprus, maybe And this excellent story about rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem happened after the Persian conquest I could probably find a concordance but it would probably be annoyingly religious.Wait I should get Tobit and Judith next, but King James left them out Gah I ll have to find another translation and come back to them at the end I hate it when translators do this kind of thing.Esther The Purim story Reads like actual history, coherent and makes sense and everything Shushan is Susa Remarkably little God in this one, just some Jews coping with persecution in the Persian Empire.Job Good heavens, philosophy and theology Just when I d given up expecting any But I m back to how the heck did anyone come up with the concept of Biblical inerrancy starting from THIS Bible I liked Job But it does not fit with either a Christianity as it is OR b the rest of the Bible Nor is God s behaviour either ethical or consistent I could take a system based in Job, or I could take a system without it, but saying it s totally canonical then utterly ignoring it and its theological and philosophical implications is bizarre Judaism is easier to fit Job into, where Satan is a job But even then, what s with this annual meetup of God and the sons of God and Satan Again, I could retrofit the universe, but it would be hard work I m back to thinking that the pre Reformation position that reading the Bible was dangerous and confusing and best left to experts had a great deal to be said for it, at least if you want people to follow the religion But I ve been told that while actually reading the Bible is a Protestant thing to do, even Catholics are encouraged to do it now I have no idea how this works It must take a miracle.Yay, Psalms next.Psalms Lots of poetry, some of it intimately familiar, some of it completely off the wall strange Beautiful language Very very long Took forever to read And now, a whole book of proverbs Well, you can t say it s boring, you never know what s coming next.ProverbsAgain, a weird mixture of the very familiar and the utterly off the wall Most of it went in one ear and out the other.EcclesiastesBeautiful, philosophical, kind of grumpy, kind of Stoic I don t understand how it fits with the rest of it The discussions on what to put in, what was canonical for the Jewish bible must have been epic I only know about the Christian arguments, and they pretty much took these as accepted I expect it s too early for there to be good records the way there are for Church councils But I expect there was a lot of debate on this one.The Song of SolomonExcellent poetry about love and sex, some from the female point of view I hear it s supposed to be an analogy for Christ and the Church Risible Obviously not Really good though My pleasure in reading the bible has had an uptick with Ecclesiastes and this.IsaiahYou know that passage about the virgin having a baby and calling his name Emmanuel Of course you do Did you know the next line starts AND, and goes on to say he ll eat butter and honey to know good from evil early because before he naturally knows good from evil the king of Syria will die Of course you don t It s hard to see this kind of picking and choosing from sources as being anything other than mendacity But people read this Christians read it Do they read it with their eyes half closed, to stop reading at Emmanuel and not see the AND Even if modern Christians do this, what about the early Church What about St Paul What about Jerome Surely St Jerome had integrity than to do that I m horrified.Some good ranting, but this is clearly in the genre of prophecy written after the event like the Ohs of Merlin.Jeremiah now this is how prophets ought to be Personal, accurate, specific, and the bit where he got thrown into prison during the siege was unexpectedly exciting Much less obviously fake than Isaiah, because of the details like the king burning the scroll and the crusts of bread This works as a fantasy story about an actual prophet This is the only part of the Bible so far that works as fantasy Exodus etc sort of work as SF.Lamentations I thought that didn t sound very cheerful, but it turned out to be short and very poetic, and I guess people are entitled to lament after they ve correctly predicted everything awful that was coming and nobody listened and then it has all happened.Ezekial so far, so whiplash Woah, where did this come from Visions, and not God telling you that if you don t quit with the idol worship the king of Babylon will trash your city but super specific fantasy images of weird flying animals I have seen Raphael s painting of this, but even so it was a surprise.And it goes on, weird imagery, overly specific measurements, odd prophecies, and then suddenly bang, shall these bones live that I know both from Eliot and from the song, both of them undoubtedly coming from this one chapter of Ezekial, and on both sides of it acres of stuff that nobody has ever heard How did they I mean did they throw a dart at the pages and decide what was going to be used It s so weird.Now on to Daniel, which I remember from Sunday school, Lion s den, furnace, Shadrach and Abednego Let s see how much is really there.Daniel Very short, and indeed, has the furnace and the lions den, and also some deeply weird prophetic stuff Trying to reconcile dates of Darius Cyrus etc probably not a good plan.Hosea Lots of whoredom, and not so disapproving as usual.Joel Short, vivid, and a surprising amount of it familiar though I wouldn t have known where it was from.Amos Savonarola s favourite prophet, so I ve re read this recently.Obadiah In one ear and out the other.Jonah That great city, Ninevah Also, it s a fish not a whale It s so odd that everyone knows this one If I went out into the street and stopped a random person even if they were a Buddhist they d know this, but not a word of Obadiah or Micah.Micah More propheting Doom, doom.Nahum And , some specific.Habakkak Again, the conference where they decided what to put in must have been fun.Zephanaiah More Christian picking and choosing relevant bits Haggai More propheting, less dire than some.Zecchariah More prophetingMalachi Done done done done done Well, that was interesting, and boring, and took a lot of persistence So glad I m done If I d started at the beginning, going on to the New Testament now, and stories of actual people doing actual things would be a real relief As it is, zero desire to re read those bits I cannot recommend reading this book this way to any sane person I cannot recommend reading it if you are a Christian and you d like to stay one, because it would need so much doublethink that it couldn t be good for you I do, however, recommend it heartily to any atheist or agnostic who likes Christian art and Latin masses and would sort of like to believe in Christianity, or anyone thinking about Pascal s wager, or anyone in doubt from that direction, because there is NOTHING going to dispel any doubts or wouldn t it be nice if it were true or what if God had gone to all that trouble to save me and I was ungratefully ignoring it better than reading this with an open mind because it is so very very obviously not an inerrant revelation, or even a coherent basis for a religion, and you d have to be feeling super charitable to even think it was a glass darkly It s a mix of history and poetry and ranting and very occasional scraps of philosophy and theology and it doesn t fit together at all, and it reveals the selectivity of its readers And I don t think I should say any , because it would be unkind.
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- 23 August 2019 Anonymous