My parents gave me a Bible for Xmas (might be a good sign to come out to them?).

Anyhow, its one of these "Read the bible in 90 days" pieces, and I decided it might be fun to see what all the fuss is about. So, I've started to dig in.

I've gotten to the beginning of Leviticus. I've been amazed by both the contradictions and the incredible BOREDOM. Exodus is the biggest snoozefest ever after the plagues. I completely understand why most Christians have only a cursory understanding of the Bible: its the lamest read imaginable.

I was just curious if there are any other folks who have actually read significant portions of the "Good" Book, and what your thoughts were on the experience.

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I cannot imagine anyone in the West NOT knowing the Bible. The posters who never read a word - do they have an education? The Bible (like it or not) is the most influential book in Western literature and art. It is impossible to study either without some knowledge of "holy scripture".

The Bible contains occasional beauty and poetry - some Psalms, the "charity" writings of Paul, incredible imagery of John. Dawkins opined that we are a Christian culture & (like me) can't imagine an education that did not include at least a passing acquaintance of Biblical themes and popular stories.
I read the whole thing. Twice. I was already an atheist, so I thought I had to read what I no longer believed. Yes, it was very, very boring.

As an English major in college, I read many, many books written before the 20th century. These writers just assumed their readers were well-versed in the Bible. Thank you, Norton, for those editons with all the footnotes!

The story of Charles Manson and his crazy ideas sent me back to the book of Revelations. In light of the crimes of the Manson "family." this was a frightening experience. I can see how unstable people read all sorts of "theories" into it.
I actually got one of those "bible in one year" bibles that had four sections of the bible per day - old testament, psalms, one verse from proverbs, and new testament. I think they knew how dry the OT is and were trying to mix it up a bit. Come to think of it though, that was the first time I really read the bible in full and within 16 months of getting it, i was an atheist :)
Oh but Deuteronomy was the first book I ever read as a child, before Dr. Seuss even. It was 28 I think? The "cursings" on Israel. My mom was actually a bit disturbed by how fun I found all of the "I will destroy your lands and your livestock, your sheep and your cattle" and tried to get me to read the "blessings" that would happen if Israel would obey. THAT was bo-ring.
i wholeheartedly agree with you....and eloquently put.
I agree that it still has relevance today.

I suppose that the underlying problem is that people use the text as their basis for ethical/moral/historical/scientific truth. If people did the same with any other 2000+ year old (or 200+ for that matter) text as the ultimate foundation for their way of life, I'll be concerned with that as well. So boringness aside, its up to atheists to show that using the Bible as the infallible word of God is silly. I think that is our ultimate goal. I've never read Heart of Darkness, but if people were using that as their ethical/moral/historical/scientific baseline, I'd be concerned as well.
Whew, I'm glad that made the criteria for "great post." I've just finished playing two kickball games and am 3/4 drunk. I guess I know what state I need to be in for posting here...

(jk, I've always been impressed by the stimulating conversations here, even when 0/4 drunk.)
Great post. Your reasoned response was so different than the predictable kneejerk "we hate religion" comments I find so immature and counterproductive. I'm always amused that many atheists who consider themselves intellectual superior to believers readily admit ignorance of the greatest influence in world literature, art and politics. The words still resonate on a cultural level; the number of books and movies with biblical themes or titles is astounding.

Again, great post.
Don't make me read the thing again. Yes, it was boring, repitious, and contradictory. For example, in the begiining of Genesis, there are only Adam and Eve, then their children. Then, those children went out and married "the sons of men." Now, where did _they_ come from?

Yes, an understanding of the stories is essential for the reading of any Western literature. One English class offered as an elective in my high school was "The Bible As Literature." I didn't take it, because I had read enough of the Bible in my Christian education classes; too much of it for my taste. A friend did take it, and it quickly degenerated into a war between the Catholics and various Protestant deniminations.

I don't think my understanding of it is "puerile." I did read pieces of it as I read literature in college that referenced stories. And, by the way, I have read and enjoyed many books others have called "boriing." _Moby Dick_. _War And Peace_. _The Canterbuy Tales_(in the original Middle English), all the Shakespeare plays. . .too many to list here.

I have also read a lot of philosophy books. Some of those (Kant, Wittgenstien) were very rough going, but I loved Satre and Camus. I consider myself very well-read.
It has taken me a year to get through the Bible on tapes. I listen while I drive around but BORING. Numbers was a nightmare and the silly children's tales like Adam and Eve are probably among others the basic of the Old Testament. I listen while I drive and needed long breaks between--some doesn't make sense at all, and it is just not the begets that get one, but the family genealogy of who is the son of what father. It was written by simple people for a difficult time when a thunderstorm mean something evil would happen and education was limited.

Many of the stories especially the escape from Egypt is told over and over, and the reader is again reminded to the point of boredom. I noted something strange that numbers such as 7 and 40 appear over and over throughout the Old Testament, and may come again in the New. Often the person providing the story seems to know what was said and thought by another person; and often I question the number of soldiers in the field at some of these battles. It takes a lot of logistics to keep 500,000 troops on the march. Killing--I can't believe the slaughter and often times god injected himself to kill the innocent animals. I keep asking myself, why the animals are killed for the so-called sins of others.

Even if he is the living god, they tend to want to make images and worship them. I'm near the end of the Old, and the people are warned over and over about making idols--any of you ever been in a Catholic church--you fall over idols and who are all these saints that are suppose to give favors. Nothing makes sense, but I guess you leave your brain at the door. A lot of contradictions but that doesn't seem to bother the modern day reader---in fact haven't you notice regardless of how strange it might be, the religious person knows the answer based on some scripture. Who are these Giants that were destroyed in the beginning? God's failures! I just got to the Giant part today. There seems to be two stories about the same thing--people being put in fires and angels appearing. Imagine a fish catching someone's foot, and being gutted with the liver and other inter parts (being fermented?) and put in someone's eyes. This is all Sci-Fi at its best!

It is not all bad and total destructive---sometimes you learn something that wants to make you an anthropologist. I would like to find the salt spot where Lot's wife melted! How could one throw their daughters out the door to be (raped?) by the village, and keep visitors protected--what was the angel thinking--couldn't the daughters be protected also? When Jonas got eaten by the "large fish" I thought of poor Piccolo, the wooden child.

Everyone believes the Ark, don't they? As I recall there were backups and 7 is mentioned again---I wonder what was lost if during the 40 days and nights a group died of food poisoning. Imagine the kitchen area to put the various kinds of food for these animals--who was the dietitian to care for them, and didn't any of them get sick. Oh, a friend told me that even Rex was there--fine, I can see him running around on the 2nd deck. No, he was a meat eater but a vegan. In fact none were meat eaters.

I do note by listening that if you don't like a rule, you just ignore it. So far it teaches a lot of hate against people who are different from you or me. It tells you God hates sinners and a sin throughout is what the sin wants to be. I loved the Parasites (spelling is off but the meaning is there)--they are a group along with other "sites" and "lites" that roamed around in small tribe preventing people from taking the land back. Canaan is the root of all evil as Dawkins would say; God knows this and jumps back and forth helping and hindering his chosen people. Moses can't turn his back on them for a moment or they are back to building calves out of gold. God must have been an interior designer--read the part about how the temple (tent) should be set up---here is boring at its best--no excitement folks and I became disgusted at the slaughter of animals inside this well designed tent--you never hear this in church. Too boring! They don't mention but this tent must have been moved daily because of all the blood inside. And who is fooling who--the priests, Levites, come out doing quite well getting the extras. You can learn a lot about conning here!

You probably wonder what I'm talking about because only a religious nerd would have the faintest idea--none of this is taught to anyone because it is meaningless. You would never find one of these tents anywhere in the US today.
Oh, you tell me you know of one--good--this will create discussion.

I bet one would be hard pressed to find anyone in a church that has read the Bible including those that preach it. Maybe in Bible College, but I bet you would find a great deal that didn't have a clue. I'm forcing myself to do it in order to see what all the fuss is about. Some parts make me sick and I believe it should be somewhat restricted in libraries because of its nature.

I do find it funny to comment as I listen and good thing I'm alone in the auto. Some of it is downright ridiculous.
Thanks for the great posts, Dannyisme.

***”As a tool to help us understand our intellectual and cultural history, it is invaluable.”***

Indeed, true, and a whale of an understatement too.
This has turned into a real interesting thread, and should probably be a blog in and of itself.

I think one of the things important to keep in mind when discussing the bible is that the OT may be the oldest written account of some of the oldest oral stories of pre civilization humans.
Many years ago, as I prepared for the ministry, I was pleasantly suprised that the approach to bible study was pretty much from an historical perspective. Interesting enough to grab my attention, as one quickly learned that the Old Testament is, itself, perhaps a mere remnant of the first written account of some of prehistory’s oldest stories. How long these stories existed before being written down is lost in pre historical antiquity. These stories were old before writing evolved, before civilization existed, before societies rose up, before stones were placed upon stones. Some of these stories may very well have come from oral traditions that emerged, along with humanity, from the proverbial caves themselves. Not only that, but these oral traditions that were accumulated into what might be called a “proto-old testament” were actually compiled from different “threads”, from different geographical directions (it is theorized). Scholars had, as I recall, identified three different oral “traditions” that are the main sources for some of the OT “stories”. That is why, as some have observed in this forum, there is repetition, a recounting of essentially the same story.
One comes to the conclusion that there were some big events, so significant to the few humans who were alive then, that those stories survived orally for literally millennia. Had these stories not been co-opted and “grafted” to religion, they probably would have been lost in the prehistorical darkness. In the occidental world, this is about as far back as we can connect with.
When I read the “begets” it is with the realization that with so few humans, so long ago, the simple recognition of ancestry gives insight into how earliest civilization hung upon the thread of progenitor. How many times in prehistory this thread was broken and had to be started all over again will probably never be known.
Of course, most of the insight into this truly profound meaning of the OT is lost to contemporary religious zealots.
Enjoyed your posts very much. Check out my book, The Bible (According to Jack) Part I The Old Testament, at and let me know what you think. I wrote it eleven years ago as post-divorce therapy and finally self-published it a few years back because nobody else would. If you think you might enjoy reading a copy (autographed at NO EXTRA CHARGE!) simply consider returning the postage that appears on the envelope in which it is sent and get me a mailing address. Given your obvious familiarity with the OT, I think you'll really enjoy "my" Bible and I would love to get your thoughts about it.
I want to congratulate you on being the ONLY person I have yet encountered on the blogosphere who writes longer comments than I do! I'm retired and love letting people know what I think. I have also decided that my remaining mission in life is to cure the world of the disease known as religion. To that end, I am writing a book, working title-"How to Cure Religion (With No Adverse Side Effects)" and would love at some point to send you a draft to get your thoughts. I look forward to speaking with you.



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