Write a Review of The Bible (As If It Just Came Out Today)

Here’s an interesting thread in the Friendly Atheist Forums:

Write a book review of the Bible as if it’s never been published before.

xpastor wrote this entertaining review:

We’re told nothing about the authors. Internal evidence — chiefly the pictures of young men with wavy shoulder-length hair and beards — suggests that it may be comprised of the scribbling recovered from a hippy commune of the 1960’s. No tie-dyed shirts and jeans; they’re all dressed in long robes, possibly indicating a New Age cult.

The first section opens with a story about a man and a woman living naked in a beautiful garden where all the food they want is theirs for the picking. However, they soon get evicted by an unreasonable landlord. The hippy aversion to manual labor is reflected in their complaints about having to work for a living henceforth. Perhaps this parable comes from a confused recollection of Rousseau’s state of nature that was covered in an undergraduate history of ideas course.

Further in, we happen upon a delightful story in a well-crafted narrative. It is sort of a male counterpart to the Cinderella fairy tale. A hapless teenager is beaten up by his step-brothers and sold as a slave, but against all odds he comes out on top. My only complaint would be that the story line appears to have been lifted from the popular musical Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat. However, these hippies were probably too far gone on magic mushrooms to realize that they were plagiarizing.

Can you top that?

Leave your own reviews in the comments!

I’ll pick a winner in a couple days, and he/she will receive a free copy of the book Original Sinners: A New Interpretation of Genesis by John Coats!



  • http://onestdv.blogspot.com OneSTDV

    Outlandish claims made in a supposed nonfiction book.

    Oprah’s gonna be pissed when she finds out this one’s a fake too (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Million_Little_Pieces#Controversy).

  • keddaw

    A book of short stories which appear to be loosely tied into a coherent story trying to pass a moral message but internal contradictions, the late appearance of the central character and an ending Tarantino would think OTT make this an ultimately disappointing read.

    Anyone looking for a coherent story or some insight into the human condition best go elsewhere, anyone looking for incest, rape, genocide, child abuse and what people hearing voices are willing to do have found their tome.

  • http://www.godtalkradio.com Jason

    “However, they soon get evicted by an unreasonable landlord.”

    Really? What makes the landlord unreasonable? How many landlords do you know that would give their tenants a place to stay (rent free) with all the food they want to eat? The only stipulation was to not eat from one tree. That doesn’t sound unreasonable to me….it actually sounds quite nice.

  • http://kitchenfallout.blogspot.com DianaG

    Ignoring the fact that this book’s genre has been mislabeled as “nonfiction” instead of “horror/fantasy”, I would definitely recommend this book to other hard-core literature-fanatics. I do not believe that those looking for a light read would enjoy this book. Content aside, story progression is not very fluid and requires repeated retelling of certain parts of the story (sometimes with completely different set-ups and endings even though its being perceived from the same point of view) in order to understand what is going on.

    I also feel that this story would do well to be split into two separate volumes as the second half of the book has a completely different (slightly lighter – less people die) vibe than the first half and would, therefore, appeal to a different type of reader.

    I would also suggest forgoing the reading of the last chapter, at least until you’ve been enrolled in a medical study that requires you to take crystal meth, or some similar hallucinogen. It’s really the only way to truly understand where the author (currently listed as Yahweh et al.) was coming from.

    Happy reading!

  • Ubi Dubium

    Although it has many omissions and contains much that is apocryphal, or at least wildly inaccurate, at least it has the words “Holy Bible” inscribed in large friendly letters on its cover.

    (apologies to DA)

  • Bob

    “A nonstop thriller!” – New York Times Book Review

    “This would make an epic movie!” – Roger Ebert

    “The Holy Bible,” the new potboiler just hitting the shelves, promises a tale of salvation and the answers to life’s most pressing questions: where did we come from, and what is our purpose?

    But this promising concept is quickly bogged down with the introduction of God, a protagonist who exhibits a mile-wide cruel streak, condemning people out of hand for breaking his rules, levelling entire cities, and, at one point, demanding human sacrifice from one of his most devoted servants.

    The reader is left with a rambling narrative wherein they, as well as the characters in this epic-length novel, try to make sense of this ‘God’ fellow and what exactly he wants.

    And the latter half of the book, described as a ‘New Testament,’ only adds to the confusion by introducing a slightly more likeable character named Jesus. Except his role is cut short by the not-entirely unexpected response to more of God’s meddling: they torture Jesus and make a spectacle of his death.

    If you’re expecting salvation and answers, consider that God has a sense of pageantry that plays out like a John Woo action flick, where there’s lots of destruction and dead bodies, and the only answer you really want is to the question, ‘Why the heck did I just waste my time with this thing?’

  • Jude

    A fascinating look into the daily lives and customs of a tribal people from the Middle-East from four – to two thousand years ago. Contains many passages of great beauty, as well as a whole lot of dreck.

    Let’s hope that no one takes this book too seriously, or, worse yet, attempts to base their life on it!

  • Hilary

    I thought it odd that they told the story of Jesus four times in the second half of the book. The four versions were slightly different, but not different enough to make four versions necessary. I would have liked to see four alternate versions of the story – maybe have people stand up for him at the trial or maybe he gets married and raises a family. Even if they’d written from the perspective of different parties – third person (omnipotent narrator), Peter, Judas, and Jesus himself are the ones that come to mind.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    The story line suffers from recent evidence uncovered that Yahweh turned out to be a lesser demigod who suffered from delusions of grandeur, low self-esteem, and had an incessant need for adulation and worship. He was quite cruel if his fragile emotional needs were not met. The new evidence shows that the elder gods (Yahweh’s parents, older siblings, etc) have communicated that there is actually no afterlife and everybody should just relax, be good, and enjoy their one special unique life here on Earth. Yahweh himself actually perished at around 200 BC. It turns out that the entire New Testament was a fictional story invented due to the vacuum left by the passing of Yahweh. Now that the elder gods have spoken, the moral teachings of the main character from the New Testament can be followed without any of the supernatural baggage. The entire “holy bible” now becomes interesting from a historical perspective and a psychological study of Yahweh and the power-vacuum left after his death.

  • Rob

    Plagiarized allegory. Nothing more. Try again.

  • Hitch

    “The Bible – A Deeply Flawed Anthology of Gothic Horror Stories”

    Recently emerged an anthology of books by old and contemporary authors called “The Bible”. The first part is a modified reprint of the well-known earlier collection called Tanakh which here is renamed The Old Testament. While Tanakh focused on mythologies around the creation of earth and creatures as well as a chain of live stories from the romantic couple called Adam and Eve through the trials of the temptation of child murder of Abraham by delusional imagery to the migration story of Moses, full of war, genocide, persecution, natural and unnatural horrors, the new additions called The New Testament continues a story line hook already prepared in the old. Namely that of a emergence of a new prophet.

    There are multiple aspects of this. One is the live story of the supposed prophet called Jesus. Multiple authors tackle the theme from different vantage points in the first few short stories. Then stories follow that discuss the friends and followers of Jesus as well as fans who were drawn into the new prophet fad.

    Then there is a collection of stories on the formation of a dystopian ruling class system called the catholic church.

    Finally the book ends with a concluding end-of-world nightmare story called Apocalypse presented as a mythical, perhaps drug induced raging fantasy of a follower of the prophet.

    Unfortunately the collection is deeply flawed. The writing is choppy and inconsistent between authors. Perhaps this is to keep in tradition with the original stories which I had heavily criticized in an earlier review for its mind-numbing repetitiveness. After all it is the book of begetting. But it also was guilty of extreme schmaltz, overly prosaic and, in a very literal sense, pathetic language.

    The new stories keep the schmaltz and pathos up. The live of Jesus is largely boring, consisting of story telling and minor misunderstandings. Implausible so-called miracles are peppered in to make it appear more interesting. So it is claimed that he is born of a virgin in two of the four books. But given the inconsistencies of the narrative, this theme never gets any grip and one wonders why it was even necessary to drive the story. Jesus proceeds to convince followers of his prophetic powers by performing parlor-trick miracles such as walking on water and converting water to wine and conjuring food. Your average teen wizard novel will provide more moving use of these story elements. More interesting are the medical miracles, yet those are not worked in detail to develop a strong sense of proper Gothic horror imagery. Jesus ultimately runs into trouble with the ruling authorities which occupy Palestine, the Romans and will through a simplistic and predictable story line of religious bigotry, state power and betrayal ultimately be convicted and executed. This leads to the main aspect of the story line, the resurrection where he reemerges from the grave. This is some of the better imagery depicting the horrors of walking dead and the gullible reaction of people. A metaphor of the inability to grief and let go of those gone, Jesus as a resurrected ghost serves as the illusion of saying the final good-bye.

    Much of the rest is completely skip-worthy except for the last chapter. This book is the only really vivid Gothic story. The writing is very poor but the detail and depth far surpasses any of the previous. It is the prediction of the end of time through the wrath of the deity that anchors all the stories. It’s full of monsters with fangs and multiple heads, fascinating numerology, death, destruction and vengeance. The deity turns out to be not the kind one promised by Jesus and Moses but the murderous one already described by Abraham and in the story of Noah.

    There are multiple hooks for sequels in this book and one can but hope that none will ever be followed. Much to the dread of this reviewer the publisher has already announced sequels around new prophets called Muhammad and Joseph Smith targeting the middle eastern and western markets.

    But if there is anything to be said about this book is the complete lack of literate writing. How this could have gotten past an editor with half a brain is beyond me. The choice to present text in the format of easily numbered paragraphs seriously hurts the reading flow, and the inconsistency in quality and style even within the individual stories is so hurtful that one longs for the fast-paced yet idle flow of your average pulp.

    In summary this is a book that should have never been published without extensive editing. The authors have no sense of drama, pace, accuracy and flowing prose. I hear some publishers plan to give the book away for free. I am not surprised. No-one should pay a single dime for it. If you get a free copy, it will surely make a wonderful doorstop.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/gettingfreeftw gettingfree

    1 star

    “Plot line hard to follow”

    I bought a copy of this book because I have heard such a fuss about it, how great it is, it changes peoples lives, etc. I gotta say, I found the plot hard to follow. When I got to a chapter called “1 Chronicles” it became so tedious to read (it starts with an exhaustive list of lineage) that I put the book down for several weeks. Truthfully, after that I skipped around trying to find something applicable to daily life in this century, but it was full of barbarism and confusing parables. Finding characters that I identify with and like makes or breaks a book, movie or any kind of story for me and I couldn’t find one in this whole book (not even the guy called, Jesus, who I think was supposed to be the main character, but was hardly in the book and not until towards the end). My advice is that if you still want to read this don’t bother paying full price for it. Get a used copy. I have one to sell…

  • http://aboutkitty.blogspot.com/ Cat’s Staff

    Why not go to Amazon and add the reviews there?

  • plutosdad

    This horror story is an analogy of the danger that jealous, abusive husbands pose to their wives. The main character (whose name is Jealous) continually changes the rules and is not satisfied without complete dependence on him, forcing his victims to conduct horrifying crimes against their neighbors. The physical torture and psychological mindgames the petty tyrant plays on his Wife, who he renames to “The Church” (don’t ask this reviewer) are enough to send chills down your spine and motivate you to donate to the nearest womens shelter to rescue people from this abuser.

  • Epistaxis

    A+++ would convert again

  • Alexis

    This collection of assorted narratives suffers from stodgy language, redundancy and unnecessary detail. The faux Elizabethan patois rarely rises to the level of Shakespeare. Many stories are told multiple times, sometimes with minor variation and other times with blatant contradictions. There are numerous lists of “begats” telling the (male only) lineage of the protagonists that drag on for twenty or more generations, and these lists serve absolutely no narrative purpose. The lineage of one principal character name “Jesus” appears twice, but other than an early forebear “David” they have no other names in common. Forget this one. It is nearly as bad as that Joseph Smith pseudo history called the “Book of Mormon”

  • John

    Why give this pathetic waste of print ANY “review” at all? The way to eradicate a decidedly INFERIOR piece of literature is to IGNORE IT, not bring bad reviews to it, as then people may want to waste their time and read the damned thing. Besides calling for the outright BURNING of this pornographic trash in print, it would be a good idea to neutralize the printers that are printing it, the publishing house that arranged for its distribution, and the so-called “editors” that decided that this pathetic piece of print was anything more then something that should have been sold in a local adult bookstore! This book gives a bad name to freedom of the press, and is best read by those facing imminent execution by the state so that they cannot postulate its contents to others. There are not enough negative adjectives in any language that can procured to describe this so-called book! Ignore it! Burn it! Ban it from being published! And let those who read it be condemned to the death penalty they should already be facing!

  • Hitch

    A bad book that hasn’t caught on yet is indeed best ignored. A bad book that sells deserves, perhaps in fact requires, some really scathing reviews.

  • http://www.thatpinkmouse.com/bloggy Jenny Bliss

    ive always loved the red dwarf version of that for any who loved that show as much as me ^_^

    ‘Newsreader: Good evening. Here is the news on Friday, the 27th of Geldof.
    Archeologists near mount Sinai have discovered what is believed to be a
    missing page from the Bible. The page is currently being carbon dated in
    Bonn. If genuine it belongs at the beginning of the Bible and is believed to
    read “To my darling Candy. All characters portrayed within this book are
    fictitous and any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely
    coincidental.” The page has been universally condemned by church leaders’

  • sc0tt

    Better than a sleeping pill!
    But it gave me nightmares.

    0.5 stars.

  • Houndies

    “…a vague and cryptic write. contradictory in parts. a rehash of works already in print. two thumbs down..”

  • http://www.youtube.com/azsuperman01 AZSuperman01

    The Holy Bible is an interesting piece of fantasy fiction. It tells a coming-of-age story about a magical being, the character known as God.

    God first enters the story as the sole entity in a vast and empty universe. Using his magic powers, God creates stars, planets, and an entire physical universe around him. Paying special attention to the structure of one particular planet, he fills it with living organisms.

    By the end of the first book it becomes obvious that God is a toddler. He destroys the vast must majority of his creation in a tantrum.

    In the middle of the book, God becomes an angry teenager, looking for fights and not interested in civil discussion. At times the main character “reveals” secret knowledge and moral advice to his creation, but these revelations turn out to be nothing more than barbaric superstitions.

    During his late teens, God experiments with sex and in an odd turn of events that can only take place in a fantasy novel, God ends up as his own father.

    As God continues to age he becomes less and less involved with his creation.

    The final chapter can only be described as the ravings of a senile old man, undoubtedly the author intended this chapter to represent the death of the title character.

    Overall, I would give the book two thumbs down. The premise was interesting, and the story had promise, but readers are left wondering if the author is paid by the word. Several stories are repeated unnecessarily, entire chapters are dedicated to information which doesn’t play an important role in the plot, mainly genealogy.

  • Angie

    1 STAR — DERIVATIVE, UNORIGINAL

    Yahweh’s bestseller, THE BIBLE, is the latest in a long line of rip-off pulp novels based on the “die-and-rise god” theme. After lifting elements from popular stories about Baal, Osiris, Persephone, Inanna, and other deities, Yahweh might well be the target of a plagarism suit sometime soon!

    THE BIBLE’s main protagonist is a Jewish artisan turned preacher names Jesus who, predictably, is born of a virgin and capable of miracles. Jesus’ death and ressurection (a familiar trope in the die-and-rise god genre) holds no suspense or surprises for audiences familiar with Dumuzi, Adonis, and other big names in the genre. The grand finale in Revelations reads like a amateur imitation of Herman Hesse’s STEPPENWOLFE or a teenage fanboy’s disjointed tribute to NEON GENESIS EVANGELION.

    I give this book 1 star because of its derivative content and flat language. Readers looking for an engaging story should leave behind the overdone die-and-rise god genre and look to innovative works emerging from the earth mother and cosmic trickster genres.

  • Angie

    P.S. — Jenny Bliss, I love the RED DWARF series too!

  • Eddie

    The book starts off in the beginning of time and tells of a mystical way of the earth coming into being. For some reason it does this twice with conflicting days and methods. I suppose this is either the author’s way of telling us that the rest of the book will be this way or just poor editing overall.

    A few chapters in and there is story about an abandoned baby boy on a river, which leads me to believe that the author had some issues with child abandonment but which also leads us to when the child grows up and has magical powers with the water. The allusion is there but it is not strong enough in my humble opinion.

    There are some sick and twisted tales of rape, incest and murder that have been condoned by the author’s god. This god is also supposedly a homophobe and thinks that slavery is a great idea, along with animal sacrifices. This god is depicted as mean, vindictive and jealous god. I don’t know why the author chose to go this way. It would seem to me that something so powerful would not have so many human emotions.

    The second half of the book tells of a son of this god. The son seems to be offering his body or “flesh” for sacrifice for humans to have immortality. It gets really interesting when the days following the death that the tomb of this “son of god” was empty and the first assumption is not that someone stole the body, but instead it has risen to heaven. Kind of a leap if you ask me.

    If I were living under the will of such a terrible child-like god that was imagined by this author, I would have to question his motives. The god needs to have some type of psychological therapy or medication to help calm his nerves and a lesson on ethics to learn to tolerate his own people that he supposedly created.

  • Richard Wade

    This Frankenstein’s monster of spare parts from previous works clumsily stitched together will certainly sell more when the good people at the Temple of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, the Southern Church of The Lord of the Rings, and the Holy Harry Potter Empire all converge to protest and condemn it. Otherwise it won’t get any attention at all.

    I’m looking forward to the movie. Should be at least as good as “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.”

  • Gibbon

    This is a pointless exercise isn’t it? Because it is like criticising Friedrich Engels ‘Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844’ without taking into consideration the fact that it was written during the height of the Industrial Revolution. Criticising the Bible outside of the context of 1st century BCE Roman controlled Judea means that the criticism is going to miss the purpose of the entire text, or the New Testament at least considering that the Old testament was written several centuries earlier.

  • Hitch

    Lack of humor is a sin (or so).

    Friedrich Engel’s last novel is situated in the plight of the working class in juxtaposition to the educated and industrial elites. His stern narratives fails to encode the humanity of all groups and paints a simplified economic picture. Needless to say the prose is terse and can hardly compete with real working class novels. Luckily we can relay on other books, such as Irvine Welsh “Trainspotting” to deliver a ripping description of the current day social struggles.

  • Patrick

    “. . . I didn’t much care for the latter part of the book, which was more like preachy talking than fighting and the old in-out”

    – Alex deLarge

  • cypressgreen

    Agree with Cat’s Staff. Amazon is one of my favorite sites for LULZ, not just shopping! Oh, the fights that rage in the comments sections of polarizing book reviews! Oh, the fun reviews of the Three Wolf Moon Tee Shirt, Communion Wafers, Dover Galvanized Steel Buckets and Gallons of Milk! The joy! I have a few joke reviews myself. (under this name)

    Several of the bibles for sale have great reviews, but I think this is the best:
    http://www.amazon.com/Boldtext-Pew-Bible-James-Version/dp/0834003473/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

  • cypressgreen

    My Amazon Review: titled Spoiler Alert!
    The character Jesus is arguably the best known in this ancient epic piece. However, he lacks charater development and is rather 1 dimentional. The author (s?) ignore his entire childhood, basically skipping the formative years which would explain his motivations better.
    I can’t decide if Yaweh is supposed to be a protagonist or antagonist; his sadistic behavior towards his children is telling, even towards his ‘favorite’ kid. He seems to display a classic abuser’s profile with declarations of love followed by abuse, torture, and finally a new declaration of love. Over and over.
    The Jesus charater is murdered in the end of the story, and his sadly delusional groupies imagine they see him again and long for some city in the clouds with gold streets. Pathetic.
    Overall: 1/2 star.

  • Joe

    The opening sentences of the new quasi-theological literary collection, “The Bible,” treat its readers to an idyllic, yet darkly mysterious telling of the beginning of a world not unlike our own. Its final chapter, a whopping 1200 pages later, has that same world crashing into oblivion and destruction. In between, it’s anybody’s guess.

    At once historical fiction and evocative poetry, this piece flows in and out of dreamlike reverie right in the middle of its most believable action scenes. True, there are sequences that draw you in: honest-to-goodness trials and tribulations of credibly, even painfully, human characters wrestling with sordid relationships, love, betrayal, and civil war. But what of the hundred or so pages titled “Leviticus,” “Numbers,” and “Deuteronomy,” which serve as an extended Constitution of sorts for the protagonists? (Or are they the antagonists? Who knows?)

    It would be difficult to classify “The Bible” as strictly narrative. Characters who have been absent for many hundreds of pages pop up again, albeit usually slightly altered mirror versions of themselves and worse for wear. In an impressive but too often confusing metatextual device, other characters seem to have been molded from the very pages the reader has just finished, declaring themselves, in fact, to have been somehow called into being by words spoken, when? Are we to assume the book covers a literal span of thousands of years?

    Showcasing a daring, experimental style of collaboration, the publishers claim each of the 30+ individual authors took content, theme, and style cues from the same as-yet-elusive editor. If this is the case, one wonders if several of them, especially the “psalmist” David and later the “apostle” Paul, might have been better served on their own.

    All in all, “The Bible” is a text that can’t make up its mind about what it wants to be, or for that matter what it wants to say. Still, taken as a scholarly reproduction of ancient religious texts, it’s not poorly written, and its alternate world does pose some compelling questions about our own. Had it been published many centuries ago, as nonfiction, one cannot help but wonder how it might have been received.

    It remains to be seen if anyone takes it seriously.

  • http://n8chz.blogspot.com/ Lori

    A real page-turner. A collection of works by numerous authors, compiled by numerous editors. In two parts, these being the Old Testament and the New Testament. The former consists of the mythic history of the Hebrews, analogous to the Hsia dynasty of Chinese civilization. Highlights are Joshua, a textbook on genocide and Judges, a textbook on assasination, suicide attacks and other works of terrorism. The Psalms offer devotional inspiration to those devoted to the suffering of their enemies, while Proverbs and Ecclesiastes advise sobriety, industriousness and passivity of thought. The Prophetic tradition gives us victory and defeat as carrot and stick, as well as a rich numerological tradition that can be read as ‘Russia invades Israel,’ or ‘England is the land of tin.’

    One Paul of Tarsus is the author of 80% of the New Testament, by weight. Fellow apostle Peter wrote of Paul:

    And consider the patience of our Lord as salvation, as our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, also wrote to you, speaking of these things as he does in all his letters. In them there are some things hard to understand that the ignorant and unstable distort to their own destruction, just as they do the other scriptures.

    Paul is still of course quoted extensively by people with agendas.

    At the risk of spoiling the ending, it must be noted that the punch line is in the last chapter:

    warn everyone who hears the prophetic words in this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words in this prophetic book, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city described in this book.

    This is called ‘having the last word,’ which is the ultimate luxury in the marketplace of ideas, perhaps akin to being the ‘Seal of the Prophets.’

  • http://www.cloverwise.com/ocd Tim

    Atheist and hilarious musical comedian Tim Minchin did something like this in his song “The Good Book” (which I highly recommend to everyone, it’s hilarious). The whole song is about the absurdity of the bible and its followers, but the lines most pertinent to this post are:
    “The Telegraph said ‘This god is reminiscent of the Norse,’ The Times said ‘Kind of turgid, but I like the bit with horses.’ The Mail said ‘Lots of massacres…a violent tour de force…’

    Here’s a link to the song, everyone should check it out!
    <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aa9xDar8rQg"&gt;

    (I don’t own this song, the only way I’m related to Tim Minchin is also being named Tim, blahblahblahcopyrightbullshit)

  • Aaron

    Random Press’s latest release, “The Holy Bible”($29.95), is not worth your time. The book is a mishmash of ancient myths thrown together in a barely coherent attempt to form some sort of narrative. The author, who remains nameless, has decided to attempt to write an epistemological novel, similar to Brahm Stoker’s “Dracula”, in that it is made up of letters and other writings from people in the fictional world. This worked for Stoker, but here, it is chaos.

    It is no wonder the author published anonymously. The book desperately needs an editor, as it seems like, at times, like a first draft. The narrative is sketchy and full of plot holes. The author has repeated the same story several times with different details, and overall, has failed to get his point across to the audience.This is one of the downfalls of the modern digital publishing age where anyone can produce a book.

    In truth, it seems he author has tried to do for “The Lord of the Rings” what “Wicked” did for the “Wizard of Oz”. The book makes the most sense when read as the story of Sauron from his followers’ point of view. His constant commands in the early part of the novel to invade and wipe out all those who are not his chosen, his appearances in different forms (from human-like to a flaming shrub) and his insistence on ignorance and obedience in his followers matches perfectly with the dark lord of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth. The names have been changed, I’m sure, because Tolkien’s estate would have never granted publishing rights to this hack. Where Tolkien created a consistent and massive back-story for his novels, the author here has not gone through the trouble. I doubt this book will ever be taken seriously, and will slip into obscurity soon.
    If you like this sort of writing, I would recommend The Silmarillion over this any day. Tolkien’s deities are kind-hearted and just, if a bit naive, and the creation story is a lovely symphony, not the lazy “Fiat Lux” that begins this waste of paper and ink. Even last year’s “Quran” is a more coherent read.
    1.5 stars.

  • Aaron

    @AZSuperman01:

    During his late teens, God experiments with sex and in an odd turn of events that can only take place in a fantasy novel, God ends up as his own father.

    Brilliant!

  • Arthur

    I was given this tome by some frood from Betelgeuse. Unfortunately, unlike the other book he gave me, this one was labeled “Extreme Caution: Vogon poetry contained within. This material only safe for Vogons.” It would take at least a dozen Pan-galactic Gargleblasters to convince me to take the risk of reviewing this book.

  • Dave

    Forgive me for the length of my review, it seemed once I started I had trouble stopping.

    ———————-

    “The Bible” hit the shelves today, and as the publishers have proclaimed it “THE Good Book” and “destined to become the bestselling book of all time”, I had to check it out. Unfortunately like most works hyped to this degree, it falls far short of the mark.

    Before I get into content, I feel I should mention the length and structure. The book is big. I mean, really big. Perhaps because of this, it is divided into two parts, or “Testaments” Why the authors did this, I can’t say, because after reading it is plainly obvious that the testaments would work much better as two separate books. Each of these testaments are further divided into books, which are divided into chapters, which are divided into verses. In my experience, that much forced organization is usually indicative of an unstructured writing style, and that proves true here.

    The first part meanders from subject to subject, sometimes telling stories, sometimes writing poetry. It attempts to tell stories that sound like our history, except that oftentimes it contradicts settled historical facts, so one is forced to conclude that either the authors are uneducated in the history of the world, or that this is a “parallel-world” book, though it doesn’t inform us of such. Also, the stories are often horrific. Murder, slaughter, slavery, mutilation, and mayhem abound. This book is definitely intended for adult audiences, and should be kept as far from children as possible. When they are older, they’ll thank you, not necessarily for keeping them from frightening stories, but definitely for keeping you from bad literature.

    The author of this gargantuan text is anonymous, and I suspect that there are in fact many authors. It would easily explain why there is no consistent internal narrative, and why the style changes in some cases every chapter. It would also explain the great many contradictions, and in many cases, repetitions in the book, though we must assume that the authors had no respect for each other’s works in this case. However, it does not explain how any of this got past an editor, and certainly not a publisher.

    That is not to say that the first part is all bad. Proverbs would be a great resource for a fortune cookie company. Some of the stories are interesting, as long as they are recognized as stories and not moral lessons or truths. However, these few nuggets do not make up for the excruciating reading experience of the first “testament” of this book.

    The second, or “new”, testament has one thing going for it over the first: It’s much, much shorter.

    In the first four books, the authors inexplicably decide to tell the same story four different times, in four of their “books”. It seems again here, that the authors, while they had been attempting a collaborative work, ran into creative differences in what they wanted to tell, and instead of coming up with one acceptable story, told it four different ways, each having their own version of it, that often contradicts each other. Other than the inexplicable redundancy of these books, they actually offer a glimmer of hope. As opposed to the seemingly ceaseless parade of atrocities in the first section of the book, the main character of the first four books of the second part, seems like a genuinely nice guy, though not without his own issues. Unfortunately, like all too many of today’s novels, it turns to zombies to try to spice things up. Thankfully, the zombie character is only very briefly front and center, though references abound the rest of the book.

    Most of the rest of the second part of the book is given over to “letters” written to expound on the message of the first few books of the chapters, but you get the sense in some of the letters that the people writing them are subtly working against each other. Read from a different perspective, the letters actually offer an interesting tale of two competing takes on an ideology, and how one narrative takes over from the others, as it seems this “Paul” guy is going to win out over this “James” guy that doesn’t write as many letters. Still, though, as interesting as that aspect may be, it is not enough to ask anyone to slog through the letters themselves for.

    There is a glimmer of hope for the final “book” in this overweight tome. The Apocalypse of John, as it is called, could be a very serviceable sci-fi/fantasy horror story, with two or three rewrites and a good editor. Of course it, like everything else in this “good book”, it takes itself entirely too seriously.

    Sadly, in the end, I can’t recommend this book for anyone. It is of torturous length, and could easily be 1/5th the length it is now. Many of the tales it tells are certainly not age-appropriate for children, and it tries to teach “morals” and “truths” that are neither moral nor true. In fact it is frequently misogynistic and offensive to most. The method of storytelling and the ever changing styles implies that this book was meant to be a collaborative effort by several (perhaps many) authors, but that they obviously hated each other and attempted to sabotage other’s work by repeating it with contradictions and confusion. What we are left with is a jumbled mess with merely a few nuggets of interesting material. Unfortunately, this means that I cannot recommend it even as a bargain book. In truth, whoever edited (if there was indeed an editor) and published this mess should be ashamed.

  • Bob

    @Gibbon:

    You’ll notice your example specifies a date. The Bible is offered up by evangelists as the Word of God inerrant and eternal.

    So if one is going to claim the work has relevance, then it’s open to criticism.

  • Dan W

    This is a great idea. I checked Amazon, and found several amusing 1- and 2-star reviews of The Bible as if it came out only recently. That and the reviews I’ve seen in the comments here are awesome. I haven’t read this apparently over-hyped book in full myself, but I plan to do so in the future, provided I can get a copy for free -as I don’t want to waste my money on such a crappy book.

  • Carol B

    The Bible, written by multiple and, in some cases, anonymous authors, is a poorly-written, disjointed and confusing read. The first section, The Old Testament, centers primarily around a character named “God.” Told in rambling and often unrelated short stories, God is an unlikeable, inconsistent, and immoral being who demands unwavering adoration, but then showers murder, plague, famine, unimaginable hardships, and horror upon both devotees and enemies alike.

    Seemingly unrelated to the first section, the second section, The New Testament, centers around a new character named “Jesus.” God does appear in this second section, but his persona is so unaccountably different than his previous persona that one wonders whether God is really the same character. In a further incongruent point, Jesus claims he is God. He also claims he is the son of God. The book is unclear whether Jesus truly believes this, or is simply a mentally ill individual with delusions of grandeur, who has no access to medication.

    Overall, the book has no moral value and says nothing relevant, fresh, or interesting for today’s readers. There is no clear plot line; the story is uninspired. Due to its violent and graphic nature, it is not recommended for children. Inexplicably, The Bible has developed a cult following. These so-called “Christians” seem somewhat unstable, and insist that this fictional work is actually non-fiction. Sadly, these devotees have been known to be disruptive, immoral, destructive, and intolerant, much like God.

    The Bible is of no significant value, and holds no promise for any meaningful or positive cultural impact.

  • AJPIII

    Sadly this journalist had the unfortunate duty of reviewing yet another unending serial that promises to generate continuous direction in the lives of the masses!
    The “Pentateuch” is a novel that starts out rehashing several old creation myths and declares a character that uses the same tag line as beloved cartoon character Popeye; “I am that I am!” Filled with innuendo and rife in contradiction the first chapters give an extremely distasteful impression of women. This fantastical meandering eventually winds it’s way through fratricide, world wide floods and 40 years in the desert for a group of pariahs, exiles who seek to maintain their identity.
    The writer referred to as “Moses” is known to be a meek guy who show us how to manipulate a people in a rather inventive way by having a supposedly powerful deity follow them around as “a chosen people” but only if they obey his commands. That invention along with insightful psychological tactics make for the development of a warrior class that then “submits” in the final chapter which ends in detailed instructions to be a “nation of priests.”
    As an avid Sci-Fi reader these stories are Star Wars/Star Trek meets Harlequin romance and will show up in multiple installments with the sequels rumored to hit the book shelves every 50 to 75 years. This may take a thousand years to fully complete but by then who would care?

  • http://n8chz.blogspot.com/ Lori

    Aaron Says:
    June 25th, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    @AZSuperman01:

    During his late teens, God experiments with sex and in an odd turn of events that can only take place in a fantasy novel, God ends up as his own father.

    Brilliant!

    Yah but not as brilliant as Heinlein who conjured up some character who ended up being his own mother, father, son, aunt and brother-in-law, or something like that.

  • http://zeppmusic.com ZEPP

    Holy? Wholey holey. Skip it.

  • Gibbon

    Hitch

    Friedrich Engel’s last novel is situated in the plight of the working class in juxtaposition to the educated and industrial elites. His stern narratives fails to encode the humanity of all groups and paints a simplified economic picture.

    It is my understanding that what Engels tries to illustrate in his book is how the Industrial Revolution has affected society not just economically but also health-wise, primarily in relation to the working class.

    Bob

    You’ll notice your example specifies a date. The Bible is offered up by evangelists as the Word of God inerrant and eternal.

    One: ‘Conditions of the Working Class’ is still relevant today, see China and India. Two: the historical context is necessary to understanding what the Bible says and why, regardless of claims to inerrancy and timelessness.

    So if one is going to claim the work has relevance, then it’s open to criticism.

    Hence why there are so many different sects and denominations within each religion. Criticism of scripture is what has produced the vast majority of denominations and sects within the religions. That criticism which atheists believe they have been trying to start in recent years has in fact been going on for thousands of years and has allowed religions to evolve.

  • Mej

    Never before has a series needed a reboot so urgently and so soon after its first release.

    Written by several previously unknown authors, “The Holy Bible” presents the story of a middle-eastern tribe called the Jews through millenia, starting with not one but two creation myths and ending with the eventual death and resurrection of their deity and primary antagonist, Yahweh.

    While there are the occasionally interesting story arcs and characters, the vast majority of “The Holy Bible” is a slew of conflicted, inconsistent canon and poorly executed ret-cons to a plot so meandering that only the most devoted of fans could pretend to follow it. Characters change names, villains change sides, and everything change wording. Some stories are curiously inserted; others are noticeably absent.

    Strangely, none of this tangle of a narrative has prevented any of several upcoming sequels, each as conflicting in canon as the last.

  • Scootah

    A charismatic cult leader descends on an isolated fishing village and behind a message of universal love and promises of miracles to entice young men away from their homes. As the young men become more and more devote to him, he teaches them the art of enticing other young men to join their commune of love and the truth that his doctrine of a future free from consequences is a future that can only be reached through death.

    Using faith healing, direct and destructive protests against financial institutions, cunning tricks and seductive speeches, he raises a strong movement against the government, while keeping his cabal of young men and their doctrine of universal love close. Going to his own death, still preaching the universal freedom that comes after life, he leaves the young men far from their homes to fend for themselves in a world torn against them, continuing their seductive recruitment of young men to their cause as they try to find their way to the freedom of the next life.

    The New Testament. Darkly compelling. A Worldwide Bestseller.

  • abadidea

    REVIEW: The Bible: An anthology of desert folklore

    This tremendous book- also available as two volumes or 66 booklets- is a near-comprehensive survey of shifting ethical systems across time and circumstances from Ancient Egypt through the glory days of the Roman Empire in the east. Dramatic shifts in the same people-group over a period of thousands of years will prove a compelling and often disturbing read for any cultural anthropologist.

    The first portion of the Bible records the tragedy of a small enslaved desert tribe known as the Hebrews, who fall victim to systematic infanticide to keep their male population under control. Due to the influence of an adopted prince of Hebrew parentage, the Hebrews are able to secure their freedom after severe misfortune cripples the Egyptian economy and military. From here on out, the Hebrews are forced to fight for their place in the world as they compete with other tribes for scarce desert resources. According to the narrative, they have an ongoing relationship with a specific local god, who requires to be worshipped exclusively and hailed as Lord. The Lord often rescues the Hebrews from danger, but he is the very personification of the harsh realities of the desert: he has the power to withhold water, food, land, and safety from his chosen tribe when they displease him or entreat the other local deities of whom he is jealous.

    This early part of the Bible is a chilling narrative of uncertain survival: genocide, child sacrifice, sex, and gore are all part and parcel of this hair-raising window through which we see humanity darkly. Eventually, the Hebrews are successful in establishing a kingdom, and the tone of their surviving documents changes dramatically: poetry, romance, and ruminations on wisdom. It is a time of power and wealth, as the people of the countries called Israel and Judah enter cultural relevance. They have a healthy relationship with their Lord, who proves time and time again that he is more powerful than other gods such as Baal.

    The story takes another twist when the Israelites are overtaken by Persian culture in what is known as the Babylonian Captivity. Here, we see their traditional religion strongly colored by the Zoroastrian view of monotheism, with one good god and one evil god locked in fierce battle over the world. The captive Israelites establish close ties with the Persian royal family, even marrying into it. After a time, many Persian-born descendants return to Israel with the king’s blessing.

    Fast forward four hundred years: the much thinner second volume, written in Greek, brings us suddenly into the familiarity of the Roman Empire. The people collectively known as the Jews go about their daily lives under the supervision of the Roman governor Pontius Pilate. The second volume takes the form of biographies and letters all concerning one topic: a radical left-wing reformer, Yeshua of Nazareth, who preaches the renouncement of wordly goods and an emphasis on personal morals over the letter of the law. The son of a carpenter distantly descended from Israel’s second dynasty, Yeshua claims the Jews should stop waiting for the physical Kingdom of his forefather David to be restored, and instead participate in a figurative Kingdom of those who honor the Father God above worldly concerns. He gathers such a large following of men and women that the priesthood becomes frightened of him, and has him put to death against the wishes of Pontius Pilate and his wife. The image of Yeshua’s mother weeping as he slowly dies of suffocation on a wooden spike is especially tragic and vivid.

    Yeshua’s philosophy soon becomes popular among Greeks looking for something more deep and meaningful, as evidenced by the extensive collection of letters written after his death which preach equality between genders, economic classes, and nationalities, and offer comfort that the spiritual Kingdom of those who practice morality is becoming a reality. Some of the documents take a more mystical view than others; there are two markedly different versions of Yeshua’s biography, one staying largely grounded in his real life and the other clearly written to be a non-literal exposition using Yeshua as a character to explain the author’s ideas. The final document in-particular seem representative of a mystic branch of the Yeshua tradition which experimented with using drugs to see past the veil of reality.

    Overall, a fascinating read for anyone interested in the evolution of a society and its morals, especially when compared and contrasted with today.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta
  • http://www.twominutesermon.com Tobin Crenshaw

    I am a former pastor and would love to receive a copy, the Bible has been a fascination of mine for years.


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