Holy Bible: King James Versionby Published 15 Jan 2008
|Holy Bible: King James Version.pdf|
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.
Holy Bible: King James Version Reviews
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.
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 more 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 more 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 more? 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 more 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 more 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 more information about them? When it said there was more 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 more 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.
Again, a weird mixture of the very familiar and the utterly off the wall. Most of it went in one ear and out the other.
Beautiful, 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 Solomon
Excellent 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.
You 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 more 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 more, 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 propheting
Malachi: 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 more, because it would be unkind.
I usually like historical fiction, but this particular example has been so mitigated by the poorly-hidden didactic tautology of its too-many-cooks legion of anonymous authors and editors that it was rather difficult to enjoy. It also fell into a similar trap to the somewhat similar 'Da Vinci Code', in that it utilized a lot of poorly-researched materials and claimed them as fact.
A lot of the data matched up poorly with other historical accounts, especially when it came to numerical data. It seems that the authors of this book had a need for an epic beyond epics, and several bodycounts beyond the capability of a pre-modern war.
There was also a problem with the moral and ethical position presented by the book. Normally, I'm not one to nit-pick about such things, since the exploration of ethicism is an important and interesting philosophical task; but, again, this book went in so many different directions with it that it was difficult to keep up. Though the intermittent noir-ish first-person narrative made a lot of moral claims about peace and justice and acceptance, the actual actions depicted by the self-same 'protagonist' were often in complete contrast, such as when he killed all the people in the world except one family.
In fact, the entire book seemed to be filled with sensationalist violence, sex, and incest. It's surprising that I haven't heard more crimes blamed on this book, which often orders the reader to kill people by throwing stones at them (I've heard the sequel, the Qur'an, is even worse).
Eventually, I began to suspect that the book was some sort of in-joke. I think that when all of the editors and writers saw what the other ones were writing, they decided to take their names off the book. Eventually, I guess they just decided to pull a sort of ultimate 'Alan Smithee'; but of course, once all culpability is gone, I think a lot of the authors lost their will to make this into a good book, and so it just got published 'as is'.
I know there are a lot of fans of this book, which makes sense, I guess, since it is really a lot like that Da Vinci Code book, which was also a bestseller. It is pretty fantastical and has a lot of really strong characters, like Jesus (though he's a bit of a Mary-Sue, isn't he?) and Onan. One of the main reasons I read it was because there's this really awesome Fanfic this guy Milton wrote about it, and apparently a lot of other authors were inspired by it, but I have to admit, this is one case where the Fanfic is a lot better than the original.
I guess it's like how sometimes, the first example of a genre ends up not really fitting because it feels so unsophisticated and erratic. I know that it can take a long time to try to get these ideas down pat. Maybe someone will rewrite it someday and try to get it to make some sense. Then again, it wasn't that great in the first place.
There was some really great writing in the book, though. Some of the poetic statements were really cool, like 'do unto others' or 'through a glass darkly', but I heard that those parts were stolen from Shakespeare, who stole them from Kyd, so I'm not really sure what to believe.
I think this is one of those cases where the controversy surrounding the book really trumps the book itself, like 'The Catcher in the Rye' or 'Gigli'. In fact, the Bible is a lot like Gigli.
I offer a a logical review for you:
Okay let's be realistic here, people who give this book one star are simply biased and blind to the beauty contained in this book. Whether you believe the theology behind this book or not you cannot deny the power and brilliance it contains. The whole idea of living is centered around the idea of love. A book with the phrase "Love you enemy" is a book unlike any before it. The poetry and proverbs are inspiring and show depth. Each book has a clearly different writing style yet they all tie together in a cohesive whole. The Bible is a literary masterpiece. It tells us to live selflessly and not store up wealth, give to the needy and do good to those that hate you. Does this sound evil? The Old Testament speaks of what the Hebrew people were to do in situations of evil done, yet are these not just indicators of evil deserving punishment? Later it tells man not to take vengeance into their own hands, for it is not man's place. This book has given purpose and meaning to billions, transforming lives and inspiring the hopeless. It is the #1 best seller of all time. It is geographically and scientifically sound, giving birth to science itself. An incredible and riveting read that spans thousands of years. Still culturally relevant today. Tell me what is not to like?
Too much sex and violence for me.