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Literary Glance: The Holy Bible

February 23, 2020

(image via wikimedia)

Writing about The Holy Bible without mentioning religion isn’t easy, but I’m going to try.   People have disagreements about what Bible verses mean or whether The Bible should be taken literally or as a series of metaphors or something in between.

I’m not getting into that.  I’m just mentioning that I’ve decided to read the whole thing.  Despite going to church a lot when I was a kid, I never read The Bible that much.  We’d get some verses in Sunday school or Bible study, but I never felt the urge to read the entire book from beginning to end.

The Bible is a long book; at least it is by my standards.  It’s been translated, and I don’t trust translated books because it’s nearly impossible to capture the precise tones and meanings of different languages. Plus, when I was younger, I was always being assigned really long, difficult books, and I was never assigned The Bible.  If I had been assigned The Bible in school, I probably would have read it, but teachers weren’t allowed to assign it.

I’ve read a children’s version of The Bible, but that probably doesn’t count.  Children’s versions of The Bible are great for telling the stories, but they don’t necessarily get into the hardcore morality that the adult version of The Bible does.  I want to read about that hardcore morality, even if it’s seen as controversial today.

I’ve listened to a lot of people talk about The Bible, criticize The Bible, and I’ve even seen some people making a lot of money off of The Bible.  I don’t even know if these people have actually read The Bible.  I know some book reviewers don’t really read the books they review, so that probably applies to people who talk about The Bible as well. How do I know that some guy who’s gotten rich from talking about The Bible has actually read it?  Instead of listening to others talk about it, I’ll read it myself.

Sometimes I read books just because they’re so huge in our popular culture.  Last year I read Michelle Obama’s book because everybody was talking about it.  I read parts of a James Patterson/Bill Clinton book because it was a highly publicized book.  I even read parts of A Game of Thrones.  Now those books are done; nobody cares about them anymore.

But The BibleThe Bible will be around for a while.   The Bible will be around long after Michelle Obama or James Patterson or even George R.R. Martin are gone.  So I think I’ll read it.


Here’s the copy of The Bible that I’m reading.  In the video below, I explain the background behind this particular copy and why I’m reading it.

What do you think?  Have you read the entire Bible?  When you read it, do you go from beginning to end, or do you just read whatever section you feel like reading?

  1. It’s a daunting task. You are right to be leary of translations, because they can be quite different, comparatively. There is one: Young’s Literal Translation, that can give you an idea of how very different the Greek language is (New Testament) compare to our sentence structures. I took Greek in college so I could try to translate the “original”, and get a better feel for what the Bible actually says, or was intended to say. As you go, just remember that every verse should be read in context, and not lifted out to make apoint, or make it say what we want it to say. If we keep the era in mind, the authors in mind, and the SUBJECT in mind, then understanding is easier.

  2. Good man, end with a question. You’ve drawn me in!
    The bible is not meant to be read as one book, it is a collection of books. The old testament includes “The Torah”, and other Jewish Scriptures, then the gospels, 4 of the many that were written are included as the hard core of Christianity, and the Acts and letters. I generally like letters but could never relate to the mad issues going on here.
    The psalms are nice to read, or sing, the old testament is far more interesting but morally odd.
    My gripe with Christianity is that God put us on a small planet, gave us dominion over everything, encouraged us to multiply, but hasn’t yet stepped up to a say what we should do about over crowding, or over use of resources.
    Surely there is a cult somewhere in americy building a big space ship to blast all its adherents to the other side of the cosmos to seed a new planet and prolong the misery, but I don’t think that would be an answer to any bible story I remember. I recall a lot of talk about a day of judgement. I like the idea of that, that we should all be held accountable for what we’ve done or what we haven’t done.
    I enjoyed you piece on Ulysses, a book that I will always mean to try again to read.

  3. My recommendation is, for the Old Testament, read a Jewish Study Bible. I got a lot more out of it than just slogging through the chapters in a King James…

  4. Anonymous permalink

    Good for you. More than read, study; there is much to learn. I’m 73 and purchased my ticket on that Hellbound train many years ago. While I can’t erase my past, I at least have gained a hope of forgiveness. It’s hard.

    I would be interested to hear how things go for you.

  5. It’s one maybe 1% of books that I’ve started reading, but just couldn’t bring myself to finish it. I realize it’s immensely significant historically and culturally, but it’s a terrible reading, boring, repetitive, and self-contradictory.

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