Monday, May 22, 2006

Blogging the Bible

I've been enjoying a new offering over at Slate, Blogging the Bible. It's the project of David Plotz, a Jew who has decided to read the Bible from the beginning and find out what it's all about. Here's an excerpt from his page entitled What happens when an ignoramus reads the Good Book:

My goal is pretty simple. I want to find out what happens when an ignorant person actually reads the book on which his religion is based. I think I'm in the same position as many other lazy but faithful people (Christians, Jews, Moslems, Hindus). I love Judaism; I love (most of) the lessons it has taught me about how to live in the world; and yet I realized I am fundamentally ignorant about its foundation, its essential document. So, what will happen if I approach my Bible empty, unmediated by teachers or rabbis or parents?

In his first post, Mr. Plotz reacts to the first chapter of Genesis:

You'd think God would know exactly what He's doing, but He doesn't. He's a tinkerer. He tries something out—what if I move all the water around so dry land can appear? He checks it out. He sees "that it was good." Then He moves on to the next experiment—how about plants? Let's try plants.

I've become fascinated by the blog because it's cleverly written and Mr. Plotz appears to be asking some honest questions. Sure, he's going for some laughs, but I like the transparency of his approach. I also like that he posts a link to an online version of each chapter as he discusses it.

Here's part of what he had to say about Chapter 12 of Genesis:

Jews had the three wise men before Jesus! Three strangers visit Abraham, and he welcomes them hospitably. One of the strangers—who are messengers of God—announces, "I will return to you next year, and your wife Sarah shall have a son." The Christ story is a clear rip-off. In the Christmas tale, it's impossible for Mary to have a child because she's a virgin, but she does, and three supernatural visitors herald the child's birth. Here it's impossible for Sarah to have a child because she's post-menopausal (as we are told very directly: "Sarah had stopped having the periods of women")—but she does, and three supernatural visitors herald it. The big difference: We Jews do not have any good songs about this incident.

We Christians who have been well taught and who read our Bibles on a daily basis will likely wince at the factual errors and misconceptions that appear in nearly every paragraph of Mr. Plotz's posts. But let's cut the guy some slack. He readily admits to his ignorance, and this is the first time he's picked up a Bible to read it through. He'll learn.

And maybe the rest of us will learn something, too.


Susan Kaye said...

Well, we can hope he learns. If he reads the Old and New Testaments as individual books with overarching, interconnected themes, there is hope. If he reads with each book and/or incident in isolation, I'm doubtful of his progress.

GeorgianaD said...

I believe that anyone who reads the Bible from cover to cover is bound to get some truth out of it. It'll be interesting to see what happens.

cantnever said...

What an interesting post! Thanks for sharing it. There's so much out there we often fail to find the wonderful ones. And by the way, I enjoy the eclectic feel and humor of YOUR blog and never miss it. -Chris

Brenda Coulter said...

Thank you, Chris.

Susan Kaye said...

After telling a friend about this post, and Mr. Plotz's comments about Genesis, she said it is ALWAYS a dangerous thing to put yourself in the way of the Holy Spirit.

I have to agree.