Another in the reading-the-Bible-cleverly-and-ironically series, alongside A.J. Jacobs’s Year of Living Biblically. What are these books doing? Who is reading them, and what happens to folks who read them? Will this be recalled in a hundred years as the new Higher Criticism—Irreverent Criticism, in which humor brought about the final demise of the holy text’s authority?
David Plotz, the editor of Slate, reads the Hebrew Bible book by book, chapter by chapter, riffing as he goes. It’s CliffsNotes for Scripture — screenplay by Plotz, story by God — which is by turns entertaining, serious, shallow, profound, literal-minded, cute, ingratiating, hilarious.
Here’s Genesis 4:8, the Bible (King James version):
“And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.”
And here’s Genesis 4:8, Plotz:
“The first murder — that didn’t take long.”
Plotz sets out the theological trajectory explicitly:
“He gives moments of beauty — sublime beauty and grace! — but taken as a whole, he is no God I want to obey, and no God I can love.”