Sunday, 19 February 2012

Bible reading notes - the key is to read the odd pages

Have you ever been advised to go and read your bible and reflect?  Sometimes this is an example of christian pastoral care.  When it is said very earnestly it leaves you with a faint aroma of cognitive dissonance.

Dusty bible!  (sourced from this site which advises how to read it - a 'Test Message' being one of the options, surprisingly delivered by 'text message').

For me, there are a few questions that need to be answered.  After all, the bible is fairly thick book.  Worse that that it is a collection of random works that are said to contain 'the inspired word of God", but which were written down by fallible humans.

The first question to your compassionate adviser is "Have you read it?"  Of course they will say yes - and if it comes down to it, so have I.  But when you follow up with "I mean, have you read ALL of it?" you will get a spectrum of answers.  And no - I have not - shocking though it might seem.  But I do know people who have and most of those people are no longer christians.  Instead, they are just nice people who live good lives.

To those who tend more towards the answer that they have read the most important bits, but not the rest, I propose that you recommend them to read other bits.  Those inconvenient massacres of whole nations (sparing the young women who you can keep for yourself), or the massacre of 42 children by two she-bears after they had teased Elishah must be stories that were inspired by god after all.

The Bible - 66 Fairy Tales by 40 authors

To those who have read the whole bible and seem unshocked by the omni-malevolence of their god, I would ask them where they recommend me to start reading.  Generally it will be less shocking to start with the New Testament because it is about the way that Jesus himself introduced the new way of things.  Having said that, you have to decide which gospel to believe, as the four are mutually contradictory on all the important details (like all those that show the Jesus was the son of god).

Even then - they have to rely on you not knowing that the concept of Hell - an eternity of torture - was not known before Jesus.  Judaism had a sort of temporary hell, but the real deal in all its horror was 'invented' by gentle Jesus meek and mild.

So - considering all these aspects of the bible that we should read and reflect about, I was wondering what the trick is supposed to be.  After over 40 years of the church and its teachings nobody ever let me into that secret that the 'true' christians must know.  There must be a simple rule of thumb to ensure that you don't read any of the contradictions.

I know!  Only read the odd pages!

Small note - it works for the first two but seems not to work so well after a few more.  Maybe it is better to leave out the even pages too?


RosaRubicondior said...

All of the pages seem pretty odd to me. Beats me how they ever expected to get away with it. Couldn't happen nowadays.

John Chapman said...

Maybe if we forget the even pages and the odd pages (plenty of them) then we should just read the bits that were left out of the bible by the council of Nicaea in 325 CE?

Hilary said...

I remember when I was a kid, using my old school Bible to press leaves in, because this was the one book that I never read! It all did seem contradictory to me at the time, until many years later when I became a Christian. Quite suddenly, it was like a light going on, and it all made sense. Now it is the book I read the most.

Andreas said...

I remember reading it at 13, at which time the idea that Christianity was not true made as much sense to me as pigs flying (one could ironically say as snakes talking...) and I did not, surprisingly, lose my faith because of it.
The trick to reading the Bible I will hazard are two things.
A: No disbelief, assume the truth of the book prior to reading.
B. Metaphorical and theological reading, as my uncle has done, where you cleverly justify these as stories similar to Platos dialogues etc.
However for now I shall see f I can find the trick to reading the Qur'an.

Unknown said...

Exactly! Me too!