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Don't Know Much About the Bible: Everything You Need to Know About the Good Book but Never Learned Paperback – July 27, 2004

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Perrenial (July 27, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380728397
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380728398
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (164 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #145,789 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

The Bible, author Kenneth Davis explains, fits that definition of a "classic" offered by Mark Twain: a book that people praise and don't read. But this entertaining historical study will likely compel listeners to reach for their dusty copies of the world's most-owned but least-understood anthology once again. And not simply because the author reminds us of the drama and intrigue, the tales of rape, impaling, and ethnic cleansing routinely found in its pages. Davis paints the larger historical context in which the Bible was written, providing a sense of the culture and environment in which the familiar stories came to life. Calling on new research and scholarship into the Bible's composition, he provides fascinating background to dimly remembered stories that gives them renewed impact. Using a series of easy-to-follow questions and answers, he offers explanations about when and by whom the Bible was written; how the stories of other traditions influenced the Judeo-Christian teachings; where the Garden of Eden might have been located; why an earthquake may have played a part in the "walls tumbling down" at Jericho; why Jesus may not have said everything we think he did, and much more. He also points out that mistranslations from the original Hebrew have made their way into modern versions of the Bible, explaining where and how they occurred. Conceding that his program will anger some, as it challenges many cherished but mistaken assumptions about the Bible, Davis also hopes that listeners recognize that Christian belief and uncovering the truth are not at odds in this program, but rather that learning and wisdom, even when they reach unsettling conclusions, can ultimately complement faith. (Running time: six hours, four cassettes) --Uma Kukathas --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Davis (Don't Know Much About History) attempts to teach us everything we need to know about the Bible but never learned. Davis brings to life the world of the Bible by putting it in historical context and attempting to clear up misconceptions and mistranslations. He summarizes Bible stories and parables, adding his own interpretive insights. Among his claims: Joseph didn't own a coat of many colors (the words have been mistranslated); Moses didn't part the Red Sea; Jonah wasn't in the belly of a whale; King David didn't kill Goliath, nor did he write the Psalms; Jesus probably wasn't born in Bethlehem; Jesus performed three resurrections besides his own. Davis also identifies which biblical teachings he thinks were appropriate for a semi-nomadic desert tribe but are no longer applicable to life at the dawn of the 21st century (e.g., the prohibition in Leviticus against planting your fields with two different kinds of seeds). While Davis's engaging volume offers little for biblical experts, it serves as an good introduction for Bible novices.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Kenneth C. Davis is the author of Don't Know Much About® History, which spent 35 consecutive weeks on The New York Times bestseller list, and gave rise to the Don't Know Much About® series, which has a combined in-print total of 4.3-million copies. Davis has been dubbed the "King of Knowing" by because he becomes a subject expert in all of the areas he writes about: the Bible, Mythology, snd the Civil War, for example, and his latest Don't Know Much About® the American Presidents. Davis's success aptly makes the case that Americans don't hate history, just the dull version they slept through in class. But many of them want to know now because their kids are asking them questions they can't answer. Davis's approach is to refresh us on the subjects we should have learned in school. He does it by busting myths, setting the record straight and always remembering that fun is not a four-word letter word. Kenneth C. Davis is a frequent media guest and has appeared on hundreds of television and radio shows, including NPR, The Today Show, Fox and Friends, CNN, and The O'Reilly Factor. He has been a commentator for All Things Considered, and has written for the New York Times Op-Ed page, Smithsonian magazine and CNN,com and other national publications. In addition to his adult titles, he writes the Don't Know Much About Children's series published by HarperCollins. He lives in New York with his wife. They have two grown children.

Customer Reviews

Kenneth Davis writes well, and the book is an easy read.
Djinn Djinn
It doesn't really describe how Jesus was deemed to be a direct threat to the emperor by claiming to be the king of the Jews.
Davis' tone will seem iconoclastic and anything but reverential to most readers.
Proctor S. Burress

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

69 of 75 people found the following review helpful By SPM on October 18, 2003
Format: Paperback
Davis writes like Isaac Asimov. He wants to educate you. In this book, he gets in and gets out fast --- which is good. He tells you the story of Job, for example, in one page. He knows he has a lot to cover, so he hits each point in a page or two. If you want more detail, you can read one of hundreds of other books after this one.
His coverage of the New Testament is good even though it's shorter than his Old Testament section. This makes sense because the New has less content --- fewer details, parables, people, and places.
Davis uses bad jokes and awkward pop culture references half a dozen times. These don't help. I don't need references to Madonna, Baywatch, Jedi knights, and (of all things) The First Wives Club. The references age fast. Some of them come across like the work of an amateur comedy writer.
Other than that, it's a really good book, as good as Asimov's Guide to the Bible. As an introduction to the Bible, it can't be beat. Sure, it's a secular approach, but if it wasn't, it would be twice and long and would no longer qualify as an introductory text.
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46 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Todd Soderberg on June 15, 2001
Format: Paperback
I read this book last Summer, and having read other people's reviews I felt like I had to speak up. First of all, I know people who have read the Bible, but have no idea of the life and times of the people who wrote it or who are in it. I grew up pretty much the same way and did not even learn this type of information at Church. This book gives a background into history of the Bible, stories in the Bible, and incidentally Christianity. I recommend it for anyone who has an intellectual curiosity about the Bible. Even those who don't think they have an interest in the Bible might like this book due to this book's approach and the enormous influence of the Bible on our lives (believer or not).
I disagree with reviewers that think this book was written to discredit the Bible. I suspect that these people are uncomfortable with the Bible being written about in a historical, non-religious manner.
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108 of 127 people found the following review helpful By Proctor S. Burress on August 21, 2002
Format: Paperback
Davis has written a superb work of commentary on the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. It far surpasses the prosaic two volume work by the late Dr. Asimov which, in the main, paraphrases traditional commentary.
Don't let the keen Davis sense of humor put you off. His sources, both popular and scholarly, nail down most every issue in keeping with what is known today in my opinion. Most of us in the Judeo-Christian tradition will find this book both useful and enlightening. Fundamentalists will wish to avoid it as it contains many corrections to opinions offered as fact by under-informed persons in past generations.
Do get this book if you are frustrated with your reading of the Bible. If you are beginning to understand you cannot understand the Bible by simply reading the Bible, Davis' insights will be very useful to you. After all, Davis' research may prove to be more valuable than direct revelation. For example, he provides a glossary that did not come with the original. His "Introduction" and "Whose Bible Is It Anyway?" is not to be skipped. Also, many Sunday School teachers in synagogue and church owe their classes the knowledge this book imparts. This is popular journalism of a very serious subject at its very best. Interestingly Davis does it all without footnotes or even chapter notes. It is very likely that he could have provided such. Both he and his editor decided in favor of ease of reading instead.
Only the wonderful commentary on the "Hebrew Scriptures" by the late Rabbi Sandmel exceeds the insights offered in this book particularly for the Old Testament. However, that tremendous rabbinical scholar was writing to a somewhat different audience.
The Introduction covers a number of matters not usually discussed in Sunday School.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By JR Pinto on December 16, 2005
Format: Paperback
My high school English teachers used to say that the Bible is the greatest book ever written, but it is poorly edited. This is true - partly because different religions were trying to edit "their" Bible in a hurry, over much disagreement.

This book is a great introduction to Biblical scholarship. Although I've read books from the Bible, I haven't read the whole thing cover-to-cover: it is just too massive to attempt unaided. Don't Know Much about the Bible is your guide.

It provides several functions. First, it addresses the question of "Whose Bible Is It?" It examines the differences between the different books and translations of the Jewish and Christian Bibles. Second, it goes through the Bible, book by book, and provides a summary of each. Third, it provides a historical background as to who may have written each book, when, and why.

This is not an overly religious book; some people may be offended. Yet, it is not an entirely secular book either - even while pointing out the seeming "contradictions" of the Bible, Davis never denies the belief in God. His main point is that the Bible is a work of faith, not history.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Francie on November 30, 1999
Format: Paperback
I found this book to be an interesting study of the Bible. Although I did not agree with everything the author had to say, I was astounded by all the facts I had never thought about before. I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a book about the Bible to challenge your thoughts and teach you something.
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