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Good Book: Things I Learned When I Read Every Single Word of the Bible Audible – Unabridged

4.4 out of 5 stars 111 customer reviews

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By Samuel B. White on October 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Even as an evangelical Christian, I found this book very entertaining and thought-provoking. I rarely agreed with his perpective, but he's a great writer and allowed me to see things FROM that perspective. I laughed several times, thought of a few arguments I might bring up if I ever met Plotz, thought of a few more quibbles with minor points here or there, but NEVER got bored.

I also got the impression I'd enjoy an afternoon talking over these things with Plotz and, while neither of us would probably convince the other, neither of us would go away angry.

I wish he'd tackle the New Testament just because I'm curious to see what he'd say.
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Format: Hardcover
When I was in a seminary, all the books I was referring were written by scholars who have assumed authority in interpreting the scripture. And that is where I was looking if I needed any help. But all that has changed as I was reading "The Good Book," by David Poltz. I ask, Is there a right way to read the Bible? The author, who is the editor of Slate, was thumbing through the Hebrew Bible when he came across the gruesome story of Dinah (in which a young woman is raped, betrothed to the rapist and then widowed thanks to her brothers' murderous rage). Plotz, a mostly unobservant Jew, was aghast--both at the bloody, morally ambiguous plotline and at his own ignorance of its existence. He realized that his biblical education had been woefully insufficient. "Needless to say," he writes, "this isn't a story they taught me at Temple Sinai's Hebrew school in 1980." So he challenged himself to sit down and read the Hebrew Bible from beginning (Genesis) to end (Chronicles). He read a verse or two a day and blogged about it.

Amusing, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, "The Good Book" succeeds because its tone straddles the line between irreverent and awestruck. Plotz as a lay reader is wandering in a strange land full of eccentric people and incomprehensible rules. From Samson and Delilah, he takes away these lessons: "1. Women are deceptive and heartless." And
"2. Men are too stupid and sex-crazed to realize this."
The story of Abraham and Isaac brings him--as it does everybody with a beating heart--to his knees: "As a father, I find this nearly impossible to read. Abraham does not try to distance himself from Isaac, to separate himself from the child he must kill. Isaac remains 'my son,' 'my son'.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a Sunday school graduate back in the day, when we were expected to actually know the Bible, the author's adventure in reading the Hebrew Bible straight through struck me as audacious and courageous. It's no easy task to read (without skipping). Although other critics have found "Good Book" shallow and snarky, I think its "shallowness" is actually more like trying to keep an emotional distance from what is almost completely incomprehensible to modern thought. A God that can order, if not compel, the wholesale slaughter of Canaanites and Moabites is not a God with which most of us feel comfortable.
Calling Him "Our Father" is as difficult for David Plotz as it is for me.
Mr. Plotz's forthright telling of the most well known Bible stories, and some of the least known as well, makes for a rich banquet to feed the mind. He ends his recounting of the Bible with Second Chronicles because the New Testament is not part of his canon, but provides an understandable and short version of most of the OT's chapters. It's not a comparision reading - no gloomy predictions about the future taken from the Bible's many instances of doom - and it's not a holy reading. It is simply a quick retelling, in his own words and with personal asides, of the books of the Old Testament.
Plotz used not only his own Hebrew Bible but also a King James version and a Revised Standard version so at times he points out the differences in how a story is told. This is a pretty good idea because those of us who were brought up with the idea that every word of the Bible was written by God can be pretty dogmatic about the language. Plotz also states at the end that he is no nearer to God now than he was before going on this journey. But he says that the Bible opened him up to being in a verbal, if somewhat argumentative, relationship with the Lord.
It is a book I would recommend to any reader for its humor and honesty. Read the Bible, too. Plotz recommends that, too.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Good Book: The Bizarre, Hilarious, Disturbing, Marvelous, and Inspiring Things I Learned When I Read Every Single Word of the Bible

This is a wonderful book, thoughtful and insightful, yet light and easy to read. It examines the inconsistencies, paradoxes and illogicalities of the Old Testament, as well as pointing out the beauty and the grace of its writing. I enjoyed it so much, I bought two copies, one to give as a gift to a friend.

My only quibble is with the wording of the title. It should read "...Every Single Word of the Old Testament," rather than ..."every Single Word of the Bible," since the author takes refuge in his Jewish roots and confines his analysis to the first 39 books of the Bible. That's a pity, because I think his approach would have much to offer us in our understanding of the rest of "The Good Book."
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