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Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bible! Paperback – April 7, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 239 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Trade; 1 edition (April 7, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594483671
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594483677
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #116,942 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Several Bible stories get a rewrite in this funny collection by This American Life contributing editor Goldstein (Lenny Bruce Is Dead). In this version, David kills Goliath not so much for his people as for laughs, and Jonah's lesser-known brother Vito fears that God's hand in Jonah's stint inside the whale has less to do with Jonah than Vito's own role in a youthful penis-touching incident. In My Troubles (A Work in Progress, by Joseph of N—), a worried father-to-be deals with the ambiguities of having one's wife knocked up by an angel. The voices of these stories sound like that of the semiobservant Jew in the book's preface, who describes one of God's failed universes as consisting of just one person—a man named Morris who sat in a room by himself, trying to decide whether to cuff his pants or let them drag. With refashioned language and reimagined motivations, Goldstein's biblical characters evoke the kind of touching truths only found at the bottom of deep barrel laughs. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The deeply religious might be offended by This American Life contributor Goldstein’s often-raucous reimaginings of Old Testament tales. But the less devout may find themselves chuckling at the unholy hilarity of it all. Here readers find Adam and Eve talking to God after being banished from the Garden of Eden: “We get it,” they screamed. “You’ve made your point. Now let us back in already.” A misanthropic Noah hears a voice (inside his nose, no less) telling him to build an ark. An enterprising man operates a “Golden Calf” business to compete with the Almighty, marketing the bovine as a “more laid-back, cud-chewing lord.” Swarthy Samson, who’s been shacking up with foxy Philistine Delilah, threatens a mortal enemy: “I will make Jewish his penis with my teeth.” After killing Goliath, an unsatisfied David finds that all he really wants to do is to make people laugh. Even God gets a dressing-down in a brave new biblical world that’s part parable, part vaudeville: “He was . . . tough, stubborn, and prone to yelling in your face for pretty much no reason.” --Allison Block

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Customer Reviews

In fact, a lot of the chapters went on too long and were just boring.
Donna Siren
It's a quick, easy, fun, clever read that will elicit more than a few chuckles as well as moments of tender insight.
William D. Hastings
I heard the author read one chapter on NPR and knew that I had to have the book.
Jim Paget

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Kubelsky on February 7, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had heard the author reading the Adam and Eve story on NPR, which I thought was wonderful. It was a whole different take on the Biblical characters, and was a fascinating (and funny) imagining of their respective characters and motives...making 3-D people out of the relatively flat and familiar Bible characters. And the first half of the book is very much like that and highly recommended (also great to read at the same time as R. Crumb's illustrated version of Genesis).

But then it runs out of steam, and gets too far away from the source material. King David is made into a sort of failed Shecky Greene wanna-be comedian, and it's more of just a superimposition of flat Jewish stereotypes onto Biblical characters. It has little flashes of brilliance, such as the following passage (thoughts of David): "Gone are the carefree days of slaying giants. As you get older you strip away the things you don't have time for, and then you are left only with things you have time for. Your life gets skinnier and skinnier until you wonder why you go on. You go on because there are things that must get done. You become no longer a person so much as a place, an unfunny place where things come to get done." Unfortunately, they're sandwiched between thick layers of schtick.

Of course, humor is in the eye and ear of the beholder. If you're a deep Catskills devotee, then you may get a lot out of the second half. In my eye, the first half is worth the price of admission.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Book Lover on November 4, 2009
Format: Paperback
I had incredibly high hopes after reading this book's hysterically funny preface. Unfortunately, the rest of the book did not come close to the preface in either its wit or its descriptive power. The concept of writing the backstory for specific tales from the Bible is a great one, and some of the stories in this book do live up to the challenge and are entertaining, but many of the stories barely scratch the surface of the originals and just seem silly rather than creative. On the positive side, the preface is so funny that it makes reading the book worthwhile.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By glauber on January 7, 2011
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I agree with what other reviewers have said: the preface is the best part. I think that's because the preface deals with people the author likes, while it's hard to feel any sympathy for the Bible characters in the chapters.

The casting of David versus Goliath as a battle of comics is also one of the highlights of the book, IMHO. I actually warmed up to the book as it went on. The end of the David story, as well as the Jonah story and the Joseph stories, are pretty good. I helps a lot if you have heard the author on the radio, so you can imagine the stories read in his voice.

For whatever it's worth, my favorite book in this genre is still Peculiar Treasures: A Biblical Who's Who
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Heidi Ross on December 17, 2009
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After hearing one of the stories from Goldstein's collection on This American Life, I ordered the book. Each of these reimagined Biblical tales is not only entertaining and laugh-out-loud funny, but also deeply reflective. These stories could be straightforward parodies or "roasts," given the subject material, but instead they are complex and full of human frailty under their compulsively readable surface. Unlike New Testament stories, there is no attempt to paint God as an infinitely caring, loving, knowing parent in the Old Testament canon, so these stories paint a more complicated relationship where God's favor does not necessarily come to those who are "good," or even morally sound. In these pages, being God means never having to say you're sorry. This God is much more human in character--insecure, demanding, despotic, even petty--which, not surprisingly, makes for an excellent page-turner.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Isaac J. Lavoie on December 23, 2009
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From the first chapter, I knew something was different about this biblical interpretation. The book is laugh outloud funny - a radical departure from what King James read. The author paints biblical figure with such a human brush stroke as to make them instantly relatedable. I for one, loved it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amy on August 23, 2013
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I don't know what I expected, but this wasn't it. It was fine, but at some points it just went on and on and on.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Giberson on April 9, 2013
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I heard the first chapter of this book on NPR and thought it was very funny. The author has taken the very familiar stories of the Bible and put a modern twist on them. None quite rose to the same level of humor as Adam and Eve. Do not get caught up in thinking it is sacreligious, it is just another interpretation which gives the modern Bible study a fresh look.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Donna S. Dodd on September 21, 2011
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I found the stories as told on NPR much funnier than reading them. It gave me a chuckle so I guess it did its job.
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