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on February 11, 2010
I had this book for two or three years before I finally read it. If I had gone by the average rating or the reviews which exist now, I probably never would have bought it. I'm glad I didn't see the user ratings before I bought it, because I found it to be a fascinating book, worth the effort to read. I think it will be of interest to religious readers who honestly want to know more about the book they revere, and to secularists who want a better understanding of the massive human effort to interpret the Bible and why it has had such an enduring influence.

I wonder if an editor chose the subtitle of the book: "Why Nonbelievers Must Take Religion Seriously." The author's argument is far more subtle and interesting than this newsmagazine-like line might suggest. And, that argument is only a fraction of what the book has to offer. As a thoroughly secular adult who was raised in a Christian, even Bible Belt, tradition, I certainly learned more about how the Bible was (probably) written. I also gained a new respect for, and understanding of, the group of intelligent, usually religious, scholars who devote their lives to interpreting the Holy Book. Most of them seem not to be Christian fundamentalists. At the end of the book, the author also makes some cogent criticisms of contemporary secularists.

Though the language is occasionally a bit on the fancy side for my taste, on the whole the book should be readily understandable to interested nonspecialists, while being considerably more scholarly than the usual popular secularist offering on this topic. The author does poke some fun at what he might call certain absurdities of the scriptures, but he never descends near to the derisive sarcasm one sees in authors like Christopher Hitchens or Richard Dawkins. I did find some arguments more convincing than others. For example, I'm not as impressed by the book's review of the Bible's comments on homosexuality as I am by its review of scripture and Jewish intermarriage. As one who grew up in a Christian household and lives in a predominantly Christian community, I'm sorry not to see more on the New Testament. I also look forward to the day when a similar book may be written about the Quran.

Due to my few quibbles in the previous paragraph, I would give this book a 4.5 if I could. Since I can't, I'll rate it as a 5 because I strongly recommend it to interested readers and I think the negative reviews I've seen don't do justice to the book's strengths. .
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on July 15, 2006
If you occasionally read the Bible, as I have, at some point it will dawn on you that there is just no clear meaning to be found. The language confuses, the stories are ambiguous and whatever meaning can be distilled from a story here or an admonishment there, will only be contradicted in the next chapter or book. The explanation for why this is, is provided for with such clarity of thought in Berlinerblau's The Secular Bible that it was a revelation for this reader. Once started, this book is difficult to put down. It is filled with such remarkable observations, presented in such erudite prose, infused with such impeckable logic that it disarms. If you ever wanted to make sense of the Bible or Koran or religion in general, read this book and as an added bonus you will walk away with much more than an understanding of the Bible. Inherent in the process of deconstructing the the Bible, are some fundamental lessons in human nature. Upon finishing this book, I felt as though a significant addition had been made to the sum total of my knowledge base. The view from the heights is a little clearer. I plan to go back and read everything this author has written.
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This book is decent, but not for everyone. Many people will find it rather strange. The author makes very good points about the difference between what the Bible says and what people interpret it as saying. He claims in many cases we can't know the former and we will forever be arguing the latter. In any case he does insist that we should not leave the Bible to believers, but that secular nonbelievers need to be part of the project.

I liked most of the book. Don't be mislead by the title and pay attention to the subtitle. It's a good read and a good case for why nonbelievers should take the Bible and its interpreters seriously.
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on April 19, 2006
I found this book to be interesting but disappointing. The writing style is clear and uncomplicated which I appreciate.

I think there is too much time spent on the question of who wrote the Bible. Talk about beating a dead horse! OMG! Give it a break... As far as I am concerned wisdom can come off the back of a cereal box. It isn't the author but the message that is important and in the case of most religious writings the message is pourposely garbled and confused.

Berlinerblau asserts on page 131 "If secularism is to be perserved as the minority position that it has always been (and should always be), it will need to rethink itself." I wonder why secular thought should always be in the minority? Why rethink secular thought? Did a Secular Jihadist fly a commercial airline into the Trade Center? Did a Secular President strike back in vengence by bombing civillian shepards? I would point out that maybe it is time for secular thought to be given more exposure. Instead of making appoligies for the way the religious mind processes world events we should encourage MORE Marxist thought if only to give the population another frame of reference. Maybe it is time for the majority of Christains to rethink themselves. (Or at least read the bible whos teaching they believe they are following)

I did appreciate the work on homosexuality. There the author did a great job of pointing out that the Bible isn't precise in its position on same sex relationships. He points out that the writings are just more confusion. (big surprise there huh?) Then he points out that Jesus said nothing on the topic and I have to add that if being gay was such a big deal then wouldn't Jesus have spent more time talking about that than he did tossing the money makers out of the temple? Maybe Christ the son of God and Karl Marx would have been in agreement on more than the average person would believe.
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on August 19, 2007
First of all, the claim that secularists should know the Bible is obvious. Then the notion that they don't take the Bible seriously enough depends on what is meant. They may indeed only take its threat seriously when they are forced to by the depredations of dangerous religious enthusiasts. Should they take it seriously at other times? Why? It is a marvelous collection of nonsense indeed.

The author is correct in doubting that biblical scholars will ever convince believers that the Bible isn't what they think it is. For almost four hundred years now, since at least Spinoza, we know the Bible is not God's word or anything like that, but believers still insist on their fairy stories and especially on The Blue Fairy of desire.

This book doesn't do me any good. I don't know if someone else will find it useful, I suspect not.
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on January 11, 2007
Good book,

author is clearly coming from a secular perspective and presents his ideas coherently and even humorously.

From an academic perspective I was disappointed that Christianity's cornerstone, the New Testament, was not discussed.

John Grieve.
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on December 28, 2007
Why Nonbelievers Must Take Religion Seriously? Because, Berlinerblau claims:
1) It is not clear who wrote the Bible
2) It is not clear what the Bible means
3) It is not clear whether the Bible is against Jewish intermarriage or not (in some parts it is clearly against it, but not in others)
4) It is not clear whether the Bible is against homosexuals (it only says they should die!)

Well, given the question, these answers don't make any sense to me.
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on October 14, 2008
While i can hold my own pointlessly reciting quotes from the different books of the bible, I am not and have never been convinced that things become more true, when written down.
Sadly, a byproduct of our text-oriented language is that things do gain a certain measure of "authority" just by virtue of having been printed, and the general public reads too little obvious crap to become aware of this bias in their judgment.
The author explains to us how he finds it very frustrating that people are mocking, and even worse ignoring his hobby, and although he does so in rather circumspect ways, his opinion on the matter is very noticeable, and he does his utmost to make sure we won't miss it.
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