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Good Book: The Bizarre, Hilarious, Disturbing, Marvelous, and Inspiring Things I Learned When I Read Every Single Word of the Bible Paperback – February 23, 2010

4.4 out of 5 stars 112 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Here are some of the bizarre, hilarious, and disturbing things in the Good Book (i.e., the Hebrew Bible). Cain gets off scot-free after killing Abel. Abraham dies at age 175, “a good ripe age, old and contented.” Jacob wrestles with and defeats an angel. God keeps seething about the golden calf. David sets himself up as a guerrilla, a freedom fighter. He’s the George Washington of Judea. Solomon really doesn’t dig Jewish girls, preferring the thrill of the pagan. King Ahaziah is seen as Israel’s precursor to Gerald Ford. Plotz compares Ezekiel to the bad parts of Portrait of a Lady, Madame Bovary, and Married with Children rolled up into a ball of rage. Deeply religious people might be offended by the book, but for the rest of us there’s a laugh on every page. --George Cohen --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

“Irreverent. . . . Plotz’s hilarious exegeses will have you laughing out loud. Who knew the Bible was such a riot?” (Time Out New York)

“A bloody good book. . . . Very funny. . . . Priceless for those of all traditions who see value in posing unanswerable questions to each other, and to God himself.” (The Minneapolis Star Tribune)

“Highly entertaining.” (The Jerusalem Post)

“Like the Bible itself, Good Book contains multitudes—it is by turns thought-provoking, funny, enlightening and moving. In short, David Plotz’s book easily lives up to its name. Trust me, Thou shalt enjoy.” (A. J. Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically)

“Thanks to David Plotz’s amazing book, I will never have to read The Bible. When can he do this for Madame Bovary?” (Andy Borowitz, author of The Borowitz Report)

“Plotz is a genius writer. He can mine Genesis for new insights—and play the book of Job for laughs. He’s the perfect companion for a romp through the Bible: charmingly confessional, a deeply penetrating reader, and at complete ease relating ancient (often obscure) narratives to our modern condition.” (Franklin Foer, author of How Soccer Explains the World)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (February 23, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061374253
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061374258
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #172,205 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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