Sunday 10 March 2024

The Bible as one's favourite book? Are you serious?


Last year I completed my 10th cover-to-cover reading of the Bible, most of them having been in the King James' version. I must have been in my late teens, and still devoutly religious (R.C.) on my first attempt at climbing this 'Everest', reading the then sole Papally-approved version, the Douay-Rheims (the scope of 'approved' has since been widened). At that time for me the task was completely for religious reasons.

So now, some six decades later, when I still read a passage of the 'Holy Book' on nearly every morning (at least 95% of days- as also the Koran, by the way and the Bhagavad-Gita - but all that will have to wait for a future blog post) what are my feelings about this collection of writings comprising what we know as 'The Bible', most of which (nearly all!) by a hodge-podge of writers unknown - even if a name has been attributed it doesn't mean that those are the actual names of the authors. (The four 'official' gospels have assumed named originators even though little or nothing at all is known about them). 
There is no generally accepted selection of 'authentically' Biblical books, no 'standard' of those meriting inclusion in the canon, but what today most mean are the 37 parts of the Old Testament and 27 of the New. This is not the place to go into the history of who and why certain books were chosen while others, of which there were dozens of contenders, were disregarded. Loads of info can, of course, be researched through Google which will likely leave one bewildered with the vast array of 'evidences' (much of which being disputed) plus opinions based to a large extent on pre-conceived notions of what the writer wants to believe. 

But to get to the nitty-gritty - what do I think of the Bible as a 'read'? Well, quite frankly I find by far the largest part of it heavy, stodgy, ponderous, mostly boring, rarely 'inspirational' and only extremely intermittingly even interesting. Those relatively few (considering its vast volume) interesting episodes in both books are so sparingly written, with so few adjectives or adverbs to bring it to life, that they read as dullish reports of events, some highly improbable, rather than involved witness accounts, which they hardly ever were, being written years, decades, even centuries after the purported events. Moses, the assumed author of the first five books of the Old Testament (the 'Pentateuch') takes on the heaviest of all mantles in describing the Creation of the Universe itself, some 13.8 billion years before he was born - or, if one thinks that this 'God' would never allow His human instrument to make any mistake, some 6,000 years ago. So how did Moses know? Well, Divine inspiration, of course - or in other words, God told him! So despite all present scientific evidence in Astronomy, Physics, Geology, Archaeology, Biology......everything! this 'God' must have created all this evidence just in order to fool us into believing it whereas in 'fact' it's a fairy-tale because only the words that s/he dictated to Moses is the incontrovertible account of what happened. It only begs the question - Now why would s/he do that? What would have been the point? Of course we all know the catch-all response in 'defence' is......."God works in mysterious ways". S/he sure does!

But to say that the Bible is one's favourite book above all others? Just what other books have these people read? Have they read any others at all?

However, it's perfectly natural to wonder why on earth I myself keep reading it. I ask myself that very question. The best I can offer is that it's become a habit and still holds a fascination as to why such a collection of largely dull nonsense has become undoubtedly the most influential piece of 'literature', certainly in 'Western' culture, of all time - and I'm still searching for why that is so - though I'm sure that the answer lies in human psychology, the very natural need to find an answer to the most basic questions of existence - wherefrom are we and why? - and it's ever so 'handy' and, moreover, lazy to follow others who claim that they, above everyone else, and despite vast evidence to the contrary, possess the unchallengeable TRUTH

As to it being one of my own 'favourite' books, in that sense I have no doubt it wouldn't even feature in my top 1,000 - or deserve inclusion in such a list at all! My ultimate accolade for the Bible remains a resounding "Bah, humbug!" - though only (overwhelmingly) mostly. 😀