So I did one of those read the Bible in a year plans, out of academic curiosity.
And as I'm sure will come as a surprise to no one, it did not bring me closer to becoming a believer. Further from it, if possible.
Who else here has read the Bible? I think it's great to study as a piece of ancient literature, but certainly not something to live by. (I mean, yikes.)
I heard the main character dies, so I'll just wait for the movie.
Spoiler alert, he can't die, he's a god...but he sort of plays dead for 3 days or so.
Really, only two days, so they are cutting corners.
(Not really their fault..back then they had no zero so conceived of Friday as the first day, Saturday as the second and Sunday as the third...it never would have occurred to them to consider Friday as Day Zero. Similar logic resulted in there being no year zero, AD 1 is preceded by 1 BC.)
There are several problems with bible reading which rarely come up when discussing the bible. This surprises me
1. Reading much of it is one of the most boring thing i have done. more boring than a shakepeare history play or a 1000 page steven king book. It has always read like....gross horror evil God pulling cosmic hissy-fits followed by long passages of extreme bordom followed by more hissy fits. An abridged version may have been a good idea.
2. If you don't read it in ordinary English you arent getting a whole lot of it. King James style bible writing continues to this day. If someone wants to quote an exotic and mystical sounding quote from god they can easily say "And the lord hath given upon thee the smiteful men of Kabook". That sounds like some ancient dreamy story. What this line really means is "God sent you a murderous tribe to slaughter all of you". The first seems poetic to us...the second is scary.
3. Even if you have a modern English translation some will conciously/unconciously clense the narrative to some degree and make notable editorial decisions per what some words mean. Is such and such a word "bee hive" or "sword"? Is such a word "grapes" or "thirst"?
4. Because of the sheer length it is impossible to keep track of the endless conflicts between different books and even within books like Genesis. Also the names of the fictional characters in its pages are difficult to track. There are numerous Johns in both testaments and there are various Marys. There are also endless lists of towns and ancestors which confuse you and overwealm the mind while reading.
5. It is extremely difficult to detach yourself from your ideology while reading the bible. The cognitive bias is extreme. If you read it as a christian you are likely to dismiss the numerous bad bits or gloss over them and possibly invent ad hoc excuses and explanations as you read it. If you are atheists...you may find yourself looking for conflicts and horrid moments to justify your own disdain for the bible and organized religion. If read simply as literature...can one honestly read it as dispasionately as reading The Odessey or The Epìc of Gilgamesh
6. It needs to be repeated that the bible is horrifically boring. Finishing it felt like an ultimate chore. And when i read it I somehow felt the obligation to finish it...to justify my atheism....even though it is absurd that I felt it necesary to do so. God is it ever disturbing and boring that the only prize I think I got from it...was that I knew more about the bible than those Christian lunatics who tried to convert me.
7. Some books are utterly entertaining...like Revelations. Boring yet amusing in its kafquesque description of a drug trip gone bad. Or proverbs...there are common sense morsels of wisdom amongst terrible horrible advice. Job as well...entertaining in the sense that god appears to be the most comical fictional character ever invented debating with his arch enemy that he created. Helarious...yet still the pages drone on and on saying much while actually saying little.
8. Did I mention how tediously wearily boring the book is?
YES, it was very boring reading the long lists of names, places, edicts, blah blah blah...and when it wasn't boring it was kind of horrific. I think there were about two or three things I liked out of the whole thing.
And totally agree with number 5. I hear so many Christians say how the Bible is full of love, etc., but I mostly saw hate in it. (Including very specific instructions not to marry foreigners.) But I fully admit that's due in (probably large) part to my bias.
I read the New Testament when I was a kid. I've also seen every episode of Gilligan's Island.
The latter would be more edifying, especially to post-pubescent straight males.
Have not seen Gilligan's Island, but I have seen every episode of Will & Grace at least a dozen times.
I started but stopped at some point. I didn't see the point of taking precious time going through a bible just to say I read it.
There are plenty of people who DID read it while they were theists...and the experience is part of why they are now atheists.
On the whole, atheists tend to know the bible more than Christians, and there are even sites for Xian apologists that will warn them about that. ("The guy you are trying to convert might know the bible better than you do.") There are individual exceptions in both camps, of course. I generally approve of atheists reading the thing critically, but if someone doesn't want to, I can certainly understand that.