I’ve decided to finally sit down and read the bible, but I’m finding it to be terribly tedious. This book could benefit greatly from editing. I’m encountering a bunch of useless accounts of lineage and pointless stories that fail to advance the story or even one’s moral understanding. I’m working my way through Genesis right now. Can anyone offer suggestions as to the essentials of this section? In other words, what’s worth reading? I’m finding that a lot of it is a waste of my time.

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Why would I need to read the Bible to say I don't believe in it?  At best, I could read it and find out that it's internally consistent, but that wouldn't raise its authority or redeem the bad foundations on which it is established.  I make no assertions that all claims in the Bible are untrue, but I do claim that the document itself lacks sufficient credential given the role its adherents want it to play in our lives.

I wrote a book about how Unicorns are an endangered species , and the last survivors are on a remote part of Antarctica ... they actually live under the ice.  They are hibernating so one day they can procreate and populate the earth once again.  I actually proved that birds descended from these animals because unicorns fly , but underneath their skin , they have scales .. from the dinosaur era.  

 

Do you believe me?  Have you read my book?  

@Dustin: I see your point, but the big difference is that the bible is so much a part of everyday life/ discussion that one has a fairly good idea as to its content even without reading it. One doesn’t need to read it to not believe in it just as apparently one doesn’t need to read it to believe in it… though, I personally think the quickest road to disbelief is to read it. Once you get beyond notions of belief, there are other more practical reasons to read it.

Reading the bible as an atheist is much more entertaining than it was in my younger years. (when my parents were exposing me to Christianity)
All of those begats are pretty boring but if your goal is to convert theists, then you should read the Bible. I read it in the 70's when I was a Jesus freak. Back then I used 15 or 20 years per generation and got Adam still alive after Noah was born(no Internet back then). I consider reading the Bible as a pointless activity because my memory isn't all that great. So even if I was motivated to engage in arguments with people that fall back on the argument that faith is more important that logic, pointing out flaws in the Bible wouldn't be all that effective anyway.

Reading the bible is good for some base arguments against the absurdity of not only Christianity, but as religion as a whole.


If you are going to climb this mountain, I would suggest reading other theological texts such as Thomas Aquinas (true a Catholic, but some of his reasoning resounds in modern Christianity). Summa Theologica shows a "logical" reasoning to the beliefs and practices concerning God, sin, worship, and morals.

 

Just for added measure, I would also point out modern theology thinkers such as Thomas Merton, and also all the evangelists you see on TV such as Joel Osteen (God helps those who help themselves). Also, for the batshit crazy, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson.

 

Though, I find all this to be wasted time as there is no way in winning against someone who is strictly devout.

It is painful- but it may be worth the read, though, to be familiar with it.

Afterwards, you should consider Who Wrote the Bible and Jesus, Interrupted (and possibly The Rejection of Pascal's Wager - also, I read good things about The End of Biblical Studies by Avalos - although I have it, I haven't read it yet).

Good luck- I read and studied the Bible when I was younger- it is nowhere near as "great" as Christians make it out to be - personally, I think it is a horrible book that has done more harm than good.

 

I believe it is a good thing to read the bible at some point in ones life. The bible is referenced in so much literature and pop culture it is good have that background. Aside from supplying yourself with a knowledge that few Christians have you also gain credibility in your argument. Few christians have read the bible all the way through and they will not accept your statements without seeing their side of the argument even if they refuse to see yours. 

Friend, are you trying to understand more about the Jewish or the Christian perspective?  If it's the Jewish perspective, then try finding a good, factual book about Judaism to help guide you through the Torah / Pentateuch and any other particularly special areas of the Bible.  You might like reading Genesis / the Old Testament much better when you know why the Jewish leaders included all that stuff in those books. 

 

As for the Christian perspective, I recommend that you start in the New Testament in the book of Luke.  Then, read John and Acts.  Those books contain the stuff that Christians believe.  Those books also read more like stories without all the begats and he said/ she said that is hard to get through.  End your initial journey with Revelation for some mind-bending stuff.  You may wish try using an online reference about Revelation to help you understand what all that stuff is supposed to mean.

 

Good luck with the reading.  It can be tedious, but it doesn't have to overwhelm you.  It's like any other old book on any subject.  A newer translation or a reference guide might best help you understand the message in it.

One problem with skipping the old testament to get the 'Christian perspective' is that without the old testament there is no 'Christ'.  There are several references to old testament prophecies, the declaration that Jesus came here to 'fulfill the law' (requiring knowledge of what the law was at the time, also realizing that Christians shouldn't be eating pork), and of course getting a concept of what the Pharisees were on about.

 

Anyway, the begats are all the important, except that they trace the lineage of the Judean kings all the way back to Adam and establish the lineage of Jesus - although one gospel establishes his lineage through Mary while the other one establishes it through Joseph (sort of blowing the immaculate conception out of the water, but necessary for the prophecy that he would be a Levite).  There are some nice online charts of that stuff though.

 

A little outside study of Saul of Tarsus comes in handy to realizing that Christianity is actually Paulism - but that's another issue.

When you finish, you might look into the banned books of the Bible as a counterpoint to what did make the grade. Jesus adolescent years. Some really fantastical stuff, even more so than the rest of the New Testament. I actually enjoyed reading those. Some real knee slappers.
Ha! @HuffingtonPost: These things didn't make it into the Bible http://t.co/P6SqVqY

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