With the upbringing I had received I began to read the Bible somewhere in my late twenties quite unprepared for what I would find. That was good. Not having it pre-interpreted by either a follower or an adversary of Christianity, I was reading what it really said.
(This is not exactly true. As I realized much later, I did have it pre-interpreted – by James VI’s translators. Consequently, what follows here is about the King James Version, although it might apply to others, maybe even to the original texts.)
I used to summarize each book after having finished it in a few words or sentences for future reference, eg listing Jacob’s sons etc. The other day I came across those notes and wondered whether over the years my mind had exaggerated the feeling of disgust I had often felt during the reading. Surprisingly, I had obviously been fiercer in my condemnation then than I am today (when I’m content with simply stating it’s the most immoral book I’ve ever read).
So if you’re inclined that way, you may get amused or abhorred (as the case may be) by some of the comments I put down back then. (And by my then level of English. Each time you meet a seeming typo imagine a [sic] behind it.)
NUMBERS: [….] God lusts for blood, Israelites for ground. [I think I meant ‘land’.]
JOSHUA: [….] Not all the land conquested, not all inhabitants murdered, and Joshua dies. God is sadistic.
JUDGES: [….] In the end Benjaminites fuck a woman to death. This is avenged. [….]
ESTHER: [….] Not a single mention of God in this book!
JOB: A talkative crap, the lesson of which is this: Because the God has the power, a man should be faithful that he (God) has the truth as well, always, ought not to doubt [….] Sickening. ‘The Party, in its inscrutable wisdom…’ (Gellen)
PSALMS: Somehow like this I always imagined [quasi-folk songs]* celebrating Stalin during his realm. Servile, orthodox.
Mind you, I didn’t just carry on presuming every next book would be as bad. I noted about Proverbs that ‘at last it seems that the writer of this part of the book could be discussed with, which can’t be said about those who preceded him’, or about Ecclesiastes ‘Eventually something I could agree with in that it’s no use in planning as though the future was eternal, but that one should make the best of the present, although I disagree with his claim that this can’t be done by having a good time but only by diligent work’ or, surprisingly, about the Song of Solomon ‘not a bad love-song’. But after that the prophets came on the scene…
ISAIAH: A heap of crap by a fascist hateful preacher of doom and destruction, boring to death.
JEREMIAH: Ditto, by probably a later stupid. Seems God is interested in nothing but obedience. Seems also God is angry with the Jews, so he himself makes other nations destroy them (virtually), for which not He but the nations will be later punished. It’s very dialectic [….]
EZEKIEL: Unlike Isaiah & Jeremiah, this one has a little talent for artistic speech, though indeed a little one, but otherwise [….] the same crap as most of what preceds it.
DANIEL: A fairy-tale at the motive of “how hloupý Honza came to luck and half-the-kingdom” (a whole one in here) in the talkative Old Testament style, hallucinations of the hero of course not omitted.
HOSEA: Another Sodom-and-Gomorrah prophet.
AMOS: Another madman with extremely narrow mind.
JONAH: A fairy-tale with a moral. Not bad for five-year-olds.
MICAH, NAHUM, HABAKKUK, ZEPHANIAH: More representatives of the literary school founded by Isaiah.
HAGGAI: [….] There’s no hate or sadism in this one, which makes it look better than that it actually is.
MALACHI: Yet another blah-blah-blah we heard so many times before; luckily, by this one the Old Testament ends.
I was then recovering from the experience for a few years before commencing to read the second part. If I had any initial hopes it would be better, they were futile. In the end, although I read it through, I stopped making notes after Philemon.
MATTHEW: [….] Not as bad as the Old Testament, but nothing special as well. Jesus morally not (worse or) better than the ordinary man, though posing sae.
JOHN: [….] The Gospels as a whole: not exactly compatible, now and then various gospels claim various (sometimes even opposite) things. [….] Jesus looks much preferable to Jehovah, bot his character is by no means unblemished by fanaticisms, intolerance an other vices.
THE ACTS: [….] First harbingers o fight for power an influence using this particular religion – both internal and external.
ROMANS: The brain-washing idea that faith is what matters stressed again; on the other hand, hints tae the theory of predestination, of “the elect”. The beginning openly homophobic.
II. CORINTHIANS: Mair ado anent how “we are the champions”.
GALATIANS: [….] Liberty (ie blind-obediance tae Paul’s ideas) is better than obediance tae the law (o someone else’s makin).
PHILIPPIANS: [….] Theoretically, the Bible disapproves of [the end justifying the means], but in everyday reality Paul diz approve o’t. (Gin it helps himself).
I. THESSALONIANS, II. THESSALONIANS: Anither twa letters fae a guru tae his disciples [….]
Did it make you wince too often? Well I’ve warned you my English wasn’t too good back then (to say nothing about Scots). Let me atone by a quotation from a master of pen, Joseph Heller, who in Good Knows has king David say something I believe about myself just as well:
I have my faults, God knows, and I may even be among the first to admit them, but to this very day I know in my bones that I’m a much better person than He is.
* actually I wrote ‘častušky’ but I find I misunderstood that word