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Good Book: Things I Learned When I Read Every Single Word of the Bible | [David Plotz]

Good Book: Things I Learned When I Read Every Single Word of the Bible

Good Book is what happens when a regular guy actually reads the book on which his religion, his culture, and his world are based. Along the way, he grapples with the most profound theological questions: Does God prefer obedience or good deeds? And the most unexpected ones: Why are so many women in the Bible prostitutes? Why does God love bald men so much? Is Samson really that stupid? Good Book is an irreverent, enthralling journey through the world's most important work of literature.
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Publisher's Summary

Like many Jews and Christians, David Plotz long assumed he knew what was in the Bible. He read parts of it as a child in Hebrew school, then attended a Christian high school where he studied the Old and New Testaments. Many of the highlights stuck with him - Adam and Eve, Cain versus Abel, Jacob versus Esau, Jonah versus whale, 40 days and nights, 10 plagues and commandments, 12 tribes and apostles, Red Sea walked under, Galilee walked on, bush into fire, rock into water, water into wine.

And, of course, he absorbed from all around him other bits of the Bible - from stories he heard in churches and synagogues, in movies and on television, from his parents and teachers. But it wasn't until he picked up a Bible at a cousin's bat mitzvah - and became engrossed and horrified by a lesser-known story in Genesis - that he couldn't put it down.

At a time when wars are fought over scriptural interpretation, when the influence of religion on American politics has never been greater, when many Americans still believe in the Bible's literal truth, it has never been more important to get to know the Bible. Good Book is what happens when a regular guy - an average Job - actually reads the book on which his religion, his culture, and his world are based.

Along the way, he grapples with the most profound theological questions: How many commandments do we actually need? Does God prefer obedience or good deeds? And the most unexpected ones: Why are so many women in the Bible prostitutes? Why does God love bald men so much? Is Samson really that stupid? Good Book is an irreverent, enthralling journey through the world's most important work of literature.

©2009 Harper; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Here are some of the bizarre, hilarious, and disturbing things in the Good Book (i.e., the Hebrew Bible)....Deeply religious people might be offended by the book, but for the rest of us there's a laugh on every page." (Booklist)
"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)
"Highly entertaining." (The Jerusalem Post)

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  •  
    Amazon Customer Pittsburgh 06-06-09
    Amazon Customer Pittsburgh 06-06-09 Member Since 2004

    Operations researcher

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Lots of fun!"

    Wildly entertaining and humorous. The short sections also make this ideal for listening to off-and-on. The narrator (who is also the author) has just the right tone for the book. While most of the book is a romp through the Old Testament, the final discussion of how this reading affected the author's faith was insightful and thought provoking.

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ron New York, NY, United States 05-07-09
    Ron New York, NY, United States 05-07-09 Member Since 2004
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    "Rollicking trip through the Old Testament"

    Plotz is smarter than his narrator, even though the author reads the work himself. That is to say, there's a bit of "aw shucks" here, which doesn't conceal Plotz's fundamental seriousness and intelligence.

    I've read some other reviews of the written work; many Christians lambast it for not dealing with the New Testament. THAT is NOT Plotz's Bible. He's Jewish, & that's his point-of-view. Bemoaning the lack of NT treatment is absurd.

    The author gives us a very thoughtful, amusing, humane reading of the OT. He gives time and attention to stories that we don't hear in Sunday School (nor in Hebrew School, apparently). Even when one might disagree with Plotz's take on some character or event, there's no doubt that he's reading with an open mind. (The only time I had any quarrel with him was when he bent over backwards to put a positive moral spin on some appalling event, though we seldom disagreed for long.)

    26 of 30 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Plano, Texas 07-08-09
    Mark Plano, Texas 07-08-09 Member Since 2005
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    "Good Background and thought provoking"

    I have never read the bible all the way through either. I was raised going to church every Sunday and most Wednesdays too. I really found it fascinating what was in the Bible vs. the digested stories I was taught.

    I wish someone would look at the new testament the same way.

    I would definitely recommend this book, unless you are easily offended by an analytical book at the bible.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joshua Kim Etna, NH, United States 06-10-12
    Joshua Kim Etna, NH, United States 06-10-12 Member Since 2005

    mostly nonfiction listener

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Good Book"

    The perfect book if you are: a) Biblically illiterate, b) want to know more about the roots of your religion, and c) are too lazy to actually read the Bible. Since I hit on all three of these criteria I definitely quality - I'm thinking of buying copies for my whole family. We could discuss Plotz's book at Passover. Actually, I'm more convinced then ever that I need to sit down with the Bible as a route into my heritage. I got so much out of Good Book because I know so little about the Good Book. Stunningly little. Plotz is funny, smart, irreverent, generous, and argumentative.....all the things that my people pride ourselves on. This book came out of "Blogging the Bible on Slate" - perhaps one of the few instances of any redeeming qualities for blogging.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tom Macquarie Hills, Australia 05-23-12
    Tom Macquarie Hills, Australia 05-23-12
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    "Clarifying, thought provoking, endearing..."

    To anyone (like me) who has read the bible cover to cover before, and thought - no, wait, I have to re-read that bit - or - "How come I never heard that verse in church before?" - this is a refreshing reminder that you are not alone. Opening up the bible and embracing its complexity, and providing a wonderful summary of it in all its difficulty and glory, this is a great non-Sunday School re-listening to all the old stories.

    I've always felt that many of the Christians and churches I know cherry pick the bible before re-interpreting it and mixing it with pop-psychology to spout some way of living that doesn't always feel biblically authentic actually does the bible a great disservice. This book does not do that - it just lays open the stories and thrust of the words, along the way asking valid - if often irreverent - questions. Listening to the bible like this, you actually feel the Good Book evolve and grow up as it makes its way from Genesis to Chronicles.

    I will listen to this again.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John S. Seattle, WA United States 01-25-10
    John S. Seattle, WA United States 01-25-10 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Glad I got the audio version!"

    Although his voice took some getting used to, I think the humor comes through much better on audio than print.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chi-Hung Riverside, CA, USA 09-12-09
    Chi-Hung Riverside, CA, USA 09-12-09 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Hilarious commentary on the old testament"

    I have thoroughly enjoyed this book, it made a very succinct summary on the old testament, so for those who do not have time to read the entire old testament, this is a viable alternative. The moral repungnance of the old testament is a common knowledge, I found his commentary a bit superficial, this book should really be longer. It's still a good book, and I agree mostly with the author.

    6 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ANNE C LONIS 05-14-09
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    "I agree!"

    While browsing in a book store a couple years ago I came across a bible broken down into 365 daily installments, enabling you to read the bible in a year. One year later my thought was -- why would anyone want to worship the cruel, vicious God of the Old Testament. I thoroughly enjoyed David Plotz' book since it pretty much agreed with what I thought.

    16 of 25 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matt Milwaukee, WI, USA 02-04-10
    Matt Milwaukee, WI, USA 02-04-10
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    "I liked it"

    I thought this was a great listen. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing. I think there may be a few things that slipped past the fact checkers but all in all it was a good book, very funny, very captivating. I would recommend this to anyone regardless of religious views.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laurajean New Hampshire, USA 09-19-11
    Laurajean New Hampshire, USA 09-19-11 Member Since 2006
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    "Thoroughly Entertaining!"
    What did you love best about Good Book?

    This book is downright funny. In the very beginning, the author's lisp annoyed me, but as I kept listening, it actually became part of the humor; his voice and tone are perfect for this content. I'm so glad he read it himself or much of the humor might have been lost. If you think you would enjoy a humorous interpretation of the bible, then I can't see not loving this book. Being Jewish, he only covers the Old Testament, although he has Christian schooling under his belt too, and I can only cross my fingers that he writes another one on the New Testament because I would buy it in a heartbeat! I learned a lot about more about certain bible stories when I *thought* I already knew them, so the education was an added bonus to the humor. Many laugh out loud moments. If you're looking for a bigger picture, like does he believe the bible, is he mocking the bible, etc., I would not look so deeply at it. It's simply a humorous retelling of the Old Testament that I think believers and non-believers alike would find very funny. I have listened to it several times now. I fall asleep listening to it, and if I lose my place by the next night it's no big deal, you can really pick up anywhere in this book as he moves from story to story. This was the best audible book I've bought in a long time.


    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
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