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  #1  
Old 12-09-2010, 03:26 AM
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Default Is the Bible a quality book? (Fiction or not)

I'm guessing a lot of you are going to come in here with a 'it's a poorly written slash fic with two dimensional characters', but hey. Grant it a little thought.

I would probably ordanarily say no, but I was packing up my Narnia books (oh, nostagia!) while listening to Rufus Wainwright's Hallieugh and I was all 'wait, huh?'. They're both very emotionally gripping tales with a lot of root in the Bible. They have plots, and interesting characters, and, well, I liked them.

I'm going to head into this with a fairly confident yes. Thoughts?
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Old 12-09-2010, 04:01 AM
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Default Re: Is the Bible a quality book? (Fiction or not)

Not particularly. It's not something you just read. Where would you even get that idea.
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Old 12-09-2010, 04:02 AM
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Default Re: Is the Bible a quality book? (Fiction or not)

to be honest, it's very hard to just pick up. it's not particularly well written. if you're going to read any of it, read the New Testament.
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Old 12-09-2010, 04:14 AM
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Default Re: Is the Bible a quality book? (Fiction or not)

Well, it's certainly not Harry Potter. But if you can get past the old (old!) English, doesn't it tell powerful emotional stories? If you just use a bit of imagination, doesn't it seem sort of interesting?

Of course, everyone's opinion is different, but I think it has some pretty cool to read stories in it.
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Old 12-09-2010, 04:15 AM
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Default Re: Is the Bible a quality book? (Fiction or not)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Inept At Normal View Post
Well, it's certainly not Harry Potter. But if you can get past the old (old!) English, doesn't it tell powerful emotional stories? If you just use a bit of imagination, doesn't it seem sort of interesting?

Of course, everyone's opinion is different, but I think it has some pretty cool to read stories in it.
Are you implying that Harry Potter is quality fiction?
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Old 12-09-2010, 04:15 AM
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Default Re: Is the Bible a quality book? (Fiction or not)

maybe the stories are interesting, but really it's just not well written. the middle English isn't hard to read, anyway.

also this thread is silly, because you obviously have your opinions already well-formed and were looking for a way to get atheist panties in a bunch or something :B
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Old 12-09-2010, 04:17 AM
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Default Re: Is the Bible a quality book? (Fiction or not)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Inept At Normal View Post
Well, it's certainly not Harry Potter. But if you can get past the old (old!) English, doesn't it tell powerful emotional stories? If you just use a bit of imagination, doesn't it seem sort of interesting?

Of course, everyone's opinion is different, but I think it has some pretty cool to read stories in it.
Emotional stories are not the same as quality literature.

You wouldn't be able to read the bible. Genesis is nearly entirely 'so adam lived this long and had all these kids who had all these kids who had all these kids.' You will die of boredom.
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Old 12-09-2010, 04:32 AM
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Default Re: Is the Bible a quality book? (Fiction or not)

Quote:
Are you implying that Harry Potter is quality fiction?
Well, of course it isn't great to analyze academicly or anything, but seriously, millions and millions of people read it, for fun. It can't be complete crap, even if it isn't Romeo and Juliet or Sense and Sensebility.

Quote:
also this thread is silly, because you obviously have your opinions already well-formed and were looking for a way to get atheist panties in a bunch or something :B
Uh, no. It's rude to make unfounded acussiations like this.

I wanted to know what other people thought of it. Just because other people didn't like it doesn't mean that I'm trying to anger them or something. If you don't like the Bible as literature, that's great. You're entitled to your opinion.

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Emotional stories are not the same as quality literature.
Well, yeah. But the fact that it can cause emotion, doesn't that make it worth something?

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You wouldn't be able to read the bible. Genesis is nearly entirely 'so adam lived this long and had all these kids who had all these kids who had all these kids.' You will die of boredom.
That's true, and there's obviously a bit of a misunderstanding here. I'm asking about the stories themselves, not the long monolouge-y things that bug the heck out of the world. (Despite how general the thread title is.)
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Old 12-09-2010, 05:06 AM
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Default Re: Is the Bible a quality book? (Fiction or not)

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Originally Posted by Inept At Normal View Post
Uh, no. It's rude to make unfounded acussiations like this.

I wanted to know what other people thought of it. Just because other people didn't like it doesn't mean that I'm trying to anger them or something. If you don't like the Bible as literature, that's great. You're entitled to your opinion.
i should probably drop it, but not really dude. it's not very unfounded at all. you even started the topic with "I'm guessing a lot of you are going to come in here with a 'it's a poorly written slash fic with two dimensional characters'". you were practically begging for it. that's dumb.

plus you might realize that i am one of the few people here that are actually tolerant of the Bible as literature.

man, we had a huge debate about this just a few days ago.
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Old 12-09-2010, 05:33 AM
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Default Re: Is the Bible a quality book? (Fiction or not)

The King James Version is an important book to read if you want a deep understanding of English literature, but to judge it like a novel is bizarre and facetious.

Also, there are many versions of the Bible, and most of them aren't in English. I presume Zuu's talking about the King James when he says it's "not particularly well written." I don't agree with that at all - the King James is usually seen as a model of clarity, for its time - but even if Zuu is right, what he said doesn't automatically apply to the other versions of the Bible that exist.

Last edited by Ruby; 12-09-2010 at 05:52 AM.
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Old 12-09-2010, 08:37 AM
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Default Re: Is the Bible a quality book? (Fiction or not)

Besides if you actually wanted to read the Bible, you would read the OT in Aramaic and the NT in Koine Greek
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Old 12-09-2010, 09:24 AM
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Default Re: Is the Bible a quality book? (Fiction or not)

Okay, what. Idk about the bible but the Torah is one of the best stories ever told.

All the characters are three-dimensional. They go on and on showing how, for example, even though King Samuel was an extraordinary king he was a bastard of a person. And the same for nearly every person. Which is why they make such a huge deal over how it's near-impossible for there to be a messiah; even those who were suspected of being messiah's (Moses, etc.) sinned. And were punished accordingly (or over-punished, depending on your opinion).

It wraps in things that are actually happening (historical events, animals, areas that were actually there) so that's it an interesting read just to learn things about what it was like at the time. Plus, trying to differentiate between the real and the fake is always interesting.

Regardless of what you think of how the bible has been used, or religion, it's an incredible story. If it weren't there is no way it would have evolved into this huge of a deal.

If you're talking about 'how often do you pick up and read it' that's an entirely different subject. I never pick up and read Shakespeare but that doesn't degrade from its quality. Plus, millions of people do pick up and read the bible, if for entirely different reasons. You have to acknowledge that there's something drawing them to those books, and the writing surely has something to do with it.
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Old 12-09-2010, 12:23 PM
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Default Re: Is the Bible a quality book? (Fiction or not)

I think it's a bit silly to try and review the bible from a contemporary perspective, especially as to whether it's a 'quality' book or not. What is a quality book? Every version of the bible I've ever read has been extremely uninteresting so I don't think it's use for much more than a doorstop. However, this is mostly due to context. We can't really read the bible how it was intended to be read, because it's so contextually removed from our society; it was written thousands of years ago. I don't think it was initially intentioned to be read at leisure like it generally is now, either, and there are so many versions of the bible anyway. I mean yeah the story is sort of interesting, but the book itself I find absolutely useless.
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Old 12-09-2010, 02:26 PM
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Default Re: Is the Bible a quality book? (Fiction or not)

No. No, it isn't.

Also Narnia != The Bible. Aslan is ~Jesus~ or whatever but the problem is that nobody cares.

I dunno, I was raised Roman Catholic and we never read the Bible; we were just told the stories in a significantly more interesting manner, probably because the prose now kind of sucks.
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Old 12-09-2010, 03:42 PM
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Default Re: Is the Bible a quality book? (Fiction or not)

I find the Eddas much more interesting.

But the CEV is actually pretty entertaining read, more interesting than the KJV at least.
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Old 12-09-2010, 06:12 PM
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Default Re: Is the Bible a quality book? (Fiction or not)

It's kind of hard to judge the Bible's prose or when it starts to get into bizarre ancient morality lectures, so I'm going to stay away from that. Let's assume, instead, that somebody actually rewrote the entire Bible as a novel, with the exact same story but actually tolerably written without going off on tangents about how X, Y and Z are abominations and everyone lived to be seven hundred years old.

I'd say it might be a mildly interesting book, but still rather frustrating to read. Primarily, characters in the Bible keep acting with a downright facepalm-inducing stupidity - the Israelites repeatedly losing faith in the God they physically saw bring down ten plagues upon Egypt, for instance. Seriously, they wandered around for forty years without ever figuring that maybe they shouldn't keep pissing off the big almighty supernatural guy who wants to lead them to the Promised Land and as performed a multitude of obvious miracles right in front of their eyes. Meanwhile, God keeps throwing a fit over every little thing, imposing arbitrary restrictions on people left and right seemingly just to have an excuse to punish them when they break these restrictions. And in the end, he comes down to Earth to die horribly "for" the sins of mankind even though, as the omnipotent highest authority in the universe, he should be able to just decide to let people into heaven without getting himself killed in the process of proving it. (The whole crucifixion story doesn't really make sense in the Bible with an omnipotent God - it needs, as in Narnia, an "ancient magic" that actually decrees a traitor must die without God himself having anything to say about it.) God is a generally flat, inconsistent, unlikeable and boring character, seeming to do most things either arbitrarily or for really stupid, petty reasons - and meanwhile the author is literally telling us, "This is our almighty God! Worship him!" I mean, can you say Gary-Stu?

On the other hand, if our novelist was a little more blasphemous and dared to creatively reinterpret what's happening - like C.S. Lewis slightly modified the crucifixion - we might get a Bible with a flawed God, which in my opinion would be a monumentally much more interesting work of fiction. I think the notion of God simply being unspeakably, excruciatingly bored, for instance, improves the Bible considerably - maybe all the arbitrary restrictions and laws and general interference was just him messing with the people he'd created in the hope of seeing them react in interesting ways he hadn't seen before. And maybe he just honestly changed his mind between the Old and New testament. Hell, maybe he had an actual son, in some sense, with Jesus being not an aspect of him but a completely separate entity, and Jesus was just more idealistic. Maybe Jesus coming to Earth to preach his version was a kind of teenage deity-rebellion, and getting himself crucified was his way of making a point to his tyrannical father. Etc. etc.

You don't even need to go that far. Jesus Christ Superstar is pretty much accurate, except Jesus is confused and doubting the whole thing, not just in the formality kind of "take this cup away from me" way but seriously having no idea what the hell his death is really supposed to accomplish. He's really bitter at the Last Supper, where he's convinced nobody will even remember him when he's gone. And Judas is an understandable, sympathetic character who seriously thinks Jesus is going to rouse the Romans to kill them all if he keeps up claiming he's the son of God.

So, I don't think the Bible as it is makes for a very good work of fiction, but with some reinterpretation it has potential. Then again, you could say that about almost any story.
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Old 12-09-2010, 06:12 PM
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Default Re: Is the Bible a quality book? (Fiction or not)

It's kind of hard to judge the Bible's prose or when it starts to get into bizarre ancient morality lectures, so I'm going to stay away from that. Let's assume, instead, that somebody actually rewrote the entire Bible as a novel, with the exact same story but actually tolerably written without going off on tangents about how X, Y and Z are abominations and everyone lived to be seven hundred years old.

I'd say it might be a mildly interesting book, but still rather frustrating to read. Primarily, characters in the Bible keep acting with a downright facepalm-inducing stupidity - the Israelites repeatedly losing faith in the God they physically saw bring down ten plagues upon Egypt, for instance. Seriously, they wandered around for forty years without ever figuring that maybe they shouldn't keep pissing off the big almighty supernatural guy who wants to lead them to the Promised Land and as performed a multitude of obvious miracles right in front of their eyes. Meanwhile, God keeps throwing a fit over every little thing, imposing arbitrary restrictions on people left and right seemingly just to have an excuse to punish them when they break these restrictions. And in the end, he comes down to Earth to die horribly "for" the sins of mankind even though, as the omnipotent highest authority in the universe, he should be able to just decide to let people into heaven without getting himself killed in the process of proving it. (The whole crucifixion story doesn't really make sense in the Bible with an omnipotent God - it needs, as in Narnia, an "ancient magic" that actually decrees a traitor must die without God himself having anything to say about it.) God is a generally flat, inconsistent, unlikeable and boring character, seeming to do most things either arbitrarily or for really stupid, petty reasons - and meanwhile the author is literally telling us, "This is our almighty God! Worship him!" I mean, can you say Gary-Stu?

On the other hand, if our novelist was a little more blasphemous and dared to creatively reinterpret what's happening - like C.S. Lewis slightly modified the crucifixion - we might get a Bible with a flawed God, which in my opinion would be a monumentally much more interesting work of fiction. I think the notion of God simply being unspeakably, excruciatingly bored, for instance, improves the Bible considerably - maybe all the arbitrary restrictions and laws and general interference was just him messing with the people he'd created in the hope of seeing them react in interesting ways he hadn't seen before. And maybe he just honestly changed his mind between the Old and New testament. Hell, maybe he had an actual son, in some sense, with Jesus being not an aspect of him but a completely separate entity, and Jesus was just more idealistic. Maybe Jesus coming to Earth to preach his version was a kind of teenage deity-rebellion, and getting himself crucified was his way of making a point to his tyrannical father. Etc. etc.

You don't even need to go that far. Jesus Christ Superstar is pretty much accurate, except Jesus is confused and doubting the whole thing, not just in the formality kind of "take this cup away from me" way but seriously having no idea what the hell his death is really supposed to accomplish. He's really bitter at the Last Supper, where he's convinced nobody will even remember him when he's gone. And Judas is an understandable, sympathetic character who seriously thinks Jesus is going to rouse the Romans to kill them all if he keeps up claiming he's the son of God. And Jesus Christ Superstar is pretty darn awesome.

So, I don't think the Bible as it is makes for a very good work of fiction, but with some reinterpretation it has potential. Then again, you could say that about almost any story.
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Old 12-09-2010, 08:07 PM
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Default Re: Is the Bible a quality book? (Fiction or not)

So it's not really the whole bible, just the end times, but they're still some of my favorite books.
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Old 12-09-2010, 08:42 PM
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Default Re: Is the Bible a quality book? (Fiction or not)

When you look at other religions' mythologies and holy texts, the Bible is one-upped in nearly every aspect. I mean, look at the Greek myth regarding the birth of Athena:

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Originally Posted by Wikipedia/Athena
Metis gave birth to Athena and nurtured her inside Zeus until Zeus complained of headaches and called for Hephaestus to split open his head with his smithing tools. Athena burst forth from his forehead fully armed with weapons given by her mother.
Now that's creativity.
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Old 12-09-2010, 11:27 PM
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Default Re: Is the Bible a quality book? (Fiction or not)

That's not indicative of quality, though. At best, it's just whatever symbolism is relevant (in this case, wisdom and being warlike); at worst, it's trying too hard to be ~special~. I can write an exceptionally poor or dull story about someone taking an axe to someone else's head and making a baby come out, or I can write an amazing one about a perfectly normal childbirth. Content isn't writing quality.
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