The New Testament in Review: Picking up where “Blogging the Bible” left off
One day while searching Google to find biblical inaccuracies, I stumbled upon an article on Slate by David Plotz titled “Blogging the Bible.” I loved the title, so I read the introduction, and I was immediately hooked. David Plotz is a fantastic writer, and his idea was more novel than anything I had heard before: he was going to read the whole Old Testament and blog about it. It’d be sorta like a continuous book report, providing the equivalent of a Cliff’s Notes for the Old Testament. But I am not doing this justice. In Plotz’s own words:
So, what will happen if I approach my Bible empty, unmediated by teachers or rabbis or parents? What will delight and horrify me? How will the Bible relate to the religion I practice, and the lessons I thought I learned in synagogue and Hebrew School?
I’ll spend the next few weeks (or months) finding out. I’ll begin with “in the beginning” and see how far I get.
That was written in September of 2006. I found it earlier this year. Better late than never, eh? On the plus side, Plotz had finished the entire series by the time I started reading, so I didn’t have to wait every week for the next installment. I was able to read his articles back-to-back, stopping only to work and eat and sleep.
Plotz’s work is fantastic. It is witty and concise and informative and often quite humorous. I’ll quote the author one more time:
David’s deathbed is a very emotional, heartfelt scene that suddenly turns mafia. It starts with David offering eloquent, profound counsel to Solomon about how he must follow the laws of Moses. Then suddenly, David changes gears and starts telling Solomon which scores he should settle.
Plotz is brilliant, absolutely brilliant! You must seriously go read the entire thing today. Hell, start reading right this very second! You’ll thank me, trust me.
Are you back? Did you read it all? Good! As I mentioned before, Plotz stopped at the end of the Old Testament. Which makes sense: Plotz is Jewish. That also means that those of us who want to know more about the New Testament are on our own. Which is kind of a downer.
I did a Google query and found a few bloggers who tried to pick up the reins left by Plotz and run with them. But most everyone who tried gave up before they were half-way through the Gospel Of Matthew. And these were also people who practiced their faith religiously. Part of the uniqueness of Plotz’s series was that he wasn’t practicing regularly, so he gave a more secular view. I liked that!
So I decided that it is up to me to fill in the void. Sorta. There are some major provisos here. The first, and most important, is that I am only promising that I’ll cover the Gospel of Matthew. I really want to keep going and do the whole New Testament, but I am only going to promise what I know I can deliver. Matthew is done and ready, so that’s what I am going to commit to.
Proviso #2: I can’t provide the quality of writing that David Plotz can. There’s a reason that Plotz is an editor at Slate, and a critically acclaimed author. The man is a genius, especially with the written word. The quality of writing is going to be far inferior. When it comes to writing, Plotz is Peyton Manning, and I am a fat guy on a local flag football team.
The next obvious question is: if you suck so badly, what can you bring to this? Or, in other words, can you say anything positive about yourself? And it turns out, I can say at least some positive things about myself. While I am not a great writer, I don’t think I am a bad writer, either. There are times where I’ve written something I think is very good. Others have also told me that they liked what I wrote, which is much more important. In other words, this will not be a masterpiece, but I think I’ll do it some justice.
I will also bring a secular voice to this. I don’t view the Bible in a “this is the Word Of God so every line in it is sacred and every word is true!” way. Instead, I see the Bible as great literature. Literature can be critiqued, it can be dissected. It can be checked for internal consistency. And, most importantly, the intentions of the author can be questioned.
The other question some might ask is: why do i think anyone should care about this at all? to which i answer: I don’t think anyone really will, but I hope at least a few people read and enjoy. In the end, that is why I am writing it. It’s vanity, in a way, but a good type of vanity.
I am going to try and keep a schedule here. Part 1 of Matthew will be posted this coming Thursday (April 8th), and then the subsequent parts will be posted each Monday and Thursday. The new posts will always be on my blog, http://biffster.org. The entire series will be accessible via http://biffster.org/ntir. If you are one of my Facebook friends, you can get an advance preview on my Facebook page.