Amazon reviews of the Bible

Alert reader Grania Spingies called my attention to a hilarious page:  the Amazon reviews of the King James Bible.  I think a bunch of atheists must have weighed in, for here are the ratings:

And even funnier are the reviews (see the one-star reviews here).  The good part is that they review the Bible as a work of fiction, which of course it is.  Here are a few excerpts:

  • There is little plot to this book, save for in the second half, much of which revolves around God’s son, Jesus, an interesting fellow. Definitely, the story has finally hit a stride, so the New Testament reads like a novella. Everywhere this Jesus guy goes, he travels with his posse of “Apostles,” who aren’t your standard yes men. Although they all sing his praises when the going’s good, one gives a great “I don’t know about no Jesus” performance (Peter) worthy of a scruffy rat like Steve Buscemi. Another (Judas) sells out Jesus for a bunch of dead presidents, like Sean Penn did in “Carlito’s Way.” Unfortunately, Jesus gets rubbed out by an Italian gang, “The Romans,” who torture him and nail him to a cross in revenge for representing on their turf. Lots of high drama here.”Revelations” was pretty weird, sort of like watching “Fantasia” while doing mushrooms, only a lot scarier. Altogether, an excellent read.
  • For those of you who don’t know, this is God’s second novel after the Old Testament. It’s a marked improvement, in my opinion. He got rid of a lot of his previous angst and scorn, and has really begun to show some of the maturity present in his later works. He’s become a much more loving and kind God, and, noticeably, he doesn’t throw nearly as many tantrums as he did in the first book. 

That said, there is still vast room for improvement. Plot wise, there isn’t really much suspense, and the story can be incredibly repetitive. In like four chapters, he just rewords the same basic story over and over again. To top that off, he puts those chapters one right after the other. Like we wouldn’t notice!
  • . . . As well as that, the dialogue between characters is paper thin. Take the New Testament, when Mary finds out she’s pregnant. She tells Joseph that she’s been knocked up by an angel, and he just flat out believes her! Not even a “hold on sista, we’re going on Maury” – he just takes it at face value! How are any of us meant to believe that? Honestly, I swear some of the scripting was done by a monkey with a typewriter. Take this gem from 2 Samuel: 

”Set ye Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retire ye from him, that he may be smitten, and die.” 

I mean, who speaks like that? Honestly! And as if the dialogue wasn’t bad enough, the whole tone is preachy and moralising, rather than engaging and well written.
  • After that there are some very depressing poems and some prose which is equally depressing. There is a VERY sensual book called Song of Solomon. He is basically describing the minutiae of his lover’s body (female, presumably; although possibly a man with gynecomastia and a tight rear) and talking about secksing her up really good, and there’s like a massage to completion and it’s very disturbing. Not an easy read, felt like I was reading smut when I pulled it out in public (probably shouldn’t have been touching myself in public anyway, but come on; bible readers, back me up on this!).
  • I picked this up because I heard it advertised as the Gospel, which translates to “good news.” It opens up by telling the reader how the human race is doomed because two poorly developed characters ate an apple that a snake told them to eat.That’s not good news.I can’t say I found much good news at all in this. It actually closes by telling us that the world is going to end, and how we should all be prepared.I would not recommend this book to others. It does not deliver on many of its advertised promises, and features weak characters and archaic diction.

44 Comments

  1. Posted July 18, 2011 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    Brilliant, we should do the same for the Quran :)

  2. Posted July 18, 2011 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Here is my review for the Quran:

    This book is the third in a trilogy, and true to form the third book is always the worst. The book was not written by the same author as parts 1 and 2 and it shows, he has made no attempt what so ever to write to the same quality as his predecessor.

    The story basically consists of two gangs who are in constant conflict, the Kuffs and the Muslims who are led by some bloke named “Muhammad.” The Kuffs just want to chill out drinking their beers and worshipping rocks but the Muslims want to drink rivers and have sex with women so set out to kill the Kuffs. The plot isn’t very good and jumps around all over the place, it contains lots of flashbacks to historical events which not only does it get wrong from books 1 and 2 but even gets wrong within its own story line. The book also switches between being written in the first person by Allah and the 3rd person by the main character without warning, sometimes within the same sentence. It is repetitive and contains lots of repetition, repeating things it has already repeated earlier….usually about burning kuffs in some kind of magic fire (couldn’t quite understand that bit.)

    Not sure if it is the author who was at fault or the translator, allegedly the book is great in Arabic.

    (1 star)

    • Posted July 18, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

      “This book is the third in a trilogy”

      To borrow the title of a Simpson’s episode, I’ve been thinking of the three as The Trilogy of Error.

      • Posted July 19, 2011 at 12:12 am | Permalink

        Then would the Book of Mormon be the fourth in the trilogy? Starts to sound like the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galazy.

        • Nogbert
          Posted July 19, 2011 at 3:33 am | Permalink

          No. It’s the prequel.

  3. Posted July 18, 2011 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    There are some funny ones on the Amazon.CA bible page. Here are a few snippets:

    – Very disappointed, was expecting more from God. Delighting in tales that either demonstrate His low moral character, or that are simply ludicrous, make this nearly unreadable. To cap it all off I found out afterwards that most of it was plagiarised. Wouldn’t recommend.

    – Best fiction I’ve ever read. Awesome fights and really great plot. Best book since Lord of the Rings. A lot of gore and messed up stuff too, might not be good for kids. Should have a higher rating.

    The bit where David and his men went out and killed two hundred Philistines. And then e brought their foreskins and presented the full number to the king so that he might become the king’s son-in-law was a cool bit. My other favourite is the bit about killing your slaves and stuff. Really cool look at how they lived in this fantasy world. 5 Stars!

    – The writing styles are a bit boring and repetative, and some parts were a bit confusing. For example, they didn’t mention anything about the pyramids in Egypt. Obviously the author needed to do some more research.

    Fairly good plot wise, although the Genesis chapter got pretty irritating at the beginning. It’s your classic kind of novel: murder, sex, betrayal, love, some comedy to lighten the mood (ie Job was pretty amusing, albeit a morbid brand of humor), and some elements of fantasy too, but it’s a little too cliche for my tastes.

  4. Posted July 18, 2011 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Is Danny Greene involved?

  5. R. Romanovich
    Posted July 18, 2011 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    The third comment sure sounds a lot like Ricky Gervais….

  6. HP
    Posted July 18, 2011 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    Whenever someone tries to sell me on the Bible as a great work of literature, I ask them if they’ve ever read The Illiad.

    Judging by the Bible alone, you might think that all Bronze Age texts were jumbled, telegraphic, and contradictory. And by that standard the few good bits really stand out. But the Ancient Hebrews were pretty horrible writers compared to their neighbors and contemporaries across the Aegean.

    • Abbie
      Posted July 18, 2011 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

      To be fair, I think the problem is that the Bible is really an anthology of texts, of varying quality, edited together in many different ways.

      I think there are certain strands of text that are terrific, especially in Genesis, Exodus, Judges, and Samuel/Kings, but they are so thoroughly mixed in with really boring/horrible stuff that it’s difficult to enjoy them as literature.

      • John Horstman
        Posted July 19, 2011 at 10:09 am | Permalink

        Also remember that the texts we see are often translations of copies of translations of copies of original texts written in Ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, Ancient Greek, and Latin. It’s entirely possible that the source texts were much better than what we get, but we lose all of the cultural context that informs language meaning for things like idiomatic phrases or words with multiple meanings or shades of meaning with what appear to be poor translations even at the time they were done. There are, of course, also radical differences between the different historical and contemporaneous editions (inclusion/exclusion of Gnostic gospels, various translations/copies of ‘source’ texts in the absence of any of the original sources, inconsistent uses of ‘archaic’ English in contemporary translations, etc.) that greatly impact the quality of the final anthology as presented.

        What the book really needs is a competent editor to fix the inconsistencies in tone (the conceit being a single author i.e. Yahweh), logical contradictions, narrative contradictions, etc. It’s odd that in the last Vatican council to standardize the Christian Bible these kinds of edits were not incorporated; perhaps it’s intended to have a multitude of unreliable narrators in the model of a postmodern novel WAY ahead of its time (even if this IS the case, it’s not particularly well-written, but this might explain the apparent lack of editorial process).

  7. daveau
    Posted July 18, 2011 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    Those of you with amazon accounts might also wish to rate those reviews as helpful or unhelpful. There’s one guy who is adamant that “it’s the Bible for christsake, not a work of fiction.”* Hilarious.

    *Paraphrasing, of course.

  8. Brother Yam
    Posted July 18, 2011 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    In the first four chapters of the second half of _The Bible_, the story is written so that the protagonist, Jesus, is viewed by four different accounts. This is done haphazardly and without any of the style of that I would expect. Quentin Taratino should have a hand at re-writing this…

  9. John Yates
    Posted July 18, 2011 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Don’t neglect to read the five-star reviews, either! They’re not all written by relgious nut-jobs. Here’s a cracker:

    “Follow God through the years as he overcomes obstacles such as figuring out how to kill off the human race, impregnating a married woman, and being generally disliked by the majority of the world’s population!

    With countless stories about incest, murder, rape, violence, and genocide OK’d by God, The Holy Bible is a laugh a minute! I just love that every hotel I visit already has The Holy Bible laid out for me, where I can easily reach it if I am feeling homesick and need a quick pick-me-up.”

    LOLZ

  10. Sidd
    Posted July 18, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    I was hoping to find a review by a Sumerian named Gilgamesh4ever complaining about flagrant plagiarism.

  11. Posted July 18, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Don’t think that the 5 stars reviews are Xtian fanatics either. Here is one 5 star review:

    “This Comedy-Fantasy is one of my favorites to read when I’m having a bad day, along with the Monty Python and the Holy Grail transcript! King James is a comedic genius rivaling Ricky Gervais and will surely be remembered as such for generations to come”

    • Posted July 18, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

      Yep, that’s the same review that I just quoted two posts up! ;)

  12. Posted July 18, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    Damn hilarious! This is the way all these religious writings should be treated: as works of fiction. And as these go, the bible wouldn’t rate high in my collection.

  13. Posted July 18, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    Hmmm…wonder if I’ll have to post a synopsis of the talking animals, magic wands, and zombie porn….

    b&

    • Gabrielle Guichard
      Posted July 18, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

      Yes, you should. I had never read about “zombie porn” before I started to read your comments and it was as reading the bible with new glasses. It was boring, it became funny.

      • Gabrielle Guichard
        Posted July 18, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

        I meant: the bible was boring.

        • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
          Posted July 18, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

          Well, the zombies *do* tend to come again.

          (Kidding, not boring yet!)

  14. Posted July 18, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    “There arent enough good fights in this book and I think harry potter is better at magic than Jerus.”

    – Bonus points for Harry Potter reference!

  15. Posted July 18, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for steering us to these. Not only were they hilariously fun to read, but they were far more popular than the “straight” reviews of the bible. That’s encouraging.

  16. steve oberski
    Posted July 18, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Some of the unhelpful posts were (probably unintentionally) hilarious as well:

    Mormonism is a pagan religion, and Islam was created by the Vatican.

  17. Posted July 18, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    And it doesn’t have an eight-legged horse either.

  18. DaveH
    Posted July 18, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    See the review page also has a “Customers who viewed this item also viewed” section. Customers who viewed this item also viewed… Horse Head Mask.

  19. John Baker
    Posted July 18, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    Hilarious. I notice that the Koran escapes this treatment at Amazon. If you think the Bible has plot issues imagine the coherence of a ranting schizophrenic and you have the gist of the Koran.

    • Posted July 18, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

      Funny you should mention that. I just added my own educational review of the Bible to the Amazon site: “Better than the Quran!!!”

      Check it out…

      • Posted July 18, 2011 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

        Damn, something screwed up, my review disappeared and now the site won’t let me put it back. I add it here, in the next post.

  20. Posted July 18, 2011 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

    Better than the Quran!!!

    Choosing a holy book is harder than choosing a romance novel. To help you choose, I will compare this one to another best-seller in this category, the Quran. These are the two holy books that get the most buzz around here.

    Based on the marketing hype, I expected these two books would be really different. Everybody likes one or the other, never both, and they all really HATE the other one. However, they turned out to be a lot more similar than the marketing led me to expect.

    For example, for those of you choosing a holy book on the basis of how many virgins you can have, the marketers try to lure you to buy the Quran, but in fact buyers of the Bible can have lots of virgins too, and also plenty of sex slaves (called concubines in these holy books, which have their own special vocabulary). Abraham, a main character, had children with several concubines and a slave girl, while he was married to another woman. Lot had children with his own two virgin daughters. Solomon, another of the book’s heroes, had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines. Virgins are hot property in this book just like in the Quran. That’s why the main character, Yahweh, always orders his followers to collect virgins after committing genocide. (One time they collected 32000 Midianite virgins!)

    Multiple wives are also allowed in both books, so don’t make a hasty buying decision just on this point. Jacob, father of the twelve tribes at the center of the Bible story, had two wives and two concubines at the same time. Gideon had lots of wives too. However, there is a confusing change of the rules toward the end of the book. Not to worry. The main character of that section, Jesus, says: “For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law [the rules in he first section] until all is accomplished.” So I guess you can pick your rules from either section. Polygamists and virgin-lovers will want to pay most attention to the first section.

    It’s tough to keep women under control, and if you are a man, it pays to buy a holy book that puts the fear of god in your wives and lovers. Here too the choice is a toss-up. On the one hand, the Quran is full of instructions for stoning rape victims, non-virgin brides, and women who show their face in public. That should do the trick. The Bible PR team thinks this is politically incorrect, and likes to give the impression that the Bible is different on this score. However, it turns out that the Bible says exactly the same thing:
    “If … the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel: Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die.” Deuteronomy 22:13-21
    “If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city.” Deuteronomy 22:23-24
    So buyers, you don’t have to go with the competition if you want to stone women. There is an important lesson here: DON’T LET THE MARKETERS FOOL YOU! Read these books for yourself before you decide on a purchase.

    As an extra bonus, you can also use this book to control your children, as it tells you to kill them if they talk back: “Whoever curses father or mother shall die” Mark 7:10

    Abortions are sometimes necessary to save the life of the mother, and can ensure that people don’t have babies they can’t raise. So you might be thinking the Bible is a poor choice if you want to be flexible about such things. But here too you would be wrong. Remember, DON”T TRUST THE MARKETERS, read the actual book before purchasing. The Bible is big on killing not just young children (see above) but also unborn babies:
    “Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.” Psalm 137
    Yahweh also kills virtually all the pregnant women on earth (along with their unborn babies) in a big flood. He also repeatedly orders people to kill entire nations, including all their pregnant women and their unborn babies (of course, saving the virgins–see above).

    Another thing to watch out for in holy books is their treatment of “days of rest”. Those days are nice, but sometimes you might need to cook or turn on a light or lift a rock that falls on your foot. So again, you want a holy book that is flexible. Here I am afraid you are out of luck, as both these books say you should be killed for doing things like gathering firewood for cooking:
    “They found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day. … And the LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones…. And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the LORD commanded Moses.” Bible, Numbers 15:32-56

    What to do with people who criticize your purchase? It can be uncomfortable to be ridiculed for buying the wrong holy book, so I highly recommend buying one that tells you to kill anybody who bought a competing title. Again, marketers would have you believe that the Quran should be your choice here, but I found the Bible has this department covered just as well as the Quran:
    “If there be found among you … that … hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them … Then shalt thou … stone them with stones, till they die.” Deuteronomy 17:2-5
    “They entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and soul; and everyone who would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, was to be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.” 2 Chronicles 15:12-13

    One downside to both books is the number of weird rules you must obey (e.g. no planting of two crops in the same field, or wearing clothes made of two kinds of threads). But don’t worry, all buyers of these books quickly figure out ways to ignore the inconvenient parts.

    So it is tough to choose between these two books. Luckily there is one important difference between the Bible and Quran. You are not allowed to burn or destroy the Quran. On the other hand, after reading the Bible you can use the pages as tinder to light campfires or fireplaces, or as toilet paper, or as a doorstop. In this reviewer’s opinion, this is the decisive advantage of the Bible over the Quran.

    • G
      Posted July 21, 2011 at 6:57 am | Permalink

      ROFL hilarious. LOL@ “Read these books for yourself before you decide on a purchase. “

    • Posted July 21, 2011 at 8:31 am | Permalink

      Oh Lou! That is a terrific review. Thank you so much for posting it here.

  21. Graham ASH-PORTER
    Posted July 18, 2011 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    This would be funny – except that – millions of people base their lives around this bronze age novella, and actually see it as a moral guide for the 21st century instead of a record of bronze age record of warring desert tribes! Their god (according to their priest/rabbi) was bigger, better, more efficient at killing than the other tribes god! There is not one moral in this dastardly book, that wasn’t already a part of any civilised tribe or nation. Definitely not worth ploughing through. You will be left feeling ashamed for humanity, clinging to this book and others like it (Quran).
    Go out and buy a good science book, perhaps on medicine and see how we are winning the war on disease, instead of relying on myths that tell of a vengeful god waylaying people with illness for their ‘sins’.
    This is a primitive book that was in need of serious revision before placing before a publisher, who is interested in sales (eg Zondervan, Gideon). Getting the gullible illiterate public to but it to leave in hotels etc.
    If you must read a primitive book try Plato, Socrates etc. These will straighten your mind out.

    • Abbie
      Posted July 19, 2011 at 12:02 am | Permalink

      Serious revision? Yep. I think the person at fault here is the editor. Who let Leviticus and all the priestly law slip in? It completely ruins the flow of the exodus storyline. We end up spending twenty years at Sinai. Quicken the pace! And get rid of all this genealogy and censusing. Nobody cares.

      And what’s with Chronicles? Why are you repeating everything you just said? This is a waste of the reader’s time!

      150 psalms? These could easily be cut down to a dozen without any loss. They’re all the same, basically. Same with most the proverbs.

    • Gabrielle Guichard
      Posted July 19, 2011 at 10:18 am | Permalink

      “serious revision”: the quran underwent one; the editor chose to order the chapters according to their length! Never mind, there is no plot, only criminals.

  22. Ludo
    Posted July 19, 2011 at 2:12 am | Permalink

    One wonders how many deeply religious bible readers ever really (try to) understand what they are reading. Oftentimes ‘reading in the bible’ seems less an intellectual activity than a form of mindless behavior. Thomas Paine: “The Bible is a book that has been read more and examined less than any book that ever existed.”

  23. Amit
    Posted July 19, 2011 at 2:30 am | Permalink

    These single-book people are sitting ducks for being devastatingly reviewed. It will take guts to take on ancient Indian philosophico-religious text that the ‘Sanatan Dharma’ conveniently includes in its canon

  24. Buddy
    Posted July 19, 2011 at 5:53 am | Permalink

    picking on point 3… see Matthew 1:18 – 24. Joseph didn’t just accept the pregnancy. It actually bothered him to the point of giving her up. Though not married yet, according to the law he would have to give her a divorce. As far as the the’s, thou’s, ye and so forth… keep in mind when this was written was at the time of Shakespeare.. apparently this WAS the way they spoke then. It is difficult to read since we don’t really speak that way now. Interpretation is required like a foreign language.

    • Grania
      Posted July 19, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

      “It actually bothered him to the point of giving her up.”

      Except that he didn’t. Like a lot of people involved in a love triangle, he decided to stay in a relationship which was already clearly somewhat undermined. That he decided to buy the “it was a ghost” story is up for debate; maybe he did, or maybe he just decided to stay cos he was in love and thought he could get over her infidelity this time. Or Mary’s dad had the Bronze Age equivalent of a two-barrel shotgun. Either way, the “I got pregnant and I didn’t even know anything until afterwards” story is either the most unconvincing excuse out there or The Holy Spirit is the oldest example we have of a drug-using date-rapist.

      “Interpretation is required like a foreign language.”

      There is a big difference between interpretation and translation. The latter should give you as accurate a version of the original as possible. The former could be almost anything, as modern sophisticated theology has shown us.

      • Posted July 19, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

        You are engaging in literary analysis, no? I mean, it’s as solidly established as these things get that the virgin birth narrative is not merely fictional but stolen wholesale from the same pagan myths as all of the rest of Jesus’s biography.

        With Perseus, for example, even some of the character names rhyme — and not only did Perseus predate Jesus by centuries at the least but no less a second-centruy Christian apologist than Justin Martyr detailed a number of the “coincidences.” And that’s the rule, with no exceptions I can think of off the top of my head.

        b&

      • Buddy
        Posted July 20, 2011 at 4:16 am | Permalink

        I’m sure he was deeply in love with Mary and would of hated to give her up as he was preparing to do… non the less before that could of happen as the story goes, Joseph had an divine or inspired dream where an angel told him not to give her up and that Mary was to have a child whose name would be Jesus.

        “There is a big difference between interpretation and translation.” – Yes you are correct. Bad wording on my part.

  25. ksmatharu
    Posted July 19, 2011 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    Yup. There needs to be a reboot of the series…

  26. Posted July 20, 2011 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    These reviews are revealing and classic. The Old Testament should have an “X” rating for all its violence, sex and gore. If “He” is a loving, compassionate God, I’ll eat my hat! These reviews are an atheists best weapon against the blasphemy and hypocrisy of ALL religious texts, Scientology included. And talk about misnaming things – The “Holy” book is almost as hilarious as “Scientology” trying to usurp the good name of science. There is nothing Holy about the Bible. It was written by man, heavily edited and had whole “books” removed. It can CLEARLY be traced back to its “Pagan” roots in the myths and folklore of several other cultures. The compilers of the Bible PLAGIARIZED the fables and mythologies of many different world cultures. Any study of comparative religions will confirm this.
    SCIENCE PREVAILS, RELIGION FAILS!


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