The Bible, (inwardly) digested

If the sample precis of the Sermon on the Mount is anything to go by, the only offensive thing about the 100 Minute Bible is that it turns Scripture into dull journalese.

The Guardian’s John Crace does much better, with a version of his regular “digested read” feature, which provides a tongue-in-cheek digest of a recent book, followed by “the digested, digested” (a one sentence summary for the very busy reader).

Crace’s summary of the Bible’s message reads as follows:

God created heaven and earth in six days. He then made Adam, quickly followed by Eve when he saw that Adam was bored. Their descendants proved a real disappointment, so he flooded the world and started again.

But God continued to have a lot of problems. Abraham was OK, but Jacob cheated on his brother and Joseph was such a prima donna that his brothers sold him into slavery. Moses tried to lay down the law but it took an almighty strop for anyone to notice. Joshua killed a lot of people; so did Gideon; in fact most of the judges and kings were lying psychopaths. Understandably the Jewish people needed to relax, so they sang psalms to the tune of Kumbaya.

Back in the action and it was still looking grim. A few grumpy prophets apart, it was bloodletting on a grand scale all the way. Things improved when an angel got Mary pregnant in 1BC. Joseph was very understanding about this and nine months later Jesus was born. Various shepherds and wise men paid their respects before Jesus was whisked out of town to escape Herod. He spent the next 30 years chilling out before beginning his ministry when John the Baptist was arrested. Jesus tried to avoid publicity but it was hard to keep a low profile when he was pulling off stunts like raising the dead. So it wasn’t long before he collected some disciples, and from these he chose his main crew, the apostles.

Much of Jesus’s teaching was captured when he spoke about the meaning of humility during the Sermon on the Mount. Apart from forgiving sins, he also said that anyone who divorces and remarries commits adultery. These views made him extremely unpopular, but calling himself the Messiah was the last straw. When he rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday he knew his days were numbered. On the Thursday night he was betrayed by Judas and taken before Pontius Pilate, who offered the Jews a chance to reprieve him. They refused and he was crucified and buried.

He rose from the dead on Easter Sunday. Jesus reassured his followers he was for real and over the next 40 days he made a number of other appearances before going up to heaven.

Digested, digested: Then I saw his face … Now I’m a Believer.

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48 Responses to The Bible, (inwardly) digested

  1. Rick Ritchie says:

    A precis is an interesting idea. The New Testament itself offer us some examples of precis in Acts and certain Epistles. But each usually has a purpose to which the precis is put. That keeps us from thinking, “The precis leaves out the less important matters.” Less important to what?
    Most of these tend to have a comic tone to them, I think because we innately know that we aren’t dealing with mere data. To say that “Praise the Lord” is a precis of a Psalm for example may capture that the purpose of a Psalm is to praise, but misses the fact that it is of the nature of praise to be lavish in specificity, either of reasons to praise or ways to praise. It falsifies the character of what it otherwise accurately summarizes.
    Take the Sermon on the Mount. You are right in calling it Journalese. What else is missing is the confrontation. The sledgehammer to the face. The Law is not a set of moral principles, but an address of God to man. (To quote Kenneth Korby giving a line I will never forget. He turned red as he said it.)
    If the comic side of a summary is conscious, that is often to its credit. I get really afraid if someone thinks this is edifying.

  2. Rick Ritchie says:

    A precis is an interesting idea. The New Testament itself offer us some examples of precis in Acts and certain Epistles. But each usually has a purpose to which the precis is put. That keeps us from thinking, “The precis leaves out the less important matters.” Less important to what?
    Most of these tend to have a comic tone to them, I think because we innately know that we aren’t dealing with mere data. To say that “Praise the Lord” is a precis of a Psalm for example may capture that the purpose of a Psalm is to praise, but misses the fact that it is of the nature of praise to be lavish in specificity, either of reasons to praise or ways to praise. It falsifies the character of what it otherwise accurately summarizes.
    Take the Sermon on the Mount. You are right in calling it Journalese. What else is missing is the confrontation. The sledgehammer to the face. The Law is not a set of moral principles, but an address of God to man. (To quote Kenneth Korby giving a line I will never forget. He turned red as he said it.)
    If the comic side of a summary is conscious, that is often to its credit. I get really afraid if someone thinks this is edifying.

  3. Rick Ritchie says:

    A precis is an interesting idea. The New Testament itself offer us some examples of precis in Acts and certain Epistles. But each usually has a purpose to which the precis is put. That keeps us from thinking, “The precis leaves out the less important matters.” Less important to what?
    Most of these tend to have a comic tone to them, I think because we innately know that we aren’t dealing with mere data. To say that “Praise the Lord” is a precis of a Psalm for example may capture that the purpose of a Psalm is to praise, but misses the fact that it is of the nature of praise to be lavish in specificity, either of reasons to praise or ways to praise. It falsifies the character of what it otherwise accurately summarizes.
    Take the Sermon on the Mount. You are right in calling it Journalese. What else is missing is the confrontation. The sledgehammer to the face. The Law is not a set of moral principles, but an address of God to man. (To quote Kenneth Korby giving a line I will never forget. He turned red as he said it.)
    If the comic side of a summary is conscious, that is often to its credit. I get really afraid if someone thinks this is edifying.

  4. Rick Ritchie says:

    A precis is an interesting idea. The New Testament itself offer us some examples of precis in Acts and certain Epistles. But each usually has a purpose to which the precis is put. That keeps us from thinking, “The precis leaves out the less important matters.” Less important to what?
    Most of these tend to have a comic tone to them, I think because we innately know that we aren’t dealing with mere data. To say that “Praise the Lord” is a precis of a Psalm for example may capture that the purpose of a Psalm is to praise, but misses the fact that it is of the nature of praise to be lavish in specificity, either of reasons to praise or ways to praise. It falsifies the character of what it otherwise accurately summarizes.
    Take the Sermon on the Mount. You are right in calling it Journalese. What else is missing is the confrontation. The sledgehammer to the face. The Law is not a set of moral principles, but an address of God to man. (To quote Kenneth Korby giving a line I will never forget. He turned red as he said it.)
    If the comic side of a summary is conscious, that is often to its credit. I get really afraid if someone thinks this is edifying.

  5. Craig says:

    I read some excerpts from the 100-minute Bible as well last week, and you are spot on about how *dull* it is.
    Really dull – like a bad high school text book. Makes you really how exciting the gospel narratives are by comparison…

  6. Craig says:

    I read some excerpts from the 100-minute Bible as well last week, and you are spot on about how *dull* it is.
    Really dull – like a bad high school text book. Makes you really how exciting the gospel narratives are by comparison…

  7. Craig says:

    I read some excerpts from the 100-minute Bible as well last week, and you are spot on about how *dull* it is.
    Really dull – like a bad high school text book. Makes you really how exciting the gospel narratives are by comparison…

  8. Craig says:

    I read some excerpts from the 100-minute Bible as well last week, and you are spot on about how *dull* it is.
    Really dull – like a bad high school text book. Makes you really how exciting the gospel narratives are by comparison…

  9. CPA says:

    The short survey really points out how moral behavior, Law, is all that the world sees in the Bible as a whole, and especially the OT. Not a word about faith vis a vis Abraham. Interesting

  10. CPA says:

    The short survey really points out how moral behavior, Law, is all that the world sees in the Bible as a whole, and especially the OT. Not a word about faith vis a vis Abraham. Interesting

  11. CPA says:

    The short survey really points out how moral behavior, Law, is all that the world sees in the Bible as a whole, and especially the OT. Not a word about faith vis a vis Abraham. Interesting

  12. CPA says:

    The short survey really points out how moral behavior, Law, is all that the world sees in the Bible as a whole, and especially the OT. Not a word about faith vis a vis Abraham. Interesting

  13. D.S.Ketelby says:

    Who needs the Bible, digested or otherwise, when we have Richard Scarry’s Please and Thank You Book.
    I’m joking, I’m joking.

  14. D.S.Ketelby says:

    Who needs the Bible, digested or otherwise, when we have Richard Scarry’s Please and Thank You Book.
    I’m joking, I’m joking.

  15. D.S.Ketelby says:

    Who needs the Bible, digested or otherwise, when we have Richard Scarry’s Please and Thank You Book.
    I’m joking, I’m joking.

  16. D.S.Ketelby says:

    Who needs the Bible, digested or otherwise, when we have Richard Scarry’s Please and Thank You Book.
    I’m joking, I’m joking.

  17. John H says:

    We won’t have a word said against Richard Scarry in our house, I can tell you.
    Though your suggestion looks a little too Law-heavy for a Lutheran household. Do you happen to know if he did any books called, “Richard Scarry’s Great Big You’re Forgiven! Book”, or “Word and Water and Things that Save Us”?

  18. John H says:

    We won’t have a word said against Richard Scarry in our house, I can tell you.
    Though your suggestion looks a little too Law-heavy for a Lutheran household. Do you happen to know if he did any books called, “Richard Scarry’s Great Big You’re Forgiven! Book”, or “Word and Water and Things that Save Us”?

  19. John H says:

    We won’t have a word said against Richard Scarry in our house, I can tell you.
    Though your suggestion looks a little too Law-heavy for a Lutheran household. Do you happen to know if he did any books called, “Richard Scarry’s Great Big You’re Forgiven! Book”, or “Word and Water and Things that Save Us”?

  20. John H says:

    We won’t have a word said against Richard Scarry in our house, I can tell you.
    Though your suggestion looks a little too Law-heavy for a Lutheran household. Do you happen to know if he did any books called, “Richard Scarry’s Great Big You’re Forgiven! Book”, or “Word and Water and Things that Save Us”?

  21. Sure, it’s all cute and Scarry in the early days, but now my eldest has *ahem* moved on to, ummm, Terry Pratchett, and took her mother with her. Lutheran household, indeed. Nanny Ogg meets Katie Luther. Why us clergy ever thought it was a good idea to teach the plebs to read is beyond me.

  22. Sure, it’s all cute and Scarry in the early days, but now my eldest has *ahem* moved on to, ummm, Terry Pratchett, and took her mother with her. Lutheran household, indeed. Nanny Ogg meets Katie Luther. Why us clergy ever thought it was a good idea to teach the plebs to read is beyond me.

  23. Sure, it’s all cute and Scarry in the early days, but now my eldest has *ahem* moved on to, ummm, Terry Pratchett, and took her mother with her. Lutheran household, indeed. Nanny Ogg meets Katie Luther. Why us clergy ever thought it was a good idea to teach the plebs to read is beyond me.

  24. Sure, it’s all cute and Scarry in the early days, but now my eldest has *ahem* moved on to, ummm, Terry Pratchett, and took her mother with her. Lutheran household, indeed. Nanny Ogg meets Katie Luther. Why us clergy ever thought it was a good idea to teach the plebs to read is beyond me.

  25. John H says:

    I used to like Terry Pratchett. Mind you, I used to like lots of things.
    But do I gather you’re opposing the reading of Richard Scarry on the grounds he’s at the top of a slippery slope leading inexorably down to (*shudder*) Terry Pratchett, (*nervous spasm*) JK Rowling or even (*anguished howl*) Philip Pullman? Perhaps we should organise an SBC-style boycott of Richard Scarry by the ELCE. Better safe than sorry. 😉
    Favourite Terry Pratchett quote: “Build a man a fire, and he’ll be warm for a day. Set him on fire, and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life.”

  26. John H says:

    I used to like Terry Pratchett. Mind you, I used to like lots of things.
    But do I gather you’re opposing the reading of Richard Scarry on the grounds he’s at the top of a slippery slope leading inexorably down to (*shudder*) Terry Pratchett, (*nervous spasm*) JK Rowling or even (*anguished howl*) Philip Pullman? Perhaps we should organise an SBC-style boycott of Richard Scarry by the ELCE. Better safe than sorry. 😉
    Favourite Terry Pratchett quote: “Build a man a fire, and he’ll be warm for a day. Set him on fire, and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life.”

  27. John H says:

    I used to like Terry Pratchett. Mind you, I used to like lots of things.
    But do I gather you’re opposing the reading of Richard Scarry on the grounds he’s at the top of a slippery slope leading inexorably down to (*shudder*) Terry Pratchett, (*nervous spasm*) JK Rowling or even (*anguished howl*) Philip Pullman? Perhaps we should organise an SBC-style boycott of Richard Scarry by the ELCE. Better safe than sorry. 😉
    Favourite Terry Pratchett quote: “Build a man a fire, and he’ll be warm for a day. Set him on fire, and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life.”

  28. John H says:

    I used to like Terry Pratchett. Mind you, I used to like lots of things.
    But do I gather you’re opposing the reading of Richard Scarry on the grounds he’s at the top of a slippery slope leading inexorably down to (*shudder*) Terry Pratchett, (*nervous spasm*) JK Rowling or even (*anguished howl*) Philip Pullman? Perhaps we should organise an SBC-style boycott of Richard Scarry by the ELCE. Better safe than sorry. 😉
    Favourite Terry Pratchett quote: “Build a man a fire, and he’ll be warm for a day. Set him on fire, and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life.”

  29. Rick Ritchie says:

    But wasn’t Lowly the worm a commentary on our status after the fall?

  30. Rick Ritchie says:

    But wasn’t Lowly the worm a commentary on our status after the fall?

  31. Rick Ritchie says:

    But wasn’t Lowly the worm a commentary on our status after the fall?

  32. Rick Ritchie says:

    But wasn’t Lowly the worm a commentary on our status after the fall?

  33. Craig S says:

    But do I gather you’re opposing the reading of Richard Scarry on the grounds he’s at the top of a slippery slope leading inexorably down to (*shudder*) Terry Pratchett, (*nervous spasm*) JK Rowling or even (*anguished howl*) Philip Pullman?
    Ah, you’re sounding like my old Pentecostal church. One good thing about returning to Anglicanism – I can fantasy and listen to heavy metal without anyone trying to exorcise me…

  34. Craig S says:

    But do I gather you’re opposing the reading of Richard Scarry on the grounds he’s at the top of a slippery slope leading inexorably down to (*shudder*) Terry Pratchett, (*nervous spasm*) JK Rowling or even (*anguished howl*) Philip Pullman?
    Ah, you’re sounding like my old Pentecostal church. One good thing about returning to Anglicanism – I can fantasy and listen to heavy metal without anyone trying to exorcise me…

  35. Craig S says:

    But do I gather you’re opposing the reading of Richard Scarry on the grounds he’s at the top of a slippery slope leading inexorably down to (*shudder*) Terry Pratchett, (*nervous spasm*) JK Rowling or even (*anguished howl*) Philip Pullman?
    Ah, you’re sounding like my old Pentecostal church. One good thing about returning to Anglicanism – I can fantasy and listen to heavy metal without anyone trying to exorcise me…

  36. Craig S says:

    But do I gather you’re opposing the reading of Richard Scarry on the grounds he’s at the top of a slippery slope leading inexorably down to (*shudder*) Terry Pratchett, (*nervous spasm*) JK Rowling or even (*anguished howl*) Philip Pullman?
    Ah, you’re sounding like my old Pentecostal church. One good thing about returning to Anglicanism – I can fantasy and listen to heavy metal without anyone trying to exorcise me…

  37. Craig S says:

    I was quite disappointed in the third of Phillip Pullmans Dark Materials novels. You know, the one where they kill God. He really does have a childish perception of religion…

  38. Craig S says:

    I was quite disappointed in the third of Phillip Pullmans Dark Materials novels. You know, the one where they kill God. He really does have a childish perception of religion…

  39. Craig S says:

    I was quite disappointed in the third of Phillip Pullmans Dark Materials novels. You know, the one where they kill God. He really does have a childish perception of religion…

  40. Craig S says:

    I was quite disappointed in the third of Phillip Pullmans Dark Materials novels. You know, the one where they kill God. He really does have a childish perception of religion…

  41. John H says:

    Well, as I said in one of my first-ever blog posts, “It’s hard to believe anyone’s written a novel as didactic or moralising as the last 100 pages of The Amber Spyglass since the latter year’s of Queen Victoria’s reign”.
    Such a disappointment after the rest of the series had been so good.
    But as I said in that same post, it’s interesting that Pullman’s inverted “evangelism” seems to rely on making us despise God by presenting him as weak and pathetic – and capable of being killed. As if that were somehow a problem for Christians, as opposed to being the heart of our faith.

  42. John H says:

    Well, as I said in one of my first-ever blog posts, “It’s hard to believe anyone’s written a novel as didactic or moralising as the last 100 pages of The Amber Spyglass since the latter year’s of Queen Victoria’s reign”.
    Such a disappointment after the rest of the series had been so good.
    But as I said in that same post, it’s interesting that Pullman’s inverted “evangelism” seems to rely on making us despise God by presenting him as weak and pathetic – and capable of being killed. As if that were somehow a problem for Christians, as opposed to being the heart of our faith.

  43. John H says:

    Well, as I said in one of my first-ever blog posts, “It’s hard to believe anyone’s written a novel as didactic or moralising as the last 100 pages of The Amber Spyglass since the latter year’s of Queen Victoria’s reign”.
    Such a disappointment after the rest of the series had been so good.
    But as I said in that same post, it’s interesting that Pullman’s inverted “evangelism” seems to rely on making us despise God by presenting him as weak and pathetic – and capable of being killed. As if that were somehow a problem for Christians, as opposed to being the heart of our faith.

  44. John H says:

    Well, as I said in one of my first-ever blog posts, “It’s hard to believe anyone’s written a novel as didactic or moralising as the last 100 pages of The Amber Spyglass since the latter year’s of Queen Victoria’s reign”.
    Such a disappointment after the rest of the series had been so good.
    But as I said in that same post, it’s interesting that Pullman’s inverted “evangelism” seems to rely on making us despise God by presenting him as weak and pathetic – and capable of being killed. As if that were somehow a problem for Christians, as opposed to being the heart of our faith.

  45. But do I gather you’re opposing the reading of Richard Scarry on the grounds he’s at the top of a slippery slope leading to…Philip Pullman?
    Oh yes. There’s that slope I’ll grant you. But the slope I had in mind is the one leading to anguished indecision as to whether one should dress as Rincewind or Vimes for the annual convention in Milton Keynes, or whether one should purchase that 10,000 GBP turtle-shaped display case for one’s magisterial collection of hand-painted lead miniatures. Frankly, Richard Scarry has a lot to answer for.

  46. But do I gather you’re opposing the reading of Richard Scarry on the grounds he’s at the top of a slippery slope leading to…Philip Pullman?
    Oh yes. There’s that slope I’ll grant you. But the slope I had in mind is the one leading to anguished indecision as to whether one should dress as Rincewind or Vimes for the annual convention in Milton Keynes, or whether one should purchase that 10,000 GBP turtle-shaped display case for one’s magisterial collection of hand-painted lead miniatures. Frankly, Richard Scarry has a lot to answer for.

  47. But do I gather you’re opposing the reading of Richard Scarry on the grounds he’s at the top of a slippery slope leading to…Philip Pullman?
    Oh yes. There’s that slope I’ll grant you. But the slope I had in mind is the one leading to anguished indecision as to whether one should dress as Rincewind or Vimes for the annual convention in Milton Keynes, or whether one should purchase that 10,000 GBP turtle-shaped display case for one’s magisterial collection of hand-painted lead miniatures. Frankly, Richard Scarry has a lot to answer for.

  48. But do I gather you’re opposing the reading of Richard Scarry on the grounds he’s at the top of a slippery slope leading to…Philip Pullman?
    Oh yes. There’s that slope I’ll grant you. But the slope I had in mind is the one leading to anguished indecision as to whether one should dress as Rincewind or Vimes for the annual convention in Milton Keynes, or whether one should purchase that 10,000 GBP turtle-shaped display case for one’s magisterial collection of hand-painted lead miniatures. Frankly, Richard Scarry has a lot to answer for.

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