The ‘Best God Damned Version’ of the Bible? Really?

BGDVWhat one comes across online when one is casually browsing Amazon!

Steve Ebling is writing a version of the Holy Bible specifically aimed at atheists, agnostics and sceptics and has chosen to call his book Holy Bible: Best God Damned Version. While only one book has so far been released, its intent is clear: debunk and make fun of the Bible and those whose faith is in its authority and truth.

Out of curiosity, I had a look at this short volume and found it to be full of snark, ridicule, foul language and outright disdain for anyone who places the smallest amount of trust in the sacred text. It is not a translation. The author makes no apology for the fact that it is based on The Jerusalem Bible, simply because he thought the wording in Genesis was more akin to his interpretation of–or the way in which he wished to interpret–the Bible. I got through the first 4 chapters and realised that I was, in fact, wasting my time. While there is a place for sarcasm, criticism and frivolity, I don’t think I can take 66 books-worth of this type of ‘humour’ (although, from reading the introduction, I would dare say that the author had anything in mind but comedy.

I have to admit, I am surprised it took so long to attempt such a project and I admire Steve’s perseverance (assuming he does, in fact, finish this work.) I would doubt, however, that even the most ardent atheist would be able to endure several thousand pages of this type of writing. Perhaps a Reader’s Digest Condensed Version of the BGDV would be a less-tedious piece to endure. That said, this is clearly NOT the ‘Best God Damned Version’ out there.

There is an alternative (if you are an atheist, agnostic, sceptic, or just curious): The Skeptics Annotated Bible.SAB

This is authored by Steve Wells and is based on the King James Version which, as one reviewer calls it, is ‘The only Bible recognised by True Christianity(TM).’ (Personally, I would have liked to see a NRSV edition, but I’m sure copyright permission may be difficult to obtain given the proposed content and use of this book.)

This book is a serious and critical attempt to draw attention to discrepancies, contradictions, unscientific claims, incorrect information, and alleged character flaws of God and comes complete with a coded system in the notes to mark each category of claim. It also contains a detailed appendix containing cross-references based on themes found through the text (and hyperlinked, if you buy the Kindle version.) You can read more about this book and see some examples taken from the print version here.

This volume does make for interesting reading, though any person with a background in Bible-centric Evangelicalism will be easily able to dismiss a reasonable amount of what is said based on what is taught in most Bible-believing churches. It comes as no surprise that much of what is said challenges conventional Evangelical thought, especially if it is coupled with the double-punch belief in the inerrancy of Scripture and literal interpretation of the text.

Many in the Christian community would see such a book as a threat or a challenge to their faith and mission. I view it as a means to understanding more clearly the core purposes of our sacred text and how God’s people through the ages have understood God’s story. Those who share my perspective value the biblical text as not only a time-capsule of culture, law and divine revelation, but as a vessel for the message of God to be carried into this and future generations, albeit flawed by human agents and misunderstandings.

I am amused somewhat that so many of those who don’t believe in God seem to lump all Christians together as being literalists, naïve, and an having absolute faith in whatever their church expects them to accept. While there are many ‘brands’ of Christianity that make my skin crawl or seriously cause me to wish I could run as far away from them as possible, I still see Christianity as a multi-layered and multi-coloured faith tradition that allows room for dialogue and disagreement amongst theologians and the laity alike. It is to me a fluid and evolving understanding of faith and practice, and. generally, has a high regard for tradition, including the sacred text and the varied interpretations of that text through the millennia. This kind of faith won’t shrink from the hard questions nor the skeptic’s commentary, but will seek to respond in an informed and civil manner within the context of humility, grace and love. We are all imperfect and all have our areas of ignorance. We would do well to listen to and learn from each other, especially as we who claim the name of Christ seek to be true to what we understand to be God’s word.

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4 thoughts on “The ‘Best God Damned Version’ of the Bible? Really?

  1. I’m, surprised you liked the Sceptics Annotated Bible. It’s not very good either. I’m not sayignt hat because I view it as a Threat, but because even if I knew nothign about the Bible before reading it, if you Read what the verses actualy say in cotnext you realise that Wells is intentionally slantign many verses to suit his own ends, and if you do know, you realise he just copied his arguments from other soruces.

    SAb is a wast of Time. In the end, the peopel critisign the Bible like Wells or Erling just want to bash the Bible, and their otive is Hatred and needign to feel superior, not Reason.

    • What I like most about this Bible is that is really makes me think. I never just take what I read at face value, so it stands to reason that this book will challenge me to dig deeper, look at context, question both my and their understanding of it and, finally, make an informed decision as to what the verse actually says (and means in its original cultural context) and how that will affect my belief/life.
      Thanks for your comment.
      Peace.

    • Completely disagree with the blogger here. I read this book and, as an agnostic non-theist (that won’t put up a fight if you call me an atheist), I found the book to be as humorous and delightful as it was informative. I grew up going to both Protestant and Catholic churches (my parents are divorced) and my father was a pastor for some time. My grandparents were missionaries and heavily involved with religion and politics throughout their career. In other words, I’m fairly educated with respect to what the King James version of the Bible says and this “best god damned version” is pretty much spot on. There are certain areas where he uses his own discretion for interpretation, but nothing major that deviates from the norm. All the things that really matter, the core aspects of the stories contained in the Bible, he explains with a standard interpretation, albeit with tons of ridicule and sarcasm in the process (which is part of the charm of the book). Clearly, if you are a Christian you won’t enjoy this book at all– not even as a means of testing your faith; a chance to prove your devotion to dogma to God and the rest of the world. Stay away from this book if you are a Christian…any other faith, pick it up and have a laugh or too!

  2. Honestly, I think you just dislike the Best God Damned Version because you know it is quite literally the best god damned version. I think you’re either too attached to the Bible, or you’re too attached to the Skeptics Annotated Bible. Either way, you probably just don’t want to admit that, if he didn’t make such a joke about it, he would be completely correct and would oppose your beliefs which obviously would anger you like most people. I personally think that this book glues you too it with its amazing arguments, and CEMENTS you to it with its humor which is too OVER-HATED in your comment. You really should loosen up.

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