Blogging the Good Book

BLOGGING THE GOOD BOOK….David Plotz, while twiddling his thumbs at a recent bat mitzvah, picked up a copy of the Torah and idly started reading it. He was, it turns out, shocked and repelled by the surprisingly Old Testament brutality contained in the Old Testament, and decided to learn more. How? By reading the Bible to see what’s actually in the thing. “What will happen,” he asks, “if I approach my Bible empty, unmediated by teachers or rabbis or parents?”

My guess: he’ll get bored quickly. For example, he almost certainly won’t get all the way to 2 Kings, where he’d be appalled at the famous story of the saintly Elisha:

Then he went up from there to Bethel; and as he was going up by the way, young lads [“little children” in the King James translation] came out from the city and mocked him and said to him, ?Go up, you baldhead; go up, you baldhead!? When he looked behind him and saw them, he cursed them in the name of the Lord. Then two female bears came out of the woods and tore up forty-two lads of their number.

As my Bible dryly notes in the margin, “Not all ancient writers, to say nothing of modern, would have told a story like this to inculcate respect for a prophet.”

Well, no, they wouldn’t, would they? But the real problem with Plotz’s plan to blog the Bible is that while innocence is one thing, simplemindedness is quite another. Yesterday he blogged about Genesis 4, for example, and today he reports that he got some email about this:

Many other readers wrote in baffled about Cain’s wife. Who is she? There’s no mention of any daughters of Adam and Eve (who would be Cain’s sisters, anyway). So, where did Mrs. Cain come from? Anyone have a good answer?

Please. This is like asking whether Adam had a belly button. Children have been tweaking their elders with questions about Mrs. Cain for ? decades? centuries? ? and Plotz’s emailers surely know this. He’s being suckered.

This is really not an experiment that can end well. Christians will assume that Plotz is mocking them, atheists will gleefully deluge him with examples of Biblical inconsistency, and the rest of us will wonder if his ignorance can really be quite as galactic as he’s making it out to be. Meanwhile, Plotz himself will be lucky to make it past the two-week mark.

But I guess you never know. Maybe this time next year Plotz will be trying to puzzle out the significance of beryl and sardonyx and we’ll all be cheering him across the finish line. But then what will he do the next time he’s bored at a mitzvah?