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Good Book: The Bizarre, Hilarious, Disturbing, Marvelous, and Inspiring Things I Learned When I Read Every Single Word of the Bible

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  1,021 ratings  ·  208 reviews
Like many Jews and Christians, David Plotz long assumed he knew what was in the Bible. He read parts of it as a child in Hebrew school, then at-tended a Christian high school where he studied the Old and New Testaments. Many of the highlights stuck with him—Adam and Eve, Cain versus Abel, Jacob versus Esau, Jonah versus whale, forty days and nights, ten plagues and command ...more
ebook, 352 pages
Published October 6th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published March 1st 2009)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Eris
David Plotz, a secular Jew, discovers a horrifying story while browsing the Old Testament in a fit of boredom during an infrequent visit to a Temple service. So horrifying that he is compelled to pick up the Book and read the whole thing to see what other horrors he has missed. This book is a chapter by chapter (mostly) synopsis of the Old Testament, with commentary and some biting observations. I found his play by play color commentary to be insightful at times, and did very much enjoy this wor ...more
Lee Harmon
100% recommended! This romp through the Hebrew Bible is much more than just fascinating and funny. It’s also engrossing, mildly irreverent, thought-provoking, disturbing--you'll love the Good Book whether you’re a believer or not. This is the Bible unveiled in all its grime and greatness. The characters in Genesis are especially unforgettable, from the story of Abimalech lusting after a 90-year-old woman (Sarah, Abraham's wife) to a diabolical mother-and-son plot to rob the simple-minded Esau of ...more
Caris
This book completely reaffirmed my faith in God!

I felt that my belief and love for him was lacking, but this book turned all of that around!

I no longer feel comfortable waking up in the morning!

I now fear for my life every waking second of my existence!

God is mean and cruel!

I could do this all day!

But I won’t, for I fear I’ve already taken it too far. I have read bits of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Revelations, Job…you know, the important ones. I’ve always been a bit put off by the good book, th
...more
Natali
One of the funniest books I've ever read. I loved it! Good Book is a summary of the Old Testament, told by David Plotz, an editor for Slate Magazine. It is his sincere effort to better understand the bible but his compendium is sarcastic, sardonic, and hilarious.

I enjoyed the first half a lot more than I enjoyed the second half but that is not really Plotz's fault. The first half of the Old Testament has a lot more action than the last half. Still, the writing is fun enough to keep you engaged.
...more
Chris
Because I grew up in a religious environment, I find secular views on the bible interesting. David Plotz made the choice to read his Jewish Bible for the first time. This was a new experience for him as he had forgotten most of the things he learned in Hebrew School.

David writes this book in a chapter by chapter approach; the reader can see his understanding grow and his reactions change throughout the book. Many of his musings are notable, but two stand out: his acceptable name list and his re
...more
Ruby
When I began reading this book, I was sure I would be left feeling even more “Bible illiterate” than before, but I found the author to be enlightening and entertaining. I found him to be humorous, yet he seemed more real to me than many other authors who take on this type of commitment. I read the Old Testament as a child, but have to admit that I’d forgotten more than I realized, and never understood much of what I’d read. I also found it interesting that the church tends to pick pieces from th ...more
Mark Russell
Full of wit and insight, this book gives us the play-by-play on each book of the Hebrew Bible. I especially like the fact that Plotz approaches the Bible as an outsider. His critiques and observations are rarely theological, but are more often personal, ethical or literary in nature. He relates the Bible to us, not as a priest, but as a reader. Rather than getting into the murky scholarship of what the religious intent behind a passage might be, he usually opts for lay analysis along the lines o ...more
Kerith
As someone who has read the Bible numerous times, I read this with a grin on my face and enjoyed it very much. Plotz admits at the beginning that while he has gone to synagogue all his life and even went to an Episcopal high school, he has never read the Bible and intends to read it for the first time while blogging about the experience. I read most of this on slate.com when it was just a blog and the book is even more fun.

He takes the Bible straight and writes about what he finds in it, his sh
...more
Therese1974
Jul 01, 2010 Therese1974 rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any one interested in the Bible.
There are several aspects of this book that I enjoyed. Firstly, the humor. David Plotz is is laugh out loud funny. Second, his Jewishness. It is my experience that while both Jews and Christians can write about God with various degrees of piety, disbelief, or irreverence, Jewish writers seem much more comfortable arguing with God. I'm Catholic so I find this fascinating... and a bit thrilling. Writers in my tradition seem to maintain a more pious attitude unless they've turned their back on God ...more
Tasha
I have a family member who belongs to a church where you can't play music. But in the Bible, God clearly loves music - see David (he loved to dance....wait for it!) and all of Psalms.

Also, David (yes, that David who killed Goliath) was gay. That's quite a shocker. His lover, Jonathan, was the recipient of his tears, kisses, and the confession that his love meant more to him than any woman. If that's not gay, then I don't know what is. It's interesting that Leviticus calls lying with a man as yo
...more
Jay Glickman
Have I mentioned my profound contempt and loathing of religious fundamentalists? Probably. I was reminded today of the staggering loopiness of these right-wingnuts when Bobo Smyth-Bullard sent me a clipping concerning a fundamentalist's response to the late unpleasantness at Sea World, in which Shamu the "Killer Whale" lived up to his description and iced one of his trainers.

Said response was swift and merciless; according to scripture, Shamu must be killed forthwith - via stoning. (How do you
...more
Corey Edwards
Not quite the book I was hoping for but an interesting read none the less. Further, the book illustrates a contradiction that has perplexed me for years: faith despite wisdom.

The author is a self-described faithful Jew whose rather shaky faith was greatly strengthened by reading every word of the bible. This despite the fact that doing so caused him to write a book that - very gently but also thoroughly - pokes holes both great and small in the fabric of the text throughout, leaving a tattered m
...more
Sarah
Simply excellent! I only made it through Exodus in my one attempt to read the bible, but through the conduit of David Plotz, I was riveted. And I assure you, he noticed far more of the consistencies (the importance of the number 40, the parallels or... em borrowed bits from one famous story to the next)and inconsistencies (in one chapter family values reigns supreme, in the next, women and children are cast off into the desert) than I ever would have.

I feel more connected to the anthropological
...more
Joseph Rizzo
What I enjoyed about this book:

Seeing this through the eyes of a non-christian. He actually takes the time to read the OT.

The things that caught his attention were interesting.

What I didn't enjoy:

Taking some of the OT narrative wildly out of context and reducing the actions of Almighty God to a petty, vindictive, and unjustly punitive God. It is unfortunate, but I know he is not the only one who sees it this way. It is his misunderstanding of human nature and the requisite judicial actions of G
...more
Hal
David Plotz's take on his first complete reading of the Old Testament is both entertaining and thought provoking. Like myself most people probably have not read the Bible in this way and as Plotz points out we all should, to get our own impression of what guides so much in the world to this day.

From hilarity to disgust all emotions are laid out in his reading and looking at it both critically and whimsically we come face to face with what boils down to some amazing absurdities of life as we expe
...more
Jason
First of all, let me start with the good. I really only have one complaint, but I'll get to that later. The book is both informative and funny. David Plotz is like that really cool professor that everyone wanted because he's a bit "different." He juxtaposes pop culture with Biblical stories that make for a great opportunity for learning and some rip-roaring good times. I was hooked at the opening story about how some brothers told a local tribe to circumcise themselves as a means of repentance, ...more
charlie
Cliff notes for the Old Testament... Or maybe Julie/Julia for the bible.

Either way, this was good fun. It may have been funnier in the hands of a comedian such as Sarah Silverman, but in many ways the charm of the book is the author's "regular guy" persona. He tries very hard to make sense of it all, even tho the deeper he goes the less sense the OT makes. But he keeps at it and comes to some thought-provoking conclusions as he wrestles with his Jewish upbringing and the very messy contradiction
...more
Jackie
Just Finished (37) Good Book: The Bizarre, Hilarious, Disturbing, Marvelous, and Inspiring Things I learned When I Read Every Single Word of the Bible by David Plotz. The author, a writer for Slate magazine and a non-observant Jew, is so horrified by a Biblical story read out at his cousin's bat mitzvah that he decides to fill in the gaps of his knowledge and read the whole Jewish Bible. He provides a chapter by chapter account of each book and supplements it with additional commentary he is rea ...more
Guy Cranswick
Extremely engaging and not only provides a superb overview of the old Testament but also insights into the books from a textual perspective. The humor adds tot eh irony and distance between the times in which it was written and our own.
Joel Neff
Dec 31, 2013 Joel Neff rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who has ever been to Bible Study.
Years ago, I made it about half way through the Old Testament before giving up; I've always meant to go back and read (or re-read) the Bible from start to finish and every so often I'll read a thoughtful, funny, articulate book, like this one, that re-ignites my ambition. Which is to say, reading someone else's account of their journey is a lot more entertaining and a lot less work than undertaking it myself.

Those looking for scholarly discourse on the nature of the Bible, for those seeking eith
...more
Hope
The premise of the book is great. I enjoyed the first few chapters... and then... it gets really boring and repetitive....
Autumn
Jul 08, 2014 Autumn marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, print
Plotz was a Jew in name who read the Old Testament to better understand his heritage. He blogged the experience. Good companion to the Bible. Had to take a break from the Bible, so I'm taking a break from this. Plotz has had some of the same observations I have had, but sometimes we see things differently.

Plotz says: "Where do I get off deciding that certain Levitical laws are glorious and universal, true 3,000 years ago and true today ... whereas others are archaic and should be tossed away ...
...more
Liz
I found this fascinating. David Plotz, nominally Jewish, schooled as a child in Hebrew school, and as an adolescent in an Episcopalian high school, was pretty sure he knew the Bible well. But at his cousin’s bat mitzvah, picking up a pew-rack Torah and thumbing through, he was startled by the story of Dinah’s rape, a story he never remembered having read, or even heard about. Further, this wasn’t the happily-ever-after sort of Bible story he was accustomed to hearing. His curiosity piqued, Plotz ...more
Tintinrulz
"Good Book" by David Plotz of Slate, is a good book but certainly not the amazing, life-changing book some critics have hailed it. This book is disturbing, frustrating, funny and thought-provoking - much like the Bible itself, except this most definitely isn't the inspired Word of God. Plotz claims that he's an agnostic Jew. Growing up as a secular Jew, he knew little of the Bible and remembers far less. He reads through the whole Bible, meaning the Hebrew Bible in English (the Old Testament). T ...more
Adam Shields
This was an interesting book, maybe the last chapter the most interesting of all. The author is Jewish, although not really practicing. So when he starts reading the Hebrew Bible (or the Christian Old Testament) it is not in the same way that many others would read it. Plotz is a friend of the text, he doesn't deconstruct it or tear it apart. Instead he reads it, mostly as a person with very little history with the text. He is amazed, delighted and horrified by it. If you want to see what the Ol ...more
Martha
I checked it out from the Mount Prospect Library, but I don't think I'd buy a copy.

The author does a secular book synopsis / review of the Old Testament. He is a non-practicing, non-Hebrew speaking Jew. He reads the entire book in one year, and examines his revelations and feelings.

If you pick it up, read the last chapter to get the gist of his thesis, which to me is valid: The Bible (usually referring to both Old and New Testaments) is the most important touchstone of a significant portion of t
...more
Abu
The autor is not a bible scholar but his hilarious exegeses will have you laughing out loud. Excellent, fascinating read. Whether you are devoutly religious or not at all, if you have an open, curious mind you will enjoy this book. The author is smart and funny and the entire exercise was interesting. It's not the only book of its kind, but possibly the best balance between revealing and funny. The author doesn't take himself too seriously and is pitilessly honest. This book is not a detailed sc ...more
Al Bità
It must be part of my masochistic tendencies to being intrigued by books such as this! Maybe it is the subtitle to the title: "The bizarre, hilarious, disturbing, marvellous, and inspiring things I learned when I read every single word of the Bible"?

Be that as it may, this book is essentially an apologia by a self-confessed non-observant Jew for the Hebrew Bible. (This, by the way, is different from the Christian Old Testament, which is supposed to be based on the old greek translation allegedly
...more
Rod Hilton
"The Good Book" is one man's journey through the Bible. What is interesting is that it is not the account of a religious man that reveres the book in any particularly strong way; David Plotz is an agnostic Jew.

"The Good Book" is a chapter-by-chapter account as Plotz reads through the entire Old Testament (it's worth mentioning that "The Bible" refers to the Hebrew Bible, which may disappoint Christians). It is generally as interesting as its source material. The book is engrossing when covering
...more
Sharon
David Plotz, a self-described secular Jew, picks up the Bible at a bat mitzvah and is horrified to read the story of Dinah in Genesis. He realizes that the stories he was taught in Hebrew school skipped over a lot. So he decides to read the entire Old Testament, word for word, to find out, as he says, "what happens when an ignorant person actually read the book on which his religion is based."

What happens is a hilarious, often cynical, sometimes thoughtful, often insightful exploration of amazin
...more
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Plotz, an American journalist, has been a writer with Slate since its inception and was designated as the online magazine's editor in June 2008.

He is the author of "The Genius Factory: The Curious History of the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank" (2005) and "Good Book: The Bizarre, Hilarious, Disturbing, Marvelous, and Inspiring Things I Learned when I Read Every Single Word of the Bible" (2009).
More about David Plotz...
The Genius Factory: The Curious History of the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank The Best of Slate: A 10th Anniversary Anthology Backstabbers, Crazed Geniuses, and Animals We Hate

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