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Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bible!

3.43  ·  Rating details ·  1,299 ratings  ·  235 reviews
A hilarious re-imagining of the heroes of the Old Testament for a modern world-and the neurotic, demanding reader.

In the beginning...there was humor.

Sure, it's the foundation for much of Western morality and the cornerstone of world literature. But let's face it: the Bible always needed punching up. Plus, it raised quite a few questions that a modern world refuses to
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Paperback, 239 pages
Published April 7th 2009 by Riverhead Books (first published March 7th 2003)
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Average rating 3.43  · 
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Greg
Jul 25, 2011 rated it liked it
Short review.

The Bible is a source for many things. Irrational thought, bigotry, hope and solace, etc., It is also a rich ground for fictional re-workings. It's like the authors of that silly book wanted to leave it open ended enough to ensure a healthy amount of 'fan-fiction' would get written to fill in all of the gaps. Many interesting works have been done that use the rough outlines of stories contained in the pages of that dusty old book to flesh out the vague and weak narratives or to spin
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Annette
Feb 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
- The book wins at poignant details: it's sweet and sad and funny – I like the first story, which is really snarky about his family, but in a loving way that really discreetly brings out some of what amazes him about his father, while pretending to deride. Sneaky filial affection!

- This is also one of those books that manage not to make anyone unlikeable, even when two characters are pitted against one another

- Perhaps too many stories revolve around awkward, always failing heroes who end up
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Jacob
Jan 04, 2013 rated it it was ok
While Goldstein is able to breathe considerable life and personality into many well-known biblical characters, I feel that his creativity and ambition generally runs short. Yes, the stories are funny most of the time, but the comedic effect relies on what are more caricature than character. That said, these caricatures do provide the reader with plenty of moments to reflect upon weighty matters of familial love, godly devotion/insanity, etc, but that reflection often comes from undermining what ...more
Rachael
Dec 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, religion
This book was hilarious.

It is not for those who cannot laugh at religion or enjoy some twists on old tales. For them it may border on offensive, although I wasn't offended not once, not ever.

The author kind of "re-wrote" the Old Testament.

His stories were easier and way more fun to read, and he applied a lot of modern psychology to explain the motives of the characters from Bible stories; I loved it.

The prologue introduces us to the author as a Jewish child learning religious stories from his
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Tominda Adkins
Jan 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
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Carolyn Gerk
Apr 28, 2009 rated it did not like it
Wow, did this book make me angry. It started off with a really dull prologue that I did not find very funny. Then came a retelling of Adam and Eve that was kind of cute. Cute, not terrible funny, though. I picked this book up and was curious about a humorous take on the bible. Then I read David Sedaris's review on the back. I like David Sedaris. David Sedaris is funny. Jonathon Goldstein is not. I spen so much time forcing myself to continue through each of these stories that were just ...more
Ben Babcock
I love Bible stories. I have a vague memory of our family doctor's office, and how I would enjoy going there because there was a Children's Bible—or it might have just been the Old Testament—and I loved reading the story of Genesis from it. Of course, I was a child back then, and as my religious tendencies have gone from agnostic to atheistic, one might expect my enthusiasm for the Bible to dim. Quite the contrary, in fact. Regardless of one's religion, the Bible is one of the most important ...more
Coco
Apr 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the modern twist from the classic. I've followed the author on podcast for many years, and to read his words on paper still feels different.
Margaret
Jul 14, 2009 rated it it was ok
I had such high expectations for this book - perhaps that was the problem (my bad, I guess). Still, the edition I read includes promotional blurbs from David Sedaris and Sarah Vowell, so, what could go wrong? Well, other than the fact that I was bored silly reading it and raced through it just to get get to the finish line, not much. The jacket also says that the author has appeard on "This American Life" (again, what could go wrong?). Admittedly, his *voice* isn't coming to me in my head, ...more
Ceef
May 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
After hearing a presenter read a selection from Jonathan Goldstein at TIP (in Saskatoon) (you can listen to the original here), I knew that I had to check out one of his books. "Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bible!" did not disappoint. It was, by turns, whimsical, heartfelt, irreverent, and poignant in its retellings of various Old Testament tales (with my favourite being his sympathetic portrayal of Cain). While he occasionally fell victim to a small degree of stylistic predictability, an issue ...more
Arthur Gershman
Nov 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
My 23 year old son turned me on to "Wiretap," the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) radio humor program of the author, Jonathan Goldstein (if that is your real name, Jonny).
On Goldstein's radio program, fantasy is blended with reality in such a fashion as to make you question everything you hear.
In the book, "Ladies & Gentlemen: The Bible," Goldstein offers his midrashim, or stories about stories in the Jewish Bible, from the viewpoint of the modern-day hipster.
They are refreshing in
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Suzette Tanen
Jun 01, 2015 rated it liked it
Some stories were better than others, some funnier than others, but a diverting read nonetheless
Pam
Jul 06, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: mommy-s-shelf
This book wasn't good. I think it was trying to be funny, but the "jokes" fell flat. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. It vacillated between utterly boring and offensive - in a totally-not-related-to-religion way. I was most offended by Jonah's chapter - the premise was completely distasteful, disturbing and disgusting. I picked this book up after hearing an excerpt from the Adam and Eve chapter on NPR, that chapter was definitely the best and most redeeming chapter in the book. I also thought ...more
Latiffany
Sep 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is hilarious. The first story in the collection was featured on my favorite podcast This American Life. I made a mental note to buy the book, but at least a year went by before I got around to it. The timing was perfect. I needed something lighthearted and Jonathan Goldstein delivered. I am not religious and I don't believe the majority of bible stories, so there was no worry at all about being offended. This collection is a funny take on stories that were ingrained in me as a child, ...more
Shayna June
May 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Easy and amusing read. Maybe it would have resonated with me more if I had more of an affinity to biblical stories. I find learning about them interesting, but the way in which this book presents its retellings seems to focus more on imbuing a culturally specific humour than finding a poignant commentary (then again, it's possible that I don't know the stories, nor the style of telling well enough to properly appreciate it). I'm glad I read it, an interesting tone on some famously dry subject ...more
Steve Watson
Oct 26, 2018 rated it liked it
I picked up this book from the library because I heard the Adam and Eve retelling read on This American Life and loved it. Goldstein also retells accounts of Cain and Abel, Noah, Babel, Jacob, Moses, Samson, David, Jonah, and the parents of Jesus. The humor is uneven, but all the attempts are good. David as a wannabe comedian, bested by his son. Noah as a grumpy old man. Too often Goldstein resorts to the stereotype of man as dumb clod, but overall, playful and enjoyable
Tom Lehmann
Oct 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
Starts out promising and becomes tedious rather quickly. The problem is that there’s essentially one joke here - what if we took the bible and made everyone in it act like modern day schmucks? If Goldstein would have fully committed to all-out silliness this concept may have worked but instead it just becomes tamer and tamer until you’re left with a simple retreat of some bible stories. Why even bother?
Laurie
Oct 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
I don't know how to categorize this. Gentle humor? It is clever. The stories aren't so much retellings as tellings with small alterations and additions to highlight the most troubling parts of the story. I hear the Adam and Eva story on This American Life, and found it quietly insightful and funny, and sad, too.
Beth Polebaum
Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
I admire midrash (stories that shed light on tales from the Bible) that is fresh and insightful. With a few exceptions, I did not gain much fresh insight. I am also a big fan of humor, but my funny bone was not in sync with this author’s. I kept thinking I was in the midst of a stand up act where the timing and delivery just did not work for me.
Benjamin Rossetti
Dec 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Hilarious. Irreverent without being blasphemous. Foul but sweet. It may seem that Goldstein is making light of the world's most cherished scripture, but really he's looking at the Bible through the lens of humanity's confusion and frustrations. I came away thinking how we have one foot on this crumbly Earth, and one foot in heaven, and our mysterious God loves us on both sides.
Nancy
Jul 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: enoyed
Totally tongue-in-cheek from the viewpoint of an Orthodox Jews straight fresh from their Catskill's vacation. I laughed at the totally crazed interpretations of bible stories used by Mothers and Fathers to scare the bad behavior out of their children.
Elizabeth
Written to be heard, not read

I bought this after hearing part of it on a podcast. Unfortunately, reading it myself took away some of what I enjoyed in listening to the stories. I suspect the audiobook is a better choice.
Skip Stoddard
Jul 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
I thought this book would be a lot of fun, and it started out that way, but after the first couple of stories, the shtick got old fast.
Sam
Jan 24, 2020 rated it did not like it
Didn’t age well
Kima
Jun 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
SO GOOD!
Lyn nep
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
Kinda’ funny, but not great. Mostly Old Testament stories told in modern vernacular.
Linda C
Aug 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Actually L’ed OL :)
Alexander
Dec 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Much better -- and funnier -- than the source material. Jonathan Goldstein maintains the humor, self-deprecating patter and emotion of his Wiretap radio show. A must for NPR nerds.
Naomi
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
Sometimes I just can't get in to short stories - all twisted tales from Bible - mostly the Old Testament.
Jordan Swisher
Jun 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Read this a few years ago but remember one really powerful story about David which impressed me.
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Radio Work

Many of Goldstein's pieces have been featured on the PRI radio show This American Life where he is a contributing editor. From 2000 to 2002 he was also a producer of the show.

Currently, Goldstein hosts a show on CBC Radio One called WireTap, a program featuring stories told over the phone. He was also the host of the CBC summer radio program Road Dot Trip in 2000 and has contributed to
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“When he heard his father call out for Abel and he saw his borther go forth, it made him feel like he was nothing. He couldn’t even say that he felt like Cain anymore. One could not feel like Cain because it had no flavor. Cain was the absence of flavor. Cain was like saliva or a Wednesday.” 2 likes
“When David wasn't ruling, he would ponder all the various forms of laughter there could be. So far, he had only categorized four: laughter at your own expense, laughter at the expense of others, laughter at the human predicament, and laughter at small animals falling off tables.” 1 likes
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