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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

3.8  ·  Rating details ·  1,391 Ratings  ·  251 Reviews
At a time when wars are fought over scriptural interpretation, when the influence of religion on American politics has never been greater, when many Americans still believe in the Bible’s literal truth, it has never been more important to get to know the Bible. Good Book is what happens when a regular guy—an average Job—actually reads the book on which his religion, his cu ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published February 23rd 2010 by Harper Perennial (first published March 1st 2009)
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David
Jul 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion
This is a fascinating, irreverent book that that summarizes the Bible, chapter by chapter. Oh, some chapters are bypassed, because in the words of David Plotz, "it is boring."

The last chapter stands out as the most interesting, as the author asks the question, "Should you read the Bible?" The first reason is that so much of Western culture comes from the Bible. Plotz writes that it is difficult to get through a chapter--even a chapter in some obscure book--"without encountering a phrase, a name
...more
Daniel
Jun 02, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
An ignorant Jewish writer decided to read the Tanakh (Jewish Bible) for the first time and write about the experience book by book. Billed as "hilarious" and "inspiring" it isn't much of either in large part because of the lack of any real Jewish knowledge by the author. He reads Psalm 118 and says, "I don't think this psalm has much sway over Jews..." unaware that it is part of the Hallel service that is part of every holiday service and then skips over Psalm 145 (Ashrei) which is read three ti ...more
Eris
Mar 09, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Chris
Sep 15, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Grumpus
Jul 15, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook, spiritual
I enjoyed the slightly irreverent look at his chapter-by-chapter reading of the Old Testament. Each Biblical chapter of significance (his opinion) is addressed through a brief summary of what is happening in “everyday” language and his humorous lens. It will shed new light on all those biblical stories you’ve heard about since you were a child. The appendix was especially interesting as it was a synopsis of useful (and not so useful) Bible lists. You never really knew what was in the Bible until ...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
Natali
May 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Yaaresse
David Plotz is a secular Jew who stumbled upon a biblical story that was so outrageous and appalling that it made him question his education (at a Jewish school) and his memory. He decided to read the Jewish Bible (aka Old Testament) to see what other bits of melodramatic crazy was tucked away in there. This book is the result of his effort to make sense of it. It is fascinating, subjective, and hilarious. Bible literalists and "because God says so" types are going to hate it.
Those of us who ha
...more
Mark Russell
Jul 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ruby
Dec 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Therese1974
Jun 30, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  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
Apr 15, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
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
Kerith
Jul 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Guy Cranswick
Jan 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Laurie
Mar 01, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
I didn't expect to like this as much as I did. Plotz reads the entire Bible and basically sums it up in this book. I found his tone perfect-- irreverent but not insulting. This was a nice way to be refreshed on a lot of the parts of the Bible I had forgotten.
Melissa Service
Interesting, but a bit irreverent. Most of his comments were based on a literal English reading of the text,and were similar to those from people who haven't actually taken the time to study or understand the culture or history of the Bible.
Hope
May 25, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The premise of the book is great. I enjoyed the first few chapters... and then... it gets really boring and repetitive....
Sarah -
Loved the appendix with all the lists. Interesting read, review to come soon.

++++++++++++++++++++++

My book blog: http://allthebookblognamesaretaken.bl...

As anyone who knows me may have guessed by now, I am something of a reader. I devoured books left and right from elementary school on, and this love of reading (and writing!) was fostered even more in 6th grade by quite possibly one of the best teachers I have ever had, Mr. Hanzlik - more affectionately referred to simply as H. Seriously, he's o
...more
Adam Glantz
May 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
David Plotz is no fool, but he does rush in where angels fear to tread, reading his way through the Hebrew Bible without much help from the massive and multi-generational tradition of commentary on the work. He's irreverent and skeptical, yet not dourly obsessed with disproving the Bible; he's also more sophisticated and well-read than his frequent self-deprecation would lead one to believe. The result is an account that's thoughtful, sensitive, and frequently laugh-out-loud hilarious, though it ...more
James Frederick
May 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book. Although I consider myself a strong Christian, I sometimes have a complicated relationship with the Bible. Some of the things pointed out by the author contribute to that. That said, I want to know as much as I possibly can about God and the Word. This author set out to do just that, by reading the Old Testament, from cover to cover. While doing so, he unearthed dozens of stories that usually get buried in footnotes and are not discussed in church or synagog. These stor ...more
Megan
Plotz his a good writer who did an impressive job of honestly balacing analyzing the Bible with a humorous commentary for those who needed something to lighten up a topic that’s normally taken so seriously (or not seriously emoough, on the other side of the spectrum). Plotz makes it clear over and over again that he loves being Jewish, loves his people, and respects his culture, thereby fully respecting the Bible as a sacred artifact of his people. But Plotz does also understand and respect the ...more
Susan
Nov 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, learning, real-life
A fantastically book to read,whether familiar with the Bible or not. We are taken along with Plotz as he discovers the ‘messiness’ of the biblical text and the nuances of its characters. I certainly didn’t agree with Plotz in all his conclusions, but the journey of discovery was enjoyable.
Erin
Sep 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved it!
Jeff Cherpeski
Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun book. Well worth it for the asides on the stories of the mess that is the old testament.
Tiffany
Aug 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book is absolutely a hoot!! It was thought provoking and laugh out loud at the same time!
Ann Frost
The author reads the Old Testament and provides us with the Coles Notes version - detailing chapters and their contents for us. It was both hilarious in parts and fascinating in others. The OT is filled with some really gruesome stories - stories that thankfully I was spared as a child going to Sunday School. If you've never actually read the Bible (I have not) but are vaguely curious about what all is in there, this is your book.
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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

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“(I just used my Bible to smash a bug on my desk. That’s bad, isn’t it?) The” 1 likes
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