Good Book: The Bizarre, Hilarious, Disturbing, Marvelous, and Inspiring Things I Learned When I Read Every Single Word of the Bible is a book written by David Plotz. It chronicles his journey of reading the Bible in its entirety and blogging about it.
Through this journey, he discovers the exuberance and joy of the Bible, as well as its nuances and complexities. He also grapples with the difficult questions that arise from the Bible’s stories, such as how to accept an erratic and vengeful God who smites the innocent.
The tone of Good Book is irreverent curiosity. It is funny, but it also tries to grapple with the Bible’s most fundamental questions. Plotz hopes that his book will remind religious readers of the exuberance and joy of the Bible, and encourage them to read it themselves. He also encourages readers to interpret the Bible for themselves, rather than relying on the interpretations of clergy and academics.
The main themes of Good Book are the joy and complexity of the Bible, and the importance of interpreting it for oneself. Plotz encourages readers to explore the Bible and discover its beauty and power for themselves. He also emphasizes the importance of understanding the Bible in its historical context, and not taking its stories literally.
What I Liked
I really liked the project’s core idea – read the Bible (i.e., the Old Testament) through as a book rather than as a collection of verses (i.e., as it was written, the verses came later).
I liked the angle of the book. Even though it’s irreverent at times, David Plotz’s humor and observant eye makes more interesting and engaging reading. It’s the only book that I’ve read that can make Numbers fun.
I like how the book really leans into the contradictions and difficult passages. As the author emphasizes, that’s the true test of a faith. Holding onto ideas bigger than yourself on an unimaginable time horizon, but fully contradictory and strange on human scale.
I liked that the author comes from the Jewish tradition. As someone who grew up in a conservative Protestant Christian tradition, it was fascinating to read how he remembers & interprets the same passages from the same book (it also explains why he only covers the Old Testament / Torah).
Also, I loved how wholeheartedly the author recommends the Bible. It’s a beautiful, incredible book that, even for someone outside of the Jewish or Christian tradition, is full of stories, wisdom, and cultural references.
What I Did Not Like
Not a whole lot – it was a fascinating, fun read.*
*There is one huge caveat – I would not recommend this book to just anyone. If you are in a faith tradition (especially Jewish or Christian) and you quickly get defensive when you read someone outside of your tradition writing about the Bible…do not read this book. It won’t be fun.
Now, if you are Jewish or Christian and are interested in how someone with some Bible background but no recent knowledge perceives the Bible, then this book is a worthwhile read. Or, if you are Jewish or Christian and you are interested in hearing observations and questions that you wouldn’t usually hear in your Sunday School or worship service, then this book is an entertaining way to get a different perspective.