The Bible is perhaps the most misunderstood book ever written. Perhaps. But don’t worry, I’ve slogged my way through it (took five years) and have decided to give you the Tim’s Notes version.* It will be clear, concise, and devoid of moral judgment; in other words, the exact opposite of the Bible.
*”Tim’s Notes” is a patent-pending title.
We’ll start by ranking books of the Old Testament, from 46* to 1, in terms of readability, inspiration, influence, and, most importantly, awesomeness.
*Apocrypha? What’s that?
46. 1 Chronicles
This is the easiest choice on the board: The first 11+ chapters are devoted to genealogy and basically recapping, in the least interesting way possible, what has already happened in the Old Testament. When people attempt to read the Bible, this is where they stop.
45. 2 Chronicles
Because it’s related to #46.
Because it’s so hypocritical to quote from: “I’m against gay marriage because of Leviticus!” the evangelical yells at the barbeque, while chomping on a pulled pork sandwich.
43. 2 Kings
This is like having to learn the Roman emperors who didn’t matter.
34. 1 Maccabees
33. 1 Samuel
You know who was a boring king: Saul.
32. 1 Kings
It’s not that interesting, but it knows when to stop; it’s only one chapter.
26. 2 Maccabees
This is the story Shirley Jackson would have written if she were inspired by God.
No, Samson, no! She’s a witch!
Because it’s the end.
20. 2 Samuel
You know who was an awesome king: David.
Because it’s a prophecy that takes a few chapters off from damning and condemning and “You’re all going to burn in hell!” rhetoric.
Joshua at a club: “What’s that, ladies? You wish this night could last forever? That can be arranged.”
Or as I call it, The Abridged Moby Dick.
8. Song of Songs
Everyone loves a good prophecy, and Isaiah’s is the best (if the longest). Want to understand Jesus at Gethsemane? Read the Suffering Servant.
How many other books here could be turned into a compelling four-hour movie that stars Charlton Heston? Thought so.
I mean, you gotta feel for the guy. At some point, you’re waiting for his friends to say, “Hey Job, you know that God you’ve been all faithful to? Maybe you should give that up for awhile. Take a few plays off.” Instead, they said nothing for a week because his suffering was too traumatizing before going all, “Yo Job! WTF, man? What did you do to make God so mad?” And that’s the real tragedy.
We’re faithful to our source material here at NPI.
As The Simpsons say, “Brevity is…wit.”
Written by a man who calls himself “Qoheleth” (meaning roughly, “to assemble”), this is about so much more than a Byrds’ song (3:1-15, btw). It’s basically a refutation of the rest of the Old Testament, insisting on a transcendent God and a fatalist approach to the afterlife. It stresses that God’s only gift to mankind is life; there are no other promises. Anything we read into it is strictly vanity. Ecclesiastes, furthermore, is more philosophical treatise than religious revelation, and it represents the Old Testament’s only attempt at some sort of internal dialogue. Qoheleth doesn’t propagandize; instead, he challenges. And no other part of the Old Testament does.
Stay tuned for rankings of the New (or as I like to call it, “Better”) Testament rankings.