Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Beast is slain

The Bible is done, read in full.  The last chunk was much like the previous couple Bible posts I have made - heavy on diatribes against the evils of Israel and the punishments it will receive and light on plot.  It continues the trend of God planning to smash Israel, restore Israel, then smash every other nation for the temerity of obeying God's will in smashing Israel.  There were two standout exceptions though, which were the stories of Jonah (and the whale) and Daniel (and the pit of lions).  In particular I found these interesting because I have another telling of these tales in my house and I could compare the two sources.  In the Bible and Bible Stories the stories of Jonah aren't remarkably different, but the Daniel story leaves out some critical details.

You see, in Bible Stories Daniel is saved from the lions by God and the story ends there.  However, in the Bible the king, shocked by Daniel's survival, throws his governors who plotted against Daniel, their wives and all their children in the lion's den where they are promptly devoured.  The point of the story in Bible Stories is clearly that God saves people's lives, while the point in the Bible is that God saves the lives of Jews that he has a particular interest in and everybody else can die for all he cares, including young children who are entirely bystanders.

These irregularities are not confined to Daniel.  In the story of Noah and the Ark Bible Stories fails to mention the fact that God sent the flood at all!  It is told that God saved Noah and his family and the animals from the flood but the fact that God decided to destroy the entire world for it's crimes and only Noah + co survived is ignored.  I find it incredibly disturbing that a widely distributed book marketed as a way to teach children about the Bible doesn't teach them about the Bible as it is written at all, but rather teaches them what sounds most palatable in today's moral climate.  How does a religious person accept a deliberate, obvious editing of the Bible's original intent and message in a gambit to increase recruitment?

One thing that Bible Stories gets right is the rampant racism of the Bible, but it does it in a hilarious way.  In the Bible the entire thing is racist towards non-Jews.  There is no pretense made at anything else, God is there for the Jews and although he has a tendency towards cursing, diseasing and killing them he proclaims them as the chosen people.  In Bible Stories though a different kind of racism comes to the fore.  If you look carefully you will note that Baby Jesus is white.  Not light skinned for a person in the middle east light, but straight up lily white with blond hair.  This holds true throughout - the more important you are to God the lighter your skin and hair are and the most evil people in the book are dark, dark, dark.

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