Saturday, July 22, 2006

Reader's Dairy #131- Holy Bible: Leviticus (FINISHED)

First Amphigorey, a graphic novel, then a book about the Simpsons, now the Bible. Ah, summer reading. (For those of you new to my site, I've explained why I read the Bible in an earlier post.)

Actually, I did enjoy reading Leviticus, probably more so than either Genesis or Exodus. And there's a couple of reasons for that.

First of all, instead of reading the King James Version as I had done for the first two books, I switched to the Good News version which is written in modern English. This made it a lot easier to understand. I have absolutely no qualms about this version either. It's not as if it's Shakespeare that was updated, it's the Bible. I mean, when you think about it, any English version is a translation anyway. I don't know why any church would still use the antiquated King James Version with its "thees" and "thous" and "thys". My theory is that many priests and ministers prefer to have the congregation a little in the dark so that they can interpret it for them. But that's the cynical side of me. Incidentally, it's often quoted that the Bible is the best selling book of all time. But does anyone know what version?

The second reason I enjoyed Leviticus? It actually made me laugh. Often the wording was very humourous in a modern context. And at one point it seemed to be that for any sin, the sacrifice needed to redeem oneself was two doves or pigeons and a lot of blood. Imagine how messy Churches used to be? And the smell? (Though it couldn't be worse than old lady perfume.) My favourite funny line though was, "do not...put something in front of a blind man so as to make him stumble over it." (Ch. 9, verse 14). What's so funny is that such a rule even needed to be spoken!

Other moments were funny in a tragic, unpolitically correct way:

For someone with "the dreaded skin disease" they were to "wear torn clothes, leave his hair uncombed, cover the lower part of his face, and call out, 'Unclean, unclean!'" (Ch. 13, v. 45)

"Do not disgrace your father by having intercourse with your mother." (Ch. 17, v.7) As if that's the only reason to consider!

"No man is to have sexual relations with another man; God hates that." (Ch. 18, v. 22)

and by the way, we're pretty much all doomed with this one:

"Do not wear clothes made of two kinds of material." (Ch. 19, v. 19)

So for all of you wearing polyester-cotton blends, I say "sinner! sinner!"

It's Leviticus I think that probably gets used the most by the zealots.

Reading Leviticus is not like a novel at all. Basically, it's just a set of rules and practices that were dictated to Moses and Aaron. There isn't a story line at all in this particular book. However, if you've ever read Moby Dick, just treat Leviticus the same way as you did all those chapters about the proper way to skin a whale and so forth.


fahrenheit451moderator said...

Congratulations on getting through one of the most difficult books (in my opinion). I am trying to work my way through the Bible (again) cover to cover. I chose "The Message" which is a very recent paraphrase. It is very well done.

You have inspired me to keep at it.

John Mutford said...

The only way I figured I could "work my way through the Bible" is to take it a book at a time without large spaces of time in between. Maybe I'll try "The Message" for later books. Thanks for the heads up!