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All American Politicians Love Super-Old Antichrist Book

Incorporating Washington Post Book World.Democrats and Republicans might be on the verge of “shutting down the government” (hooray?) due to a financial dispute, but beloved members of BOTH our nation’s dumb parties can agree, and do agree, on one thing: the Bible is totally the best book ever! Surely any political blog worth its salt should eventually review every politician’s favorite book, right? Especially since this Year of Our Lord 2011 is the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, which is more or less the Chronicles of Narnia minus the talking beaver.

Now, we don’t believe that every politician has actually read this unanimous “favorite”; we just figure now is as good as time as any to write about the 17th-century Word of God (meaning your reviewer had no idea it was the 400th anniversary of the KJB until he read this essay in Vanity Fair by one Christopher Hitchens, whose writing seems to have been reinvigorated by his dire state).

SO, what is this Book? What is its purpose aside from being praised every time someone runs for public office and tearfully quoted at press conferences every time an American citizen goes on a shooting rampage?

No one can be sure. Ambitious readers (i.e. any half-literate person in the English-speaking world until just a little while ago) would probably say the King James Version is a treasure-house of English prose and a store of great stories that tells us something about our lives as humans. Modern Christians might say it’s a soothing bubble bath of Jesus Words. To Jews, the Bible — in the original Hebrew or in any translation — is more like a band that was really great before it sold out and got a new lead singer with flowing locks and a hippy beard. Greater commercial success, less artistic integrity, etc.

This is understandable, because while the Old Testament has war, sex, wrathful cries for social justice, full-blooded human characters and countless strange tales, most of the New Testament is vague and boring even in the parts about mass killing. Where does American politics fit into any of this, aside from the Bible being inseparable from American politics?

We needn’t mention the obvious stuff about dumb and dangerous Christian fundamentalists from the Republican Party, or our bipartisan attachment to the lands of Judea and Samaria. We need to look further afield, to probable anti-christ Barack Obama.

If his Facebook page can be believed, our current president relishes the Bible (as well as other olde stuff like Shakespeare and beloved Vegas entertainers Emerson, Lincoln and Melville) as a “Favorite Book.” Fitting, because many believe the Bible actually MENTIONS Barack Obama:

And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.

We’re not sure that Apocalyptic passage describes Obama very well at all. It might be more useful to look towards the words of Job as a commentary on “hope” and those who get their hopes up (all of us?):

I have said to corruption, “Thou art my father”: to the worm, “Thou art my mother, and my sister.” And where is now my hope? As for my hope, who shall see it? They shall go down to the bars of the pit, when our rest together is in the dust.

Happy thoughts!

The Bible, by various authors, as translated into English during the time of King James I, lots and lots of pages, $11.79

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118 comments

  1. vulpes82

    People really should read the KJV just as a masterful work of English literature. I admit, though, that every time I tried I barely got through "And God created…" before putting it down out of boredom.

    1. Sophist [غني عن ذلك]

      I've actually made it all the way to the seventeen consecutive chapters about who and when and how to anoint with holy oil (don't forget the earlobe!), and who can approach the tabernacle and who can't, and what offenses require a burn offering and what offenses require a wave offering, and how many doves you need to strangle to make YHWH happy on such and such a day, and how to butcher your sacrificial oxen (don't forget to give the priest his cut, that's very important) before deciding fuck it, I'll just have to risk going through life not knowing the proper cleansing ritual should I happen to touch a woman during her monthly period of uncleanliness, because there was no way I was going to read another word of that boring bullshit.

      1. SorosBot

        Also lots and lots of blood when old Yahweh keeps ordering his followers to go genocide everybody; it's quite possibly the goriest book I've ever read portions of.

    1. ProgressiveInga

      Don't know 'bout the beaver, but Sarah Louise begat Lou Sarah, that's for sure.

  2. metamarcisf

    According to talk radio host and neo-facist Chuck Bates, "King James was a homosexual"

  3. FNMA

    I saw Emerson, Lincoln and Melville on their Brain Salad Surgery tour and they were awesome.

      1. poncho_pilot

        or the one about a mule for Sister Sarah? it's in the Gospel According to Tom Waits. Mule Variations or something…

  4. tessiee

    Somewhat OT (off-topic, not Old Testament) comment: If you haven't seen the version of the Bible that's fully illustrated by R. Crumb, it's well worth checking out.

  5. freakishlywrong

    Fine. But do they do a pocket version? Wingtards love little pocket versions that they can wave around, (but never read, much less, understand).

    1. Mumbletypeg

      Some of my favorite retail-customer-encounter anecdotes hail from bible stores

      "How dare you tell me they don't make a compact bible in Large Print??!? YOU LIE!!" — wizened old church-lady customer to bookseller at Canterbury Bookshop, Richmond circa 1987

    2. __kth__

      99 out of 100 wingnuts get their Bible filtered through the delerium tremens of their snake-handler preacher. The 100th wingnut has rote-memorized all 66 books, including the choir rosters and the specs for the guy-lines of the tabernacle (somewhere between the last part of Exodus and the end of Deuteronomy; I know because I read most of it once, because literature, and those are the parts I felt free to skip). Not sure which one is more dangerous, the 99 or the one.

    3. ThankYouJeebus

      Those are hollow, decoy pocket versions. They keep their weed in them. And rubbers.

    4. DeeJayKitteh

      Even better, they have little bible lapel pins so they can show everyone how much they love it, but not have to do any work to actually read it or understand it.

  6. SmutBoffin

    Bibble tl;dr:

    Jesus wants tax cuts and G-d will perform his own abortions, thankyouverymuch.

  7. Hatrabbit

    We could always re-issue the King James Bible with a new introduction by Michele Bachmann–Voila! Talking beaver.

  8. SayItWithWookies

    Aside from the Bible's tedious begats, its nonsensical ethics (why did Jesus rebuke the fig tree? What did Moses do to so anger The LORD that he didn't allow Moses to cross into the promised land?), its obvious plagiarism of Babylonian myth, its xenophobia, the feeling that it was pasted together from many works, its historical revisionism, its completely stupid and authoritarian main character, and especially the fact that many modern people believe it has some significance beyond being a touchpoint for language and culture, it's got about ten pages worth of pretty writing, which puts it over and above most of the Harry Potter books.

    1. Mumbletypeg

      "pasted together from many works… its completely stupid and authoritarian main character"

      Haha. Which one?

      EDIT: oh right, main character. I was thinking, which stupid author.

      1. SayItWithWookies

        I'll send the missionaries your way — clearly such a lapse is a cry for help.

    2. Failure_Artist

      Moses didn't credit God for a water miracle, so God cursed him. Number 20:12, not KJV: But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”
      The fig tree is still a total mystery.

      e. Downfisting the Bible? Shame on you, troll!

    3. Worthly[♬♪♬♪♫♪♬]Skum

      which puts it over and above most of the Harry Potter books

      It's like a HP book where all the characters are Dolores Umbridge.

  9. Hatrabbit

    The Bible is Pretend Jesus' second favorite book, his favorite is 'Going Rogue' by Sarah Palin.

    Because it's all about her.

  10. V572..whatever

    The Bible on hallucinatory dining:

    "On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh to the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour. And he became very hungry, and would have eaten, but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, and saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending to him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth. Wherein were all manner of four footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat." (Acts 10:9-12)

    The Bible on free eats for the Poors, after they do some work:

    "Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; And you who have no money,
    come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance." (Isaiah 55:1-2)

    The Bible on hunting and the vegan lifestyle:

    "Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, for, "The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it." (1 Corinthians 10:25-26)

    "Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give to you, as I gave the green plant." (Genesis 9:3)

    1. mumbly_ジョジョ

      I love how that last one contradicts wide tracts of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, not the Bible contradicts itself ever or anything.

    2. Guppy06

      The Bible on homosexuality:

      "I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women. " (1 Sam 1:26)

      The Bible on inducing miscarriage:

      "If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. " (Exodus 21:21)

      For that matter, the Bible on exposure/infanticide:

      "Or as an hidden untimely birth I had not been; as infants which never saw light." (Job 3:16)

      "As a snail which melteth, let every one of them pass away: like the untimely birth of a woman, that they may not see the sun. " (Psalms 58:8)

      The Bible on polytheism:

      "God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods. " (Psalms 82:1)

      The Bible on whether oral sex "counts":

      "Such is the way of an adulterous woman; she eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness. " (Proverbs 30:20)

      The Bible on family values: Every fucking Lot ever did ever! See also: Judah and Tamar.

      1. V572..whatever

        I don't care if it's inconsistent or brutal and ugly or irrelevant. IT'S ALL TRUE. How do I know? IT SAYS SO IN THE BIBLE!

  11. Hatrabbit

    I love to read my King James Bible in the morning, while eating a delicious bowl of Apocalypse Pops.

  12. Barbara_i

    I have a question from my best friend, Bill:
    I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanness – Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

    1. poncho_pilot

      how will Bill know if he needs to immediately wash his clothes and if he has contracted the menstrual pollution cooties?

      best advice is to stalk the woman and wait till she brings two doves to the village rabbi for sacrifice. after she does this you have approximately three weeks.

      1. SorosBot

        "Dr." Laura would probably find some way to hate on the gay people and use the N-word in her answer.

  13. V572..whatever

    Jeebus-tards like those awful versions with "modern" language and all of Jeebus' words in red and other typographical impedimenta to actually reading the thing, because no adultery and no masturbation, ew:

    "You have heard that it was said to those of old, "You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

    1. SayItWithWookies

      And yet so few believers have themselves neutered — really, the inattentiveness of the faithful is something to behold.

    2. _MISS_T_

      Wait…the hand goes to hell all by itself and the stumpified person goes to heaven? Does this apply to all body parts I wonder? Is Mr Bobbitt's member going to hell for the sin of adultery without him? This puts Mrs Bobbitt's attempted amputation in a rather more heroic light…

  14. Mumbletypeg

    There might be A little dust on the bah-ble
    But don't let it fool you 'bout whut's inside;
    There might be a little dust on the bah-ble
    It's one o' them things that gets sweeter with time"

    – Overheard 'lyric miscegenation' of David Lee Murphy's country tune "Dust on the Bottle" in a bible-thump'along gathering in Columbia SC

  15. GodShammgod

    "And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy."

    Clearly the seven heads and ten horns are a reference to his BASKETBALL BRACKET!!!! IT'S A SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE U GUYS!!!

  16. JoshuaNorton

    I have NEVER understood that "7 heads and 10 horns" hoo-doo. The ratio of head-to-horn is way off. I have a feeling that a lot has been lost in the translation.

    Kind of like how "temple prostitute" was changed to mean "gay guy".

  17. 4tehlulz_lite

    >which is more or less the Chronicles of Narnia minus the talking beaver.

    SOMEONE hasn't read Ezekial.

  18. CapeClod

    I seem to recall a lot of rending of beards when some of the bigwigs got upset. It sounds like a very painful way to express your displeasure.

  19. Spenceredux

    "Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me."

    My favorite bible passage evar!

    1. doloras

      That whole passage is insane because obviously bits were cut out in the internecine "edit wars" that raged in the millenium before Christ, between different Jewish religious factions. You miss the best bit, that Moses and Zipporah are at an inn and for some reason God himself turns up and threatens to kill Moses. I would kill to learn the original context for that.

      1. MarshallBanana

        Internecine edit wars. I love that.

        "In the beginning, there was void." [citation needed]

  20. __kth__

    also the one must-read book of the Bible is not Job, but Ecclesiastes, which in the original Hebrew means "aw, just fuck it all".

    1. prommie

      Its all bullshit, man. Bristol Palin makes me want to read ecclesiastes; "the race is not always to the swiftest, nor riches to the wise. . .

    2. finallyhappy

      I know the trope for chanting "Eychah"(that is the transliterated hebrew for Ecclesiates)

  21. V572..whatever

    Hitchens' article is really good:

    A culture that does not possess this common store of image and allegory will be a perilously thin one. To seek restlessly to update it or make it “relevant” is to miss the point, like yearning for a hip-hop Shakespeare. “Man is born unto trouble as the sparks fly upward,” says the Book of Job. Want to try to improve that for Twitter?

    1. mumbly_ジョジョ

      It kinda depends on what you expect to get out of it, honestly. As a work of literature? Sure. As a source of moral guidance? I'd kinda want people to understand the plain meaning of what they're reading, and most Xians are way too fucking lazy to engage in actual scholarship.

  22. SorosBot

    If you ask certain brands of fundamentalist, the King James is the only real English version of the Bible for some reason; ironic given that it was commissioned by and named after a gay man given their homophobia.

  23. GuyClinch

    Love this quote from the Hitchens article:

    "When Joseph Smith began to fabricate his Book of Mormon, in the late 1820s, “translating” it from no known language, his copy of King James was never far from his side. He plagiarized 27,000 words more or less straight from the original, including several biblical stories lifted almost in their entirety, and the throat-clearing but vaguely impressive phrase “and it came to pass” is used at least 2,000 times. Such “borrowing” was a way of lending much-needed “tone” to the racket."

  24. KeepFnThatChicken

    Every bible bearing a copyright mark should be burned.

    SPOILER: THEY ALL DO.

  25. DerrickWildcat

    Bible says get it on with daddy:

    Genesis 34 The next day the older daughter said to the younger, “Last night I slept with my father. Let’s get him to drink wine again tonight, and you go in and sleep with him so we can preserve our family line through our father.”

    I know right? The Bible is pretty sick!

    1. MarshallBanana

      I never knew those particular porn sites were endorsed by the Bible. They should really capitalize on that; they could sell a whole series of "Biblical Literalist" pornos!

  26. mumbly_ジョジョ

    Here's a fun fact: the King James Version of the bible is not only one of the most opaque translations for modern readers (keep in mind that this was the same time as Shakespeare, and even most honors/AP high school English classes need his plays further translated in order to make sense of much of it), but it's also one of the poorest, managing not only to mis-translate concepts, but even inserting additional anachronisms into the book. Here's a hint: if you're translating a poem written by a bronze-age society, and you somehow come up with a line about a "bow of steel", YOUR DOING IT WRONG.

    Point being, it shouldn't be too surprising that the wingnuttier types of Christianity (i.e, Southern Baptist) tend to insist that the KJV is the One True Divinely Inspired Bible, and no other translation will do.

    1. SorosBot

      It's also problematic because, like many translations of the Bible, the translators cared more about supporting the theology of their sect (in this case, the Church of England, versus the Catholics and Puritans) than accuracy; that's an issue that goes back to the first official Latin translations, not to mention the edits that the early Christians made to the books, especially after they went from being persecuted to doing the persecution after taking over Rome.

  27. SorosBot

    If you want a fantasy novel to guide your morality, Lord of the Rings is a hell of a lot more consistent and believable than the fucking Bible.

    1. doloras

      But is it any less sexist or racist? (Note, I love Prof. Tolkien to death, but he was Of His Time in a big way.)

  28. owhatever

    You telling me this King James guy is outselling James Patterson? What else has he written?

  29. undeterredbyreality

    "And when he was demanded of the Teatards, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said:
    The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you."

    Buddha?

  30. iburl

    The carcases of every beast which divideth the hoof, and is not clovenfooted, nor cheweth the cud, are unclean unto you: every one that toucheth them shall be unclean.
    And whatsoever goeth upon his paws, among all manner of beasts that go on all four, those are unclean unto you: whoso toucheth their carcase shall be unclean until the even.
    And he that beareth the carcase of them shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even: they are unclean unto you.
    These also shall be unclean unto you among the creeping things that creep upon the earth; the weasel, and the mouse, and the tortoise after his kind,
    And the ferret, and the chameleon, and the lizard, and the snail, and the beaver.
    These are unclean to you among all that creep: whosoever doth touch them, when they be dead, shall be unclean until the even.

  31. Tommmcattt

    "Fallen! Fallen is Miss Lindsey Grahm the Great!’
    She has become a dwelling for demons
    and a haunt for every impure spirit,
    a haunt for every unclean bird,
    a haunt for every unclean and detestable animal.
    For all the nations have drunk
    the maddening wine of her adulteries.
    The kings of the earth committed adultery with her,
    and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries."

    -Revelations 18, 1-3

  32. mrblifil

    I think Noah had a pair of beavers. In addition to the one he used for begatting. Three beavers is a good way to while away a couple months of rainy weather.

  33. DahBoner

    Funny, Teabaggers hate taxes, but Jesus said to pay your fair share of taxes, didn't he?

    Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” (“Ἀπόδοτε οὖν τὰ Καίσαρος Καίσαρι καὶ τὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ τῷ Θεῷ”) (Matthew 22:21)"

    NEW TEABAGGER KOCHSUCKER TESTIMENT:

    "Render Liberal union thugs into lard, which will be used to fry up some chicken, after Church, next Sunday"

  34. SorosBot

    I had to read the Aeneid in Latin in high school; reread it more recently in English and as long the translation's decent it's still worth a read.

  35. Noisette76

    Personally, I enjoy the soft-core porn that is the Song of Solomon:
    "Thy navel is like a round goblet, which wanteth not liquor: thy belly is like an heap of wheat set about with lilies. Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins. This thy stature is like to a palm tree, and thy breasts to clusters of grapes. I said, I will go up to the palm tree, I will take hold of the boughs thereof: now also thy breasts shall be as clusters of the vine, and the smell of thy nose like apples…" HOTTT.

    1. doloras

      "My beloved put in his hand by the hole, and my bowels were moved for him." – KJV, Song of Songs 5:4. Good fisting action there.

  36. doloras

    "18: For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
    19: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. "

    - KJV, Revelations 22.

  37. lulzmonger

    tl;dr

    (It's ironic because I actually read the KJB cover to cover … SPOILER ALERT – the hippy gets killed)

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