Friday, June 13, 2008

the R-rated parts of the Bible

From Cathy Lynn Grossman in USA Today, a description of a new book that discusses some of the wilder (R-rated) stories in Scripture and theologian's speculations about those stories (hat tip: Linda Christiansen)...

Examine Bible stories top to bottom — particularly the "bottoms" — and you will find a blue vein of sexual and scatological humor not-so-hidden in the verses, say two scholars of Hebrew Scriptures and an evangelical satire writer.

This website, the BrickTestament, does the same thing-- with Legos.

Their new book, The Uncensored Bible: The Bawdy and Naughty Bits of the Good Book, in stores Monday, raises such questions as "Which 'bone' was Eve made from?"

Or whether, in the Book of Judges, a king's assassin escapes through a latrine in a tale laden with euphemisms for feces.

The whole book of Judges is excellent, especially for junior high boys!

Because the Bible addresses humanity body and soul, there's nothing sacrilegious about examining every aspect of human nature under heaven, say scholars Steven McKenzie, professor of Hebrew Bible at Rhodes College, a liberal arts college in Memphis affiliated with the Presbyterian Church USA, and John Kaltner, an associate professor of religious studies at Rhodes.

Joel Kilpatrick, founder of, a Christian satire site that reads like a cross between The Onion and an evangelical church bulletin, took their manuscript and did a humorous write-through. His earlier book for Uncensored's publisher, HarperOne, was the gently mocking A Field Guide to Evangelicals and their Habitat.

The trio delve into 23 well-known Bible tales. They start with a sassy retelling of a familiar story, then take academic hair-splitting to Olympian levels as they examine some outrageous interpretations posed by scholars from around the world, and conclude by assessing whether the new "spin" succeeds.

"I was a little surprised to discover these wacky ideas out there in the scholarly soup. But these guys have credibility, and every issue they raise is plausible," says Kilpatrick, who grew up in a conservative faith.

To play along, readers need a King James Version on hand, as some potentially naughty lines have been cleaned up in later translations.

For instance, in the KJV but not in the New International Version, King David, angry at a farmer, threatens to kill anyone who "pisseth."

The KJV has the words piss and pisseth seven times-- the former for trash-talking Babylonians (we'll make you drink your piss and eat your filth") and the latter for a euphemism for men ("those who pisseth against the wall").

Every theory discussed was initially proposed by a serious scholar, often in some arcane journal. The Uncensored Bible's aim is to make the theories accessible and entertaining, Kaltner says.

Was Adam's "rib" or his side the source for Eve? Maybe not.

The original Hebrew word is "tsela," used elsewhere in the Bible to refer to a branch or tangent extending out from a body — like a certain genital bone that all male mammals have except spider monkeys and humans. So why don't men have a bone there now?

I actually blogged on this earlier-- something that evolutionists have to explain, since monkeys have a bone!


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