The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible, by Steve Wells (ISBN-13: 978-0988245105; 2 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches” 1648
For years I had wondered why nobody had ever done this before. It seems so obvious. Go through the Bible, find all the inconsistencies and contradictions and cross-reference them. As an extra, do it with a bit of wit. Well, it looks like Steve Wells has done it with The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible. Have you ever wondered:
How did Judas die?
- He hanged himself. Mt 27.3-5
- He fell down and his bowels gushed out. Acts 1.18
Does Hell Exist?
- Yes, those that don’t go to heaven are tortured forever in Hell. (Dan 12.2; Mt 10.28, 13.41-42, 18.8-9, 22.13, 25.41; Mk 9.43-49; Lk 16.19-31; Jn 5.29; 2 Th 1.7-9; Rev 14.10-11, 20.9-10, 15)
- No, those that don’t go to heaven, just die. (Dt 29.20; Ps 1.4-6, 34.16, 37.1-2, 37.20, 69.28; Pr 10.25, 24.20; Ob 16; Rom 6.21, 23; 1 Cor 3.17; 2 Cor 2.15; Gal 6.8; Phil 3.19; Jas 1.15, 4.12, 5.20)
- Everyone goes to heaven after they die. (1 Cor 15.21-22, 1 Tim 4.10, 1 Jn 2.2)
These two sets of inconsistencies alone should be enough to make most Christians question their faith. But there are literally hundreds of them that Wells nails in this book. He also adds witty comments about perplexing events in the Bible, such as this one: “When the Pharisees warn Jesus that Herod would try to kill him, Jesus tells them to tell Herod that he casts out devils, will be perfected on the third day, and will walk around Jerusalem for another couple days or so.” Wells highlights such passages with helpful icons; in this case, a smiley face. Other sections of the Bible are also marked, such as those that are homophobic, violent, and misogynist.
He also puts to rest the myth that the New Testament is somehow more “humane” than the Old Testament, that the god it represents is a kinder and gentler one than the one who smotes his enemies and turns people into pillars of salt. However, in the following passages, the gospel writers approve of slavery: Mt 8.7; Lk 7.2-10, 12.46-47, 17.7-9. How can that be explained away?
Sometimes even the same evangelist contradicts himself. Regarding the issue of the laws of the Old Testament being still binding, Luke says both yes and no within the same verse (Lk 16.16-17)! How did this happen? Either the compilers were execrable proofreaders or multiple authors worked on the same books and didn’t care about inconsistencies. Perhaps they sensed “difficult” passages would be explained away by a cleric. (This happens all the time in Bible study classes today.)
If you live in or near the U.S. bible belt like I do, this book is an invaluable tool in warding off proselytizers sent to recruit you into one religion or another. About the only thing it doesn’t do is tell you how to deal with the cognitive dissonance zealots cling to when you point out inconsistent, illogical, or nonsensical passages in their beloved book. It’s possible they are just too far gnoe to reason with.
There is a Kindle version available on Amazon. I managed to obtain the EPUB (Nook) version. It is the same text as the book, but I encountered this stylistic quirk: Sometimes Wells repeats a passage and bolds it without commenting on it. He states in the introduction that he does this to draw our attention to a passage, perhaps one whose oddness is obvious. (I later found out from the author that this was a problem with the conversion process from MS Word to both Kindle and EPUB.)
On the positive side, the Bible citations function also as hotlinks to the passages in question. For those with e-books, it might make sense to purchase the book in the appropriate format, in addition to the hardcover book.
Consumer reviewers have noted that the best format to experience this book is through the iPad/iPhone app. I haven’t seen it, but apparently, it is user friendly.
Mr. Wells has created a nice piece of work. Get this book in one format or another and you will experience an infusion of knowledge that may very well change your life.