A better Bible: some suggestions

Well; let us suppose I am God. Let us suppose I want to give down some divine revelation.

Here are a few things about the Bible I would do differently.

* * *

Genesis: the whole book replaced with “God created the world. Find out how.”

Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy: removed so people won’t get all bent out of shape and possessively patriotic because of fairytales and explanations of old place names; and anyway presenting ahistorical PR fluff as fact won’t be so good for one’s reputation in the long run. The slightly retooled Ten Commandments should be retained —

  1. Me God; no other gods. If you gotta have other gods, okay, fine, but cease and desist from using all trademarks and distinctive likenesses associated with Yahweh Associates Inc.
  2. No idols. No American Idol, for it is an abomination in the eyes of the Lord. (You will understand when this shall come to pass.)
  3. No God’s name in vain. But don’t stone anyone over this one. Seriously, have some sense of proportion.
  4. Keep holy the sabbath. Don’t be so damned serious all the time. Seriously. Have a sense of humor, prune!
  5. Honor father, mother. Honor people who have done good to you.
  6. No murdering. I’ll personally shove a burning pitchfork up the behind of anyone that uses the expression “holy war”, okay? Listen to the Twain fellow once he comes along. And no slavery, either.
  7. No adultery. No rape. (And by the way, and let me say this clearly and unequivocally: women are of equal worth, right, prestige and ability in my eyes, and my vision is 20/20!)
  8. No stealing.
  9. No false witness. To be clear, no lying either. Not even to make me look good.
  10. No coveting. Why do I even bother? Of course you’re going to covet. Just try to not be pricks about it. That’s not a good and full commandment, though — how about “Sexuality isn’t a bad thing, honestly!”? Did you get all that, Moses? Oh, okay. Good.

Joshua: Out with this book. Seriously, I don’t want to show myself as egging people on to commit genocide, not even in a fictional fantasy like this. It’s not cool to say that Amalekites or some other folk are “evil”, totally corrupt, and then to try to exterminate them all. A few millennia pass, and that’s a “crime against humanity”. Keep me out of that.

Judges: Okay, wait.

Out with all these “historical” books. Like I said before, I don’t want to present patriotic fan fiction as actual, real history. That’s going to sting a lot later. Better be either literal or quiet; otherwise there will be endless wars about interpretation. Not to mention the example I give in this stuff — what, a king disobeys me so I smack his kingdom? Or a pharaoh won’t let my people go so I kill every firstborn son in the land? What kind of an ogre does that make me?

Am I supposed to be the God of Love, or “the God of Love Or Else…”?

Better to just cut the Old Testament down into “1 You aren’t special, folks. Find out about your history yourselves, but don’t think you are so special and chosen. You’re cousins to Philistines and second cousins to chimpanzees. Put that in your pipes and smoke it. And, er, please don’t cut off any bits of children. They don’t like it; you don’t like it; I don’t like it; what’s the point? I know who you are; you aren’t some cows that would need earmarks to be recognized by their Owner. 2 Dear Heavens, I hope you don’t think I have some weird fetish and actually like watching that stuff!”

Oh, and the Book of Job. I could do a better job with that. “There is so much senseless suffering in the world because…” Um. Wait. I’m sure I had a good reason for that…

Moving on, the Proverbs and the Song of Songs and things like that. Poetry’s nice and good; erotic poetry even better. But maybe I should take the Proverbs out and put something more useful, like a textbook on medicine, in instead. Praying’s a lot nicer if you doesn’t have diarrhea and convulsions. (That combination really sucks. There are drawbacks to being all-seeing, I tell you. Not to mention all-smelling; dear heavens!)

Maybe I could throw in the recipes for a few vaccines, some guidelines about surgery and dentistry. I mean, since people are going to venerate this book, I should give them something more than just a spiritual pep rally and Playboy BC 600.

Ahem.

Moving on to the New Testament — well, this whole thing could have been done a whole lot better. First, no appearance in some backwater with little audience and no independent attestations of existence — if the Son of God comes to town, there better be so many people that people don’t have to get all Wellhausen on me to find out what I really said.

Not to mention that it’s just plain embarrassing that those four dunces couldn’t agree on whether I died on the day of Passover or the day before that; or even on who visited the grave afterwards. And the whole Nazareth-Bethlehem childhood thing… seriously, don’t try to reconcile those two accounts. They won’t fit, because the silly sods went all prophet-y on the Old Testament and got, independently, the idea that though I was from Nazareth I had to have been born in Bethlehem, and made up something they thought suitably lofty. (Or maybe they heard it from the local god-man gossip circle; I haven’t looked much at it since like with sausage, a good hard look at the making of gospels will make you a little wary of the end-product.)

But, though, one hint, Matthew and Luke: if you have to invent a story, don’t set it in a land you don’t live in, whose language you don’t speak, and whose manners you don’t know. Otherwise you together will end up trying to say that this Quirinius, who became governor in 6 AD, was a contemporary of Herod, who died in 4 BC. That’s just lame.

There’s nothing bad in historical fan fiction, but you should try to do it well, and always remember to put in the “all characters” and so on disclaimer.

And what I actually said… okay, I have to say the reason for my actions kind of escapes me. I’m sure I had a perfectly good reason for becoming a Jewish male preaching an imminent apocalypse and my kingdom on earth; I’m pretty sure. But then all these, ah, well, there were complications. Conflicts of schedule. So I just couldn’t deliver on that imminent apocalypse, but it didn’t took many decades for you to figure out that I must have been speaking in a kind of a figurative way, anyway.

Nice save.

I did pretty well, anyway. Apart from that failed apocalypse. And Hell. And that general stridency, intolerance and disregard for the enormous amount of prior theological thought… but hey, it seemed like a good idea at the time, and do you have any idea how difficult it is to concentrate when all of a sudden you’re a man, and Magdalan Maria is standing next to you?

Sheesh.

So, here’s a better plan: Appearance in Rome; ministry at least two hundred years; plenty of relics, including several features in Acta Diurna; frequent public appearances and discussions with philosophers, emperors, historians, people like that. And plenty of signs and miracles. Can’t blame people if they won’t believe mere hearsay. Maybe I’ll turn the Colosseum into solid diamond. And etch that Einstein stuff on it; let you figure out what it is. Might toss in the first trillion digits of pi, too, just to show that I’m not kidding, I’m not playing around, I actually know things you mortals don’t know, and that you can then check on your own. More than just fantastic rumors and legends; something tangible you can put your hands on two thousand years later and say “No other religion has anything like this; and this sure as fuck wasn’t made by a man.”

And no one, I repeat no one, is going to nail me to anything. That was overboard theatrics; I’m a fucking all-powerful God and I don’t need to do that, and I didn’t like it. It was bad taste, I tell you: “Oooh, I’m immortal! Kill me please! Harder! Harder! Put that nail in my wrist and I’ll forgive the sins of all mankind!”

If I’m all-powerful, why does anyone have to suffer on a cross for something to get done, and if I’m all-wise, why the heck did I make a world that needed such a fix? And if I’m all-seeing, how come this is yet another question whose answer I’ve, er, mislaid somewhere?

Now that I think about it, maybe I shouldn’t make you unforgiven sinners in the first place anyway. I mean, why in my name did I make you like that? I’d look like some flip-flopper, first all “Ooh, you are sinners!” and then “Ooh! Now your sins can be forgiven!”; that’s horrible PR. Like a vacuum salesman selling bad product, and then saying that after a lot of pain and struggle they can now, for an additional cost, offer you a salvific fix. I don’t particularly want to look like some rushed and incompetent tech geek.

Man, I have a lot of ideas. Like one of you said, what was it, oh, yes — “I have lots of ideas. The trouble is, most of them suck.”

What an un-me-ly mess.

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