I’ve been linking back to The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible quite a bit and, apparently, my track back spamming has succeeded in getting the attention of the site’s author, Steve Wells. He was nice enough to send my a physical copy of the SAB book to review.
(So, obviously, full disclosure, I did get a freebie, but I’ll try to be as honest as I can be in the face of free stuff.)
But first, some thoughts on the site:
My process when I’m reading a chapter in the Bible is first to read through it once quickly. This is just to give me an idea of the angle I want to take with my post. My next step is to read through more slowly as I take notes on more specific things that I want to say. Then I hit the external sources.
I have a number of websites and books that I consult on a regular basis – I’ve linked to many of the websites at one time or another, and the books can mostly be found on the Texts page (the one-offs only get in-post mentions). These sources help me flesh out my own impressions, or give me new issues to consider. Some of them also help me answer the questions that I’ve been asking. This is where the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible comes in.
The site is a very broad net, and that can be dangerous. I find myself having to think quite hard (and check the verses in their context), because I feel like the site’s author was, in a sense, trying to find problems. Often, he does find legitimate problems, but just as often he seems to be creating them by ignoring connotations of words, ignoring context, or accepting the problematic translation choices of the King James Bible (which makes complete sense for his purposes, but isn’t so useful for me), etc. I find myself disagreeing with his assessments just as often as I agree.
But I still find the site to be an invaluable resource. It is hands down the best concordance that I’ve found. When I read something that I kinda feel contradicts something I saw earlier – maybe months earlier – I could easily waste hours reading back trying to find a passage. But the SAB just gives it right to me. I don’t credit the site in these instances because that would make absolutely no sense whatsoever, but I really do want to acknowledge just how useful I’ve found it in writing for this blog.
It has, like all such resources, its own biases and agendas. But it’s such a thorough tool that it more than makes up for them.
And now for the book:
The book is a very good attempt to cram all the information from the website onto paper. The King James Bible is reprinted in its entirely with SAB‘s annotations in the margins, just as they appear on the site.
In addition, each book of the Bible is prefaced with a list of highlights – which I imagine would be very useful for an atheist who needs to look up a particular passage quickly while in the middle of engaging with a believer. The inside covers are used in the same way, listing a few of the more theologically troubling stories of the Bible for easy reference.
There are also two appendices: one is a list of all the apparently contradictions in the Bible, and the other is a list of every time God kills someone.
All in all, I found the hard copy version of the SAB very well organized for easy referencing, and the edition is quite aesthetically pleasing. If you are a fan of the website and want a version you can carry around with you, put on your shelf, or give as a gift, it’s a good buy.
If you’re interested, you can buy the book here.