Item description for Don't Know Much About the Bible: Everything You Need to Know About the Good Book but Never Learned by Kenneth C. Davis...
Nine out of ten Americans own a Bible, but how much do they know about the one book that has influenced human history more than any other? Don't Know Much About the Bible by New York Times bestselling author Kenneth C. Davis is designed to illuminate everything we need to know about the Good Book but never learned. With wit, authority, and intelligence, Davis brings the world of the Old and New Testaments to vivid life, setting the panorama of the Scriptures against the historical events that shaped them; clearing up misconceptions and mistranslations; summarizing Bible stories, parables, and miracles; and adding fresh new insights to the world's most owned, least understood book.
Davis is uniquely qualified for the assignment. The creator of the bestselling Don't Know Much About series, he now illuminates the bestselling book of all time, using his inimitable question-and-answer approach and providing a key to the people, places, and "household names" we need to unlock "The Greatest Story Ever Told." Writes Davis, "I believe people are starved for knowledge. They just want it in a more appealing style than the way it was presented back in school."
Relying on up-to-date research and improved translations, Davis sets out to uncover what the Bible says--and doesn't say. Don't Know Much About the Bible is the result of his efforts and includes the following observations: There are two different Creation stories told in Genesis, but no apple in the Garden of Eden story. There was no "coat of many colors" in the story of Joseph and his jealous brothers, but rather a long-sleeved robe. Moses didn't write the Torah and he didn't part the Red Sea in his escape from Pharaoh. The Sixth Commandment does not condemn all killing. King David probably didn't kill Goliath and didn't write the Psalms. Jesus wasn't born on Christmas.
Davis brings readers up-to-date on findings gleaned from the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Gnostic Gospels that prompt serious scholars to ask such questions as: Who wrote the Bible? Did Jesus say everything we were taught he did? Did he say more? By examining the Bible historically, Davis also shows which biblical teachings may have suited an ancient, semi-nomadic world but no longer apply to life at the dawn of the twenty-first century.
Outline Kenneth Davis, popular purveyor of stuff you should know but never learned, turns his research engine to the land of Job and Jesus. Ever wonder who wrote the Bible, what the difference is between a disciple and an apostle, or how the Dead Sea Scrolls measure up? Davis tackles the entire Bible, book by book, from Genesis to Revelation, offering succinct capsules of the action and backgrounders that are as entertaining as the tabloids--except that Davis's information is reliable. On every page, you can see the immense amount of research he has put into this work, drawing on the most up-to-date scholarship and presenting it in fresh, easy-to-swallow doses. Chronologies at various points put historical events into perspective. The high point of Don't Know Much About the Bible comes in the New Testament section, where Davis compares the different versions of the Gospels for the various episodes in Jesus' life and offers insights on issues that are still discussed today. By the way, did you know that Jesus' name was really Joshua and that he wasn't born in the year 1? More tidbits await. --Brian Bruya
Outline Audiobook Review The Bible, author Kenneth Davis explains, fits that definition of a "classic" offered by Mark Twain: a book that people praise and don't read. But this entertaining historical study will likely compel listeners to reach for their dusty copies of the world's most-owned but least-understood anthology once again. And not simply because the author reminds us of the drama and intrigue, the tales of rape, impaling, and ethnic cleansing routinely found in its pages. Davis paints the larger historical context in which the Bible was written, providing a sense of the culture and environment in which the familiar stories came to life. Calling on new research and scholarship into the Bible's composition, he provides fascinating background to dimly remembered stories that gives them renewed impact. Using a series of easy-to-follow questions and answers, he offers explanations about when and by whom the Bible was written; how the stories of other traditions influenced the Judeo-Christian teachings; where the Garden of Eden might have been located; why an earthquake may have played a part in the "walls tumbling down" at Jericho; why Jesus may not have said everything we think he did, and much more. He also points out that mistranslations from the original Hebrew have made their way into modern versions of the Bible, explaining where and how they occurred. Conceding that his program will anger some, as it challenges many cherished but mistaken assumptions about the Bible, Davis also hopes that listeners recognize that Christian belief and uncovering the truth are not at odds in this program, but rather that learning and wisdom, even when they reach unsettling conclusions, can ultimately complement faith. (Running time: six hours, four cassettes) --Uma Kukathas
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After giving rise to the Don't Know Much About series, Ken Davis has been dubbed "The King of Knowing" by Amazon.com because he becomes a subject expert in all of the areas he writes about: the Bible, mythology, the universe, the Civil War, for example. Ken Davis is a frequent media guest and has appeared on hundreds of television and radio shows, including NPR, The Today Show, Fox and Friends, CNN, and The Discovery Channel. He has been a commentator for All Things Considered, has written for the New York Times, CNN.com, and Smithsonian magazine, and serves as an educator for TED-ED, a new division of TED that share free "lessons worth sharing" via brief animated videos. In addition to his adult titles, he writes the Don't Know Much About Children's series published by HarperCollins. He lives in New York with his wife. They have two grown children.
Kenneth C. Davis currently resides in New York, in the state of New York. Kenneth C. Davis was born in 1935.
Kenneth C. Davis has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about Don't Know Much About the Bible: Everything You Need to Know About the Good Book but Never Learned?
Deserved less than one star May 4, 2008
Davis has the right title for this book. Except the title is more adaptable for himself than the readers. From reading his book I can see that he obviously doesn't know much about the Bible. As other readers have stated, I am not one of those close-minded conservatives who won't hear opposing arguments. This book is just downright amusing and angering. I'm not a monk or a priest & I haven't read the whole Bible, but I have plenty of knowledge and even a normal churchgoer has enough knowledge to be able to knock down Davis' so-called truths regarding the Bible. He presents a one-sided argument that is meant to discredit the Word of God. Like saying that the Four Gospels are contradictary. The 4 Gospels are like watching the same news story on 4 different channels. It's the same story told from different angles by 4 different people. Police can question a group of witnesses who saw the same crime but they will all recall it a different way. This book is great for anyone who wants an excuse for not believing in God. Davis presents what he thinks are inconsistencies and you wonder if he even took the time to read the verses he's writing about. For example, he tries to discredit Noah's Ark by saying the Bible says it rained for 40 days & 40 nights and that water covered the earth for 150 days. Is that your argument? Of course if it rained for 40 days & 40 nights then the water wouldn't evaporate the second the rain stopped. It would still be covering the earth, DUH! Davis is more content in calling truth the Greek myths, ancient folklore, Egyptian fairy tales, etc. This is nothing more than a work of blasphemy. Davis is an obvious nonbeliever and he doesn't even have enough of an argument to debate with. He basically calls Christians people who believe in God (yeah Davis doesn't know WHICH God) because Christians blindly believe what our ancestors did & believing in God is better than the alternatives because we might as well believe in something while we're down here. Oh yeah sure. And belief in God has been going on for how long? So how come this "myth" has outlasted any other?
Eye-Opening -- But I Doubted his Arguments and Questioned his Agenda Apr 16, 2008
Kenneth C. Davis's "Don't Know Much About the Bible: Everything You Need to Know About the Good Book but Never Learned" is an interesting popular history/theological discourse on the Biblical stories many of us don't know or don't remember. Davis, the author of other books in the "Don't Know Much About" series, has written an interesting and entertaining book, but, while I did learn something about the Bible reading this book, I have little faith that Davis's views on many of these subjects are correct.
Davis tells many of the Biblical stories in blunt, revealing language. He enjoys shocking the reader and bringing out the unsavory portions of the Biblical stories - the sex, the murder, the intrigue - that many people don't realize are there. He gives the historical context of Israel and tries to explain the role of many of the Biblical stories to the early Jews. Davis also recounts and explains the recurring themes of the Old Testament and helps tie together the stories and morals in ways that short Biblical readings every Sunday don't or can't do. This is where the book is the strongest.
However, although I am not in any way a Biblical scholar (else I probably wouldn't have been reading this book), there was enough in the book that made me mistrust too many of Davis's perspectives and his factual statements about the history of the Bible. Davis presents his perspective as the "truth" about the Bible, but two particular nuggets made me doubt his perspective:
-Davis wrote that "most scholars agree" that the first five books of the Bible (the Pentateuch) were written by four authors: J, E, D, and P. This is the "documentary hypothesis." However, some basic research reveals that the documentary hypothesis began to lose favor by most scholars in the 1960s and now is only one of several competing hypotheses behind the authorship of the Pentateuch.
-During the Proverbs discussion, Davis quoted: "Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die" (Proverbs 23:13). He said that equating discipline with beating is a bad idea and that it turns morality upside down. Then he went on to say, ""In an era of commonplace child abuse, even hinting that the Bible condones such behavior is a grievous mistake." That method of "analysis" - condemning a Biblical proverb because of a perceived modern problem - is completely out of place in a supposedly-historical treatment of the Bible and made me doubt Davis's entire approach.
Davis's book is interesting, eye-opening, and thought-provoking. Ultimately, though, I doubted Davis's arguments and questioned his agenda. Still, this book may spark interest in the Bible and provide a loose framework, however flawed, for further learning about this book that so many of us know, but few know well.
The Author Doesn't Believe the Bible is God's Word Feb 29, 2008
This book is filled with interesting information, and regardless of any claims the author makes, he truly doesn't believe the Bible is God's Word. He always gives the benefit of the doubt to the scientific information that refutes the Bible stories. He never considers that God can provide information to the authors of the Bible that may be true, even if it doesn't appear true to science. Basically, he considers the Bible a very interesting series of mythical books. It's an interesting read, but I admit, I would have appreciated a balanced point of view. He really mocks the point of view that believes the Bible is the inerrant word of God. He may know a lot about Bible stories, but he doesn't know the most important thing, that it is the very word of God. If you don't believe the most basic claim of Biblical books, that this IS God's Word, then I don't understand why you would take the time to study it. Without faith, it's just folly and that is what the author presents the Bible as: folly.
No, he doesn't know much about the bible... Feb 16, 2008
Even non-believers should find this book frustrating, incomplete, and hypocritical. The author obviously just picked up a few of the most prominent humanist analyses of the bible and regurgitated a summary. I often found myself questioning whether he even read the passages he was talking about. He obviously had no idea of the over-arching themes of the bible nor how it all comes together to tell a coherent story.
This man is obviously not a scholar, and basically admits it by his most common quote,"most scholars believe". A good example is his tired re-telling of the JDPE theory of pentateuch authorship, a theory that has been refuted so often and so well by so many actual scholars that anyone who advocates it today is simply parading their ignorance for all to see.
The book is hypocrital on multiple levels, from the basic assumption by the author that his morality is superior to god's, and therefore he can cast judgement on anything in the bible and be right, to the ludicrous attempts to say that the bible doesn't condone corporal punishment, doesn't condemn homosexuality, etc.
If you want to spend a few hours reading a book and still not know anything about the bible, go ahead and read this one.
So what is the Bible really? Feb 7, 2008
In Kenneth Davis's "Don't Know Much About the Bible" he examines all of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and everything in between. He talks about the origin of the Bible as a complete work, and examines why there are so many different versions of the Bible, and why some branches of Christianity except some books and others do not. Then he gets to the nitty gritty. I will be honest with you, I was kind of shocked when I saw the point of view he was coming from; strictly rational and scientific. He talks about the lack of archeological evidence for things like the Garden of Eden. He discuses how the books are actually written by several men instead of the author traditionally attributed. For example Davis says that the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) are actually written by several authors over a period of several hundred years, and how many of the people like Abraham, Moses and King David probably never existed. He also clams many mistakes, like his claim that there is actually two creation stories haphazardly crammed into one story. All of these examples are just from Genesis, but the whole book is that skeptical and cynical, especially in discussing the Jewish Laws (and those set down by Paul for the early Church) have no real relevance in the modern world (Davis is especially critical of the 'spare the rod, spoil the child' quote). So, what is the final verdict? Christians will not like this book, but Agnostics might see it as ammunition. It is certainly something to think about.