A Cursory Glance Through the Book, "Bible Shockers!"

Bill Ross sent me his book Bible Shockers, which I received today along with several books Andrew Atkinson sent me. Bill sent me the book for a possible review. I promised him I would review it, but I didn’t promise him I would read all of it. Let me tell you why, and it’s not because it’s a bad book. It may be that I want to get on reading the other better books I have on my plate. I'll probably keep it for a Bible reference from time to time.

I began reading it but the more I read it, the more I skimmed it, until that’s all I was doing, skimming through it, which probably has more to do with his approach than my merely wanting to get on reading the other books.

What is he doing in this book? In his words: “I will present many of the more shocking discoveries in a somewhat cursory way, but each observation deserves a separate book to handle objections. I do try to present the reader with enough data to assess these observations or directions to pursue further study.” (p. 4) He also says that the book is really an adjunct to his website, www.bibleshockers.com, and in his book he repeatedly asks his readers to prove him otherwise on that site, in its forums. Since I have not participated in his forums I can’t say how well he does in defending his arguments in his book. But he is absolute correct to describe it as a “somewhat cursory” approach to the issues. That’s why the more I read, the less I read, for I am interested in a more than cursory approach to the issues.

Who is his intended audience? He claims it will appeal to “people who already find themselves taking pains to understand the Bible, whether they be Bible students, Sunday School teachers, preachers, seminarians or just inquisitive, and whether they be Christians of any sect, or not.” (p. 4). With such an intended audience he would’ve been better off telling us who the book wouldn’t appeal to, and apparently it's not intended for people not interested in the Bible, like his wife, as he says. But I don't think it will appeal to people who are even somewhat well-read on these issues, especially seminarians and informed skeptics.

In the sections I read he offered some Bible verses on behalf of his views, but a cursory approach that mostly quotes the Bible could be bettered if he had at least offered a more comprehensive set of passages to show his points. But he didn't do this. He uses the Bible to show God was viewed essentially as “a man with supernatural powers,” and best described as a “supernatural national champion.” (pp. 7-16). He argues God did not create the universe out of nothing (pp. 17-27). He argues that Adam was made to look like God (“in his image”), and that God had other sons who also defected (pp. 33-38). While I do agree with him, again the cursory approach is uninteresting to me personally.

He argued that Jesus was a sinner, and talked about the sin of lusting in one’s heart over a woman. Ross wrote, “Could the son of God actually pull out his wonker and ‘slap the salami’?” He claims a human 30 year old male would surely lust after a woman. (pp. 39-48). His language here is probably too graphic and demeaning for Christians who may be interested in reading his book.

Ross also discounts the sufferings of Jesus: “I find that the evidence that his life was, as far as human lives go, a breeze.” On a suffering scale of one to a hundred his life “would come in at zero.” When looking at the sufferings of Jesus during his trial he says, “He was falsely charged, awake all night, and whipped. Compared to the generations of slaves in the United States, regularly whipped, etc, we should give this a 0.1, I guess." And although “crucifixion is not a picnic,” Ross rates the sufferings of Jesus on the cross at 4.5. He says such a death “was certainly worse than dying in one’s sleep, but it was a merciful death in comparison to the many thousands of Jews who died on Roman crosses after days of agony.” (pp. 48-53).

It was at this point I started mostly skimming the book. Anyone who treats the sufferings of another individual so carelessly in order to make his point about the religion he wishes to debunk surely has an axe to grind, and as such, it becomes harder to take him seriously. [sorry]

Still he makes some interesting points. He says Jesus is a terrorist because he will send plagues and terrors on the earth in the several passages. He argues from the Bible that sins aren’t paid for, that Paul wasn’t a Jew, that Christians do not go to heaven, that sinners don’t go to hell, that God cannot read your mind, that God does not love the world, that God approves of slavery, that every Christian denomination is heretical, and that there is no Bible. Since Bill comments here he might want to spell out for the reader what he means with these claims. As far as I can tell he’s using rhetoric to show that some Bible passages say things that other passages deny, and he’s claiming the Bible is one sided in its approach, and that Christians have misunderstood what the Bible says. This approach is interesting to me, and I like it, although I'd rather focus on what Christians actually believe today and debunk those claims since I'm not in the habit of telling Christians what they should believe.

When it comes to Bill’s credentials he tells a story similar to what Paul the apostle did when telling his dramatic conversion. Bill says, “isn’t that how religious authority works?” (p. 307) The parallel is that if Paul can be an authority based on his personal story, then so should Bill. I liked this and thought it was creative and provocative. I mean really, if Paul can get away with it and become a religious authority, then why can’t Bill?

Anyway, you can see for yourself. If you’d like to read “a somewhat cursory” approach to these issues including many Biblical quotations, and if you don't mind some occasional graphic language, then you may be interested in getting this book.