Bible Review 10:4, August 1994

An Amputated Bible, Peradventure?

The publishing house of Simon and Schuster has come up with a radical solution to the problem of "boring" passages in the Bible: Eliminate them.

By Jacob Milgrom

Bible Review

I am sure that a recent writer spoke for many when, under the title “Overcoming the Leviticus Syndrome,” he wrote: “We find ourselves lost in a maze of laws and rituals that confuse, frustrate and, at times, quite frankly bore us.”1 The publishing house of Simon and Schuster has come up with a radical solution: Eliminate the “boring” passages from the Bible. It has reissued E. S. Bates’s The Bible To Be Read as Living Literature (1936) with “updated scholarship” and a new introduction by Lodowick Allison. The result is a ponderous volume of 1,258 pages containing a grotesquely dismembered King James Bible (KJV) that deletes, among other genres, all legislation—civil and ritual alike. For example, Leviticus is shrunk to a single chapter (19) and Deuteronomy to three (32–34). Mr. Allison’s defense: “Legal codes … [are] irrelevant to anyone but the theologian today … very few of these detailed instructions [in Deuteronomy] … are of any interest to the general reader today” (pp. vi, 147).

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