Sunday, 28 August 2011

The Roman Times review of the Bible

I recently found the Times from 36 AD, carrying a review of the Bible. What follows is a translation from the original Latin.

"The Bible: God (20 Denarii)
God, 3600 time Deity of the Year, turns his hand to novels in his ambitious debut piece. The 36.73 test batting average omnipotent being chose to express his first piece through a mixture of burning bushes, parables, and interpretative dance. Essentially a stage piece reworked for general consumption, this book is certainly a hefty tome, split into two portions, the "Old" testament, and the "New" testament. God's writing style is indicative of a self-indulgent piece, at one stage suggesting that every action you perform is unto the glory of himself, and whilst he attempts to sway us with a more humanity-centric second half, you sense that ultimately, the focus never shifts from the omniscient one. The Almighty seems to be resting heavily on the laurels of creating the earth, the heavens and the seas, the opening segment reading rather more like his brief memoirs than an objective viewpoint.

Initially, you're on God's side, but as the character develops, you shift against him as he unveils unimaginable wrath for seemingly minor sins. In essence, God's character is the worst flatmate in the world, silently hating you, then leaving a thousand page note outside your door with a list of dos and don'ts. "And Lo, God said, there shall be one fridge drawer left open for my things, and he saw that this was done, and that this was good.", then condemning you to an eternity in damnation for putting your milk in his section. The character shifts towards the end of the book to someone who only wants to be loved, and will love you back, but by this stage it's hard to like him. "Don't eat shellfish! What did I tell you about eating shellfish!? It's right there in Leviticus! Are you sure you read this thing cover to cover? It's SPECIFICALLY an abomination to eat anything that lives in the sea that doesn't have scales or fins. Does this crab have any fins? Scales? I don't see any! You know how I feel about this, Dan. Eternal damnation. It's the only way you'll learn.".

His son, on the other hand, is rather more likeable. The 4 time Messiah of the Year, and Middle-East Miracle Worker of the Millennium, is rather less strict with trifling sins, instead focussing on forgiveness and absolution for these things. The 26AD Ice Skater of the Year (From where he picked up his nickname, "the Water-Walker", due to his ease and casual grace out on the ice), performs miracles for fun, yet keeps his humble exterior, which is eminently more desirable than God's vicious envy. Chronicling the life and times of Jesus, the new testament is rather more parable-based, with plenty of stories for the keen reader to bear in mind whilst trying to live a better life. That being said, he's insistent that the best way to be better as a person is not to merely do good things, but to do good things for God, indicative of the author's egotism. Although, you get the sense that if you were to leave your milk in Jesus' drawer, he'd probably just say "Hey guys, try not to leave stuff in my drawer, okay? I'll let it go this time.", rather than, say, condemning you to an eternity in the bowels of hell. It's the little things that count.

Some of the book is a little far-fetched, it must be admitted. The revival of Lazarus in particular, is hard to believe, but then again, it's a pretty accurate summary of God's career in recent years. Create world, lie low, publish Bible. Jesus' comeback, too, was unexpected and hard to believe, but then I said the same of Cicero, and his last trial was a real ripsnorter, so I guess we live and learn.

All in all, a strong basis for a worldwide religion, looking forward to God's follow up, "The Crusades and Me: My role in Middle-Eastern conflicts". 4/5"

There you have it. Pretty well-received in its day, and still going strong a mere two millenia later. The Bible, everyone.

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