It’s not very often I go searching for my copy of the Holy Bible. But whenever I find it in my brief moment of need I always say a heart-felt “Thankriste”.
Last night was one of those rare moments: it took me a while too, I had to search through acres of groaning shelves to find my barely touched King James authorised version. In this edition the actual words of Jesus himself are helpfully colour-coded.
But it wasn’t Jesus I was after last night, rather the bloody and mercenary Moses. In particular the various points in the Old Testament where he receives the absolutely must obey rules from a vengeful and jealous God.
I was seeking out the various passages in Exodus – the bit that explains Bob Marley’s drug habit – and Dudedontneuterme – the bit where the Levi-wearing Midianites beg Moses not to cut their bits off (in vain it turns out) – where the Ten Commandments are explained.
“And, as a level 7 aetheist, you are doing this why?” At least that was the reaction from a disbelieving Mrs Martini. She didn’t even know we had a Holy Bible in the house and she was most amused that I would choose it as my bedtime reading.
“Well actually, Moac,” I carefully explained, “I’m reading Vanity Fair and the Bible’s only here as a reference guide.”
Moac gets this; while doing her BA she was told to read the Holy Bible (I always feel there should be an exclamation mark here, like this: “Holy Bible! Batman.”) as it was the foundation for a lot of literary references. I pointed out to her that the late, great HST swore by the Bible. He swore at pretty much everything, but that’s another story.
Mr Hitchens carving himself a new one
This story is about the essay in VF by Christopher Hitchens in which he argues that the Ten Commandments should be revised and redacted. The points he makes – which is why I needed the Holy Bible! – are that at the various times in Exodus and Dudedontneuterme where the tablets of stone are mentioned, the wording does indeed change and that the surly and obviously mad-as-a-hatter Moses even smashes the original set in anger. An even angrier God has him go back up the fuckenmountain for another 40 days and 40 nights** to hew some more freakentablets.
I didn’t know, until I read in Hitchen’s piece that the Ten Commandments had changed from one passage to another. The Vanity Fair piece is worth a read; Exodus was a classic piece of reggae-rock; the book of Dudedontneuterme is worth a laugh, but it’s far too frightening for children.
The New Commandments: Christopher Hitchens, Vanity Fair, April 2010
** I checked: this is not the same 40 days and 40 nights during which the earth flooded and Noah’s ark ended up on another fuckenmountain.