Considering how long it has taken me to read and review the last few books, I finished this one at warp speed, relatively. That may or may not have something to do with the fact that Lamentations was 5 chapters. As opposed to Jeremiah’s 52 and Isaiah’s 66.
What can I say about Lamentations? Well, here’s what it has going for it, other than brevity: its name describes its subject matter to a T. This book is traditionally believed to be the lamentations of Jeremiah regarding the destruction of Jerusalem. Although according to Wiki, it’s no longer generally accepted that Jeremiah actually is the author. No matter. Point is, someone is sad about the destruction of Jerusalem and the people of Judah, and he is writing about it in the form of 5 poems (I say “he” because if the Bible has taught us nothing else, it’s that women are generally useless for anything other than bearing children and helping to clear the way for the men to take charge).
Wiki also points out that God doesn’t speak in this book at all, which I didn’t even notice until now. Considering how pissed off and murderous God was in the last several books (err, most of the Bible books so far), he is not someone I missed in the least here. It’s just the author (maybe or maybe not Jeremiah) lamenting about how badly God screwed the Jews over, and then, later, saying, “Oh well, I guess we deserved it.”
I’m not even gonna bother with a “Good Stuff” and “Bad Stuff” section for this book, because it’s short and there really isn’t anything that could be described as “good” here. It’s actually annoying, because at first the book tricks you into thinking that the author is legitimately taking God to task for his insanity, with verses like the following:
6:19 Lord, my strength and my fortress, my refuge in time of distress, to you the nations will come from the ends of the earth and say, “Our ancestors possessed nothing but false gods, worthless idols that did them no good. 16:20 Do people make their own gods? Yes, but they are not gods!” 16:21“Therefore I will teach them— this time I will teach them my power and might. Then they will know that my name is the Lord.”
19:7 ”In this place I will ruin the plans of Judah and Jerusalem. I will make them fall by the sword before their enemies, at the hands of those who want to kill them, and I will give their carcasses as food to the birds and the wild animals. 19:8 I will devastate this city and make it an object of horror and scorn; all who pass by will be appalled and will scoff because of all its wounds. 19:9 I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and daughters, and they will eat one another’s flesh because their enemies will press the siege so hard against them to destroy them.”
That’s right, bitches. God is going to make you eat your children. And then after you eat your kids, you’re gonna have to eat your friends. Because you’re a disloyal a-hole. All you had to do was remain faithful to God, but oooohhhh no. Oh no Mr. Man. You just couldn’t do it. You had to start worshiping all those other gods out there. All those FALSE idols. And now the time has come to pay the piper, buddy boy.
Ack, this is bad. I was doing so well for the first half of last year, and I certainly slowed down in the second half, but still. I didn’t expect my progress on Isaiah to be this close to the speed of molasses. Slllooowly dripping molasses. It’s not entirely unexpected though. The last few books I’ve read have been in the short to medium length range, which spoiled me a little. Isaiah, however, was 66 chapters. Combine a long book with content quality that is somewhere between mind-numbing and nearly useless, and you’ve got me taking 4 full months to complete the damn thing (and then even longer to write this review). Well, and an extremely busy and stressful stretch at work certainly has not helped either.
But honestly, Isaiah felt like such a waste of time that it had me wondering where it would rank in a “Most Useless Bible Books” list. The books that have felt very useless to me thus far have been the ones that a) rehashed stories from previous books (e.g. 1st and 2nd Chronicles), and b) were very repetitive and added very little new information or revelations that hadn’t already been covered in previous books (e.g. Psalms). Isaiah, for the most part, is guilty of BOTH of these things (though I know Christians will disagree with me on this for one specific reason, which I address in the “Interesting Stuff” section a little ways down this review).
Why are Isaiah’s eyes so bloodshot??
This book is named Isaiah because it is supposedly told by the 8th century prophet Isaiah ben Amoz. Wikipedia has a good breakdown of the book’s story sections:
Proto-Isaiah (chapters 1–39), containing the words of Isaiah
Deutero-Isaiah (chapters 40–55), the work of an anonymous 6th-century author writing during the exile
Trito-Isaiah (chapters 56–66), composed after the return from exile.
O.k., I’m still not doing well with my productivity level here. I’ve been on an 8 chapter book for two full months now. And in the end it only took me two nights to read it. I just took a loooong time between each of those two nights. This time my excuse is a) an overseas vacation and b) work got really busy. And oh right, I’m a horrible procrastinator. Uggh.
Anyway, let’s discuss Song of Solomon. This book is … weird. Seriously, it has to be the strangest book I’ve come across in the Bible thus far, by a long shot. First off, like Psalms and Proverbs, it’s not told in story form. Rather it’s more of a collection of poems/songs … or maybe even just one long poem/song, for all I can tell. Second, this book has nearly zero intention of trying to teach any sort of life lessons about God or about anything really, save for maybe one or two lines here and there. And lastly, all the poems/chapters in this book are on the same topic: love, and sex.
Oh man. I really have not been doing well with these ever since Psalms, have I? At least I had an excuse with that one; it was 150 chapters. And then Proverbs was another 31. Ecclesiastes, however, was all of twelve chapters, and it took me a month and a half to get through it. Yikes. That pace is a liiiiiiiiiiittttle on the pathetic side. I’ve been blogging weekly on another blog on an entirely unrelated topic, which, I’ll be honest, has completely distracted me from this Bible Reviews project. I’m still on it though, as you can see. I’m just slow. Luckily the next few books are short.
Errgh. It’s been almost 2 months since my Psalms review … much more time than I had planned to take to get through Proverbs. I have no great excuse this time; this has just been one of those months (err, 2 months) where I’ve been distracted with dumb stuff. Plus I guess I did have a few really busy weekends in there where I was out doing stuff or out of town. Anyway, I’m done now. Finally.
You may recall that I wasn’t all that impressed or enthused by Psalms. I expected more out of it. Well, Proverbs, interestingly enough, wound up basically being the book that I thought Psalms was going to be. And that’s a good thing. In a sense, I feel like Proverbs is the book I’ve been waiting to get to the entire time I’ve been reading the Bible, because even though I knew to expect a hearty helping of disturbing and terrible things in the Bible, I thought there would also be more “good” stuff along the way than there has been. Finally, now, in Proverbs we’re getting some of that.
So what is the book of Proverbs about? Well, the summary of the book is pretty much all there in the title. The entirety of the book is … a long list of proverbs. 31 chapters worth, to be exact. The first chapter starts out with some proverbs attributed to Solomon. Later there’s some others that are attributed to various nameless “wise men.” There’s a few others that are attributed to someone named “Agur son of Jakeh,” and some in another chapter attributed to a guy named Lemuel (and/or his mother). Other than that, the rest of the proverbs are just listed in general, without any particular author named.
Whew. Finally finished all 150 chapters of Psalms. By far the longest book of the Bible thus far … and yet the irony is … I’m left feeling like I have much less to say about this one than any of the others I’ve read.
I’ll explain that statement in a sec, but let me first start by describing what this book is and what it’s about. As Wikipedia describes it, “The word psalms is derived from the Greek Ψαλμοί (Psalmoi), perhaps originally meaning ‘music of the lyre’ or ‘songs sung to a harp,’ and later any piece of music.” There’s no music included with the Bible, of course, so each chapter is basically like reading song lyrics or a poem. The King James Bible doesn’t denote any specific section breaks in the book, but the New International Version breaks the book up into 5 sections:
Book I: Chapters 1 – 41
Book II: Chapters 42 – 72
Book III: Chapters 73 – 89
Book IV: Chapters 90 – 106
Book V: Chapters 107 – 150
The New International version also specifies that some of the psalms are written from the perspective of David, some are for/about Solomon, some are just general anonymous psalms, a few a ascribed to other people, etc. Most of Book I are psalms of David, as well as several of the psalms in other books. Book II (ch.72) ends with the following verse: “20. This concludes the prayers of David son of Jesse.” Despite this statement, a good number of the psalms after chapter 72 are also ascribed to David. Other than that, I’m not really sure what the logic is behind how the sections are split. But what I can tell you is that in terms of the content of the psalms themselves, I found that they seem to all consist of a few basic sentiments/topics: