About the Author
I am an independent researcher who studied the Bible for yeas as an enthusiastic born-again believer and for many years since becoming an agnostic.
When I say I'm agnostic, I mean I would not presume to know if there is a supreme being or not. The only thing I am certain of is that, if a supreme being exists, it would not exhibit the characteristics imagined by these ancient story tellers.
I strive to be scrupulous in my treatment of each of the stories and, in many cases, the commentaries represent the most full discussion of these stories available free on the Internet.
About the purpose of the book and web site
The purpose of the book Illustrated Stories from the Bible (that they won't tell you in Sunday School) was originally to present the other side of the god of the Bible, the one that gets left out of all other Bible story books.
If one chooses to read these stories superficially in the Bible, they can be dismissed as disquieting oddities. However, if one takes the time to think about these events in any depth and detail they become very problematic, or, at least, they should. They present a formidable difficulty for anyone who likes to claim that Yahweh/Jeshua is a wholly benevolent, loving being, or for that matter even praiseworthy.
The book is not against religious beliefs in general, or against people of faith. Religious people have been responsible for great moral and scientific advancement throughout history. Of course, they've also been responsible for terrible atrocities, such as the witch trials, the Inquisition, the Crusades, and the many Jewish pogroms. The intent of the book and the web site, instead, is to question certain religious dogma such as the view that everything in the Bible is literal history, or that the words of the Bible are given by divine inspiration, or that the biblical character of Yahweh is perfectly good.
These stories reveal an anthropomorphized deity that naturally reflects the same kind of characteristics that humans exhibit, including the less inspiring ones, like jealousy, anger, revenge, violent retribution, etc. The deity described in the Bible has far more in common with the primitive people who told stories about him than idealized version of a perfectly being. For example, when the Hebrew story-tellers wrote that gay people should be put to death, it is more likely a reflection of their negative feelings about homosexuality, than the decree of a perfectly good and loving being.
This website was created in a continuing effort to bring more stories that tell the other side of the issue. It's also admittedly a promotional vehicle for the book. It is hoped that the stories in the book and on the website would be thought of as a set. The argument is not complete without both sets of stories. There! I had to try to flog the book somehow.
About the stories
Great care has been taken to ensure that all of the stories are faithfully rendered according to the text of the Bible. However, unfortunately for us all, many stories in the Bible are told in a laconic manner, lacking detail and often void of dialogue. Therefore, many of the gaps had to be filled in creatively from plausible inference. Some of the dialogue and narration is admittedly added to make a point, and sometimes the points are made with a degree of sarcasm. However, any creative narration is peripheral to the stories and in no way detracts from a faithful retelling of the essential elements. The stories are accurate. The reader is enthusiastically encouraged to check every story with his/her own Bible.
About the commentaries
The commentaries are a necessary addition for a few reasons. First of all, if there were no commentaries, it would be too easy for critics to say that the stories are misleading. Therefore, direct quotes from the Bible are used to demonstrate that this is not the case. Second, because the stories can be difficult for most believers to deal with, leaders in the Christian community, sometimes called apologists, have come up with ways of 'explaining' them. The term 'apologist' does not mean they're saying they're sorry for been Christians. It comes from the Greek word apologia, which means defense. The most common explanations (or defenses) are presented and rebutted in the commentaries, ultimately leaving the reader to make up his or her own mind. And lastly, the commentaries provide a way of bringing in extra-Biblical sources and ideas that provide context to the stories.
About the Bible versions
Quotes on the site are from the New International Version unless otherwise stated. On some occasions others are used where it is thought the wording provides more clarity. Whenever this is done, the version that is used is stated after the quote.