If this is your first visit to HAAM’s Atheist Bible Study, please read the Introduction before beginning.

PART SIXTEEN – ACTS, ROMANS, AND CORINTHIANS - Introduction Acts of the Apostles We start with Acts, which tells of the founding of the Christian church and the spread of its message to the Roman Empire. Acts is the second of the two books written by ‘Luke’ (whose real identity remains a mystery) around 80-90 CE. It begins with the ascension of Christ, […]
Day 317 - Acts 1-3 Chapter 1 Acts of the Apostles begins with the ascension, and Luke actually contradicts himself! Did you notice that neither Matthew nor John mentioned Jesus’ ascension at all? But Mark (ch 16) and Luke (ch 24, who supposedly also wrote Acts) both state that he ascended on Easter, right after his resurrection. And […]
Day 318 - Acts 4-6 Chapter 4 Peter and John carry on with their preaching, and they must be very charismatic, because the numbers of Christians are increasing rapidly – now up to 5,000. But the traditional Jews are upset with their teachings about the resurrection. Remember from the OT that they had only a very nebulous concept […]
Day 319 - Acts 7-8 Chapter 7 Boring…. Stephen is full of the Holy Spirit, and he is moved to defend himself against his accusers by reciting the entire history of the Torah. As expected, he doesn’t get all his facts correct, so there are a number of contradictions between his version and the OT accounts (did god […]
Day 320 - Acts 9-10 Chapter 9 The story of Saul’s conversion sounds like an urban legend or folk tale. What really happened? A dream? Seizure? Drug trip? A number of non-supernatural explanations have been considered by experts, including an attack of temporal lobe epilepsy; sunstroke; a mood disorder with associated psychotic spectrum symptoms; or a fireball passing through […]
Day 321 - Acts 11-13 Chapter 11 The first section of this chapter is subtitled, in the NLT, “Peter explains his actions” but it seems to me that it would more rightly be titled “Peter defends his actions”. He is accused of breaking the Levitical laws by entering a Gentile’s house and not keeping Kosher. V 4-14 is […]
Day 322 - Acts 14-15 Chapter 14 These stories of the early evangelists sound very simplistic, like the unsophisticated personal testimony of an enthusiastic believer. The author’s bias is evident in every chapter. So is the anti-Jewish slant (v 2 & 19); and the eagerness to prove the story credible by citing ‘miraculous signs and wonders’. I find […]
Day 323 - Acts 16-17 Chapter 16 Timothy now joins the little band of evangelists. But Paul has him circumcised first. What? I thought that was decided in the last chapter. Apologists are quick to explain that, although god doesn’t require circumcision, it was done for practical purposes. Timothy would have been considered an apostate (being born to […]
Day 324 - Acts 18-20 Chapter 18 The reference to Claudius in v 2 puts the events of this chapter within the years of his reign, 41-54 CE. Additional details place it between 49-53 CE; however there are some contradictions, and Luke’s account in Acts “may be a conflation of various traditions and not entirely accurate.” (Wikipedia) What […]
Day 325 - Acts 21-23 Chapter 21 This chapter describes Paul’s journey back to Jerusalem, after he is repeatedly warned not to go back there. What’s up with all the prophesy? (v 4, 9, and 10) In 19:19 we were told that sorcery was a bad thing- oh, yeah, when it’s the other guy’s religion, it’s bad, but […]
Day 326 - Acts 24-26 Chapter 24 Now we get the account of Paul’s ‘trial’ before Felix. A little about this guy: “Felix’s cruelty and licentiousness, coupled with his accessibility to bribes, led to a great increase of crime in Judaea. The period of his rule was marked by internal feuds and disturbances, which he put down with […]
Day 327 - Acts 27-28 Chapter 27 The first part of the chapter is just a travel diary of Paul’s journey to Rome. In v 9, the reference to rough seas ‘because the fast was already past’ is clarified in modern bible translations; it means that they were sailing late in the fall (after Yom Kippur). Too bad […]
Day 328 - Romans 1-3 Chapter 1 The Good: sorry, I came up empty in this chapter. Not a good start… The Bad: V 1-17. Typical boring Christianese sermon-speak. Zzzzz. V 14 – There’s that reference to Barbarians again, sanitized in modern bible interpretations. The Ugly: V 16 – god picks favorites, and the Jews are obviously his […]
Day 329 - Romans 4-7 Chapter 4 The Good: nothing The Bad: The whole chapter is just more evidence for ‘faith vs works’ debaters. Paul is obviously on the side of faith. Good deeds mean nothing to him. He’s quite happy for people to be declared righteous without having earned it – and quotes David (Psalm 32) to […]
Day 330 - Romans 8-10 Chapter 8 The Good: There’s nothing good in this chapter per se, but some good has come from reading it, at least for me. I now understand why I have heard people say that Paul was the founder of Christianity, not Jesus. This chapter, (in fact all of Romans so far, and probably […]
Day 331 - Romans 11-13 Chapter 11 The Good: I’m giving up on this category; from now on I’ll include it only if I find something that fits. The Bad: Paul quotes another bunch of OT verses out of context (v 8-10). Since I have read all of them in context, I know that they originally referred to […]
Day 332 - Romans 14-16 Chapter 14 The Good: The majority of this chapter holds good advice about not judging others, making up your own mind, live and let live. Maybe more present-day Christians should heed it. The Bad: However, the reason for this advice is more complex than Paul just wanting to be Mr. Nice Guy. He’s […]
Day 333 - 1 Corinthians 1-4 Chapter 1 The Good: I didn’t find anything good in the first chapter. Will this book be any better than Romans? The Bad: V 7-8: the familiar ‘Jesus is returning soon’ theme. Too bad these poor people, and millions since, wasted their lives waiting for Godot. V 10-12: Paul pleads for unity […]
Day 334 - 1 Corinthians 5-8 Chapter 5 Wow where to begin. Just read it… The Good: V 6-8 – Not exactly good, but funny. There’s another yeast analogy, and then the passage segues into “For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven […]
Day 335 - 1 Corinthians 9-11 Chapter 9 The Good: haha sorry – did you expect anything? The Bad: V 1 – Paul asks rhetorically if he hasn’t seen Jesus with his own eyes? But let’s answer it straight – no Paul, so far you have presented zero evidence that you have actually seen Jesus with your own […]
Day 336 - 1 Corinthians 12-14 Chapter 12 The Good: forget it The Bad: V 1-11: What the heck? This is just a bunch of woo. The ‘Spirit’ doles out various ‘gifts’, including prophesy, faith healing, and speaking in tongues. Pure, 100% bullshit. And from v 12 to the end, Paul’s back to the unity issue again, trying […]
Day 337 - 1 Corinthians 15-16 Chapter 15 The Good: yeah, right… The Bad: V 3-4: Which scriptures is Paul citing here? There is no footnote in my online bible (which always includes the cross-references if there are any), and a google search turns up nothing specific, just a bunch of apologists trying to make various OT passages […]
Day 338 - 2 Corinthians 1-4 Chapter 1 The Good: nothing The Bad: V 12, which praises leaning on god rather than trusting human wisdom. V 14 – Paul is so sure Jesus will arrive, any day now… The rest of the chapter is just Christianese, empty platitudes, blah blah blah…. The Ugly: V 5-7: Think about the […]
Day 339 - 2 Corinthians 5-9 Chapter 5 The Bad: blah blah blah… and then v 7 – we live by believing rather than seeing. Arg…. Another verse that encourages people to deny what they see with their own eyes and instead stick to what they choose to believe. And then back to the zzzzzz Quotes: Christians lap […]
Day 340 - 2 Corinthians 10-13 Chapter 10 The Good: If I ever come across anything good, I’ll point it out. The Bad: V 1 – Paul appeals to the gentleness and kindness of Christ – I guess he never heard what Jesus said in Matthew 10. V 7-8 – Paul seems to be addressing opposing factions within […]
PART SEVENTEEN – THE REMAINING EPISTLES - Introduction Of the 13 epistles traditionally attributed to Paul, only 7 are now believed to have been actually written by Paul: Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon. Four more (Ephesians, 1 & 2 Timothy, and Titus) are viewed by most scholars as pseudepigraphical (falsely attributed works, texts whose claimed author […]
Day 341 - Galatians 1-3 Chapter 1 It’s all Bad: V 1 Paul really does believe that he was appointed by Jesus and God – how and when? Do dreams count? V 6-10 Looks like Paul is back to competing with those ‘other Christs’. Curses on them all – there’s no room for tolerance or diversity here – […]
Day 342 - Galatians 4-6 Chapter 4 The Good: Well no, not good, but at least I finally found something fascinating – V 4. “But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman…” (NLT) When the right time came – Why did Yahweh wait for millennia before sending Jesus to save his people? […]
Day 343 - Ephesians 1-3 Chapter 1 The Bad: V 1 – apparently the oldest and best manuscripts do not include the word Ephesus; add to that the fact that we know this letter was not actually written by Paul, but by one of his followers some years after Paul’s death, and what we have is an undated […]
Day 344 - Ephesians 4-6 Chapter 4 The Good: V 2. I would argue that v 14 is good – but not in the way it’s intended by the author. I interpret the words to mean that we should develop critical thinking skills so that we will not be tricked by clever lies… like the ones in this […]
Day 345 - Philippians Chapter 1 The Bad: V 6 Paul wants his followers to continue his work “until the day of Jesus Christ” (KJV). Ditto v 10. This is interpreted by most Christians as “until Christ returns” (the NLT actually says that), but as someone who read this post pointed out, it doesn’t actually say that. Think […]
Day 346 - Colossians Chapter 1 The Bad: V 1-23 are just boring Christianese. They do however contain a couple of points I could add to the list of Basic Christian Beliefs 13. Christ (or god) existed before anything else was created 14. Christ is the head of the church The wording of v 23, which in the […]
Day 347 - 1 Thessalonians Chapter 1 The Good: Again, not exactly good, but interesting. This is apparently the very first NT writing, dating to about 49 CE. The Bad: V 4 – Some people are God’s chosen – so that must mean some aren’t. V 5 “the Holy Spirit gave you full assurance that what we said […]
Day 348 - 2 Thessalonians Chapter 1 The Bad: V 1 – the authorship of this letter is disputed. V 4-6 – the glorification of suffering, again! The Ugly: V 7-10 Intolerance and cruelty. It’s not even subtle – clearly Yahewh hasn’t changed much since the OT. Chapter 2 The Bad: V 2 The author warns people not […]
Day 349 - 1 Timothy Chapter 1 The Funny: Paul’s (well, probably the author wasn’t Paul, but whoever) advice includes “Don’t let them waste their time in endless discussion of myths and spiritual pedigrees” (v 4) – what, like the bible? Bahaha! The Bad: In v 3, the author urges Timothy to stop those whose teaching is contrary […]
Day 350 - 2 Timothy Chapter 1 The Bad: V 8 “be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News”. I think this will be my take-home message about the epistles – their emphasis on the merits of suffering. And v 9 – back to the predestination theme. If it’s all planned anyway, why […]
Day 351 - Titus Chapter 1 The Bad: V 5-9 are basically a condensed version of 1 Timothy 3. Maybe this letter was written by the same author (who wasn’t Paul). The Ugly: V 10-16 Once the author is done quoting the letter to Timothy, he goes off on a wild, racist tangent. He rails against the Jews […]
Day 352 - Hebrews 1-6 Good riddance to Paul. This book will bring a change of style. However, Steve Wells, of the SAB, says he found it ‘tiresome to read’. Doesn’t bode well, does it? Chapter 1 Right off the bat I notice something peculiar. Neither the name Jesus, nor the label Christ appear in chapter 1 in […]
Day 353 - Hebrews 7-10 Chapter 7 What’s up with this Melchizedek guy? I don’t remember him from the OT – he seemed an insignificant character back in Genesis 14. Back in that story, Melchizedek blessed Abraham for slaughtering the kings; and now in the NT, he is again honored (v 4), proving that Yahweh hasn’t changed much […]
Day 354 - Hebrews 11-13 Chapter 11 V 1 is a fundie favorite – “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen…” Er, no. That’s the definition of optimism (“hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something”.) Faith, on the other hand, is “Strong belief in the doctrines of a […]
Day 355 - James Chapter 1 Well this is another change of pace, somewhat poetic and not what I expected at all, stuck among all these letters. I can see why it’s sometimes considered Wisdom Literature; its style would fit in with Proverbs or Ecclesiastes. It’s certainly full of advice and what the author considers to be wisdom. […]
Day 356 - 1 Peter Chapter 1 The Good: V 24. Poetic words of wisdom. Brahms used them in his Requiem. But in keeping with the tradition of sticking random bible verses together, the lyrics to the second movement of his Requiem begin with 1 Peter 1:24 but then switch to James 5:7, back to 1 Peter 1:25, […]
Day 357 - 2 Peter Chapter 1 The Bad: V 1 This letter was not written by Peter; it was written around 90-100 CE, years after Peter’s death. V 1-11 consist of nothing but mind-numbingly boring Christianese platitudes. The only feature notable about them is their entire lack of reference to any specific details about Jesus. There is […]
Day 358 - 1 John Chapter 1 Oh man, here we go again. This is reminiscent of the gospel of John – we’re back to The Word, and the Light of the World, and stuff like that. (The gospel and these 3 epistles might have been written by the same author, but that’s not certain. But whoever the […]
Day 359 - You’ll be glad to know 2 and 3 John and Jude are 3 of the 5 shortest books in the bible (the other 2 are Obediah and Philemon). So our last day of reading these seemingly interminable epistles shouldn’t take too long. 2 John Nothing much in this little book, and nothing new, so I […]
Part Eighteen – Revelation - Introduction The Book of Revelation occupies a central position in Christian eschatology (the study of the destiny of humankind as described in the Bible). The major issues and events in Christian eschatology are death and the afterlife, Heaven and Hell, the Second Coming of Jesus, the Resurrection of the Dead, the Rapture, the Tribulation, Millennialism, […]
Day 360 - Revelation 1-3 Chapter 1 V 1-3 tell me that god sent an angel to bring prophesy to John. This prophesy is about the end-times, which John believes are near. And so John will report everything he ‘sees’. Yeah, I bet. I feel like I just slipped down the rabbit hole. V 4-8 John is writing […]
Day 361 - Revelation 4-5 Chapter 4 V 1-5 – John sees a door open in heaven – How did he end up in heaven? Last I heard he was writing letters to the churches in Asia. He must have fallen asleep in the sun. And then he hears the same voice he heard before. Well I assume […]
Day 362 - Revelation 6-7 Chapter 6 In this chapter, 6 of the 7 seals will be opened. In each case, the lamb breaks the seal and then one of the beasts yells at John to come and see. V 1-2 When the first seal was broken, a white horse appeared. Its rider carried a bow and wore […]
Day 363 - Revelation 8-9 Chapter 8 V 1-5 Opening the seventh seal produces a half-hour of silence, followed by 7 angels appearing before god, each holding a trumpet. Then another angel appears before the altar, burning incense and mixing it with prayers as an offering. The angel fills the censer with fire from the altar and hurls […]
Day 364 - Revelation 10-11 Chapter 10 This chapter is an interlude before the last trumpet. John sees an angel come down from heaven. I’m confused – haven’t the last few chapters taken place in heaven? John was up there viewing the throne of god so I assumed he was watching all the action, like the destruction on […]
Day 365 - Revelation 12-14 The next section deals with 7 spiritual figures, or events, leading to the Third Woe. Revelation 12 Only the first 3 of these events appear in this chapter. 1. A woman, clothed with the sun, the moon at her feet, and stars on her head; crying out in labor. According to the SAB, […]
Day 366 - Revelation 15-16 Chapter 15 We’re heading towards the culmination of the terror now (how could it get any worse?). Seven angels are holding the seven last plagues, which is supposed to be the last of god’s wrath. Let’s hope so! All the lucky ‘eternal life’ lottery winners are standing on a glass sea mixed with […]
Day 367 - Revelation 17-18 Chapter 17 The meaning of this chapter is pretty clear – Babylon is symbolic of all the evils of the world, and is depicted as a whore (because we all know that the personification of evil would have to be female). In v 1-6, John is told that kings have committed adultery with […]
Day 368 - Revelation 19-20 Chapter 19 V 1-10 Heaven rejoices at the destruction of Babylon and judgement of the harlot. We get, literally, the Hallelujah Chorus. Handel used 2 verses (6 and 16) from this chapter, along with Rev 11:15, for this Chorus. Now that I know the context of the verses, I cringe to listen to […]
Day 369 - Revelation 21-22 Chapter 21 Finally Utopia has arrived. The stuff the cherry-pickers use for poems and songs. V 1 says that the old earth and the old heaven have disappeared, but v 10 says that an angel took John to a high mountain to watch the New Jerusalem descend from heaven. What planet is the […]
Epilogue - Concluding Thoughts Right now, I feel like I never want to open a bible again. But I know I will. I’ll use it for reference when I need to refute claims that the bible is the source of morality, or wisdom, or our justice system. I’ll need to refer to it when I encounter politicians […]