Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Good Book

The John Hume Institute for Global Studies in UCD sponsors lectures for the public from time to time. I have attended a number of these. They are well worth the trouble and admission is free.

Their latest offering was A.C. Grayling who had recently published "The Good Book", subtitled "A Secular Bible".

I wasn't sure what to expect. Was this something in the Dawkins/Hitchins vein, or might it be something else.

Well, it was something else.

Anthony Grayling explained that the book had really been gestating over the last thirty years and drew on all of his knowledge and experience accumulated over that time. It was not anti-God, or anti-Bible, or anti-any-thing-else.

It was an attempt to draw on the thinking of philosophers over the ages to produce a book of secular ethics which did not rely on the supernatural. It was designed to make you think, as opposed to simply accepting handed down precepts.

It was not exclusivist: the reader was welcome to draw on other sources, including the conventional Bible. And it did not reference its quotations in order to avoid distracting the reader and to let the thoughts expressed stand on their own two feet, so to speak.

Its format is the same as that of the conventional Bible: chapter and verse. Grayling explained that his only reason for mimicking the Biblical format was that this format worked. That is why the Bible chose it and why he was doing the same.

I haven't dipped into the book yet. I have it on order from my local library. I am looking forward to sampling it and, all being well, I might actually buy a copy.

Mind you, the reviews on Amazon are, on balance, negative, so we'll see.

1 comment:

Póló said...

I don't expect to be coming back here reporting on The Good Book.

I realised, when I got hold of it and started perusing it, that a review is out of the question.

I might as well have been asked to review the Bible from a cold start.

This is a book you would need to have around for a good while, dipping in to it, and eventually summing up whether it had achieved its purpose or not.

In fact, the layout has even led me to question the layout of the Bible which it so faithfully imitates.

How would I have coped with a copy of the Bible without first having absorbed many of its phrases in daily life and having become familiar with many of its stories from other sources.

Of course, having been raised a Roman Catholic, I haven't read much of the Bible either.

So, as far as I am concerned, the jury will be out on The Good Book for a good while to come.

And, anyway, my library copy is due back and I'm not forking out in the present financial climate.