Book Review – The Final Testament of the Holy Bible

26 Sep

This post is going to have to start out with a couple of caveats:

1) I love James Frey. I think he got the short end of the stick in that whole deal with Oprah. I read memoirs the same way I watch reality TV – with an expectation that a lot of it is embellished, or at least spun in a way that reflects the way the author understood the events, that some of it’s true, and the rest is somewhere in between. There is no arguing that he is a brilliant, unique writer. A Million Little Pieces is still one of my favorite books and if you haven’t read Bright Shiny Morning, do yourself a favor and go get it now.

2) This book will offend people. The same people who were infuriated with The DaVinci Code will HATE this book. It talks about God and Jesus and the Bible in what some would consider blasphemous and outrageous terms. But it’s fiction. I read fiction to be entertained – and DO NOT accept it as truth. Some would say that, as a Christian, I shouldn’t read books like this. But to them I say – how strong is your faith if it can’t stand in the face of a different point of view? Which leads me to my next point…

3) The review I’m about to write is not because I believe what James Frey has written here is true. The concept of the book made me think. It made me re-evaluate my outlook on life, religion, my relationships with the people in my life, and, most of all, what faith means. It didn’t CHANGE my beliefs. It… re-framed them. This isn’t because I consider the events in this book possible, or likely, or true. But, again, the concept is not a bad one. I’m not going to be renouncing my church or God or the Bible. I’m just taking this as an opportunity to think outside the box, and possibly, hopefully, make myself a better person and stronger in my faith.

The Final Testament of the Holy Bible introduces us to Ben Zion Avrohom. He seems to be living a sad life, one devoid of money, or family, or status. When he survives a mysterious and, what should have been fatal, accident at a construction site, he begins talking to God – and performing miracles. It becomes clear that Ben is the Messiah, come back to Earth to walk among us.  Told through the eyes of Ben’s family, friends, and followers, we are introduced to a modern-day Messiah preaching a message of love. But Ben’s message is not what one would expect of the Son of God.

Ben preaches love and denounces everything else – the Bible, God as we interpret him, the importance we place on money and status and things, and, above all else, religion as we know it. Ben begins showing people that the only thing that matters is love.  He says God is bigger than what we can possibly imagine him to be and God doesn’t care – at all, good or bad – what we do on Earth.  Ben says we only have this life and that there is nothing after death. There is no heaven, no pearly gates, no rewards for our good behavior. Likewise, there is no hell, no fiery punishment for our sins. The only thing that matters is loving each other – and whatever that looks like to each individual. Men loving women, men loving men, women loving women, it’s all okay because it all makes us feel good and loved and that is all there is.

I’ll start with the bad. Frey gets a little preachy and redundant in this book. The same message is told over and over – which makes sense, I suppose, as Jesus preached the same message over and over, but sometimes it’s a little much. There is also a lot of s.ex of the rather k.inky nature. And when it comes out of the mouth of a character who is supposed to be a version of Christ, it’s a little disturbing, at least for me. Not because of the nature of the acts – I’m not a prude and I do believe everyone should be able to love whoever they want to love, but it was … unsettling to imagine a Christ-like figure condoning and/or participating in o.rgies and the like. Which is, I suppose, Frey’s point. I would have also liked to hear some of the story from Ben’s point of view, but, again, I think that was Frey’s point. He wanted to imagine how people would react if the Messiah were to walk down the street of modern-day NYC. And people reacted as you would expect – some recognized him for who he was and didn’t question their faith. Others were hell-bent on persecuting him.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

“There is only life. This life that we live. If it is Hell, it is because we make it so.”

I think this quote is applicable to any religion. I believe in God and Jesus and life after death – but I still think God gave us this life to enjoy, and do our best with. I don’t believe it’s just a test, or a game, or insignificant compared to life after death. I think God gave us this life to love each other, in his image. And sometimes, I think we fail miserably at that.


“There is no such thing as God’s word on earth. Or if there is, it is not to be found in books. Then where is it to be found? In love. In the laughter of children. In a gift given. In a life saved. In  the quiet of morning. In the dead of night. In the sound of the ocean, or the sound of a car. It can be found in anything, anywhere. It is the fabric of our lives, our feelings, the people we live with, things we know to be real.”

While I do believe in the Bible, I question its accuracy and whether or not some parts of it are rather like a memoir – slightly altered. I believe in its message – but do think that God has left the best parts of “himself” in the small, everyday parts of our lives.

Trauma is survivable, but often not much more. It kills you while allowing you to still live.”

Not everyone will agree with this, but when it comes to trauma in my own life, this quote rings very true to me.

 

The bottom line is that this book is worth a read and would make a PHENOMENAL book club book. I can only imagine the discussions it would start! I don’t agree with the way the book advocates free-for-all s.ex and s.ex as the only way to love. But in my opinion, we are here to love each other – as husbands, wives, siblings, partners, children, friends, and humans. I do think that what we do here on Earth matters after death, but I think it would do the world wonders if we all focused a little more on the meat of Ben’s message. Accept each other. Help each other. Love each other. I think that would make God happy.

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One Response to “Book Review – The Final Testament of the Holy Bible”

  1. Katheleen Sollitto October 20, 2011 at 1:07 am #

    Hello. magnificent job. I did not expect this. This is a impressive story. Thanks!

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