Shocked By The Bible, Chapter 1

Joe Kovacs recently wrote Shocked by the Bible: The Most Astonishing Facts You’ve Never Been Told. His goal in writing the book is, “To educate about what the Bible says in its own words. There is stunning information included between Genesis and Revelation, but much of it has been morphed into misinformation and confusion. Too many people today continue to ask, ‘You mean that’s in the Bible?’ or ‘That’s not in the Bible?’”

While his stated purpose is to educate, the implication seems to be that he is correcting the “misinformation and confusion” there is concerning the Bible and what is does or does not say. As I have already begun to read the book, I must say that he is correct about much of what he says. In fact, he is correct that “too many people continue to ask…” The real problem is not that people in general ask those questions, but that it is Christians asking those questions.

You might be wondering, what difference does it make if Christians ask this question? All the difference in the world. Christians, almost by definition, believe the Bible to be the Word of God and indispensable in their lives. This is one book they are supposed to know. I am not saying a Christian is supposed to have the Bible memorized backwards and forwards, but they should be familiar enough with it that the question (That’s in the Bible? or That’s not in the Bible?) never comes to mind because they are shocked by some new fact presented to them.

Joe Kovacs addresses quite a large cross section of topics in his book—twenty seven topics each covered in a different chapter. The first chapter is entitled, “The real Christmas story.” The vast majority of what he addresses in this chapter is spot on. The Bible does not specify that Jesus was born on December 25, or that there were exactly three Wiseman, or that the Wiseman arrived shortly after Jesus was born. All of these things “shock” most Christians when they discover this.

However, Kovacs makes one point that is not solidly founded upon what the Bible “says in its own words.” On pages 10-11 he addresses an ancient custom that involved trees and “is hauntingly similar to modern Christmas trees.” He then goes on to reference Jeremiah 10:2-5, (Kovacs quotes the King James Version, I have used the New International Version because it uses modern English rather than Old English) “Thus says the Lord, “Do not learn the way of the nations, And do not be terrified by the signs of the heavens Although the nations are terrified by them; For the customs of the peoples are delusion; Because it is wood cut from the forest, The work of the hands of a craftsman with a cutting tool. “They decorate it with silver and with gold; They fasten it with nails and with hammers So that it will not totter. “Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field are they, And they cannot speak; They must be carried, Because they cannot walk! Do not fear them, For they can do no harm, Nor can they do any good.”

He compares this custom of “decorating with silver and gold” to decorating a Christmas tree with tinsel and ornaments. The problem though is the Bible does not describe a custom similar to modern Christmas tree traditions at all. Jeremiah was addressing idol worship. The Israelites and the nations around them would make “gods” for themselves out of a tree they cut down in the forest. Very few cultures made an idol and did not cover it in silver and gold.

Several other places in the Bible make it clear that idol worship was ridiculous. Isaiah 41:7, 44:12ff., and 46:5-7 all speak to idol making. The Bible actually is sarcastic when condemning idol worship. It addresses the fact that a person cuts a tree down and makes it into an idol and worships “wood,” while using part of the same tree for a fire.

Kovacs also quotes Judges 3:7, 1 Kings 14:15, and 1 Kings 14:23 as further evidence of the tree tradition as a pagan practice condemned by God. The King James Version (KJV) says that the Israelites worshiped a false god known as Baalim (KJV) or Baal (NIV) and “the groves.” While the KJV is a wonderful translation, the better translation of “the groves” is Asherah (which is how every modern version translates it). The sign of the goddess Asherah was a pole, which was obviously made from a tree.

God was not condemning some “Christmas tree-like” tradition, he was condemning idol worship. At this point I must make it clear that I am neither condoning nor condemning Christmas trees, but I am simply addressing the misinformation Joe Kovacs has put forth in his book. Although I am not shocked by much of what he addressed concerning the “real Christmas story,” I am sure that there are large numbers of Christians that have been “Shocked by the Bible.”

What'd you think? 

5 Response to "Shocked By The Bible, Chapter 1"

  • maryjo.balkum Says:

    Am looking forward to more fine reading. This was very good.

  • Allie Says:

    I came across this one at a bookstore and showed my best friend. We both had immediate concerns over it (by the title) and I started leafing through it. Its sad just how many people think that there were 3 wisemen, etc... but living in the so-called Bible Belt, I've seen that kind of ignorance more than I can count.

    I'll be interested to read more of your commentary on the book. My hope is that the book will open people's eyes to the truth.

  • Anonymous Says:

    Hiya. Don't know if you'd recall me or not but you stopped by my blog to post a note way back in April about this book and how you going through the chapters. I look forward to reading your interpretations of what Kovacs discovered.

    I think (based on the posts I did about this) Kovacs does make a smart point about how belief is trumped by tradition and assumption rather than validated fact (even if the only place to find that "fact" is in the bible).

    Do Christians tend to take what they're told without questioning? Is it built into the belief system, or has it just become a habit to say Amen rather than Why?

  • saloul Says:

    As a Muslem, frankly I am not shocked by the Bible since we -Muslems- know that the hands of man got into the original vers of Bilble and changed it. Many thanks for your comments on the book, but you need to know that the auther was trying to proof to you that christmas tree and cristmess has no roots in the bible and should have nothing to do with christianity! this is his point in this chapter and he did good revealing it.

  • Polly Says:

    I agree most people are "worshipping" their Christmas trees...they make it an idol...