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YMMV / The Bible

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  • Alternate Aesop Interpretation: The Bible is often interpreted to support the message that Science Is Bad, especially concerning the Tower of Babel.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • God Is Evil and Satan is Good are probably the most common. For the sake of Natter, debate this on Headscratchers, not here.
    • In some versions, especially Sufism, Satan is a yandere to God.
    • Generally Lucifer is thought to be the name Satan had before he fell, but some think he is a separate person from him.
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    • Is Leviathan Satan, a crocodile, dragon, dinosaur, submarine or something else?
    • Is Behemoth a hippo, elephant, dinosaur, or something else?
      • Are these 3 merely personification of the untamable elements of land, sea and air?
    • As sacrificing humans was against the law, some interpretations say that Jephthah's daughter's sacrifice actually meant service to God; she wept over her virginity because dedication to God meant she'd never get to marry and have a family, meaning she'd keep that virginity forever. And family was kind of a big deal for Jewish women back in those days.
    • Some say Archangel Michael is Jesus.
    • Some sources and media love equaling the Pharaoh in Exodus with Ramses II.
    • The Book of Job: Wonderful explanation of why bad things happen to good people or undeniable proof that God and Satan Are Both Jerks?
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  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: Exodus 4:24-26. God attacks and tries to kill Moses prompting Moses's wife to circumcise Moses's son and throws the foreskin at Moses's feet. This act makes God let Moses go. This moment comes out of nowhere and is never mentioned again.
  • Broken Base: Easily the most divisive work in the history of literature.
  • Complete Monster: Haman from the Book of Esther. He was a treacherous advisor offended by one Jew's refusal to bow to him, using this as justification for plotting the genocide of the Jewish people. Various Judaic traditions elaborate on this, noting Haman had a picture of an idol embroidered onto his robes so that he could force Jews bowing to him to violate the taboo against kneeling to idols. The very trees from which he hoped to build his gallows recoiled from his unclean presence, and unlike some Biblical antagonists, he's not an agent of divine retribution, just a self-important bastard who can't accept being disrespected. Even Haman's wife tells to his face that he has gone over the line, and that his obsession with killing the Jews would soon become self-destructive; he ignores her and goes ahead with his plans. His name has become a watchword for anti-Semitism and he is viewed in rabbinical tradition as an archetypal evil figure.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome:
    • Jesus. He could have called thousands of angels to smite His killers, but He chose to bear all the pain and suffering to save all who would believe.
    • Samson's final moments are spent bringing down the Philistine government, while also killing more men than he ever had in his life.
    • The emperor Nero ordered Peter to be crucified, thus putting himself above Peter in a power dynamic. Peter asked to be crucified upside down, thus outdoing Nero. (Doubles as Tear Jerker since Peter also did it because he believed himself unworthy of dying like Jesus)
    • Paul was about to be crucified, but then he told his would-be executers: 'Hey, I'm a Roman. Kill me if you want, but I've my right to tell you how I will die.' That takes quite the balls.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Melchidezek Only appeared once yet became popular among biblical scholars.
    • The Queen of Sheba
  • Epileptic Trees:
    • The Book of Enoch is possibly the ur-example.
    • There is a medieval legend that the man in the moon is Cain. There is nothing in the Bible to support this.
  • Evil Is Sexy: This is Delilah allure to Samson.
  • Fair for Its Day:
    • Look at how women and children were treated in ancient Rome. "Husbands, love your wives" was a revolutionary concept in those days.
    • Not to mention the book of Leviticus, which nowadays is looked upon as a long list of difficult rules, but when first made, presented what was, for the day, a refreshingly easy code of law.
  • Fanon:
    • Certain passages could be interpreted to mean that the Earth Is the Center of the Universe. Historically, though, that interpretation was backed up by Aristotle's postulations.
    • Many apocryphal texts. Almost the entire academic study of angels and demons that was popular in the middle ages was based on non-canon sources, mostly Enoch I. In-Universe
    • Lucifer (also known as Satan) and his supporters are considered the Ur-Example of the Fallen Angel, although the Bible itself doesn't directly reference this.
    • Fanon holds God's name to be 72 or 216 letters long.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: Several major instances—
    • Protestants (and Jews) rejected the additional (as in, those not in the Masoretic text of the Tanakh) Old Testament books that came from the Greek Septuagint and call them "apocrypha" (not Canon), whereas they're considered Canon by Catholics.
    • There's the New Testament "apocrypha," some of which are just weird. The Infancy Gospel of Thomas, for instance, is possibly the first example of Super Dickery, featuring a very young Jesus that blinds, kills, and heals people left and right, then proceeds to lecture his teacher on theology. Mainstream Christians reject the Gospel of Thomas, which was widely read by early Christian communities, on the basis of its much later origin and the fact that it was most certainly not written by Thomas or anyone in his general time period. The Nicean council ruled that it wasn't authentic.
    • The entire New Testament is rejected by the Jews; most Christians reject the Book of Mormon, except for the Mormons. Only the Muslims accept the canonicity of the Koran.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple:
    • A lot of people (and the nation of Ethiopia) believe the Queen of Sheba was one of Solomon's lovers.
    • Mary Magdalene and Jesus is this to Gnostics and Dan Brown.
  • Internet Backdraft: Perhaps nothing in this world can easily start a Flame War more than the Bible itself. Heated debates regarding pretty much anything inside it have, are, and will occur between different religions, non-religious views, and even amongst religions themselves. The main page is locked for a reason.
  • Ho Yay:
    • David and Jonathan. When they meet, it's stated that their souls were knit together. Jonathan then gives David his robe, armor, and weapons. Later, Jonathan saves David from Saul. They have a final tragic meeting after Saul forbids them from seeing each other, complete with weeping and manly kissing. When Saul and Jonathan are killed in battle. David rends his clothes and mourns Jonathan, and has his people mourn him, too. David even says he loves Jonathan more than any women.
      And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. (1 Samuel 18:1, KJV)

      40 And Jonathan gave his artillery unto his lad, and said unto him, Go, carry them to the city. 41 And as soon as the lad was gone, David arose out of a place toward the south, and fell on his face to the ground, and bowed himself three times: and they kissed one another, and wept one with another, until David exceeded. 42 And Jonathan said to David, Go in peace, forasmuch as we have sworn both of us in the name of the Lord, saying, The Lord be between me and thee, and between my seed and thy seed for ever. And he arose and departed: and Jonathan went into the city. (1 Samuel 20:40-42, KJV

      25 How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! O Jonathan, thou wast slain in thine high places. 26 I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women. 27 How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished! (2 Samuel 1:25-27, KJV
    • Ruth and Naomi. Ruth is described as clinging to Naomi with the same word used to describe Adam and Eve's relationship. Ruth's declaration of loyalty to Naomi is often used for wedding vows, and even though Ruth eventually marries Boaz, it's clear that the relationship between her and Naomi is still the most important to her.
      16 And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: 17 Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me. (Ruth 1:16-17, KJV
  • Iron Woobie:
    • Jesus. He never did anything to really deserve what happened to Him.
    • Moses:
      • Forced to flee his homeland and came back to destroy it
      • Abandoned his family to serve God.
      • Roamed around with the Isrealies for 40 years and finally died without making it to The Promised Land.
      • Brick Joke: About a thousand years later, Jesus ascends the Mount of Transfiguration and is seen speaking to Elijah and Moses. Dude finally made it!
  • I Am Not Shazam: John the Apostle is not John the Divine.
  • It Was His Sled: Jesus was betrayed by Judas and died, but He got better.
  • Les Yay: One interpretation of the relationship between Naomi and her daughter-in-law, Ruth. Not popular with conservatives, obviously.
  • Macekre: Which translation is best is Serious Business.
  • Memetic Badass: Samson, Elisha
  • Memetic Mutation: "He killed 1,000 men with a jawbone of a donkey" became a minor one.
  • Misaimed Fandom:
    • Samson is presented as a flawed figure who abuses his powers, gets screwed over for it, and ends up dying because there's nowhere else to go. Yet, many readers can't look over his Rated M for Manly antics and celebrate him as a Memetic Badass who dies in a blaze of glory. He's almost like the Kamina of the ancient world.
    • More seriously, Christians who persecuted Jews from the Middle Ages and onward for "killing Jesus". Yes, let's ignore the fact that Jesus was a Jew, shall we?
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Satan has multiple possibilities for the moment when he crosses the horizon:
      • Many people consider him tempting Eve with the fruit as this, as it resulted in pretty much all the evil and suffering in the world. This one only applies to Satan if he is the snake, however, and some people see it as a failed attempt at giving mankind wisdom.
      • What he did to Job. Yeah, he had permission, but it's still a pretty nasty thing to do.
      • Helping the Antichrist to deceive people into worshiping him.
      • Desiring to "sift Peter as wheat," which most likely means he wanted to do the same things to Peter as he did to Job.
      • The Bible implies that he was behind Jesus crucifixion. If so, he was not only Hoist by His Own Petard but Out-Gambitted, because Jesus's death, preplanned by God, opened the one and only way for people to be saved.
      • In Revelation, he is pictured (probably metaphorically) as a red dragon sanding in front of a delivering woman so he can devour her child as soon as it is born.
    • Saul:
      • Repeatedly trying to kill David, even after all the kindness and mercy he showed him.
      • Killing the priests of Nob who harbored David.
      • Almost getting his son Jonathan killed for not keeping Saul's foolish oath that he knew nothing about, and later deliberately trying to kill Jonathan for standing up for David.
      • Murdering some of the Gibeonites, whom Israel had sworn to protect. This one also applies to his household. This would come back to haunt the house of Saul when the Gibeonites forced David to hand over Saul's grandsons to be executed as the price of their allegiance.
    • Joab:
      • Killing Absalom (David's son) explicitly against David's orders.
      • Killing Abner, who had defected to David.
      • Carrying out the Uriah Gambit. Joab had been a very naughty boy.
    • Judas:
    • Antioch:
  • Never Live It Down:
    • "Doubting" Thomas. In reality, all of the apostles needed physical proof before believing Jesus' resurrection; Thomas just got singled out because he came in late.
    • Judas is always introduced last and his betrayal is always pointed out.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Let's just say there are quite a few moments to say the least.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • For being mentioned in all of one line, Methuselah is the subject of a lot of extra-biblical stuff.
    • Nimrod is amazingly popular in folklore (the Tower of Babel was apparently built on his orders and he tried to have Abraham killed) and pop culture (shares the name as a villain from the X-Men).
  • Padding: Lots of repetition at points, like with the book of Numbers.
  • Ron the Death Eater: God gets this a lot, particularly due to his Old Testament behavior, which was before Characterization Marches On in regards to Him.
  • Sadly Mythtaken: The entire As the Good Book Says... trope in a nutshell.
  • Tear Jerker:
    • The Psalm David wrote in response to Jonathan's and Saul's death. As well as the enormous Heroic Blue Screen of Death he had when he learned about it.
    • The way David wept for Absalom, especially considering David would have lost his throne and possibly his life if Absalom had won.
    • Jesus' death. Even if you're not a Christian, you've gotta feel for the guy. Some of his miracles, too. Specially when he revived a poor little girl. And when he wept before he revived his old friend Lazarus.
    • 2 Timothy. Knowing that he'll be executed soon, Paul urges Timothy, who he calls his son, to hurry to Rome so they can see each other before he, Paul, dies.
    • Ezra reading the book of the law in front of a crowd of truly repentant Jews.
  • Values Dissonance: A point of contention for many, particularly in regard to the Old Testament. People during those times had much different ideas about what constitutes a "just" punishment and many of them will look completely disproportionate and cruel compared to what is a just punishment today, or if a punishment is necessary at all.
  • The Woobie:
    • Mary. Her Son was brutally tortured and killed right in front of her, and there was nothing she could do.
    • Leah, Balaam's Donkey, Eli, Tamar, Uriah, Job, Jeremiah, Hosea, Ezekiel, Mary, Abel, Tobit, Sarah...
  • Too Cool to Live: Elijah's death, because he was also Too Cool To Die.
  • What an Idiot!:
    • Jephtah swore to God that he would sacrifice the first living thing that came out of his house if he wins against his enemies. That turned out to be his daughter.
    • Rehoboam's strong rebuttal to the complaints to the heavy taxation and forced labor policies caused 10 Israelite tribes to rebel and form their own nation.
    • Saul swore to God that neither he nor his men will eat till they destroyed the enemy army. Sure enough, he and his army were too hungry to fulfill this vow.
    • Getting drunk and telling your all your weaknesses to a hot woman. Good move there, Samson.
    • Esau. Trades his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of lentil stew.
    • The people of Israel behave this way every other chapter.
  • What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: Book of Revelation is pretty trippy, man. It's definitely the strangest and most surreal book in the Bible. Some people have suggested he was actually under the influence of volcanic fumes (like the Sibyl or the Oracle of Delphi). Others think he was simply trying to record events, places, beings, and substances he was shown but just could not understand.


Example of: