Presented for the last time, without formatting, proofreading or correction. I have no pride in my silly writing.
Prefaced by a few of my autisms and a couple of quotes I like.
HOMELAND SECURITY BEGINS AT HOME!
Tolerance is accepting intolerance. I am intolerant.
Peace happens when I have no desire to attack you and you are afraid
to attack me. The dynamics of peace are variable.
When the government makes it’s citizens outlaws, becoming Robin Hood
is no longer a choice. The choice is whether you wear green tights.
Big brains drive extinction events. The dinosaurs didn’t drive
themselves extinct, but we sure will.
The harder one has to work for something, the more disappointed they
will be that it fails to meet their expectations when they finally
I’m not sure I am sane and I
Optimism: Believing the glass is still half full even though you no
longer own it.
You know, in all honesty, I’m for whoever gets you through the night –
be He Jesus Christ or Jack Daniels. For me it’s Sam Colt.
90% of success is showing up. Getting the math right is the other 50%.
You can put your head down, study the tracks and debate
what made them – but don’t have your head on the tracks when the train arrives.
Advice is what you make of it.
People who move from religion to religion are either looking for someone to think for them, or they are seeking enlightenment.
Enlightenment can come from Zen or it can come from sitting by a stream watching clouds or talking with animals – but never from an invisible friend.
I live by three rules:
(1) Have a gun.
(2) Have it on you.
(3) Have a plan to kill everyone you meet.*
*I mean ‘every stranger in every strange circumstance’ – but the
visceral effect isn’t there with that phraseology.
No matter what interesting events may occur in your mundane world, please assume I am not involved – although you can never be absolutely sure.
If you think to clog up my mail box with inanities, I shall send zombies to hunt you down and nip you in the bud. REAL zombies. Not the plodders which hang around my house in their sweaty white shirts – pockets stuffed with Watchtower pamphlets, waiting…waiting…and getting their faces burned off with pans of flaming bacon grease when they make too much noise. After that they calm right down. Works on Islamic jihadists, too. One can never have too much flaming grease.
I’ll believe corporations are people when owning one is considered slavery.
The bane of every young man is an overabundance of adrenaline and testosterone…the bane of every old man is the realization that they have forever gone the way of the Dodo. 🙁
Aut viam inveniam aut faciamaut viam inveniam aut faciam.
What’s slaughter without laughter?
STOP HERE! Reading any further is tantamount to invading my privacy.
WHO’S WRITING THIS DOWN? Copyright © 1992-1997 by Tom Burnett. All rights reserved.
CHAPTER ONE: THE MANAGEMENT OF HUMAN WASTE
AT THE RESTAURANT:
Go to dinner with a person you really dislike. Put a raw oyster in a ziplock and take it with you. After dinner, go to the bathroom and pop it in your mouth. When you are seated again, start coughing and choking loudly and stand up. When everyone in the place is staring at you, gag the oyster out of your mouth slowly until it “Plops” in the center of the table…..When I did it, the lady at the next table threw up all over her dinner
companions…..Chuckles galore. When the manager comes (and he will), yell “My God! EVERYONE in here must be eating Maggots! Run out the door. Don’t worry about the check. (Be careful not to get trampled by the crowd.)
If you REALLY hate the person, assume a disguise and leave the country. Have your relatives write letters to the police and newspapers accusing (him/her) of murdering you.
LITERATURE AND MOVIES:
Buy a bunch of sick and disgusting smut in paperback. Answer all of the ads in the back of these and send copies of your friend’s racy home movies. Use (his/her) name and give permission to distribute the video commercially “Free..I like it when people watch.” Then get a rubber stamp that says ‘FROM THE PERSONAL LIBRARY OF (your friend’s name, address and phone number)’. Stamp it throughout the books and sneak them
into the children’s section of the public library nearest your friend’s home. Slip a few copies in with the hymnals at your friend’s church. (Put the rubber stamp in the bottom of their desk or somewhere else they would not normally look.)
If you REALLY hate the person, attend parties at (his/her) home. Use the phone to call the White House
switchboard and make threats against the President. If you would rather not risk time in a Federal prison wait
until the family goes on a long vacation and put a sign in the front yard that says ‘Warning: this is the home of a
convicted child molester! Do not remove this sign by order of the Court.’
SERIOUS JUNK MAIL:
For a man: Get a copy of his signature. Type a torrid love letter to his wife’s best friend and copy the
signature on it. Include stuff like “You were right, the bimbo doesn’t suspect a thing, but get the underwear out
from under the front seat of my car tomorrow, etc., etc.” Put it in an addressed envelope and drop it in the box
by their house. MAKE SURE THE ENVELOPE HAS A RETURN ADDRESS BUT NO STAMP! Without a
stamp, the postal worker will deliver it right back to his wife.
If you REALLY hate the person address the letter to another MAN and go into lurid detail about their
sex life. (Don’t forget to put the underwear under the driver’s seat of the car and always use ladies’ underwear.)
Modify as needed if the victim is a woman.
Send a list of recipes to the local newspaper along with a letter extolling the wonderful health benefits
these recipes offer. Use the above signature. Say things like “Dog milk contains none of the artificial additives
found in regular milk.. The meat is better too. Young, medium-sized dogs are best and you can get all you want
free from the animal shelter. Collect a few kittens and you are half way to some lip-smacking Tom & Jerry
tacos. Many other things around the neighborhood can add flavor and variety to your meals. Be creative.” If
you are living in Micronesia, don’t waste your time with this. It will be considered a public service.
If you REALLY hate the person, get some names of missing persons from the flyers in the Post Office
and name a few of the recipes after them.
EASY FOR YOU TO SAY:
When you see that the victim is going to walk by your desk, pick up the phone and say “…two pigs
fighting in a sack! Don’t be cruel, (name of victims’ best friend). I think she looks very good…..No, I DON’T
think it’s an uphill battle. What’s the matter….Doesn’t (name of victims’ husband) want to (see) you anymore?”
Look around and notice victim standing there (trust me, she’ll be standing there)…..say “Gotta Go, Bye” and
hang up.”…then, to the victim, say: “That was my sister Porky….ER, CORKY. She’s having some problems
with your husband….I MEAN HER HUSBAND…… Sorry, I can’t seem to talk at all today. Maybe if I have a
sack of fresh pigs…a SNACK of fresh FIGS I’ll feel better!!!!.”
I HAD NO IDEA HE WAS LIKE THAT:
Find something your boss (and almost everyone else) is violently opposed to. Send donations in his
name asking for literature and bumper stickers. Put the bumper stickers on your victim’s bumper and on the
back window of every car in the vicinity until you run out. If the “LITERATURE AND MOVIES” gag has
blown over, dig the rubber stamp out of the bottom of his desk. Stamp it on the literature (use a piece of paper
under the stamp so that the ‘From the personal library of:’ line doesn’t print). Spread the literature around all the
public areas of your company; the executive lounge and meeting rooms. Throw some in the bathrooms. (Put
the stamp back in the desk.)
THE NEW BOSS:
Buy gift subscriptions to various racist hate publications for people in your office. Pay for them with
postal money orders. Fill in your boss’ name and address on the money orders and ask the publisher to include
gift cards that credit the victim with sending the gift.
If you REALLY hate your new boss, buy HIS boss a life membership in the KKK, American Nazi Party,
Get a business card from a massage parlor or ‘escort service’. Have a bunch of these printed up with her
name on them. Leave them around her work, in her neighbors mail boxes, on the windshield of her boss’ car, in
any other place she frequents, and in all the sleazy dives in town.
Whoever he is going with now is sure to make his life miserable anyway, but if you really must, send the
new girlfriend a dozen red roses. Put HER name on the box, and YOUR name on the card. It will look like
your idiotic ex is sending flowers to both of you and the florist mixed up the cards. He will have a really
difficult time trying to explain this away.
If you REALLY hate the person, call the girlfriend. Tell her you don’t appreciate the flowers and you are
tired of hearing how she is dead from the waist down. You are NOT going to meet him for lunch or whatever he
has in mind and if she can’t keep him happy maybe she should take lessons from whoever he IS seeing at lunch!
(hang up without waiting for a reply.)
Xerox some forms and envelopes from ‘The Greater Los Angeles AIDS Assistance Foundation’ offering
“Help in your time of need.” Address them to friends. Write “CONFIDENTIAL: To be opened only by
addressee” on the envelope and put them, unsealed, in their next door neighbors’ mail boxes.
Write a letter to your friend’s ‘lawyer’ using the above signature. Say things like “I really have to insist
on my constitutional right to dispose of my remains as I see fit. I want to be ground up into summer sausage
and served on crackers at my own wake, and I don’t want to discuss it again with the silly doctors at that
institution. They didn’t understand at all about my mother’s accident, that’s why I left. And stop trying to find
me. I don’t look anything like that picture they showed on “America’s Most Wanted”. Leave the letter on the
floor, you don’t need an envelope.
Pick a friend who resembles you. Invite him or her to go water skiing for the day with mutual friends.
Beg off at the last moment but insist the friend go anyway. While they are gone, borrow your friend’s I.D. and
use it to join the Marine Corps.
I WONDER WHY HE SHAKES LIKE THAT:
Place ads in the ‘personals’ section of a major local newspaper in your victim’s name. Copy an ad that
sounds disgusting to you. Since you are obviously a sick puppy anyway, you may have to read through a few to
find one that really disgusts you.
If you REALLY hate the person, place the ad in the name of his spouse and send anonymous letters to
the victim. Enclose the ad and say that you were a participant in (whatever perverted activity the ad mentions),
with the spouse. Blackmail is a Federal crime, so offer to GIVE the pictures back to the victim “If I get MY
things back…you know what I mean.” Which of course he doesn’t and neither will his wife when he confronts
her. Insist on the return of your own property (“and nothing else”). Don’t say what that property is. Get nasty
about it by the third letter. Make the warnings more and more ominous, but don’t actually threaten to do
anything: “If I don’t hear from you by the end of NEXT week I may have to do something unpleasant; If I don’t
hear from you by the end of THIS week I will have to do something drastic; This is your last chance. If I don’t
hear from you by tomorrow afternoon, I will be forced to resort to very drastic measures, and I hardly have to
describe what will happen then!” Don’t describe what will happen then.
The key to this is that you never actually threaten the victim, or give him any information at all (Make
SURE you don’t). He does not know (1) Who you are; (2) What you want; (3) How to reach you; (3) What the
hell is going on; (4) What will happen when he can’t meet your demands (which he doesn’t know either). As the
deadline approaches, he will start to panic, especially since his wife can’t tell him where your property is no
matter how much he begs and pleads. Even threats won’t make her talk, because she doesn’t know anything
about it either, but he will think she won’t tell him because she is trying to hide some terrible guilty secret.
There is no way for him to do anything except sit around and let his imagination run wild. By the day of the
deadline he will be a real, gibbering walnut loaf.
If you REALLY, REALLY hate the person wait a couple of days after the deadline and send him a card
saying “Never mind, I found my stuff so I gave the rest of the pictures back to (name of his wife). She sure
looks good in leather, doesn’t she. Sorry for any inconvenience.” (Don’t get cute..If he finds out who did it he
will either shoot you, or read this book and either way you are done for.
YOU DRIVE ME CRAZY:
Pour five gallons of diesel fuel in the gas tank of his car. It will lower the octane rating of the gas so
much that the car won’t run. This is almost impossible to detect. Eventually his mechanic will conclude that he
got a tank of bad gas at the last fill up. Naturally, if his car is diesel, fill the tank with gasoline. It will start
OK……once. If you can’t open the gas cap, wedge some fresh road-kill on top of the catalytic converter.
This is more difficult, but the results are interesting. Empty the air out of your victim’s tires. Fill the
tires with water. Re-inflate with air until the tires hold the correct pressure.
Remove the windshield wipers from the wiper arms. The next time the wipers are turned on, the wiper
arms will destroy the windshield before they can be turned off.
Squirt Super Glue Gel or Weatherstripping cement in all the car door locks. Epoxy will work if you use
the kind in the self-mixing dispenser. The individual use packs are handy but hard to use without making a
mess or getting it all over yourself. If the car is unlocked the possibilities are almost endless, but use a little
finesse. First, wait until the car is at least one day out of warranty whenever possible. Don’t bother with the
center console or glove compartment. Epoxy the driver’s seat belt latch so it won’t latch. He won’t bother to get
it fixed until he has had seven or eight traffic tickets for not wearing the thing. Pour some Liquid Plumber ™
or Drano ™ in with his windshield washer fluid.) Squirt super glue in the turn signal control or the cruise
control. Depending on the season, set his heater or air conditioner at full blast and lock the controls so they
won’t turn off.
Take a moment to adjust the headlights of your friend’s car as far as they will go in any direction. Up and
to the left is better. There is one adjusting screw at the top and one on the side of each headlight. The tool you
need is available at parts stores for about $2.
Scrape the registration tags off his license plate the night before he leaves for a cross-country trip. If he
has two cars, switch the license plates as well. Unless they are personalized plates, he will not notice. This is
guaranteed to amuse every police officer, highway patrolman and deputy sheriff along the route until his car is
AAAAK….IT’S GOT ME!!!!!!!!!!!
If you have any oysters left, balance one on his sun visor so it falls in his face when he accelerates hard,
like when he is trying to get on the freeway after work. This sort of thing freaks people out like you wouldn’t
believe, and they let go of the steering wheel and make all kinds of gestures with their arms. If it’s a woman,
put a couple of Tarantulas in the car. It’s funnier if one crawls up her leg on the freeway, but if they just walk
around in the car she will notice them eventually and start doing interesting things.
If his sunroof is cracked open, pour in a couple gallons of molasses, paint, fresh blood, oil from your last
oil change, etc. If you don’t have those items handy, shove in a garden hose, turn it on and walk away. (This
also works if he is away from home and has a mail slot in his front door). In the middle of summer, half a
dozen rotten eggs, a gallon of very stale milk and a quart of vinegar or wine will take the cheap plastic smell
right out of that new Mercedes. If the car is fairly airtight and he is off for a week in Hawaii, use a fresh dead
animal with an intact body cavity. By the end of a week the car will never be used again. It will be worth
twenty eight dollars a ton and not a penny more.
BETTER THAN COFFEE!:
If you know someone who drags in to work half asleep every morning, rig their car’s air bags to fire
when the ignition is turned on. This will keep them from being drowsy. Their eyes will be as big as saucers
when they get to work if the shock doesn’t stop their heart.
If you REALLY hate the person sneak up behind them and pop balloons all day.
MIDNIGHT PAINT & BODY:
If the victim yaps on and on about his stupid new car, wait until you absolutely can’t stand it anymore.
Then get a few cans of spray paint and paint the car flat black, including the windows. This is especially funny
when the person comes out of a bar at 2AM Sunday morning. If you don’t really want to ruin the car lace his
last rum and Coke with a tablespoon of Syrup of Ipecac and he will ruin his own car.
THE CURE FOR ALCOHOLISM:
Take your alcoholic friend to a famous restaurant in San Diego. Get him on a bender. When he passes
out, drive him (in his car, naturally) to Tijuana. Pay one of the local cuties to give him a good case of VD. (Be
sure to get some pictures to send to his wife.) Leave him naked in a ditch on the outskirts of town don’t leave
anything on him except some drugs in a bag on a chain around his neck. Have someone casually mention to a
police officer where they saw a gringo selling drugs. Sell his clothes, ID, and car. Hitch a ride back. If you
ever see him again (and you may not) punch him in the eye and say “That’s for leaving me stranded me in San
Diego.” If he is still drinking he probably has a good reason now.
GAG ME WITH A SPOON:
If someone drinks out of a container that has a lid, prepare a duplicate container containing warm egg
whites, and switch them. When they get a mouthful you can tell them it’s phlegm from an AIDS experiment
your son is doing at college.
If you REALLY hate the person, follow up with: “It looks like someone in here has tuberculosis and had
to spit up”. Stand way back.
(When I thought this up, I laughed so hard I almost soiled my clothing.)
WAITER, THERE’S A FLY IN MY SOUP:
Another crack-up is to go to the store and get a couple of salmon heads from the fresh fish counter.
They will give these to you free for the asking, because they throw them away. Take them home and carefully
remove the eyes. Float two of the eyes in someone’s coffee, soup, etc.
HOLY HOT STUFF, BATMAN!
You know that REAL hot green horseradish they serve in sushi bars? ‘Wasabe’ is the name of it. Well if
you make up a bowl of that and take it to the church social with chips around it, it looks exactly like avocado or
guacamole dip. When someone gets a big slug of that stuff, no matter what they do next will be wrong. I know
it for a fact, and so does my friend Len.
ANTIDOTES FOR RUDE CALLERS:
“How many flies did it take to get your mother pregnant?”
“You may contact my supervisor directly at 1-800” (hang up)
“I have brought your letter of complaint to the executive suite to study it privately. It is a very serious
matter and I am going to send it down the line for processing. Rest assured that your letter will be
behind all of my movements today.” (Flush toilet)
“Can you hold a moment please?” Put them on hold and go to lunch.
“You make the perfect case for mandatory birth control!”
“Please give my regards to your father, Dr. Frankenstein.”
“Please give my regards to your mother when you see her down by the lake, or wherever your family
goes to catch flies for dinner.”
“Your father was obviously very fond of farm animals.”
“Don’t your tonsils get sunburned with your mouth always open?”
“Do you know who this is?”
“Well then F___ You! (Hang up)”
During a phone conversation, yell suddenly”: OH, NO! NOT THAT! THINK OF THE CHILDREN!”
Scream. Snap a wide rubber band over the mouthpiece. It will sound exactly like a gunshot to the party on the
line. Let the phone drop to the floor, hang it up, then go out to dinner. When you get back, roll your eyes and
say: “I’m sorry, officer. My mother-in-law must have stopped taking her Lithium again”.
Who? I… I’m so sorry, he’s dead!
(start crying, hang up)
She can’t come to the phone right now. Her AIDS screen came back positive and she is teaching (name
an ex-boyfriend) a lesson he’ll never forget! Oh, you had better see a doctor too, not that it will do any good.
“The problem with that (house/apartment) is a 12-foot Python that lives in the sewer system and swims
up through the toilets. Please listen for him because he has been known to carry off small children. Be careful
not to hurt him in any way, it is an endangered species and there is a $25,000 fine.”
“I understand there is no heat in the unit. When the heat is turned on the rats come out in droves. The 5
pounds of DDT we sprayed in there yesterday didn’t even faze them. The last person who turned on the heat is
still in the asylum, poor dear. Screams for hours at a time.”
GEE THAT’S NICE:
“Is that a new swimsuit? Where did you get it? It’s gorgeous. You look just like a salmon!” (Do
JUST BACK FROM THE HAIRDRESSER:
MY GOD.. WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU… WERE YOU MUGGED???
Oh, you mean it’s SUPPOSED to look like that?
Oh….it…it’s very nice. You look very nice like that. Gee, look at the time…I’ve got to run.
REALLY INSULT A DATE:
(Male): “Oh, please. Put that thing back in its thimble.”
(Male): “HA,HA,HA,HAHAHAHA” (laugh hysterically and point)
(Female): (wrinkle nose, start looking around) “Excuse me, the cat must have left another dead bat
in here.” (Keep looking) “Whatever it is, it’s making me sick.”
(Either): (in bored voice) “That was wonderful. You should be a big hit in the ten-second sprint at
the Special Olympics.”
Wait until the neighborhood gossip comes over. Pick up the phone and say: “No, (name of mutual
acquaintance) I really DO think you should come out of the closet. I’m sure that (name of his wife) will
understand. OK, I’ll talk to you soon.” Hang up. If the neighbor asks, say: “Oh. I didn’t know you were here.
There’s something I think you should know but I promised not to tell until someone has time to think about it.”
AT THE OFFICE:
“You broke a nail? I’m sorry…Here, let me Call Dr. Kevorkian for you.
INEXPENSIVE TANNING BEDS:
Buy a microwave oven cheap at a yard sale. Take it apart, retaining the tube (and waveguide) and the
power supply. The noise you hear when you turn on a microwave is the fan. Don’t worry about the fan, you
won’t need it. Put the works in some clever place like in the attic over someone’s bed. Set a timer to turn the
thing on a couple of hours after bedtime. The person will tan from the inside out. Don’t put it under the bed
because the springs are metal, unless you like to hear fire engines.
I took this out. There’s no way. People would be dropping like flies and no one would ever know
SEE NO EVIL:
Then there’s the old, but horribly effective trick of replacing contact lens solution with extra-strength
super glue. Very nasty. Powdered glass can be added to the solution instead. I guess if you REALLY hated the
person you could throw some ‘heat’ scent on their new seeing-eye dog and watch the pack of wide-eyed male
pit bulls chase the person and their dog through traffic.
Other cute replacements are always available. Try replacing expensive perfume with pepper spray. The
kind that has permanent green dye is good, but don’t get any on you. This causes no end of amusement. If you
have any powered glass left over mix it in toothpaste, embed it in suppositories, or let it float around in some
liquid preparation that is likely to be inserted in one orifice or another.
THE LIGHT TOUCH:
This is as old as the hills too, maybe that’s why it isn’t remembered very often. Gently drill a tiny hole
in the base of a light bulb. VERY GENTLY, or the bulb will implode. After the vacuum is released, make the
hole larger and funnel in a few drops of gasoline. I saw a TV show once where someone filled the bulb to just
below the filament, so you didn’t get it from me. Plug the hole with wax. Turn the switch off and replace the
bulb. Get the hell away from there.
IT’S A GAS:
I’m not sure I want to tell you this one, but it’s common knowledge too, since entire villages and small
towns have been made to disappear. If someone lives in an area where the ground forms a natural depression,
and there is absolutely no breeze some morning about 4:00 am, they want to be sure their gas line or propane
tank doesn’t pick that time to leak because it will mix with air and form a fuel-air explosive. If it reached a
source of flame, it would likely resemble the mother of all barbeque pits. If it were shock-initiated, like with
detonating cord or an M-80, the natural depression would provide enough containment to allow detonation
instead of combustion. It would have about the same effect as several hundred pounds of high explosive. This
won’t get rid of termites, but it will almost certainly ruin the day for anyone who is illicitly manufacturing
illegal drugs using volatile chemicals.
Now as we all know, many varieties of insects communicate quickly and over great distances by the
simple expedient (for them), of releasing chemical signals called pheromones. Different pheromones signal
different things and thus evoke different responses, but the point is that other members of the same species can
detect impossibly minute quantities of the stuff from a long way off. And when they do they will make
whatever response is appropriate according to their genetic programming. So:
If you are saving a barn full of manure in case there is a shortage later in the year, you might discover
that you are also hoarding all the flies for miles around. And they don’t seem disposed to ‘Shoo’ away I reckon.
No problem. Hearken on down to any store that sells bug zappers. They will have a neat new fly trap that
works much better than those things that you used to hang outside after you threw in a catfish for bait.
(Remember Big Stinky?)….Sure, it trapped a good many flies…But the smell after it was in the sun for a few
days was enough to make most people decide that the flies were kinda cute after all. Throw that Big Stinky
away, friends. Progress marches on…The new fly trap uses an odorless, colorless attractant that will get every
male fly for miles around to dive into the trap and die happy. Pheromones. Female fly pheromones. Poor flies
don’t even have a chance. Wonderful. Now you can save that manure until winter. Mix a few hundred gallons
of diesel fuel in there with it and close the doors real tight, and you have enough explosive to remove most of
the county. Or, when the neighborhood urchins come around on the 4th. of July to throw M-80’s at you, they
will learn a lesson when they throw one in there and you will be saved the cost of having the old relic torn down
(the barn…..not your spouse…I’ll make the jokes in this book if you don’t mind).
OK. You have now been to the store and have returned with a quart of clear, odorless liquid. What to
do, what to do. Well if you know anyone that has ANY fanatical leanings (not just cult stuff, anything!), you
can generate a completely convincing sign from God, the Devil, a Weerowance, or almost anything else you
choose. Heck, imagine how interesting life can get if you manage to get a few drops in the lap of that really selfcentered,
stuck-up person that you know. Or in the hair of your neighbors children. The kids freak out
immediately when a billion flies land on their faces and would rather die than leave. When mom sees it she will
probably have convulsions too. When you hear the shrieks coming from their house, call anonymously and say
that you are the Devil and have put your sign on their kids. Walk by their house at night and spray some on
their pets or on the outside of their bedroom and kitchen windows. Of course, ideally, you want to put it in
something that a person is going to apply to their facial area, armpits and crotch just before they appear as
finalists in the Miss America Pageant or attend a formal dinner at the White House. But don’t count too much
on that happening. Even if it did, who the hell wants to have dinner with the Clintons? If you use a little
imagination you can just go on and on. Eventually so will your neighbors. But plan ahead and don’t get caught.
Your neighbor might know where to get killer bee or army ant pheromones that say “Help! This thing is
attacking our nest!”. (Yes, things like that exist). You don’t want to
get into a feud with this stuff. You do not want the other party to suspect what happened. Ever.
I know someone who did this, and I have newspaper clippings that describe what happened. But you
will have to take my word for it.
WHAT WAS THAT????
Buy an inexpensive remote controlled car and put in the victim’s attic, or under his house. Drive it
around for a few minutes about three every morning, until you see his lights come on. Or get an old cordless
phone with paging capabilities and hide the handset in an unlikely place and key the pager until his lights come
on. He will never be able to find it if you do it right.
WHAT’S WRONG, DEAR?
Wait until no one is at home, and turn off his power at the meter box. Then switch the breakers around,
making sure that you change the values of all of them. At best, a breaker will blow every time someone turns
something on. At worse the house will burn down. Remove the list inside the box that shows what the breakers
control so they can’t put things back.
THE CIA CHAPTER:
LOW RISK INTERDICTION: POLYMERIC ISOCYANATE/POLYOL RESIN:
Also known as high expansion sealant. Available at hardware stores and home improvement centers as
an aerosol spray or two part liquid. Very versatile. Used for caulking, insulating and sealing out air. Also used as
filler in crash helmets, refrigerator doors, boat hulls, floating docks and Igloo type coolers due to it’s strength
and light weight. Good electrical as well as thermal insulating properties. Expansion ratios of thirty to one
hundred fifty times original volume (depending on type) upon contact with air. Effectiveness decreases below
20% ambient humidity. Has the appearance of aerated cheese spread. Extremely adhesive upon application and
will adhere to most surfaces (ice and Teflon are exceptions). Product remains very tacky for ten to fifteen
minutes, becoming tackfree within twenty. Full curing to the consistency of hard foam requires 7-8 hours.
Once used, it does not come off (The instructions that come with it say it is “difficult to remove”). It is
impervious to water, solvents and temperature variations below 240 degrees F. It is “difficult” to cut, drill, chip,
break, peel, or otherwise remove by mechanical methods. It is not biodegradable. It is quick, quiet and
One aerosol can of this sealant introduced into a plumbing system via a sink will require the walls to be
torn out and the affected portions of the plumbing system replaced. Similarly, one can will effectively destroy a
washer, dryer, oven, computer, central heater/air conditioner, microwave, file cabinet (including contents), ATM
machine, bank night deposit drop or Post office night drop. Any engine driven equipment can be disabled until
the affected fuel tank, radiator or carburetor can be replaced. Motors can be destroyed by spraying it into the oil
reservoir (unplug the oil pressure sending unit). A couple of gallons of high expansion liquid poured inside an
automobile, aircraft cockpit, tank, armored car, telephone company central office switch, mainframe computer,
gas station holding tank (these do not lock in the Continental US), tank truck, camper, motor home, elevator,
showcase or safe will render them unusable and (with the possible exception of the safe) irreparable. Use of
major buildings could be denied under normal circumstances by the destruction of their fire sprinkler systems,
power plants, maintenance areas or environmental control systems. Scuba tanks partially filled with foam will
pressurize correctly but contain only a fraction of the air expected by the user.
Conversely, this product is usable in the fabrication of hermetically sealed, shockproof containments that
can be sculpted, sanded and painted and are buoyant. Various contraband may be transported, smuggled, stored,
buried, hidden, disguised or protected from air, moisture and (some) chemicals effectively. Risk of detection by
trained dogs or explosive sniffers is extremely low PROVIDED there is no detectable trace of the product’s
molecular residue trapped in air within the cell structure of the foam.
THE ABS LAUNCHER:
THIS IS NOW SOOOO ILLEGAL, you can’t do it. It’s here for entertainment only.
This is a wonderful field-expedient device that can launch almost anything from grappling hooks to light
explosive devices. In an anti-personnel role, wound steel leader or piano wire with lead weights crimped on
every foot or so will be effective. Even an ordinary potato will project at speeds of 200+ feet per second.
The size is variable, but here is a very effective model. You can purchase all of the components openly,
without suspicion, for under $20. Assembly requires about fifteen minutes.
Parts: 5′ of 1 ½ ” diameter ABS pipe and 18″of 4″ diameter ABS pipe
(1) 4″ to 1 ½” ABS adapter; (1) 4″ threaded ABS collar; (1) 4″ threaded ABS end cap
(1) small can of ABS cement
(1) flint type replacement igniter for camping lanterns
(3) 1 ½” wood screws
(1) can of starting fluid
(1) bag of potatoes
Glue one end of the 5′ piece of pipe to the adapter. Sharpen the other end. Put the three screws through
the adapter and pipe, spaced equidistantly, so that they protrude into the inside of the pipe. Drill a small hole 2″
from the end of the piece of 4″ pipe and install the flint igniter from the inside so that the igniter part is centered
inside the pipe, and the knob that spins it is on the outside. Make sure that it fits tightly and will not fall out.
Glue this pipe to the adapter with the igniter forward (toward the 1 ½” pipe). Glue the threaded collar to the
other end. Wait until the glue dries.
Shove a potato down the 1 ½” pipe (barrel) with a broom handle or stick until it seats against the screws.
The sharpened tip will shave the potato for a tight fit. Spray the smallest burst of starter fluid you can into the
Piece of 4″ pipe (chamber). Screw the end on finger tight and back it off 1/8 turn so it doesn’t bind. Aim the
device and spin the igniter. If the device fails to fire you used too much starter fluid. When the device fires (it
is very reliable) it will launch the potato 3-500 vertical feet or through the side of a house. It will kill a person if
you manage a head shot. It makes very little noise and is recoilless. Under optimum conditions the projectile
will land 2-3000 feet downwind if fired at a 45 degree angle.
Other propellants can be used, such as gasoline (2-3 drops) or propane. The disadvantage is that it is
slow to reload. You can install a one-way valve to inject the propellant if you wish to eliminate the need to
remove the end cap to recharge the propellant, but you may not get enough air in the chamber for efficient
combustion and metering is unpredictable..
Everyone I told about this laughed until I demonstrated it for them. When I cut the top five feet off a
100′ pine tree with a potato (which continued right out of sight) they stopped laughing and headed for the
You can deliver a fragile payload by loading a potato, then a couple of cups of oats to cushion the
acceleration shock, then the payload.
Chapter 2: The Bible
I have been doing a little research on the Bible, and I’ll include it here for the edification of those who
are convinced that the Bible is the literal word of God. Heck, if one wants to debate a topic, one should
research the subject.
Origins of the Bible: Connections in history and geography
Edited by Tom Burnett, and dedicated to an understanding the Bible’s evolution in literature.
BIBLE, also called the Holy Bible, the sacred book or Scriptures of Judaism and of Christianity. The
Bible of Judaism and the Bible of Christianity are different, however, in some important ways. The
Jewish Bible is the Hebrew Scriptures, 39 books originally written in Hebrew, except for a few sections
in Aramaic (the language spoken by Jesus). The Christian Bible is in two parts, the Old Testament and the 27
books of the New Testament. The Old Testament is structured in two slightly different forms by the two
principal divisions of Christendom. The version of the Old Testament used by Roman Catholics is the Bible of
Judaism plus 7 other books and additions to books; some of the additional books were originally written in
Greek, as was the New Testament. The version of the Old Testament used by Protestants is limited to the 39
books of the Jewish Bible. The other books and additions to books are called the Apocrypha (q.v.) by
Protestants; they are generally referred to as deuterocanonical books (q.v.) by Roman Catholics.
The term Bible is derived through Latin from the Greek biblia, or “books,” the diminutive form of
byblos, the word for “papyrus” or “paper,” which was exported from the ancient Phoenician (1) port city of
Biblos. By the time of the Middle Ages the books of the Bible were considered a unified entity.
Order of the books
The order as well as the number of books differs between the Jewish Bible and the Protestant and
Roman Catholic versions of the Bible. The Bible of Judaism is in three distinct parts: the Torah, or Law, also
called the books of Moses; the Nebiim, or Prophets, divided into the Earlier and Latter Prophets; and the
Ketubim, or Writings, including Psalms, wisdom books, and other diverse literature.
The Christian Old Testament organizes the books according to their type of literature: the Pentateuch,
corresponding to the Torah; historical books; poetical or wisdom books; and prophetical books. Some have
perceived in this table of contents a sensitivity to the historical perspective of the books: first those that concern
the past; then, the present; and then, the future. The Protestant and Roman Catholic versions of the Old
Testament place the books in the same sequence, but the Protestant version includes only those books found in
The Bible of Judaism.
The New Testament includes the four Gospels; the Acts of the Apostles, a history of early Christianity;
Epistles, or letters, of Paul and other writers; and an apocalypse, or book of revelation. Some books identified
as letters, particularly the Book of Hebrews, are theological treatises.
The Bible is a religious book, not only by virtue of its contents but also in terms of its use by Christians
and Jews. It is read in practically all services of public worship, its words form the basis for preaching and
instruction, and it is used in private devotion and study. The language of the Bible has informed and shaped the
prayers, liturgy, and hymnody of Judaism and Christianity. Without the Bible these two religions would have
been virtually speechless.
Both the confessed and actual importance of the Bible differ considerably among the various
subdivisions of Judaism and Christianity, but all adherents ascribe some degree of authority to it. Many confess
that the Bible is the full and sufficient guide in all matters of faith and practice; others view the authority of the
Bible in the light of tradition, or the continuous belief and practice of the church since apostolic times.
Early Christianity inherited from Judaism and took for granted a view of the Scriptures as authoritative.
No formal doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture was initially propounded, as was the case in Islam, which held
that the Koran was handed down from heaven. Christians generally believed, however, that the Bible contained
the word of God as communicated by his Spirit first through the patriarchs and prophets and then through the
apostles. The writers of the New Testament books, in fact, appealed to the authority of the Hebrew Scriptures to
support their claims concerning Jesus Christ.
The actual doctrine of the inspiration of the Bible by the Holy Spirit and the in errancy of its words arose
during the 19th century in response to the development of biblical criticism, scholarly studies that seemed to
challenge the divine origin of the Bible. This doctrine holds that God is the author of the Bible in such a way
that the Bible is his word. Many theories explaining the doctrine have been suggested by biblical scholars and
theologians. The theories range from a direct, divine, verbal dictation of the Scriptures to an illumination aiding
the inspired writer to understand the truth he expressed, whether this truth was revealed or learned by
Importance and Influence
The importance and influence of the Bible among Christians and Jews may be explained broadly in both
external and internal terms. The external explanation is the power of tradition, custom, and creed: Religious
groups confess that they are guided by the Bible. In one sense the religious community is the author of
Scripture, having developed it, cherished it, used it, and eventually canonized it (that is, developed lists of
officially recognized biblical books). The internal explanation, however, is what many Christians and Jews
continue to experience as the power of the contents of the biblical books themselves. Ancient Israel and the
early church knew of many more religious books than the ones that constitute the Bible. The biblical books,
however, were cherished and used because of what they said and how they said it; they were officially
canonized because they had come to be used and believed so widely. The Bible truly is the foundation document
of Judaism and Christianity.
It is commonly known that the Bible, in its hundreds of different translations, is the most widely
distributed book in human history. Moreover, in all its forms, the Bible has been enormously influential, and not
only among the religious communities that hold it sacred. The literature, art, and music of Western culture in
particular are deeply indebted to biblical themes, motifs, and images. Translations of the Bible, such as the
Authorized Version (or King James Version, 1611) and Martin Luther’s translation of the Bible into German
(first completed in 1534) not only influenced literature but also shaped the development of languages. Such
effects continue to be felt in emerging nations, where translations of the Bible into the vernacular help to shape
The Old Testament
It is remarkable that Christianity includes within its Bible the entire scriptures of another religion,
Judaism. The term Old Testament (from the Latin word for “covenant”) came to be applied to those Scriptures
on the basis of the writings of Paul and other early Christians who distinguished between the “Old Covenant”
that God made with Israel and the “New Covenant” established through Jesus Christ (see, for example, Hebrews
8:7). Because the early church believed in the continuity of history and of divine activity, it included in the
Christian Bible the written records of both the Old and the New covenants.
Old Testament Literature
The Old Testament may be viewed from many different perspectives. From the viewpoint of literature,
the Old Testament indeed, the entire Bible is an anthology, a collection of many different books. The Old
Testament is by no means a unified book in terms of authorship, date of composition, or literary type; it is
instead a veritable library. Generally speaking, the books of the Old Testament and their component parts may
be identified as narratives, poetic works, prophetic works, law, or apocalypses. Most of these are broad
categories that include various distinct types or genres of literature and oral tradition. None of these categories
is limited to the Old Testament; all are found in other ancient literature, especially that of the Near East. It is
noteworthy, however, that certain types did not find their way into the Old Testament. Letters, or epistles, so
important in the New Testament, are not found as separate books (except for the Letter of Jeremiah in some
manuscript traditions). Autobiography, drama, and satire are not found at all. It is particularly striking that most
Old Testament books contain several literary genres. Exodus, for example, contains narrative, laws, and poetry;
most prophetic books include narratives and poetry in addition to prophetic genres as such.
In both outline and content, a great many Old Testament books are narratives; that is, they report the
events of the past. If they have, as most do, a plot (or at least the development of tension and its resolution),
characterization of the participants, and a description of the setting where the events occurred, then they are
stories. On the other hand, a great many narrative works of the Old Testament are histories although they would
not fit a scholarly definition of the term. A history is a written narrative of the past that is guided by the facts, as
far as the writer can determine and interpret them, and not by some aesthetic, religious, or other consideration.
The historical narratives of the Old Testament are popular rather than critical works, because the writers often
used oral traditions, some of them unreliable, to write their accounts. Moreover, all these narratives were written
for a religious purpose; they may therefore be called salvation histories, because they are concerned with
showing how God was active in human events. Examples of such works are the Deuteronomistic History
(Deuteronomy through 2 Kings; see below), the Tetrateuch (Genesis through Numbers), and the Chronicler’s
History (1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah). The so-called Throne Succession History of David (see 2
Sam. 9-20, 1 Kings 1-2) comes closer to the modern understanding of history than does any other biblical
narrative. The writer was sensitive to the details of historical events and characters, and he interpreted the
course of affairs in the light of human motivations. Nonetheless, he could see the hand of God moving behind
Other narrative books are Ruth, a short story; Jonah, a didactic, or teaching, story; and Esther, a
historical romance or a festival legend. It is likely that such books developed from folktale or legends. Several
didactic stories are found in the deuterocanonical books of the Bible and in the Apocrypha: Tobit, Judith,
Susanna, and Bel and the Dragon.
Many of these and other narrative genres are found within the books of the Old Testament. The Book of
Genesis is composed, as are most of the other narrative works, of numerous individual stories, most of which
originally circulated independently and orally. The patriarchal stories in Genesis 11-50 have been called
legends, sagas, and more accurately family stories. Many of them are etiological; that is, they explain some
place, practice, or name in terms of its origin.
The poetic books of the Old Testament may be taken to include Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes,
Song of Solomon (Songs), and in the deuterocanonical books and the Apocrypha, Sirach and the Prayer of
Manasseh. The Book of Wisdom has much in common with the poetic wisdom books, but it is not poetry. Most
of the prophetic books are written in Hebrew poetry, but they are sufficiently distinctive to be considered
Hebrew poetry has two major characteristics, one relatively easy to recognize even in translation and the
other difficult to discern. The more obvious characteristic is the use of ‘parallelism us membrorum’, or
parallelism of lines or other parts. For example, the meaning of one line may be restated or paralleled by a
second line, as in Psalms 6:1: “O Lord, rebuke me not in thy anger, nor chasten me in thy wrath.” These two
lines are synonymous. On the other hand, the second line in the unit may state the negative side of the first line’s
point, as in Proverbs 15:1: “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” In other cases, the
second line may extend or explain the first, and in still others, the parallelism is merely formal. Parallelism can
in some instances extend to three or more lines. One major advantage of most modern English translations of
the Bible is that they retain the poetic form of the Hebrew, enabling the reader to enjoy and understand the
structure of the original.
The other major feature of Hebrew poetry is rhythm, which seems to have been based on the number of
accents in each line. One of the more easily recognized meters is that of the quina, or dirge, in which the first
line has three beats or accented syllables and the second line has two.
The Poetic books
The poetic books include a great many diverse genres. The most widespread types are the various songs
of worship (Psalms) and wisdom poetry. In addition, the Bible contains one book of love poetry, the Song of
Israel’s worship literature was lyrical poetry, that is, poetry meant to be sung. Most, but not all, of these
songs are collected in the books of Psalms. Many are hymns songs in praise of God himself, his works on behalf
of Israel, or his creation. Others are communal laments or complaint songs, which were, in effect, prayers of
petition sung by the people when they were faced with trouble. Approximately one-third of the Psalms are
individual laments or complaints, songs used by or on behalf of individuals facing death or disaster. When the
nation or the individual has been saved from trouble, thanksgiving songs would be sung. A few Psalms, such as
2, 45, and 110, celebrate the coronation of a king in Israel as God’s special servant.
The wisdom poetry includes collections of wisdom sayings and short poems, as in the Book of Proverbs,
and long compositions such as Job, Ecclesiastes, and Sirach. The shorter wisdom materials are proverbs,
sayings, and admonitions, commonly only two lines long. Some were undoubtedly traditional or popular
sayings; others bear the marks of thoughtful and creative composition. Proverbs 1-9 contains a collection of
poems on the nature of wisdom itself, but the Book of Job is a lengthy poetic composition in the form of a
dialogue framed by a folktale. Ecclesiastes is a somewhat disjointed work; Sirach is a book written by a Jewish
teacher and later translated by his grandson.
The subject matter of the wisdom sayings ranges from practical advice for living a good and successful
life to reflections on the relationship between following the wise path and obedience to the divinely revealed
law. Job, at least on one level, agonizes over the question of the suffering of the righteous, and Ecclesiastes
meditates sadly on the meaning of life in the face of death.
Prophets were known elsewhere in the ancient Near East, but no other culture developed a body of
prophetic literature comparable to that of Israel. Ancient Egyptian writers produced literary works called
“prophecies,” for example, but these writings are different in both form and content from the biblical prophetic
Most Hebrew prophetic books contain three kinds of literature: narratives, prayers, and prophetic
speeches. The narratives generally are stories or reports of prophetic activity, either attributed to the prophet
himself or told by some third person. They include vision reports, reports of symbolic actions, accounts of
prophetic activities such as conflicts between the prophets and their opponents, and historical narratives or
notes. One book in the prophetic collection, Jonah, is actually a story about a prophet, including only one line of
prophetic address (see Jonah 3:4). The prayers include hymns and petitions such as Jeremiah’s complaints (for
example, Jeremiah 15:10-21).
Speeches predominate in the prophetic literature, for the essence of prophetic activity was to announce
the word of God concerning the immediate future. The most common addresses are prophecies of punishment
or of salvation. Both of these are framed, as are most prophetic speeches, by formulas that identify the words as
revealed by God; for example, “thus says the Lord.” The prophecy of punishment usually gives reasons for the
punishment in terms of social injustice, religious arrogance, or apostasy and spells out the nature of the disaster
military or otherwise to be visited upon the nation, group, or individual addressed. The prophecies of salvation
announce God’s impending intervention to rescue Israel. Other speeches include prophecies against foreign
nations, woe speeches enumerating the sins of the people, and admonitions or warnings.
Legal materials are sufficiently prominent in the Hebrew Scriptures that the term Torah (Law) came to
be applied in Judaism to the first five books, and in early Christianity to the entire Old Testament. Legal
writings dominate in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. The fifth book of the Bible was called
Deuteronomy (“second law”) by its Greek translators, although the book is primarily a report of the last words
and deeds of Moses. It does, however, contain numerous laws, often in the context of interpretation and
According to biblical tradition, the will of God was revealed to Israel through Moses when the covenant
was made at Mount Sinai. Consequently, all the laws except those in Deuteronomy are found in Exodus 20
through Num.10, where the events at Mount Sinai are reported.
Scholars have recognized in the Hebrew laws two major types, the apodictic and the casuistic. Apodictic
law is represented by, but not limited to, the Ten Commandments (see Exodus 20:1-21, 34:14-26; Deuteronomy
5:6-21). These laws, usually found in collections of five or more, are short, unambiguous, and unequivocal
statements of the will of God for human behavior. They are either commands (positive) or prohibitions
(negative). The casuistic laws, on the other hand, each consist of two parts. The first part states a condition (“If a
man steals an ox or a sheep, and kills it or sells it . . .”) and the second part the legal consequences (” . . . he
shall pay five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep,” Exodus 22:1). These laws generally concern
problems that arise in agricultural and town life. The casuistic laws are parallel in form, and frequently in
content, to laws found in the Code of Hammurabi and other ancient Near Eastern law codes and are thus not
original to the Bible.
The apocalypse as a distinctive genre arose in Israel in the postexilic period, that is, after the Babylonian
Captivity of the Jews from 586 to 538 BC. An apocalypse, or revelation, contains the disclosure of future events
by means of a lengthy and detailed dream or vision report. It makes use of highly symbolic and often bizarre
images, which in turn are explained and interpreted. Apocalyptic writings generally reflect the author’s historical
view of his own era as a time when the powers of evil are gathering to make their final struggle against God,
after which a new age will be established.
Daniel is the only apocalyptic book as such in the Hebrew Scriptures, and its first half (chap. 1-6) is
actually a series of legendary stories. Sections of other books, however, are similar in many respects to
apocalyptic literature (see Isaiah 24-27; Zech. 9-14; and some parts of Ezekiel). In the Apocrypha, 2 Esdras is
an apocalypse. Judaism in the last two centuries BC and the first century AD produced numerous other
apocalyptic works that were never considered canonical. These include Enoch, the War of the Sons of Light and
the Sons of Darkness, and the Apocalypse of Moses.
Until recently, most scholars argued that the development of apocalyptic literature and thought was
strongly influenced by Persian religion. That view is being challenged by the recognition of the roots of
apocalyptic literature in Israelite thought itself, especially the prophetic understanding of the future, and in older
Near Eastern traditions. By no means did all the books of the Old Testament originate at the same time and in
the same place; rather, they are the product of Israelite faith and culture over a thousand years or more.
Consequently, another literary perspective examines the books and their component parts in terms of their
authorship and their literary and preliterary history.
Virtually all the books went through a long history of transmission and development before they were
collected and canonized. Moreover, it is necessary to distinguish between traditional Jewish and Christian views
concerning the authorship and date of the books and their actual literary history as it has been reconstructed by
modern scholarship from the evidence in the biblical books and elsewhere. It is not my aim to present a detailed
account of the literary history of the Old Testament. Many of the facts are not known, the history is long and
often complicated, and older conclusions regularly are being revised under the weight of new evidence and
methods. The general contours of that history can, however, be summarized.
For most Old Testament books it was a long journey from the time the first words were spoken or
written to the work in its final form. That journey usually involved many people, such as storytellers, authors,
editors, listeners, and readers. Not only individuals but different communities of faith played their parts.
Behind many of the present literary works stand oral traditions. Most of the stories in Genesis, for
example, circulated orally before they were written down, and are implausible in their present form. Prophetic
speeches, now encountered in written form, were first delivered orally. Virtually all the Psalms, whether
originally written down or not, were composed to be sung or chanted aloud in worship. However, It is not safe
to infer that oral transmission was merely the precursor of written literature and ceased once books came into
being since oral traditions existed side by side with written materials for centuries.
According to Jewish and Christian tradition, Moses was the author of the Pentateuch, the first five books
of the Bible, but nowhere in the books themselves is this claim made; tradition stemmed in part from the
Hebrew designation of them as the books of Moses, but that meant concerning Moses. As early as the Middle
Ages, Jewish scholars recognized a problem with the tradition: Deuteronomy (the last book of the Pentateuch)
reports the death of Moses. The books are actually anonymous and composite works. On the basis of numerous
duplications and repetitions, including two different designations of the deity, two separate accounts of creation,
two intertwined stories of the flood, two versions of the Egyptian plagues, and many others, modern scholars
have concluded that the writers of the Pentateuch drew upon several different sources, each from a different
writer and period, and that neither story or version can be taken literally since they differ.
The sources differ in vocabulary, literary style, and theological perspective. The oldest source is the
Jehovistic, or Yahwist (from its use of the divine name Jahwemodern Jehovahor Yahweh), commonly dated in
the 10th or 9th century BC. The second is the Elohist ( from its use of the general name Elohim for God),
usually dated in the 8th century BC. Next is Deuteronomy ( limited to that book and a few other passages),
dated in the late 7th century BC. Last is the Priestly Writer (for its emphasis on cultic law and priestly
concerns), dated in the 6th or 5th century BC. Jehovistic includes a full narrative account from creation to the
conquest of Canaan (3) by Israel. Elohist is no longer a complete narrative, if it ever was; its earliest material
concerns Abraham. Priestly Writer concentrates on the covenant and the revelation of the law at Mount Sinai,
but sets that into a narrative that begins with creation.
None of the writers of these documents, if they were individuals and not groups, was a creative author in
the modern sense. Rather, they worked as editors who collected, organized, and interpreted older traditions, both
oral and written. Therefore, most of the contents of the sources are much older than the sources themselves.
Some of the oldest written elements are parts of poetic works such as the Song of the Sea (see Exodus 15), and
some of the legal material was derived from ancient legal codes.
One recent view suggests that the individual stories of the Pentateuch were collected under the heading
of several major themes (Promise to the Patriarchs, Exodus, Wandering in the Wilderness, Sinai, and Taking of
the Land) and took their basic shape by about 1100 BC. In any case, the story of Israel’s roots was formed in
and under the influence of the community of faith. In recent years the books of Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, 1
and 2 Samuel, and 1 and 2 Kings have been reconized as a unified account of the history of Israel from the time
of Moses (13th century BC) to the Babylonian exile (the period from the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC to the
reconstruction in Palestine of a new Jewish state after 538 BC).
Because the literary style and theological perspective are similar to those of Deuteronomy, this account
is called the Deuteronomistic History. On the basis of the last events it reports, among other evidence, it seems
to have been written about 560 BC, during the exile. It is possible, however, that at least one edition was written
The writer (s) of the work set out to record Israel’s history and also to account for the disaster that befell
the nation at the hands of the Babylonians. On the one hand, he worked as any other historian would, by
collecting and organizing older sources, both written and oral. He used materials of many kinds, including
stories of the prophets, lists of various sorts, earlier histories, and even court records. In fact, he often refers the
reader to his sources (for example, see Josh. 10:13; 2 Sam. 1:18; 2 Kings 15:6). On the other hand, however, he
worked as a theologian who already had firm convictions about the course and meaning of the events he
recorded. He expressed those convictions by the way he organized the material and by placing speeches, which
he had written, into the mouths of the major characters (for example, see Joshua 1). He believed that Israel had
fallen to the Babylonians because of disobedience to the law of Moses (as in Deuteronomy), especially in its
worship of false gods in false places of worship; he also believed that the prophets had warned of the exile long
before it happened.
The poetic books
Both the cultic and wisdom poetry of the Old Testament are difficult to date or to attribute to particular
authorship, primarily because they contain so few historical allusions. David is regarded as the author of the
Psalms because of the tradition that he was a singer and composer; in fact, only 70 of the 150 Psalms are
specifically identified with David, and far fewer than that originated during his era. The attributions to David
and to others are found in the superscriptions, which were added long after the Psalms were written. The
identification of Proverbs and other wisdom books with Solomon stems from the tradition of that king’s great
wisdom, and is reliable to the extent that Solomon did encourage institutions that developed such literature.
Wisdom poetry contains in the sayings some of the oldest material in the Hebrew Scriptures, and in
compositions such as Ecclesiastes and Sirach some of the latest.
The Book of Psalms became the hymn and prayer book of Israel’s second temple, but many of the songs
predate the second temple. They contain motifs, themes, and expressions that Israel inherited from its Canaanite
predecessors in the land. Many voices speak in and through the Psalms, but above all they are the voices of the
community at worship.
The prophetic books
Few if any of the prophetic books were written entirely (if at all) by the person whose name serves as the
title. Moreover, in most instances even the words of the original prophet were recorded by others. The story of
Jeremiah’s scribe Baruch (see Jer. 36; see also Isa. 8:16) illustrates one of the ways the spoken prophetic words
became books. The various utterances of the prophets would have been remembered and collected by their
followers and eventually written down. Later, most of the books were edited and expanded. For example, when
the Book of Amos (c. 755 BC) was used in the time of the exile, it was given a new and hopeful ending (Amos
9:8-15). The Book of Isaiah reflects centuries of Israelite history and the work of several prophets and other
figures: Isaiah 1-39 stems primarily from the original prophet (742-700 BC); chapters 40-55 come from an
unknown prophet of the Exile, called Second Isaiah (539 BC); and chapters 56-66, identified as Third Isaiah,
come from various writers of the period after the exile.
The Hebrew Bible and the Christian versions of the Old Testament were canonized in different times and
places, but the development of the Christian canons must be understood in terms of the Jewish Scriptures.
The Hebrew Canon
The idea in Israel of a sacred book dates at least from 621 BC. During the reform of Josiah, king of
Judah, when the temple was being repaired, the high priest Hilkiah discovered “the book of the law” (see 2
Kings 22). The scroll was probably the central part of the present Book of Deuteronomy, but what is important
is the authority that was ascribed to it. More reverence was paid to the text read by Ezra, the Hebrew priest and
scribe, to the community at the end of the 5th century BC (see Neh. 8).
The Hebrew Bible became Holy Scripture in three stages. The sequence corresponds to the three parts of
the Hebrew canon: the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings. On the basis of external evidence it seems clear
that the Torah (q.v.), or Law, became Scripture between the end of the Babylonian exile (538 BC) and the
separation of the Samaritans from Judaism, probably by 300 BC. The Samaritans recognized only the Torah as
The second stage was the canonization of the Nebiim (Prophets). As the superscriptions to the prophetic
books indicate, the recorded words of the prophets came to be considered the word of God. For all practical
purposes the second part of the Hebrew canon was closed by the end of the 3d century, not long before 200 BC.
In the meantime other books were being compiled, written, and used in worship and study. By the time
the Book of Sirach was written (circa 180 BC), an idea of a tripartite Bible had developed. The contents of the
third part, the Ketubim (Writings), remained somewhat fluid in Judaism until after the fall of Jerusalem to the
Romans in AD 70. By the end of the 1st century AD the rabbis in Palestine had established the final list.
Both positive and negative forces were at work in the process of canonization. On the one hand, most of
the decisions had already been made in practice: The Law, the Prophets, and most of the Writings had been
serving as Scripture for centuries. Controversy developed around only a few books in the Writings, such as
Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon (Songs). On the other hand, many other religious books, also claiming to
be the word of God, were being written and circulated. These included the books in the present Protestant
Apocrypha, some of the New Testament books, and many others. Consequently, the official action of
establishing a Bible took place in response to a theological question: According to which books would Judaism
define itself and its relationship to God?
The Christian Canon
The second canon, what is now the Roman Catholic version of the Old Testament arose first as a
translation of the earlier Hebrew books into Greek. The process began in the 3d century BC outside of Palestine,
because Jewish communities in Egypt and elsewhere needed the Scriptures in the language of their culture. The
additional books in this Bible, including supplements to older books, arose for the most part among such
non-Palestinian Jewish communities. By the end of the 1st century AD, when the earliest Christian writings
were being collected and disseminated, two versions of Scripture from Judaism were already in existence: the
Hebrew Bible and the Greek Old Testament (known as the Septuagint; q.v.). The Hebrew Bible, however, was
the official standard of belief and practice; no evidence indicates that an official list of Greek Scriptures ever
existed in Judaism. The additional books of the Septuagint were only given official recognition in Christianity.
The writings of the early Fathers of the Church contain numerous different lists, but it is clear that the longer
Greek Old Testament prevailed.
The last major step in the history of the Christian canon took place during the Protestant Reformation.
When Martin Luther translated the Bible into German, he rediscovered what others, notably St. Jerome, the
4th-century biblical scholar had known: that the Old Testament had originated in Hebrew. He removed from his
Old Testament the books that were not in the Bible of Judaism and established them as the Apocrypha. This step
was an effort to return to the presumed earliest and therefore best text and canon, and to establish in opposition
to the authority of the church the authority of that older version of the Bible. All contemporary translators of
the Bible attempt to recover and use the oldest text, presumably the one closest to the original. No original
copies or autographs exist; rather, hundreds of different manuscripts contain numerous variant readings.
Consequently, every attempt to determine the best text of a given book or verse must be based on the meticulous
work and informed judgment of scholars.
With regard to the Old Testament, the chief distinction is between texts in Hebrew and the versions, or
translations into other ancient languages. The most important, and generally most reliable, witnesses to the
Hebrew are the Masoretic texts, those produced by Jewish scholars (called the Masoretes) who assumed the task
of faithfully copying and transmitting the Bible. These scholars, active from the early Christian centuries into
the Middle Ages, also provided the text with punctuation, vowel points (the original of the Hebrew text contains
only consonants), and various notes. The standard printed Hebrew Bible in use today is a reproduction of a
Masoretic text written in AD 1088. The manuscript, in codex or book form, is in the collection of the Saint
Petersburg Public Library. Another Masoretic manuscript, the Aleppo Codex from the first half of the 10th
century AD, is the basis for a new publication of the text in preparation at Hebrew University in Israel. The
Aleppo Codex is the oldest manuscript of the entire Hebrew Bible, but it dates from well more than a
millennium after the latest biblical books were written, and perhaps as much as two millennia later than the
Extant, however, are older Hebrew manuscripts Masoretic and other texts of individual books. Many
from as early as the 6th century were discovered during the late 19th century in the genizah (storage room for
manuscripts) of the Cairo synagogue. Numerous manuscripts and fragments, many from the pre-Christian era,
have been recovered from the Dead Sea region since 1947. Although many of the most important manuscripts
are quite late, the Masoretic texts in particular preserve a textual tradition that goes back to at least a century or
more before the Christian era.
The Septuagint and Other Greek Versions
The most valuable versions of the Hebrew Bible are the translations into Greek. In some instances the
Greek versions actually offer readings superior to the Hebrew, being based on older Hebrew texts than are now
available. Many of the Greek manuscripts are much older than the manuscripts of the full Hebrew Bible; they
were included in copies of the entire Christian Bible that date from the 4th and 5th centuries. The major
manuscripts are Codex Vaticanus (in the Vatican Library), Codex Sinaiticus, and Codex Alexandrinus (both in
the British Museum).
The major Greek version is called the Septuagint (“seventy”) because of the legend that the Torah was
translated in the 3d century BC by 72 scholars. The legend is probably accurate in several respects: The first
Greek translation included only the Torah, and it was done in Alexandria in the 3d century BC. Eventually the
remaining Hebrew Scriptures were translated, but obviously they were translated by other scholars whose skills
and viewpoints differed.
Numerous other Greek translations were made, most of them extant only in fragments or quotations by
the early Fathers of the Church and others. These include the versions of Aquila, Symmachus, Theodotion, and
Lucian. The 3d-century Christian theologian Origen studied the problems presented by these different versions
and prepared a Hexapla, an arrangement in six parallel columns of the Hebrew text, the Hebrew text
transliterated into Greek, Aquila, Symmachus, the Septuagint, and Theodotion.
Peshitta, Old Latin, Vulgate, and Targums
Other versions include the Peshitta, or Syriac, begun perhaps as early as the 1st century AD; the Old
Latin, translated not from the Hebrew but from the Septuagint in the 2d century; and the Vulgate (q.v.),
translated from the Hebrew into Latin by St. Jerome at the end of the 4th century AD.
The Aramaic Targums
Also to be considered with the versions are the Aramaic Targums. In Judaism, when Aramaic replaced
Hebrew as the language of everyday life, translations became necessary, first accompanying the oral reading of
Scriptures in the synagogue and later set down in writing. The Targums were not literal translations, but rather
paraphrases or interpretations of the original. The two major Targums are those that originated in Palestine and
those that were revised in Babylon (2). Recently a complete manuscript of the Palestinian Targum has come to
light, Neofiti I of the Vatican Library. The best-known Babylonian Targums are Onkelos for the Pentateuch and
Jonathan for the Prophets. The versions often are good, sometimes even the best, witnesses to the original text.
Moreover, they are important as evidence for the history of thought among the communities that took the Bible
The Old Testament and history
On virtually all its pages the Old Testament calls attention to the reality and importance of history. The
Pentateuch and the historical books contain salvation histories; the prophets constantly refer to events of the
past, present, and future. As the history of Israel was told in the Old Testament, it came to be organized in a
series of pivotal events or periods: the exodus (including the stories from the patriarchs to the conquest of
Canaan), the monarchy, the exile in Babylon, and the return to Palestine with the restoration of the religious
Separating Interpretation from History
It is important to distinguish between the Old Testament’s interpretation of what happened and critical
history. In order to write a reliable account, the historian needs more or less objective sources contemporary
with the events themselves. The major source of information concerning Israel’s history is the Old Testament,
and its writers generally are concerned primarily with the theological meaning of the past. Moreover, most of
the documents are later, sometimes by centuries, than the events they describe. No significant body of written
evidence exists before the time of the monarchy, which was established with the anointing of Saul as the first
king of Israel in the 11th century BC. Other evidence, both written and artifactual, has been recovered through
archaeology, but all the evidence both biblical and archaeological must be evaluated critically.
To be sure, all biblical texts that can be dated at all furnish important historical information. They
reveal facts concerning the period in which they were written, but they do not necessarily contain literally
accurate accounts of the events they report.
The historical core
Israel’s life was a part of the history of the ancient Near East. Like the other small nations of the eastern
Mediterranean, Israel was at the mercy of the major powers of Egypt, Assyria, and Babylonia and could
prosper independently only when they were in decline or preoccupied with struggles among themselves.
Early history and development of Israel.
A considerable body of information concerning the history of the ancient Near East is available from the
3d millennium BC on, but a detailed history of Israel can begin only about the time of David (1000-961 BC).
This does not mean that nothing at all can be said about the preceding eras, or that all the reports of events
before David are inaccurate. It does mean that historical evidence can be separated from later interpretation only
with difficulty, and that relatively few details can be known with certainty. The Genesis stories of the patriarchs,
for example, are not intended as history. History deals with public events; the accounts of the patriarchs are
family stories, concerned for the most part with private matters. Archaeological evidence, however, has shown
that the background or setting of the stories gives a reasonable picture of life in the late Bronze Age. The stories
suggest that the ancestors of Israel were semi-nomads and provide an indication of their religious beliefs and
Careful analysis of the biblical record and judicious use of archaeological evidence suggest a date for the
exodus from Egypt in the second half of the 13th century BC. The route of the exodus however, is unknown; the
Old Testament preserves at least two major traditions on that point. Not all of Israel would have been involved,
and most likely only the Joseph tribes.
Joshua 1-12 and Judgments 1-2 present two different versions of Israel’s entrance into the land of
Canaan. The summary statements in Joshua report a sudden conquest by the Israelites under the leadership of
Joshua; but Judgments 1-2 and other traditions support the conclusion that individual tribes moved into the land
gradually and that it was decades if not centuries before Israel acquired its territory. The period of the conquest
and that of the Judges thus overlap. For the most part, during the two centuries after 1200 BC individual tribes
were sometimes on their own and sometimes together, only gradually becoming one nation, Israel.
The monarchy arose during the 11th century BC in the midst of internal strife and external threat. The
internal strife concerned the question of the proper form of government for the nation. Some favored the more
traditional form of charismatic leadership in times of crisis; others wanted a stable kingship. Kingship won out
because of the external threat from the militarily superior Philistines (now Palestinians (4)), who occupied five
cities on the coastal plain. Saul united the tribes and established a monarchy, but was killed, along with his son
Jonathan, in a battle with the Philistines. David then became king, first in the south and then of the entire nation.
It was left to him to put an end forever to the Philistine threat and then to establish an empire that exerted
control from Syria to the border of Egypt. His reign was long and prosperous, although not without internal
conflict over his throne. He was succeeded by his son Solomon, who set up a court after the manner of other
oriental monarchs. Solomon built a palace and the great Temple in Jerusalem, and overtaxed the resources of the
country for his luxurious programs.
The kingdoms of Israel and Judah
After the death of Solomon, the northern tribes rebelled under his son Rehoboam. The two nations,
Israel in the north and Judah in the south, were never again reunited, and they often fought each other. In Judah
the dynasty of David continued until the Babylonians took the country (597 and 586 BC), but in Israel
numerous kings and several dynasties came and went. The period of the divided monarchy was marked by
threats from the Assyrians (5), the Arameans (6), and the Babylonians. Israel, with its capital Samaria, fell to the
Assyrian army in 722-21 BC, its people were deported, and foreigners settled in their place. Judah suffered two
humiliations at the hand of the Babylonians: the surrender of Jerusalem in 597 and its destruction in 586 BC.
Captives were carried off to Babylon on both occasions, but because foreigners were not settled in Judah, and
the captives were allowed some measure of freedom, at least to associate with one another, the life of the people
continued both in Babylon and in their native land. The exile was a disaster long announced by the prophets as a
divine judgment; but the experience led the Israelites to a reconsideration of their own meaning as a people, and
to the writing down and interpretation of their old traditions.
The postexilic period
The people were set free from Babylon in 538 BC, when the Persian king Cyrus established the Persian
Empire. The prophets Ezra and Nehemiah were leaders in the era after the exile when institutions were
reestablished and the Temple was rebuilt. Judah became a province of the Persian Empire, and the people had
relative autonomy, especially in religion. At some point during the postexilic period, the history of Israel
became the history of Judaism, but at precisely what time is debated.
By the beginning of the Christian era the people had survived the rise of the Hellenistic empire (333
BC), the Maccabean revolution (168-165 BC) and rule, and the establishment of Roman control in Palestine (63
BC). After an abortive revolution in AD 70 that led to the destruction of Jerusalem, their life changed
Theological themes of the Old Testament
The theological themes of the Old Testament are rich, deep, and diverse. No single theology is found in
these writings, because they emerged from many individuals and groups over several centuries. They reflect not
only a development of thought but also differences of opinion and even conflicts. For example, different
interpretations of creation (q.v.) are preserved side by side, and prophets on more than one occasion challenged
the views of priests. The themes of the Old Testament are coherent with and related to one another, but they are
not a systematic theology. The canonization of the Bible, while establishing an official list, also recognized
The God of Israel
The most obvious theological theme of the Old Testament is both the most pervasive and the most
important one: Yahweh (the personal name of God in the Old Testament) is the God of Israel, of the whole
earth, and of history. This theme echoes from Exodus 20:3 (“You shall have no other gods before me”)
throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, and it is the basis for all other theological reflection. It would be misleading,
however, to identify this theme as monotheism; that term is too abstract for the texts in question, and in all but
some of the latest materials the existence of other gods is taken for granted, as implied by Yahweh Himself in
Exodus 20:3. Generally the other gods are held to be subordinate to Yahweh, and in any case Israel is to be loyal
to only one God. That God is affirmed to be the creator of the earth, the king active in history to save and to
judge, all-powerful but concerned for his people. He is known to reveal himself in diverse ways through the
law, through events, and through prophets and priests.
The distinctive Old Testament language about God links the name of Yahweh with events: “I am the
Lord [Yahweh] your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage” (Exodus
20:2). Israel confesses who God is in terms of what he has done or will do, rather than in terms of his nature.
History then takes on special importance as the sphere of divine action and interaction with his people. The only
significant exception to this use of historical language is the wisdom literature.
Covenant and law
Two other themes fundamental to the Old Testament, covenant and law, are closely related. Covenant
(q.v.) signifies many things, including an agreement between nations or individuals, but above all it refers to the
pact between Yahweh and Israel sealed at Mount Sinai. The language concerning that covenant has much in
common with that of ancient Near Eastern treaties; both are sworn agreements sealed by oaths. Yahweh is seen
to have taken the initiative in granting the covenant by electing a people. Perhaps the simplest formulation of
the covenant is the sentence: “I will take you for my people, and I will be your God” (Exodus 6:7). The law was
understood to have been given as a part of the covenant, the means by which Israel became and remained the
people of God. The law contains regulations for behavior in relation to other human beings as well as rules
concerning religious practices, but by no means does it give a full set of instructions for life. Rather, it seems to
set forth the limits beyond which the people could not go without breaking the covenant.
The Human Person
The Old Testament stresses an understanding of human beings in community, something important for
the people of such a covenant. The individual human being was conceived of as an animated body, as Genesis
2:7 suggests: “Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the
breath of life; and man became a living being.” That “breath” should not be viewed as a “soul” but simply as
“life.” In the Old Testament, the human being was seen as a unity of physical matter and life, the whole a gift
from God. Consequently, death was a vivid reality; views of afterlife or resurrection appear only rarely and late
in Israelite thought. Another theme that appears in the prophets and is basic elsewhere is that Yahweh is a just
God who expects justice and righteousness from his people. That includes fairness in all human affairs, care for
the weak, and the establishment of just institutions. With these and other themes, it is small wonder that the
Hebrew Scriptures provided the foundation for two world religions, Judaism and Christianity.
The New Testament
The New Testament consists of 27 documents written between AD 50 and 150 concerning matters of
belief and practice in Christian communities throughout the Mediterranean world. Although some have argued
that Aramaic originals lie behind some of these documents (especially the Gospel of Matthew and the Epistle to
the Hebrews), all have been handed down in Greek, very likely the language in which they were composed.
Text, Canon, and early versions
For a time, some Christian scholars treated the Greek of the New Testament as a special kind of religious
language, providentially given as a proper vehicle for the Christian faith. It is now clear from extrabiblical
writings of the period that the language of the New Testament is koine (7), or common Greek, that which was
used in homes and marketplaces.
Manuscripts and Textual Criticism
Extant Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, complete, partial, or fragmentary, now number about
5000. None of these, however, is an autograph (an original from the writer). Probably the oldest is a fragment of
the Gospel of John dated about AD 120-40. The similarities among these manuscripts is most remarkable when
one considers differences of time and place of origin as well as the methods and materials of writing.
Dissimilarities, however, involve omissions, additions, terminology, and different ordering of words.
Comparing, evaluating, and dating the manuscripts, placing them in family groups, and developing
criteria for ascertaining the text that most likely corresponds to what the authors wrote are the tasks of text
critics. They are aided in their judgments by thousands of scriptural citations in the writings of the early
translations of the Bible into other languages. The fruit of the labor of text critics is an edition of the Greek New
Testament that offers not only what is judged to be the best text but also includes notes indicating variant
readings among the major manuscripts. The more significant of these variants usually appear in English
translations as footnotes citing what other ancient authorities say (see, for example, Mark 16:9-20; John
7:53-8:11, Acts 8:37). Critical editions of the Greek New Testament have appeared with some regularity since
the work of the Dutch scholar Desiderius Erasmus in the 16th century.
The 27 books of the New Testament are only a small fraction of the literary production of the Christian
communities in their first three centuries. The principal types of New Testament documents (gospel, epistle,
apocalypse) were widely imitated, and the names of apostles or other leading figures were attached to writings
designed to fill in the silence of the New Testament (for example, on the childhood and youth of Jesus), to
satisfy the appetite for more miracles, and to argue for new and fuller revelations. As many as 50 Gospels were
in circulation during this time. Many of these noncanonical Christian writings have been collected and
published as New Testament Apocrypha.
Knowledge of the literature of the period was greatly increased by the discovery in 1945 of the library of
a heretical Christian group, the Gnostics, at Naj Hammadi, Egpyt. This collection, written in Coptic, has been
translated and published. Major scholarly attention has been focused on the Gospel of Thomas, which purports
to be sayings of Jesus, 114 in all, delivered privately to Thomas, one of the 12 apostles. The Gnostic Gosphels
have been suppressed for two millennia, by the orthodox church.
No clear records are available documenting what determined the church’s decision to adopt an official
canon of Christian writings or the process by which this occurred. For Jesus and his followers, the Law,
Prophets, and Writings of Judaism were “Holy Scriptures.”
Interpretation of these writings was, however, governed by the work, words, and person of Jesus as he
was understood by his followers. The apostles who preserved the words and deeds of Jesus and who continued
his mission were regarded as having special authority. That Paul, for instance, expected his letters to be read
aloud in churches and even exchanged among the churches (see Col. 4:16; 1 Thess. 5:26 ff.) indicates that a
new norm for belief and practice was developing in the Christian communities. This norm consisted of two
parts: the Lord (preserved in the “gospels”) and the Apostles (preserved primarily in “epistles”).
Tracing the history of the development of the New Testament canon by noting which of the books were
quoted or cited by the early Fathers of the Church (q.v.) is an uncertain process. Too much is made of silence. It
seems that the earliest attempt to establish a canon was made about AD 150 by a heretical Christian named
Marcion whose acceptable list included the Gospel of Luke and ten Pauline Epistles, edited in a strong
anti-Jewish direction. Perhaps opposition to Marcion accelerated efforts toward a canon of wide acceptance.
By AD 200, 20 of the 27 books of the New Testament seem to have been generally regarded as
authoritative. Local preferences prevailed here and there, and some differences existed between the eastern and
western churches. Generally speaking, the books that were disputed for some time but were finally included
were James, Hebrews, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, 2 Peter, and Revelation. Other books, widely favored but finally
rejected, were Barnabas, 1 Clement, Hermas, and the Didache; the authors of these books are generally referred
to as the apostolic fathers (q.v.).
The 39th festal letter of St. Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, sent to the churches under his jurisdiction
in 367, ended all uncertainty about the limits of the New Testament canon. In the so-called festal letter,
preserved in a collection of annual Lenten messages given by Athanasius, he listed as canonical the 27 books
that remain the contents of the New Testament, although he arranged them in a different order. Those books of
the New Testament, in their present-day order, are the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John), the Acts of
the Apostles, Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1
Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1
John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, and Revelation.
Because the New Testament was written in Greek, the story of the transmission of the text and the
establishing of the canon sometimes neglects the early versions, some of which are older than the oldest extant
Greek text. The rapid spread of Christianity beyond the regions where Greek prevailed necessitated translations
into Syriac, Old Latin, Coptic, Gothic, Armenian, Georgian, Ethiopic, and Arabic. Syriac and Latin versions
existed as early as the 2d century, and Coptic translations began to appear in the 3d century. These early
versions were in no sense official translations but arose to meet regional needs in worship, preaching, and
teaching. The translations were, therefore, trapped in local dialects and often included only selected portions of
the New Testament. During the 4th and 5th centuries efforts were made to replace these regional versions with
more standardized and widely accepted translations. Pope Damasus I in 382 commissioned St. Jerome to
produce a Latin Bible; known as the Vulgate, it replaces various Old Latin texts. In the 5th century, the Syriac
Peshitta replaced the Syriac versions that had been in popular use up to that time. As is usually the case, the old
versions slowly and painfully gave way to the new.
The literature of the New Testament
From a literary point of view, the documents of the New Testament are of four major types or genres:
gospel, history, epistle, and apocalypse. Of these four, only gospel seems to be a literary form originating in the
A gospel is not a biography, although it bears some resemblance to biographies of heroes, human and
divine, in the Greco-Roman world. A gospel is a series of individual accounts of acts or sayings, each having a
kind of completeness, but arranged to create a cumulative effect. The writers of the Gospels apparently had
some interest in chronological order, but that was not primary. Theological concerns and readers’ needs strongly
influenced arrangement of materials. One would expect, therefore, that even though all four New Testament
Gospels center on Jesus of Nazareth and all four are gospels in literary form, differences would still exist among
them. And that is the case. Apart from the accounts of Jesus’ arrest, trial, death, and resurrection, which are
strikingly similar in all four, the Gospels differ in important details, perspectives, and accents of interpretation.
In all these ways, the Gospel of John stands most noticeably apart from the others. In this Gospel, Jesus
Christ is portrayed more obviously as divine, all-knowing, all-controlling, and “from above.” The other three are
called synoptic (viewed together) Gospels because, despite differences, they can be viewed together. Placed in
parallel columns, Matthew, Mark, and Luke impress the reader with such similarities that they have spawned
many theories about their relationships. The most widely held scholarly opinion is that Mark was the earliest
written and became a source for Matthew and Luke. Most likely, Matthew and Luke each had other sources as
well as a common source, a conjecture made on the basis of much shared material not found in Mark. This
theorized but as yet unidentified source has simply been called Q, or Quelle (Ger., “source”). In a preface, the
author of the Gospel of Luke speaks of having researched many narratives about Jesus (see Luke 1:1-4).
Historical narrative is best represented in the New Testament by the Acts of the Apostles, which is the
second of two volumes (sometimes called Luke-Acts) ascribed to St. Luke. These two books tell the story of
Jesus and the church that arose in his name as one continuous narrative, set in the history of Israel and of the
Roman Empire. The history is theologically presented; that is, it interprets what God is doing in this event or
with that person. Acts is unique in the New Testament in its use of historical narrative for purposes of
The epistle or letter in the Greco-Roman world was a fairly standardized literary form consisting of
signature, address, greeting, eulogy or thanksgiving, message, and farewell. St. Paul found this form congenial
to his relation to the churches he had established and convenient for an itinerant apostle. The form became
widely accepted in the Christian community and was used by other church leaders and writers. The epistles that
they wrote, some of which appear in the New Testament, are really sermons, exhortations, or treatises thinly
disguised as epistles.
Apocalyptic writing appears throughout the New Testament but is most extensive in the Book of
Revelation. Apocalypses are usually written in times of severe crisis for a community, times in which people
look beyond the present and beyond human sources for help and hope. This literature is highly visionary,
symbolic, pessimistic about world conditions, and hopeful only in terms of the invisible beyond the visible and
the victory beyond history. Just retribution and reward characterize the visions of the end of the world.
Apparently, Revelation was written during the persecution of Christians under the Roman emperor Domitian,
who reigned from 81 to 96.
Within these four major types of literature, many forms appear: poems, hymns, confessional formulas,
proverbs, miracle stories, beatitudes, diatribes, lists of duties, parables, and others. Recent scholarship has given
a great deal of attention to literary form not only as necessary in understanding content but also as a vehicle by
which the reader can share the experience created in a given passage. Forms have the power to create worlds
and to define relationships; they are not mere accessories to content.
In the writings of biblical scholars, much attention in the past was focused on the parable (q.v.), which
for centuries was regarded as an allegory (q.v.). At the close of the last century, the German biblical scholar
Adolph Julicher (1857-1938) took a new direction in the interpretation of parables. He insisted that the New
Testament parables be understood as real similes, rather than as allegories. Thus, he held that Jesus’ stories
should be understood as illustrations, the meanings of which could be restated in single themes or propositions.
More recently, parables have been respected as works of literary art, having a force and function similar
to poetry, and therefore not to be destroyed by paraphrase or summary or propositional digest. As literary art, a
parable does not simply make its point, but it does its work on the reader, creating, altering, or even shattering a
particular view of life and reality. Scholarly explorations into other literary forms in the New Testament are also
History in the New Testament
The New Testament is not a collection of maxims, reflections, and meditations dissociated from
historical concreteness. On the contrary, its documents focus on a historical figure, Jesus of Nazareth, and
address the problems faced by his followers in a variety of specific contexts in the Roman Empire. This concern
with historical events, persons, and situations does not mean, however, that the New Testament submits itself to
purely historical and chronological interests.
Determining the broad chronological outline
A number of difficulties are encountered in a historical reconstruction of the period as revealed in New
Testament sources. First, the documents are arranged theologically, not chronologically. The Gospels are first
because they tell the story of Jesus, but they were written between 70 and 90, as much as 60 years after his
death. The Acts of the Apostles is also from this period. The Epistles of Paul, however, are earlier; they date
from the decade between 50 and 60 because they were written at the very time Paul was involved in missionary
work. The remaining books, which can be dated between 90 and 150, reflect church conditions of the
postapostolic period. Second, the documents do not evidence much interest in history as a chronological
process, partly because their authors believed in the impending end of history during their generation. Third, the
New Testament is not one book but an ecclesiastical collection, preserved for the specific purposes of worship,
preaching, teaching, and polemics. Fourth, all the documents were written by advocates of the Christian faith
for purposes of proclamation and instruction; hence, although they contain historical references, they are not
pieces of historical reporting. Add to these difficulties the lack of many references to Jesus and his followers
from other contemporary sources, and the possibility of a detailed history grows dimmer.
Nevertheless, scholars are in general agreement as to the broad chronological outline. The major anchor
points are provided by Luke and Acts, which set the story of Jesus and the beginning of the church in the
context of Jewish and Roman history. The Gospel of Luke states that Jesus began his ministry in the 15th year
of the reign of Tiberius (see Luke 3:1), which would be AD 28-29. All four Gospels agree that Jesus was
crucified when Pontius Pilate was governor (AD 26-36) of Judea. Jesus’ ministry was conducted between 29
and 30, according to the view that he ministered one year; between 29 and 33, according to the theory that his
work extended three to four years.
he infancy narratives
Before his public life, little is known of Jesus. He was from Nazareth of Galilee, although both Luke and
Matthew place his birth in Bethlehem of Judea, the ancestral home of King David. Only the books of Luke and
Matthew contain birth and infancy stories, and these differ in several details. Luke (see 1:5-2:52) relates the
stories in poem and song woven from Old Testament texts that highlight God’s concern for the poor and
despised. Matthew (see 1:18-2:23) patterns his story on that of Moses in the Old Testament. Just as Moses spent
his childhood among the rich and wise of Egypt, so was Jesus visited and honored by rich and wise magi (q.v.).
As Moses was hidden from a wicked king slaughtering Jewish male children, so was Jesus saved from Herod’s
massacre. (Since Herod the Great died in 4 BC, Jesus was probably born between 6 and 4 BC.)
The remainder of the New Testament is silent about Jesus’ miraculous birth. Throughout the history of
the church, Catholics have insisted that the infancy narratives be taken literally; others have regarded them as
one among many ways of expressing belief in Jesus’ relation to God as Son. The tendency of the New
Testament to proclaim the meaning of events without giving an accurate account of the events themselves has
always provided much room for disagreement among those involved in the historian’s quest, and suggests that
the authors were concerned with promulgating a specific religious doctrine rather than reporting events.
The apostles and the early church
Following the ministry of Jesus, which is described in the four Gospels, the religious movement He had
launched came under the leadership of the 12 men He had chosen to be His apostles. Most of the Twelve faded
into obscurity and legend, but three of them are mentioned as continuing leaders: James, who was killed by
Herod Agrippa I sometime before 44, the date of Herod’s own death; John, his brother, who apparently lived to
old age (see John 21:20-24); and Peter, who was an early leader of the Jerusalem church but also made several
missionary journeys and, according to tradition, was martyred in Rome in the mid-60s. In addition to these
three, James, called the brother of Jesus, was prominent in the Jerusalem church until he was killed by mob
violence in 61. Before the Jewish revolt against Rome erupted in Jerusalem in 66, the Christians left the city and
were not involved in the violence that destroyed Jerusalem in 70.
Major attention in the record provided by the Acts of the Apostles is focused on Paul, a Jew from Tarsus,
who became a convert to Christianity near Damascus about 33-35. After 14 silent years, Paul began to write his
Epistles, marking a missionary career that took him through Syria, Galatia, Asia Minor, Macedonia, Greece, and
Rome. Apparently his life ended in Rome in the early 60s. Paul’s Epistles and the Acts offer the reader some
understanding of the life of these early Christian communities and their relationship to the larger cultures.
The remaining books of the New Testament provide little historical information and almost no basis for
exact dating. Generally, they seem to have been written for a second or third generation community. In these
documents, the immediate followers of Jesus are dead, early enthusiasm and high expectation of the final return
of Christ to end history has now waned, and the need for preservation, entrenchment, and institutionalization is
evident. Heretics and apostates are identified and attacked, and the membership is called to a tenacity of faith
adequate for the persecution soon to come. The second Epistle of Peter, probably the last of the New Testament
books to be written, makes a vigorous effort to rehabilitate the earlier expectancy of an imminent end to history.
This attempt to recover the zeal and conviction of a former era is itself an indication of the end of an age.
Major themes in the New Testament
Like the theological themes of the Old Testament, those of the New Testament are varied and rich in
Nowhere is the continuity of the New Testament with the Old more clearly or more consistently
presented than in its teaching about God. Any view that the God of Jesus or of the early church was different
from the God of Judaism was rejected as heresy. The God of the New Testament is creator of all life and
sustainer of the universe. This one God, who is the source and final end of all things, takes the initiative to seek
with love all humankind, entering into covenants with those who respond, and behaving toward them with
justice and mercy, with judgment and forgiveness. God has never left himself without witnesses in the world,
having revealed himself in many times, manners, and places; but the New Testament claims in Jesus of
Nazareth a unique revelation of God. The person, words, and activity of Jesus were understood as bringing
followers into the presence of God. In the days of its beginning within Judaism, the church could assume belief
in God and focus its message on Jesus as revealer of God. Beyond the bounds of Judaism, however, faith in the
one true God became basic to the proclamation of Christianity.
The New Testament presents its understanding of Jesus in titles, descriptions of his person, and accounts
of his word and work. In the context of Judaism, the Old Testament provided titles and images that the New
Testament writers used to convey the meaning of Jesus for his disciples. He was portrayed, for example, as a
prophet like Moses, the Davidic king, the promised Messiah (q.v.), the second Adam, a priest like Melchizedek
(q.v.), an apocalyptic figure like the Son of man, the Suffering Servant of Isaiah, and the Son of God. The
Hellenistic culture provided other images: a preexistent divine being who came to earth, accomplished his work,
and returned to glory; the Lord above all caesars; the eternal mediator of creation and redemption; the cosmic
figure who gathers all creation to himself in one harmonious body.
A share in God’s kingdom is available to the “poor” (Luke 6:20)–that is, to those who know and
acknowledge their need, as contrasted with those who pride themselves in their possessions and attainments.
The latter will be punished on the day of judgment (Luke 6:24-26).
The Gospels also emphasize Jesus’ attitude toward Jewish law. The law forbade the eating of certain
foods, but Jesus taught that people are defiled by their words and deeds rather than by what they eat. He
performed forbidden activities on the Sabbath when it was necessary to serve human needs and did not hesitate
to eat and drink with those regarded as sinners. At a time when observance of purity laws at the meals eaten by
family and friends was the most important means of establishing Jewish identity, he not only accepted
invitations to eat with the ritually impure, but invited himself to their meals.
The Gospels present the ministry of Jesus as the presence of God in the world. His words revealed God
and God’s way for his people; his actions demonstrated the healing power of God bringing wholeness of body,
mind, and spirit; his sufferings and death testified to God’s relentless love; and his resurrection (q.v.) was God’s
sign of approval of Jesus’ life, death, and message. St. Paul and others developed views of Jesus’ death as
sacrifice and atonement for sin and of Jesus’ resurrection as guarantee of the resurrection of his disciples.
Documents written during persecution (see 1 Peter, Revelation) interpreted Jesus’ suffering as the model for
Christians in the hour of martyrdom.
The Holy Spirit
Some of the prophets of Israel had characterized the “last days” as a time when God would pour out his
Spirit on the whole of humanity. The New Testament claims that promise was fulfilled in the days of Jesus. The
Spirit of God, an expression representing the active presence of God, is therefore used throughout the New
Testament; this entity is variously referred to as the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, the Spirit of Christ, or
the Spirit of truth. The Spirit empowered Jesus, and it enabled the church to continue what Jesus had begun to
do and to teach. Within the individual disciple, the Spirit produced the qualities appropriate to that life and
equipped the person to work and serve the good of the community. Understandably, the category “Spirit” was
subject to a wide range of interpretations and created problems in many churches. The New Testament reflects
the struggle to find clear criteria for determining if a congregation or a person really was influenced by the Holy
Kingdom of God
According to the New Testament, the central message of Jesus was the kingdom of God. He called for
repentance in preparation for the kingdom that was “at hand.” The kingdom of God referred to the reign or rule
of God, and in Jesus’ ministry that reign of God was announced as present. The presence of the kingdom,
however, was not full and complete, and, therefore, was often referred to as a future event. Students of the New
Testament have argued over whether Jesus and his followers expected the kingdom of God to be fully present in
their generation. The unresolved state of that debate is registered in the two expressions often used to
characterize the New Testament teaching about the kingdom: “already” and “not yet.”
The kingdom of God seems not to have survived as the central subject of the church’s message.
According to the New Testament, the church did not identify itself as the kingdom, and in its preaching it began
to speak more of salvation. The term generally referred to a person’s reconciled relationship to God and
participation in a community that was both reconciled and reconciling. In this sense, salvation was a present
reality but not completely. The consummation of salvation would be in a fullness of life beyond the struggle,
futility, and mortality that mark this world.
Paul believed that in the ultimate fulfillment of God’s purpose, salvation would be cosmic in scope. The
realm of redemption would be coextensive with the realm of creation. This meant that finally even the hostile
spirit powers that, according to the New Testament, inhabit the heavens, earth, and subterranean regions would
be brought into harmony with the benevolent plan of God. This final vision differs from that of the Book of
Revelation, in which the end is characterized by the vindication and reward of the saints and the damnation of
In the meantime, the followers of Christ are to manifest in their conduct and relationships that they have
been reconciled with God. This is the instruction of the entire New Testament and a legacy from the Old: the
inseparable connection between religious belief and moral and ethical behavior. The Law, the Prophets, and the
Writings had insisted on it, and the New Testament continued that accent. This life is variously referred to as
righteous, sanctified, godly, faithful. The books of the New Testament are filled with instructions about this life
not only in an inward sense but in relation to neighbors, enemies, family members, masters, servants, and
government officials, as well as in relation to God. These instructions draw upon the Old Testament, the words
of Jesus, the example of Jesus, apostolic commands, laws of nature, common lists of household duties, and
ideals from Greek moralists. All these sources were understood as having one source in a God who expects his
own faithfulness to be met with faithfulness in those who have been reconciled as the family of God.
The Bible in English
The history of the English Bible is the history of the movement of the Bible from its possession and use
by clergy alone to the hands of the laity. It is also the history of the formation of the English language from a
mixture of French, Anglo-Norman, and Anglo-Saxon. Even though Christianity reached England in the 3d
century, the Bible remained in Latin and almost exclusively in the hands of the clergy for a thousand years.
Between the 7th and 14th centuries, portions of the Bible were translated into English, and some rough
paraphrases appeared for instructing parishioners. In literary circles, poetic translations of favorite passages
were made. Interest in translation from Latin to English grew rapidly in the 14th century, and in 1382 the first
complete English Bible appeared in manuscript. It was the work of the English reformer John Wycliffe, whose
goal was to give the Bible to the people.Translations of the Reformation Period. In 1525 the English reformer
William Tyndale translated the New Testament from the Greek text, copies of which were printed in Germany
and smuggled into England. Tyndale’s translation of the Old Testament from the Hebrew text was only partly
completed. His simple prose and popular idiom established a style in English translation that was continued in
the Authorized Version of 1611 (the King James Version) and eventually in the Revised Standard Version of
In 1535 the English reformer Miles Coverdale published an English translation based on German and
Latin versions in addition to Tyndale’s. This was not only the first complete English Bible to appear in printed
form, but unlike its predecessors, it was an approved translation that had been requested by the Canterbury
Convocation. Shortly thereafter, the English reformer and editor John Rogers (1500?-55) produced a slightly
revised edition of Tyndale’s Bible. This appeared in 1537 and was called Matthew’s Bible.
In 1538 the English scholar Richard Taverner (1505?-75) issued another revision. At about the same
time, Oliver Cromwell commissioned Coverdale to produce a new Bible, which appeared in six editions
between 1539 and 1568. This Bible, called the Great Bible, in its final revision in 1568 by scholars and bishops
of the Anglican church was known as the Bishops’ Bible. The Bishops’ Bible was designed to replace not only
the Great Bible, which was primarily a pulpit Bible, but also a translation for the laity, produced in Geneva in
1560 by English Protestants in exile, called the Geneva Bible. The Bishops’ Bible was the second authorized
he Douay and Other Roman Catholic Versions
The Douay or Douay-Rheims (spelled also Douai-Reims) Bible, completed between 1582 and 1609, was
commonly used by Roman Catholics in English-speaking countries until the 1900s, when it was considerably
revised by the English bishop Richard Challoner. The Douay Bible was translated from the Latin Vulgate,
primarily by two English exiles in France, William Allen (1532-94) and Gregory Martin (1540?-82). During the
19th and 20th centuries, the Douay and Challoner Bibles were replaced with other translations by Roman
Catholics. In the U.S., one of the most widely used is the New American Bible of 1970, the first complete Bible
to be translated from Hebrew and Greek by American Roman Catholics.
The King James Version and Its Revisions
In 1604 King James I commissioned a new revision of the English Bible; it was completed in 1611.
Following Tyndale primarily, this Authorized Version, also known as the King James Version, was widely
acclaimed for its beauty and simplicity of style. In the years that followed, the Authorized Version underwent
several revisions, the most notable being the English Revised Version (1881-85), the American Standard
Version (1901), and the revision of the American Standard Version undertaken by the International Council of
Religious Education, representing 40 Protestant denominations in the U.S. and Canada. This Revised Standard
Version (RSV) appeared between 1946 and 1952. Widely accepted by Orthodox, Protestant, and Roman
Catholic Christians, it provided the basis for the first ecumenical English Bible. The New Revised Standard
Version (NRSV, 1989) eliminated much archaic and ambiguous usage. The New King James Bible, with
contemporary American vocabulary, was published in 1982.
Other Modern Translations
In the first half of the 20th century many modern speech translations, mostly by individuals, appeared:
Weymouth (1903); Goodspeed and Smith (1923-27); Moffatt (1924-26); Phillips (1947); and others. Since
1960, major translation projects have been underway to produce English Bibles that are not revisions of the
Tyndale-King James-RSV tradition. The more significant among these are the following: the Jerusalem Bible
(1966), an English translation of the work of French Dominicans (1956); Today’s English Version (1966-76) in
idiomatic English by the American Bible Society; the New English Bible (1970) and a revised edition, The
Revised English Bible (1989), originally commissioned in 1946 by the Church of Scotland and designed to be
neither stilted nor colloquial; the New International Bible (1973-79), a revision by conservative American
Protestants similar to the New American Standard Version; and the Living Bible (1962-71), not a translation but
a paraphrase into the modern American idiom. The latter was designed by its author, Kenneth Taylor (1917- ), to
make the Bible interesting and to propagate “a rigid evangelical position.” The multi-volume Anchor Bible
(1964- ), an international and interfaith project, offers modern readers an exact translation, with extended
Jewish translations of the Hebrew Bible into English have been appearing for two centuries. A new
translation, the New Jewish Version, sponsored by the Jewish Publication Society of America, was published in
three segments in 1962, 1974, and 1983.
The Bible’s future in literature
The continuing flow of new translations testifies to the changing nature of language, the discovery of
new manuscript evidence, and most of all the abiding desire to read and understand the Bible. In modern
religious study, less emphasis has been placed on religious dogma. It has been recognized by most scholars that
literal interpretation of the Bible is not always in harmony with historical evidence, scientific discovery and
physical laws, and when the Bible disagrees with the physical laws (which are God’s laws) those passages must
be ascribed to errors by the authors rather than insisting, for instance, that the earth is a stationary object at the
center of the universe. Historically, opposition to science was (and still is) an error by the traditional
orthodoxy, and no attempt to conform scientific laws to doctrine, despite the most stringent measures and
punishments inflicted by the church has ever been successful. Eventually, organized religion will increasingly
concentrate on the Bible’s message, rather than the words chosen by the authors to deliver that message. For
while many of the stories are historically inaccurate, having been phrased in the light of the customs and beliefs
prevalent three or more millennia ago, the message of hope is certainly as good and pure now, and in the future,
as it ever was.
OLD TESTAMENT: Anderson, Bernhard W., Understanding the Old Testament, 4th ed. (1986); Coats,
George W., and Long, Burke O., eds., Canon and Authority (1977); McKenzie, John L., The Two-Edged Sword
(1956); Sanders, James A., Torah and Canon (1972); Von Rad, Gerhard, Old Testament Theology, 2 vols.
NEW TESTAMENT: Grant, Robert M., The Formation of the New Testament (1966); Kee, Howard C., et al.,
Understanding the New Testament, 4th ed. (1983); Moule, C. F. D., The Birth of the New Testament, rev. ed.
(1981); Robinson, James M., and Koester, Helmut, Trajectories through Early Christianity (1971).
HISTORY AND CRITICISM: Alter, Robert, and Kermode, Frank, eds., The Literary Guide to the Bible (1987);
Bruce, F. F., History of the Bible in English, 3d ed. (1978); Dodd, C. H., The Bible Today (1946); Freedman,
David Noel, The Anchor Bible Dictionary, 6 vols. (1992); Friedman, Richard E., Who Wrote the Bible? (1987);
Grant, Robert M., and Tracy, David, A Short History of the Interpretation of the Bible, 2d ed., rev. and enl.
(1984); Koch, Klaus, The Growth of Biblical Tradition (1969); Perrin, Norman, What Is Redaction Criticism?
(1969); Burnett, Tom, Who’s Writing This Down? (NP).
(1)Phoenicia (now Palestine-Syria)
Phoenicia was the ancient Greek name for the long and narrow coastal strip of Palestine-Syria extending
from Mount Carmel north to the Eleutherus River in Syria. The Phoenicians were linguistically and culturally
related to the Semitic inland peoples who are traditionally called Canaanites.
Already inhabited in Paleolithic times, Phoenicia developed into a manufacturing and trading center
early in Near Eastern history. Cedars from its mountainous hinterland were imported by the Old Kingdom
Egyptians (c.2800-c.2200 BC). By the second millennium BC a number of Phoenician and Syrian
cities–including Sidon, Tyre, Ugarit, Arvad, Berytus, and Byblos–achieved preeminence as seaports and
vigorously traded in purple dyes and dyestuffs, glass, cedar wood, wine, weapons, and metal and ivory artifacts.
Divided by the Lebanon Mountains into small, loosely leagued city-states, Phoenicia was never
politically strong. Its cities may have experienced brief periods of independence but were usually forced into
tribute-paying submission by their larger neighbors. Initially under Egyptian cultural domination and then
under imperial control (to c.1200 BC), Phoenicia was autonomous for about 350 years before it fell successively
to the Assyrians (860), the Neo-Babylonians (612), the Achaemenid Persians (539), Alexander the Great (333)
and his Seleucid successors, and finally Rome (64).
During Phoenicia’s period of independence, individual Phoenician cities interacted with the rising state
of Israel. In the 10th century BC, King Solomon–who employed men and materials supplied by Hiram of Tyre
to build his Temple at Jerusalem and fortify the cities of Megiddo, Gezer, Hazor, and Jerusalem–joined with
Hiram in sending sailing expeditions into the Red Sea and possibly also into the Mediterranean. The Bible also
records personal and political contacts between the kings of the northern kingdom of Israel and Phoenician
During the early years of the first millennium BC, Phoenicians explored the Mediterranean as far as
Spain and into the Atlantic, establishing colonies on the Tunisian coast at Carthage (c.800), beyond the Strait of
Gibraltar at Cadiz, and elsewhere. Phoenician enterprise turned the Mediterranean, from the Levant to
Gibraltar, into the greatest maritime trading arena of antiquity. During this period the Phoenician culture –a
cosmopolitan blend of Egyptian, Anatolian, Greek, and Mesopotamian influences in religion and
literature–reached its peak. The Phoenician alphabet, devised in the second millennium BC and adapted by the
Greeks about 800 or earlier, was subsequently transmitted to Western Europe through Rome.
Bibliography: Edey, Maitland, The Sea Traders (1974); Harden, D. B., The Phoenicians, 2d ed. (1963);
Moscati, Sabatino, ed., The Phoenicians (1990); Olmstead, A. T., A History of Syria and Palestine (1931; repr.
1965); Rawlinson, George, Phoenicia (1889; repr. 1972); Warmington, B. H., Carthage, 2d ed. (1969); Weil,
Raymond, Phoenicia and Western Asia (1980).
(2) Babylon (now Iraq)
The ruins of Babylon (from Bab-ili, meaning “Gate of God”), the 2nd-1st millennium BC capital of
southern Mesopotamia (Babylonia), stand beside the Euphrates about 90 km (55 mi) south of modern Baghdad,
Iraq. Occupied in prehistoric times but first mentioned in the late 3d millennium BC, the city became important
when its Amorite king Hammurabi (r.1792-50 BC) gained control of all southern Mesopotamia. Raided by the
Hittites about 1595 BC, Babylon then came under Kassite rule about 1570 BC, only to be sacked again about
1158 BC by the Elamites, who removed many Babylonian monuments to Susa, including the famous Law Code
stela of Hammurabi (now in the Louvre). Dominated by Assyria from the 9th century until that country’s fall to
the Medes in 612 BC, Babylon once more became a major political power under the 6th-century Chaldean
kings, in particular Nebuchadnezzar II (r. 605-562), builder of much of the existing city. Surrendered to Cyrus
the Great in 539 BC and possibly the intended capital of Alexander the Great, who died there in 323 BC,
Babylon declined after the founding of Seleucia, the new Greek capital.
Nebuchadnezzar’s triple-walled city measured at least 18 km (11 mi) in circumference. In the old city,
on the east bank of the Euphrates, stood Esagila, the temple of Marduk, the city god, and the associated
seven-staged ziggurat Etemenanki, popularly associated with the Tower of Babel. Northward from Esagila, the
Processional Way, decorated with animals in glazed and relief brickwork, led through the Ishtar Gate (now in
the Berlin Museum) to the New Year (Akitu) temple. Northwest of the Processional Way stood
Nebuchadnezzar’s palace. Vaulted structures at its northwest corner may be remains of the legendary Hanging
Gardens, numbered among the Seven wonders of the world.
The site was first excavated in 1811, but the principal German investigations begun by Robert Koldewey
took place in 1899 to 1917. The Iraq Department of Antiquities has carried out recent restoration work.
Bibliography: Koldewey, Robert, The Excavations at Babylon (1914); Lloyd, Seton, Ruined Cities of Iraq
(1942); Oates, Joan, Babylon (1986); Saggs, H. W. F., The Greatness That Was Babylon (1962).
(3) Canaan (now Israel)
In biblical times, Canaan was the part of Syria and Palestine lying between the Mediterranean Sea and
the Jordan River where Israel arose c.1200 BC. In Jewish and Christian popular usage, Canaan is also known as
the Holy Land or the Promised Land. The name is probably derived from a term meaning “maker or dealer in
purple-dyed goods.” In the Bible, Canaanite sometimes has the technical meaning of “merchant.” Canaanite
culture, language, and literary forms, as well as many religious ideas and practices, were shared by Israel. Soon
after Israel’s emergence in Canaan, three new terms tended to replace Canaan in general usage: Israel for the
interior highlands, Phoenicia for the northern coast, and Philistia for the southern coast.
(4) Philistines (now Palestinians)
The Philistines were one of a number of sea peoples who penetrated Egypt and Syro-Palestine coastal
areas during 1225-1050 BC. Of Aegean origin, they settled on the southern coastal plain of Canaan, an area that
became known as Philistia. The Philistines rapidly adopted Canaanite language and culture, while introducing
tighter military and political organization and superior weaponry based on the use of iron, over which they had a
local monopoly. The chief Philistine cities were Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, Gath, and Gaza. The military rulers
of the Philistines extended their rule in Canaan, constantly warring with Israel. The Israelite king David, who
had earlier been a Philistine vassal, finally defeated them, succeeding where Samson and Saul before him had
failed. Distinctive Philistine artifacts in the Mycenaean tradition, such as the double-handled jug, have been
found in archaeological excavations in Palestine (a name derived from Philistia).
(5)Assyria (now Iraq)
Assyria was an ancient name for that part of Mesopotamia on the upper Tigris River now included in the
northern Iraqi provinces of Ninawa (Nineveh), Sulaymaniya, Tamim, and Irbil. Watered by the Tigris and its
tributaries, the Greater and Lesser Zab, ancient Assyria stretched from just west of the Tigris to the Zagros
Mountains on the east and from about 34 degrees north latitude up to the hills of Armenia. With moderate
rainfall that permitted farming without irrigation and with considerable resources of stone for building, Assyria
had advantages over Babylonia, where irrigation was necessary and mud brick was the principal building
Assyria took its name from its original capital, Ashur, situated just north of the junction of the Tigris and
the Lesser Zab. Its founders, who are now called Assyrians, were a Semitic- speaking people who arrived from
the southwest shortly after 2000 BC. During the Old Assyrian period (c.1900-1550 BC) the territory was
unified by a series of vigorous rulers, and its influence was felt along the middle Euphrates and westward into
central Anatolia (modern Turkey), where Assyrian traders established commercial colonies. By 1800 BC,
however, the coming of the Hittites drove the Assyrians out of Anatolia, and the rise of Babylon under
Hammurabi soon afterward caused a contraction of Assyrian power in Mesopotamia. By 1550 BC Assyria was
part of the Kingdom of Mitanni; it did not regain independence until the collapse of that regime about 1365
After a slow revival, Assyrian strength quickened after 1000 BC and reached a new peak in the 9th
century under Ashurnasirpal II (r. 883-59) and Shalmaneser III (r. 858-24), whose campaigns brought plunder
and tribute from little kingdoms westward all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. After 800 BC this mighty
dynasty gradually declined and finally collapsed (c.748 BC), but a new era began with the accession of
Tiglath-Pileser III in 745. Babylon was subjected to Assyria, and states to the west were once more made
tributary. The formal organization of an empire began with the last Assyrian dynasty, founded by Sargon II.
Sargon (r. 721-05), Sennacherib (r. 705-681), and Esarhaddon (r. 681-68) made conquests that brought Elam,
Media, Persia, Babylonia, Syria, Palestine, and even part of Egypt under Assyrian rule. A recession commenced
under Ashurbanipal (r. 668-26), and by 612 the Medes and Babylonians had destroyed the city of Nineveh and
brought an end to the Assyrian Empire.
Bibliography: Olmstead, A. T., History of Assyria (1923; repr. 1975); Roux, Georges, Ancient Iraq, rev. ed.
The Aramaeans were an ancient West Semitic people of the Syro-Palestinian area in the Near East.
Originally seminomadic, they are known from about 1500 BC. Their population may have included tribal
elements of other neighboring Semitic peoples, particularly the earliest Hebrews, whose ancestor Jacob is called
“a wandering Aramaean” in Deuteronomy 26:5. Wandering Aramaeans continually harassed the inhabitants of
northern Mesopotamia (Assyria) and southern Mesopotamia (Babylonia), thereby seriously affecting the
political stability of these areas. By about 1000 BC, however, large numbers of Aramaeans had settled
permanently, creating small, city-state kingdoms in Syria and the Upper Euphrates region.
After 1000 BC, the Aramaic kingdoms around Damascus, as well as those in Palestinian border areas,
interacted with the Hebrews, sometimes as opponents and sometimes as expedient allies. Beginning in the late
8th century BC, Syrian Aramaic territories were incorporated into the provincial systems of the dominant Near
Eastern empires, including those of Assyrian, the Neo-Babylonian, and the Persian dynasties.
Under the Persians (post-539 BC), Aramaic became the usual language of everyday affairs in the Near
East, and so it remained for centuries. Thus Jesus spoke in Aramaic.
Bibliography: Bright, John, A History of Israel, 2d ed. (1972) .
(7) koine in the development of Greek Languages
The Greek language (both ancient and modern) is a member of the Indo-European family of languages;
its closest relatives are Armenian, Indo-Iranian, and Italic. The historical evolution of Greek reveals a unity
paralleled only in Chinese, and the major changes can be charted in an unbroken literary tradition.
Ancient Greek was spoken in Greece, on Crete and Cyprus, in parts of the eastern Mediterranean and
western and northern Anatolia, on Sicily and in southern Italy, on the northern Black Sea coast, and sporadically
along the African coast and the French Riviera. Modern Greek is the language of about 9,340,000 people in
Greece and the Greek islands and about 480,000 on Cyprus; it is also spoken in isolated villages of Turkey,
Sicily, and southern Italy, and in many areas throughout the world to which Greeks have immigrated, notably
Australia and North America.
From about 1500 BC to the present day, Greek has gone through a slow, organic, and uninterrupted
growth, with four major stages of evolution: prehistoric, classical, Byzantine, and modern. Prehistoric Greek
was introduced into the Aegean by a series of immigrations throughout the second millennium. The language
can be reconstructed in outline from a comparison of ancient dialects and from Mycenaean inscriptions, such as
Linear B, now generally agreed to be an early form of Greek. Ancient Greek includes classical Greek, recorded
in inscriptions and literary works from the 7th century BC to the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC, and
Hellenistic Greek. Classical Greek is known in four main dialect groups: Attic-Ionic, Arcado-Cyprian, Aeolic,
and Doric, spoken in independent city-states and creatively adapted for particular genres in the great works of
classical literature. Homeric Greek was a traditional literary language, comprising elements from several
dialects, but was never the spoken language of any one people. The Hellenistic koine, or common tongue, was
based on a late form of Attic, and became the official language of the unified Greek-speaking world, later
extending to peoples whose native language was not Greek. Invaluable evidence of its spoken form exists in
papyrus letters: its best known literary expression is in the New Testament.
Byzantine Greek is notable mainly for its heterogeneity. The koine remained the basis of the language
of the early church and of the spoken tongue. Learned writers, however, adhered to an obsolete form of Attic,
revived in the aftermath of the Roman conquest in opposition to the koine. Their archaizing Greek replaced
Latin as the official language of the Byzantine Empire in the 6th century.
The transition from ancient to modern Greek was gradual and uneven, beginning in the 5th century BC
and completed by the 10th century AD.
Bibliography: Allen, William Sidney, Vox Graeca, 3d ed. (1987); Bien, Peter, Kazantzakis and the Linguistic
Revolution in Greek Literature (1972); Browning, R. A., Medieval and Modern Greek (1969); Buck, Carl,
The Greek Dialects, rev. ed. (1955); Costas, Procope S., An Outline of the History of the Greek Language
(1936; repr. 1979); Mackridge, Peter, The Modern Greek Language (1985); Thomson, George D., The Greek
The term biblical archaeology refers to archaeological investigations that serve to clarify, enlighten, and
enhance the biblical record. Its development, from the 19th century, has been largely tied to the history of
research and excavation in ancient Palestine.
The American clergyman and biblical scholar Edward Robinson played a fundamental role in
recognizing that an acquaintance with the Holy Land was essential to an understanding of biblical literature.
After traveling in Sinai and Palestine, he published Biblical Researches in Palestine (1841), which inspired
many other scholars to follow his lead. The British founded the Palestine Exploration Fund (PEF) in 1865, and
in 1867 the first PEF expedition was sent to Jerusalem to search for specific biblical sites, among them the
location of Solomon’s temple.
Pioneering excavations were undertaken in 1890 by Flinders Petrie at Tell el-Hesi, 26 km (16 mi) east of
Gaza. His development of a relative scale of dating based on changes in pottery at successive levels of
excavation was of immense importance for biblical archaeology, since sites in Palestine have yielded relatively
few historical monuments or records. A notable exception is the site of Qumran on the Dead Sea, where the
first of the important Hebrew and Aramaic manuscripts known as the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered (1947).
By the early 1900s, American, German, and French archaeological teams also began excavations in
Palestine, directed primarily toward those cities mentioned in the Bible. Pre-World War I excavations included
work at Gezer, Jericho, Megiddo, Ta’anach, Samaria, and Beth-shemesh. William Foxwell Albright directed the
American School of Oriental Research in Jerusalem (founded 1910) in 1920-29 and 1933-36. His excavations
at Tell Beit Mirsim (1926-32), supplied the framework for establishing the chronology of ancient Palestine
based on ceramic typology, which is still used today with only minor changes. The Palestine Department of
Antiquities, established in 1918, played a major role in archaeological research until the state of Israel was
formed in 1948. Since then, Israeli archaeologists have conducted several important excavations, including
Yigael Yadin’s work at Hazor (1955-58 and 1968-70) and at Masada (1963-65), Yohanon Aharoni and Ruth
Amiran’s work at Arad (1962-67), and Yigal Shiloh’s finds at the City of David in Jerusalem (1978-85).
Although biblical archaeology concentrates on excavating and interpreting biblical sites, archaeological
material of either the pre- or post-biblical era is often uncovered as well. For example, the excavations of the
American archaeologist James Pritchard at Gibeon, in addition to revealing the rock-cut water system
mentioned in 2 Samuel, produced important pottery from a Bronze Age cemetery. Excavation at the important
biblical site of Jericho has revealed little of significance dating from later than the 2d millennium BC. Its
remains from 6 millennia earlier, however, show a large walled city that is the oldest known settlement in the
world, 4000 years older than is accepted as the Biblical creation date of BC 4004.
An important function of biblical archaeology has been to describe a setting in which the stories of the
Old and New Testaments achieve a new and vivid meaning. Inevitably, however, more problems have been
discovered than have been resolved. The question of the nature and date of the Exodus and the manner of the
conquest of Palestine by the Israelites is still open to debate, despite the large number of excavated sites. Since
the Israelites left no characteristic artifacts during the early years of their settlement, it is virtually impossible to
determine whether the destruction of a site in the 13th century BC was the work of the Israelites or the
Egyptians. Often the archaeological evidence contradicts the biblical record. Thus, although the city of Ai is
recorded as having been captured by Joshua, no remains dating from the appropriate period were found during
its excavation, which suggests that the site was unoccupied at the time of the supposed conquest.
Bibliography: Dever, William G., Archaeology and Biblical Studies (1974); Kenyon, Kathleen M.,
Archaeology in the Holy Land, 4th ed. (1979); Negev, Avrahem, ed., Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy
Land (1974; repr. 1980); Millard, A. R., Treasures from Bible Times (1985); Paul, Shalom, and Dever,
William, eds., Biblical Archaeology (1973); Thomas, Winton D., Archaeology and Old Testament Study
(1967); Wright, G. Ernest, Biblical Archaeology, rev. ed. (1963).
Chapter 3: Short stories
THEY COULDN’T PRINT IT IF IT WEREN’T TRUE:
The story of Noah’s ark is a simple example because of the quantities of water described, although the
point applies to almost every Biblical story. If one cares to argue that enough rain was generated in forty days,
only six thousand years ago to float an ark to the top of Mount Ararat, the question of where that amount of
water came from and where it went seems appropriate.
There isn’t that much water on earth. There isn’t enough oxygen and hydrogen on earth to make that
much water. We are speaking of a volume of water greater than could on earth, including the polar ice caps, by
several orders of magnitude.
The water was not absorbed into the earth. Water seeks its own level and everything that could fill
would do so before the oceans started to overflow, and the earth is solid. Oh, yes, there is a water table in the
upper crust, but anyone who suggests that it filled with the runoff from the flood in THIS story is either not
interested in having a serious conversation, or is running with low oil pressure.
Evaporation is not an issue. Most observers will notice as water evaporates it returns as precipitation.
This story says that enough rain fell to raise the sea level 16,804 feet higher than the present level IF it only got
to the top of Mount Ararat. Almost a mile deeper than the average depth of the Pacific ocean. Then it receded.
The salt water went into the oceans, the Dead Sea, the Salton Sea, Salt Lake City, the Bonneville salt flats and
so on. The fresh water rushed off to Lakes Baikal and Victoria, and most other inland lakes using some form of
Biblical discrimination. The polar ice caps were not affected at all and remain undisturbed to this day.
Naturally, fresh water fish did not evolve in fresh water. Then, the 16,000 feet of extra water covering the earth
simply vanished. After all that water sloshed around and mixed there should not be any major fresh water lakes
at all. Or freshwater fish. It would all have to be salt water, and It would still be here. And at least little of it
would be on the polar ice caps. Yes, I know we lose molecules from the atmosphere into space, but think about
it before you suggest that is what happened.
Two people I explained this to said “You don’t know that for sure. We’ll probably never know how God
did it.” For that person religion and reason are mutually exclusive. In fact, for EVERYONE religion and reason
are mutually exclusive. If God exists, He created the physical laws of the universe for us to discover and use,
not for us to ignore because they are not described in the Bible. But that’s what people do, and that’s what they
have done for thousands of years. Forget about what God created for them. Play like it doesn’t exist.
A person willing to believe absurd rhetoric that flies in the face of obvious fact because he is unwilling
to use his own thought processes does not seem to realize that this is more of a disservice to the Creator he
professes faith in than an obedience to His will. For if God creates a person with the ability to think and
question, He certainly expects those facilities to be used to the best of that person’s ability. So everyone who
that thinks I am going to hell for writing this and runs off to pray for me might as well get off the bandwagon.
God wouldn’t have given me the ability to think if He didn’t want me to think, and it follows that I could not
have written this if He did not want me to write it or you to read it.. For all you idiots know, this could be A
Message. For all I know, too. Remember ‘Judge not, lest ye be judged’ ? Have any idea what that means?
Christians thump the Bible about Christ but miss the real message. Jesus Christ, who must certainly
have existed, did not write the bible. He was nailed up as a heretic for telling people to free themselves from
the bonds of established theological dogma. Two thousand years later they still have not got the idea.
Substituting Christian for Judaic dogma missed the point entirely, and believing The Scriptures to be a literal
rendition of history is non-sensical.
The established religious infrastructure had, in His time, degenerated into a system in which the rituals
themselves had become the religion and priests controlled every aspect of people’s lives….(does this sound
familiar?). To support this, any business transaction, travel or endeavor required a sacrifice to the temple before
it was undertaken, though this was no guarantee of success except for those to whom the sacrifice was
So when Jesus came along and started teaching common sense (I obviously paraphrase) ‘If you paid
employees for their work instead of keeping slaves and bribing the priests; If you bartered fairly; If you
assumed responsibility for your own actions and taught your children to be honest and have a little moral
character, some of your problems might resolve themselves”, he did not endear himself to those who had grown
accustomed to a lifestyle based upon the labor of others (much as politicians and television evangelists today).
I do not argue against a belief in God. I’m for whoever gets you through the night, be he Jesus Christ or
Jack Daniels. People should be free to believe what they want, but if a person chooses to believe in God he
should accept what intelligence he has as a gift and use it. Taking the Bible literally is not an example of the
use of intelligence. The great teeming masses of humanity who choose to take Scripture literally have either not
read it or have no contact with reality. God probably looks down here, shudders and makes tracks for Heavenly
Hardware to get more locks for the gates while the creationists flatter themselves that Great Dieties are waging
eternal battle for their immortal souls. They probably are: “You take them”. “No, You take them”. “No, You!”.
“No, You!”. “No, You!”.
I get tired of morons always blubbering that Armageddon is nearly upon us, yak, yak, yak, and “If you
are not with us, you are against us”, and so on and so forth. Just where are all of the forces of darkness
gathering? Are they hiding behind Disney World dressed like Darth Vader, or massing in underwater caves
somewhere?? There are religious organizations covering every part of the world, and no matter what the name
of the sect may be, all believe essentially the same thing, they just disagree on interpretations. Who are you
guys getting ready to fight? Athiests? Heck no. Catholics? Jews? Muslims? Baptists? Where are the bad
guys? Lawyers naturally, but there aren’t enough lawyers to put up a good fight and they could never agree on
how to do it anyway. The Crusades. The Jihad. People keep killing each other in God’s name. God didn’t tell
you to do that. Who did, do you suppose? Think about it. TRY to think about it. Try to think about
Let’s take a satirical but reasonably logical look at a modern attempt to build an ark since many people
believe that story to be literally true. We start by assuming we actually want to preserve the earth’s species
instead of extincting fifty or so daily. This is as hard to imagine as the story of the ark in the Biblical scenario,
but never say never. Bill Clinton was elected president and almost nothing seems far-fetched after that.
Now building this boat would have to be done in a timely manner of course, if another flood was on the
way. When four billion people realized they had no boarding pass you could expect some serious eradication
work to begin in God’s name. After that was over there might be a few dozen Greenpeace or Sierra Club
diehards here and there and they might want to give it a go, so let’s see.
If the simple logistical impossibility of boarding fifty million species of life, two by two, is not apparent,
pick a nominal size and weight for each species (you know, take a flea and an elephant and average their size
and weight). If you want to cheat on the math, use the size and weight of a Susan B. Anthony dollar or a large
marble. A mouse would probably be a closer approximation, but the tail might vary enough to throw off the
plans. Calculate the weight and volume of space required for sixty million quarter-sized dollars, marbles, or
After you check your multiplication, convert them back to natural life forms adding tails as necessary.
List each so you don’t forget any, and build stalls, hives, dens, nests, burrows or whatever for each pair. If you
have special dispensation for Divine intervention, start collecting wood for an ark and food for the critters, and
they will arrive by themselves.
Otherwise, get some big nets and start alphabetically with Aardvarks. Try to get a good pair of gloves
that will last through Badgers, Bears and Boomslangs. You will probably need a new pair by Crocodiles. Don’t
forget to send someone for Koalas and Eucalyptus trees (they eat only the leaves from live trees). Three-toed
Sloths will require special transportation too. And Polar Bears (they munch a lot of seals so be sure to bring an
extra few hundred or so. You can club the baby ones to death during the trip). Freshwater fish and aquatic
mammals are going to have a hard time getting there too. See if you can determine how the Bible accounts for
the forty million or so other species physically incapable of traveling to any given location you have chosen for
the construction. Never mind. I’ll tell you. It was a miracle. And pack a lot of shovels. Big ones. Most
everything that eats goes to the bathroom, and some more than others.
With that underway, let’s return to the planning committee. Add the volume and weight of enough food
to keep whatever shows up alive and happy for forty days and forty nights. It is reasonably important to keep
some of the larger carnivore happy if you wish to have a pleasant journey. Don’t worry about termites, fleas,
ticks and lice, they will be able to amuse themselves. Flies may require some special attention. Forty days of
conditions like that will produce about a billion maggots, give or take a couple million, and you are only
authorized two. Maybe you can make soup and tell everyone they are eating rice. WHAT? The animals don’t
have to eat? Well then, they wouldn’t have to drown either, would they.
Determine the size and weight of the ark. The Bible says the one Noah built worked fine, so why
change? You can determine the size and materials right from the Biblical account. I’ll help you with the
conversion to modern weights and measures: A Biblical cubit is equivalent to 21.8 inches or 55.372 centimeters
(or 55.372 times 10 to the eighth power in Angstroms if you are showing off your new Hewlett-Packard
calculator which cost less than a hundred dollars but is smarter than most of Europe). So the original ark was
545 feet long, 90.83 feet wide and 54.5 feet high and would require about the same labor force as a pyramid to
build. It will be approximately half the length of a ‘Nimitz’ class nuclear aircraft carrier and will displace about
36,000 tons. I’m not sure where you are going to get the technology to build it. The Romans had some ships as
large as 175′ long by 45′ wide which displaced up to 450 tons, and the British had one warship in the mid 1800s
(HMS Victorious) which was 186′ in length with a 52′ beam and displaced 2,197 tons, but a length of about four
times the width of the beam is about the limit for wooden ships. The best that anyone was able to do five
thousand years ago was only big enough to carry twenty people and three cattle. I don’t know where to find
Gopher wood either, but in order for it to be usable for boat building it has to have about the same density
(45lb/cu.ft), hardness (hard) and split resistance (good to high) as Oak, Beech, Elm, Hickory, Teak or
Zebrawood, so you should be OK. I don’t recommend Balsa or any of the petrified woods but it’s up to you.
Finally, having got your figures in order by calculating the volume of the ark and allowing for the three
decks specified (don’t forget that there are three decks), you have probably noticed that the ark won’t hold two
of everything unless you intend to clone genetic material in the mud when you get back. It will not
accommodate the quantities of food required for the animals even if you don’t take any animals.
If you bothered to make a small drawing to scale you have also noticed that the vessel will not be
seaworthy in a perfectly calm sea and will break in pieces immediately upon launch, even if it is completely
But don’t stop now. Religion has never let facts stand in the way of opinion and neither should you.
“Just wait until it’s finished. It will work then!” Oops..Dissension in the ranks. The zealots don’t have time to
work because they are praying for guidance. The skiers don’t have time to work because they are praying for
snow. The rest don’t have time to work because they are chasing the zealots and skiers with the extra crocodile
You had better do something before the nets are ruined from being thrown on those pointy little heads
and the species are thinned out even more. “Hey! Let’s build a scale model and try it out in the pool!” That
should amuse everyone. It will be about 5 1/2 feet long, almost 1 foot wide and 6½ inches tall. You can build it
with ice cream sticks, one stick simulating four 8″x12″x8’ boards of lumber. You can’t cheat by using glue or
carving the model out of a log. After the project is completed, fill it with 60 million grains of sand which might
simulate .001 % of what you are going to have to carry, but even that is probably being generous. The crew can
spend many pleasant hours by the pool watching the model ark as it rocks quietly on the bottom next to the
model of Australia’s 1995 America’s cup entry. The optimists will say “Well, it may not float but at least it’s not
leaking oil”. I think those were optimists. Maybe they were Democrats.
When you take the sinking problem back to the committee, take note of the word ‘miracle’ which always
appears in the conversation when questions concerning Biblical accuracy are asked. (“Can God make a rock so
big He can’t move it?” is another question sure to endear you. You better save that one for later). In this case, go
back and read the story again. It’s fairly straightforward. No miracle, just a boat. So if the story is true, why is
the boat at the bottom of the pool?
Let’s try and get something logical out of this. Ask a religious friend, if you still have any. “Well,” your
friend says, “You have to have faith.” “Faith can move mountains and turn deserts into rivers”.
I know what you are thinking, but don’t say it. Maybe he has ‘faith’ confused with ‘quake’. Maybe he’s a
Hare Krishna and has everything confused. Maybe he’s right. Excellent. Problem solved. Have him move the
Himalayas over by the boatyard. Then you won’t have to build an ark at all and everyone will be happy,
especially the skiers.
If he does not have quite that much faith, you probably don’t want to send him out to the desert to make
rivers just yet, (although after a few days it would make an easy job of bagging up a bunch of glutted desert
dwellers for the boat ride, especially if your friend was a little plump.). Give him something easier to do.
Floating the model would be inspiring and only a little faith should be sufficient to accomplish that. While he’s
working on it everyone else had better get back to the drawing board.
ON AND ON….
It seems to me that if something is real, you don’t have to believe in it. I find it very unlikely that our
improbable existence on the third planet in the solar system of a small star in an obscure spiral on the outer
fringes of one of the more minor galaxies of the billions in our universe could attract even a passing glance from
the Creator, much less command His full attention.
The Bible was believed to be literally true some fifteen-hundred years ago when the earth was an
immovable object at the center of the universe (thank you, Aristotle). Galileo changed all that with his
telescope although he lived the rest of his life under house arrest for believing what was really there rather than
what the Bible said. So now we know that the earth is not the center of the universe and the Pope doesn’t want
to hear about telescopes. But the Biblical account of the creation is wrong. The Biblical account of almost
everything is wrong. The Gnostic Gospels probably provide a much more accurate picture of what Jesus was
really like, but since they didn’t (and still don’t) conform to orthodoxy, they have been suppressed for almost
two thousand years. If God caused the Bible to be written, who had the bright idea that only certain parts of it
Jesus Christ has not returned, but that is not totally unexpected since he is dead. All the faith in the
world has never moved a mountain and miracles seem to be limited to a few individuals who see the face of
Jesus on water tanks and taco shells. Since there are no contemporary descriptions of what He looked like, any
old face in a taco shell must be Him (although some eyewitness observers insist it is Elvis.) People pray out of
desperation; They ask for peace, an end to wars, relief from pain, suffering, disease and maybe enough food to
keep their families alive. But all they get is hunger pangs or heartburn from eating too many Elvis tacos.
Why do people expect God to be a kind and compassionate entity? Because they haven’t read the Bible.
Why people attribute everything that happens to God’s will is beyond belief. There isn’t much Divine
involvement around here. What there is consists of death, brutality and hunger, the basic tenets of the Bible.
Death, destruction and misery have been epidemic on this space station since it cooled off enough to condense
water. I went to the scene of a traffic accident where three small children were killed when their father, who
was drunk, hit another car head-on and then went off a cliff. The people in the other car were thanking God. I
wanted to ask them whether they were thanking God for causing the accident in the first place, or for killing the
children instead of them or the drunk father. If God is orchestrating all of this, He is either spiteful and bad
tempered or has a toothache or maybe an irregularity problem.
There is more violence in the first thirty pages of the bible than in a month of Saturday morning
cartoons. What a great subject to teach kids every Sunday morning. Presumably, that leaves the rest of the
week free for debates about juvenile delinquency, increasing violence, and why people need to try and be more
God-like. They could go a long way toward setting an example of God-like behavior by never being seen or
heard from again.
Of course, the explanation is that we are just being punished because of Original Sin and our Fall from
Grace. Two more religious lessons that teach us to feel guilty for our own existence. But what are we actually
guilty of? What’s really going on? To follow that line of logic, God made us in His image but botched the
design and then blamed US for being imperfect. He DID make the Adam and Eve prototypes in His image,
right? They failed because the Devil sent a serpent to tempt Eve “Just one little bite of (fruit) won’t hurt you”
and so forth? If it’s just some silly board game, God wasn’t watching the moves or He would have made (fruit)
smell like rotten eggs and taste like bat barf.
In fact (fruit) IS good for us. Jewish people can’t eat pork products. Catholics, until recently, couldn’t
eat meat on Friday. God didn’t ban beef or pork. He banned (fruit).
And so, all-knowing, God put the Adam & Eve design into mass production right along with beef, pork
and apples. Not surprisingly, every human after that failed immediately. Billions of failures later, it appears that
the human race is the only product Ralph Nader cannot get recalled. This does not sound like very good work so
far, but it’s the same thing car makers do, so when your next car self-destructs you must not blame the
manufacturer. The car is obviously not trying hard enough and must be punished. So He makes our lives
miserable to punish us because He made Adam & Eve innocent of evil. Or He provides churches for us to get
married in. That way our spouses can make our lives miserable and He is saved the trouble.
One might think that God, being God after all, would just fix the problem and case closed. What’s the
point of blaming the clay if your sculpture turns out funny or drowning your Hamster because it can’t do your
homework? And why visit plagues on Egypt but neglect to save even one Christian from the lions or one little
girl from being savaged and mutilated? ‘Good’ Christians rationalize this as ‘free will’. But that little girl didn’t
get to exercise any free will. Seems to me that the better students in Deity 101 were probably assigned bigger
galaxies and no doubt better material to work with.
Our particular God seems to have traits that are more human like than Divine. I wonder why that might
God, similarly, sends a prophet every couple thousand years or so to tell us (in parables of course, so no
one ever gets the drift) what a fine job He is doing, when actually, He’s not doing a darned thing. We, on the
other hand, are not trying hard enough and must be punished more. We either need a new God or a new Lord’s
OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN, HAROLD BE THY NAME:
“Hey, Lord! That’s not exactly a Fall from Grace, is it? That’s more of a Genesis problem don’t you think? It’s
not something we can fix! Being innocent of evil means believing whatever you are told, even by a serpent.
Adam and Eve didn’t know what temptation was. Temptation implies choice. But they had no choice because
evil didn’t exist yet, remember? Adam & Eve HAD to do what the serpent told them. They had no idea it wasn’t
You speaking to them. How could they? You didn’t tell them. According to You, there WAS NO EVIL until
AFTER the (fruit) incident… eh, Big Guy?. You set them up for that one. So why are we being punished for
it? It was a cheap shot Lord. (Amen)
This is heresy, of course. But what kind? Am I possessed by the Devil? No, because If God is such a
bumpkin, the Devil must spend all day chasing his tail with a pitchfork thinking it’s a giant caterpillar about to
chomp his butt. The patron saint of stupidity. Devil worship is the mental equivalent to bobbing for french fries.
Religion has turned into about the same thing but without the hot grease, at least since the end of the Inquisition.
Christians shun atheists because they think the Devil got ’em. But bad boy Beelzebub exists only in the
minds of true believers. No God=No Devil, right? Without God, old Sparky simply can’t exist. He is
represented in the Bible so people could have something to hate. Real good, huh?
So the rest of us have to know the difference between good and bad, because we can’t blame anyone but
ourselves for our actions. Religion is great for people who are not responsible for what they say or do since
they can say “It’s God’s will”. Exactly the same idiots who elected Bill Clinton to the presidency and think that
life begins at conception. They never noticed that mammals routinely have NATURAL abortions, did they? But
it is a fact, and it raises issues that none of them are smart enough to draw conclusions from.
To me the ultimate struggle to win souls would go something like this between God and Bad (sorry, it
was all this talk about pun-ishment):
B: ” Gin! I’ve got 10,000,000,000,000,000,421 how about you?”
G: “10,000,000,000,000,000,762 minus the Hare Krishnas.”
B: “Did you deduct for the Popes?”
G: “I didn’t get any Popes.”
B: “Me neither. Where’d they go?”
G: “Re-incarnated ’em as pork egg rolls. Want one?”
B: “No thanks, those little hats give me bubbles. Re-incarnate any vanilla wafers?”
G: “Yeah, the Hare Krishnas, but they taste like bird poop. Well, it looks like I won this one. Want to go
two out of three for the championship of the universe?.”
B: “Big deal….there’s only two of us so I’m always champion half the time anyway.”
G: “How would you like a little cheese with that whine?”
B: “Yuk, yuk, yuk. Why am I always the bad guy when we play this?”
G: “Because you always pick the red dice, you wiener. Wanna trade for a while?”
B: “OK, next game. Oh, there’s my mom. Dinner must be ready. Where do I put all these souls?”
G: “Where they always go. In the cat box. See you tomorrow.”
B: “How about sending another prophet down to stir them up a little.”
G: “We traded, remember? You stir ’em up.”
B: “Oh yeah, OK. Maybe I’ll send David Koresh again. He’s a real Nimrod. Or maybe one of those Iranian
mulberries. Why are their heads always wrapped up like that?
G: “Don’t be dumb. They don’t have any pockets. Where else are they going to keep toilet paper?”
B: “I should have known. How about that last one you sent. Remember Jesus what’s-his-name?”
G: “Talked in parables, always in Mary Magdalenes toga? What a kick. He sure planted the seeds of death
and destruction. They’re still scurrying around killing each other. They don’t seem to know any better.”
B: “He was a hoot all right. I wonder how he did it?”
G: “Who knows? Remember what happened the last time we tried to listen?”
B: “Yeah, like four billion crickets chirping at once. No wonder they want to kill each other. See you
M: “MARVIN…Put your game away and come in to dinner.”
G: “AWWWWWWW, do I have to, I just……HEY, YOU DUMB CAT! DON’T SCRATCH THOSE ALL
OVER THE FLOOR! I JUST PUT FRESH ONES IN THAT BOX!!”
IS THERE A POINT?
An absolute requisite for all organized monotheistic religions is belief in God’s absolute perfection. So,
by definition, He cannot have an imperfect thought, do an imperfect deed, or create an imperfect world, even
on purpose. It wouldn’t be perfect. But imperfection exists, you being an excellent example. And two thousand
years of effort to excuse, rationalize and circumvent that one little fact doesn’t change it a bit. If God existed
we would all be perfect beings in a perfect world instead of a mulling mob of morons racing to see who can do
the most damage to our little planet. He could speak for Himself instead of needing Jimmy Swaggart’s help.
Governments would have Departments of Divine Liaison. We wouldn’t need policemen, prisons or
Commandments. Everyone could still exercise free will but they would choose between good things.
Unfortunately, lawyers would no longer be required either, not that they are now. The games would be over and
the Devil could get his scrawny red ass back to the bat cave and keep his fucking mouth shut, problem solved,
end of story!
I don’t know why I go on and on about this. The other way to look at is that since God made me an idiot
at least He made me a perfect one. I guess I should leave all of the imperfect idiots alone. But I have always
expected people to be able to think clearly, apply logic and reason to their thoughts, and thus learn something
they did not know. And having learned, expand their knowledge and create a broader base from which to
support further ideas. But evolution has a long way to go. We have not progressed to the point at which we can
think clearly. We are constrained by the DNA programming inherited from some small, furry, rodent-like
mammal similar to your mother-in-law. So while we are able to make simple connections, lateral leaps of logic
are unknown except to the tiniest fraction of humanity. Sure, most of us have probably heard about the big
bang. It exists as a shadow somewhere in our unconscious mind, happily managing to co-exist with our belief
in God without causing us any ill effect. If we are asked: “Is God inside or outside of the event horizon of the
Big Bang?”, whatever process passes for thought in our head chugs along, but nothing happens. We either do
not understand the import of the question or rationalize an answer to avoid having to really think about it. Or,
decide it is insoluble and wander off somewhere to graze, still happily filled with dozens of mutually exclusive
facts which never collide. It used to amaze me, but now it is merely amusing.
I’ve been daydreaming, but I hear you talking in the background. I know that you are asking me a very
important question, and I hope I have the answer. Will it be about Theology; Distant Simultaneous Events ; or
about the speed of light as the speed limit of the universe; or time travel, aliens, dark matter, limits, Grand
Unification ………………. What?…Oh,….nothing, I was just talking to myself again……sorry……….yes, McDonalds
Knowledge is a conditioned response acquired through the process known as learning. Reality is the
result of neural stimulation to sensory input. Essentially, it is the data stream produced by the unconscious
minds frenzied attempt to control, sort and classify external sensory input into some prioritized form and
present it at a variable frequency and magnitude just below the threshold of consciousness of the individual in
order not to overwhelm the thought process during waking hours. The need for sleep is obviously the result of
evolving on a rotating planet. Originally it provided energy conservation while allowing the body to provide
heat to the vital organs during the night hours when humans were more likely to be prey than predator. In
addition, sleep allows the conscious mind to relax and reset the activity level of the sensory input system to
provide the optimum level of information for assimilation. This baseline is set by a closed system that monitors
quiescent neural activity and adjusts for balance.
Since the vagaries of genetics trend toward mutation, each person is literally an individual. Thus each
person maintains an independent perception of reality while (usually) maintaining a link of commonality via:
Knowledge, in a societal sense and A tiny thread of DNA that, to cite one example, allows most people
to uniformly sense a frequency of 6485 Angstroms as the color red.
Fortunately the conscious mind does not have access to raw sensory data that it would interpret as
nonsense. The information content it does have access to, although edited, is not always presented uniformly.
That variety can cause problems that are not even identifiable much less correctable. The logical brain wants
consistency to recognize change when it occurs and initiate an appropriate behavioral response. But the
information it receives, while fairly consistent, is not completely so. Which can cause unpredictable behavior
because a median baseline of individual reality cannot be maintained. So “reality” moves into abstraction and
violence or other aberrant behavior may surface without reason or warning. Conversely, it may be postulated
that a great lateral leap of logic might be induced, much to the benefit of humanity. The subconscious
methodology for management of this abstraction could, theoretically, beget genius or insanity in any given
individual although the psycho- and sociological issues involved tend to promote exclusivity for the latter. A
more likely explanation is genetic propensity.
Most people either have a stable information filtering system or are only able to tolerate the
inconsistencies by manifesting them as mood swings. Even so, it is difficult for anyone to deal with these
variations logically because they occur below the level of consciousness but affect the thought processes
directly. A common experience is the vague feeling of being lost, unfulfilled or incomplete. This feeling, when
combined with other factors such as the (successful) evolutionary trait of ascribing reason to all events whether
or not they are understood by the observer; and a foreknowledge of the certainty and imminence of death
creates the human affinity for religion. Religion exists both by desire and necessity. The desire for a purpose to
our lives and the necessity of resolving feelings of being unfulfilled or somehow incomplete. But the universe
and the reality of life within it exist for an individual only while that individual exists as a living entity within
the universe. No organism that evolved on this planet can survive here indefinitely and those that metabolize
oxygen cannot do so anywhere. There are no exceptions. Death is the vindication of life. Unfortunately, the
idea of an afterlife seems incomprehensible when viewed as physical relativity. A ‘spirit’ or ‘soul’, having no
sensory input, can have no sensory perception and is thus bereft of individuality and, therefore, individual
reality. In this context existence is no longer possible.
I cannot disagree with those who argue that there must be a reason for everything. There are certainly
cause and effect for everything we understand as well as everything we don’t. That the explanations for those
we don’t may disagree is unimportant as they are conjectural in any case. That is not to say there is a
PURPOSE for everything. Given the context in which the statement is commonly presented, it is highly
unlikely, at least to me. But a persons’ subconscious will casually invent or disregard, as appropriate, any facts
required to maintain his or her personal reality at a comfortable level. So if, for instance, you want God to be
real, He is real. That’s part of what reality is for you.
Your life really does have a great and wonderful purpose. It’s for you to live and enjoy to the fullest.
Always try to do that, despite what your personal beliefs may be.
And try not to be such an asshole.
Copyright © 1994, Tom Burnett
Your word is the most valuable possession you will have during your lifetime. Sometimes it may be the
ONLY thing you have. But if it’s good, it’s all you need. It’s enough. You can succeed and prosper with it even
if you have nothing else, for you know that opportunities are given freely but advantages must be taken. You
will accept an opportunity without stealing an advantage. Money looks the same to everyone. But your word
marks you forever in the world. It is the one thing that no one can take away from you. The value you place on
your word is the value you see in yourself. The amount of trust you place in others exactly reflects your own
trustworthiness. Your word is the bookmark that holds your place in society.
So two honest people WOULD never cheat each other, and two dishonest people never COULD. But,
since people aren’t often matched up evenly, be as honest as you can and let the other person be as honest as he
will. When you offer your word you are offering your honesty in place of a material object and your pledge not
to take unfair advantage of an opportunity.
Ideas Copyright © Tom Burnett, 1993, 1998
Ideas are born from thoughts and emotions
Nurtured in balance, they grow and mature..
With logic and caring applied in proportion
Ideas yield bounties of reason and love.
Take care that you never give all to emotion
Nor trust only to logic, not bending at all
Emotion leaves craters on scarred, empty landscape
And logic alone makes for cold, barren shores.
So facts are the products of reasoned ideas,
Pyramids crafted of logical stone.
Immortal because of their solid foundations
True facts then are timeless and bright to behold.
Not easily changed as are whims and opinions…
But often confusing… just words after all,
Make each of us choose what is true and what isn’t
And some of us can, but most of us fall..
So whenever presented a fact for consumption,
Examine it closely for table and crown.
Opinions have foundations built over craters…
They crumble and never push pyramids down.
Opinion is merely the voice of emotion.
Varying, changeable, woven of straw
Which bends in the wind and floats with the current…
Ever changing with no thought to reason at all.
Belief is a separate kind of opinion,
Isolated from wisdom by one’s self-esteem…
Thus a person who can’t lift his face to a mirror
Makes excuses to others, as well as himself
He wants to believe he is something he isn’t
He needs a small lie to convince someone else.
A belief then created, a servant of folly
The truth since forgotten, it stood in the way.
In the night an ice castle of beauty, deceptive…
Only puddles are left when sun brings the day.
While darkness protects you alone in your fortress
The angels of truth dare not venture your halls
Leave logic and reason outside on the doorstep…
Ignore it completely when the ice starts to thaw
But straw won’t protect from the fire that is coming
The more you have gathered, the hotter the blaze.
And once it has started even night won’t protect you.
No more than a fool with a star-studded gaze.
Hold firm your beliefs and protect your opinions…
And never consider the sense of it all.
Stay hidden away in your crystalline sculpture
The straw, though abundant, made very weak walls.
Beliefs may be shattered, but ever a dreamer
You blame someone else when your pyramids fall.
Copyright © Tom Burnett 1993,1998
(I’m sorry the prose and the verses don’t rhyme,
‘Tho I wanted to do it, I hadn’t the time.
With the jumble of words that I try to unwind,
it was trouble enough, just to meter the lines.
But I’d go back and fix it if I had a mind,
to learn about prose, and verses, and rhyme.)
Whatever happened to the world I grew up in?
Copyright © 1995,1997,1998 by Tom Burnett
Remember the old days?
Before Beavis & Butthead.
Annette was a Mouseketeer.
The Beatles were on Ed Sullivan.
I Remember the day I bought my first record.
Danny & the Juniors- ‘At the Hop.’
45 R.P.M., Forty-nine cents.
I bought a model airplane that day, too.
It was my birthday.
A Piper Tri-Pacer molded in cream colored plastic.
In the halcyon days.
Before anatomically correct dolls.
Before Dan Quayle got into politics.
I rode my bike and swam a lot.
I built model airplanes and read books.
Hershey bars still tasted good and melted when they got hot.
Everyone’s favorite color was Candy Apple Red.
I built a model of a 426 Hemi Funny Car called ‘Color Me Gone’.
Years later I saw the real one sitting with flat tires behind a gas station.
I wanted to buy it but I couldn’t.
Maybe it’s still there.
I read ‘The Ancient Mariner’ and ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’.
I hated them because they were required reading.
I always loved to read. But I hated school.
They didn’t teach me what I wanted to know.
Coach Greet was my biology teacher.
He taught us about protoplasm.
It’s a good thing I wasn’t paying attention in that class.
In school we had dress codes and homework. Responsibility.
Teachers had hardwood paddles with holes in them.
Teaching responsibility was their responsibility.
Learning responsibility was our responsibility.
In the old days.
Before the government decided ketchup was one of the four major food groups.
People who placed themselves outside the law were ‘outlaws’.
They didn’t get any special treatment.
They were sentenced to hard labor.
No one thought of blaming society for making them bad.
Now they sit in air conditioned day rooms and watch TV.
Working is cruel and unusual punishment for criminals.
I work seven days a week. I have to pay taxes to support them.
What’s wrong with this picture?
Remember Saturday morning television?
Sky King, Guy Madison and Fuzzy Knight..
Roy and Dale sang ‘Happy Trails’.
Pat Buttram and Nellie belle.
Sergeant Preston of the Yukon.
Lloyd Bridges in ‘ Sea Hunt’.
Turn on your TV now.
The channel number is higher than your neighbor’s I.Q.
The talk shows are crazy.
Cartoons aren’t funny anymore.
TV evangelists are.
Bart Simpson is a role model.
Beavis & Butthead are your kids’ idols.
I read comic books, too.
“Wham, Bam, Boom.”
But no one really got hurt in the comics.
The bad guys were led away in handcuffs.
Look at a comic book now.
Captain Nimrod’s genitals are being ground off in a food processor.
Turn on the news.
It looks like a scene from ‘Blade runner’.
Every night they flash a tote board:
VICTIMS OF GUNS SO FAR THIS YEAR: ___
Film at Eleven.
Where I grew up everyone owned a gun.
I had a rifle before I was six.
A .22 pump gallery rifle.
No one thought that was unusual at all.
When boys got as tall as a rifle, they got a rifle.
When my father gave me the rifle he said “Son, I think you are old enough to have this.”
“But it is an adult responsibility.”
“It is a serious matter.”
“You must understand the purpose of a gun.”
“Guns are to kill. They have no other purpose.”
“Know how to use it. Learn everything about it.”
“Practice with it and keep it clean.”
“Always keep it loaded and for the rest of your life you will treat every gun as though it were loaded.”
“Know where it is. Otherwise, do not touch it.”
“You may have to pick it up someday.”
“You may have to protect your home and your mother.”
“You will have to know if that time comes. There won’t be anyone to ask.”
“If that day ever comes, you must not be afraid. You must not hesitate.”
I was honored by my father’s trust in me.
He trained me to use it. He would send me to get it.
“When you are under arms, you are no longer a child.
You cannot think children’s thoughts”, he said.
Safety always came first.
I knew it was not a toy. I didn’t play with it. Ever.
I practiced with it. I had to learn ranges and trajectories.
I had to be able to disassemble it, clean it and reassemble it in the dark.
I slept with it by my bed. Otherwise I didn’t touch it.
My dad was a Colonel in the Army.
At Fort Chaffee near Fort Smith, Arkansas.
He had the duty there several nights a month.
We lived in the Ozark mountains of Arkansas.
Near Mountainburg, North of Alma.
It was beautiful there.
Our neighbor was across the mountain about a mile away.
We listened to the Grand old Opry with Cousin Minnie Pearl on the radio.
One night someone broke out of a prison farm.
I didn’t know what a prison farm was.
I don’t know how he found our house up in the hills.
My father was at Fort Chaffee and my mother was asleep upstairs.
When he kicked in the door I picked up my rifle and shot him.
He had a gun too, but I didn’t see it.
He walked off the patio and died.
I didn’t know that either. I stayed awake all night with my rifle.
I had never stayed awake all night before.
I was afraid he would come back.
I screamed for my mother, but she never came.
She didn’t hear me.
But I didn’t leave my post.
That was forty years ago but I still can’t sleep at night.
And I never knew why until just now.
As I wrote this, I remembered.
My father found him the next morning when he came home.
Two state troopers came by and talked to me.
They said he had killed someone when he escaped.
They took me to town in their car and turned on the siren.
They bought me a Coke in one of those little bottles.
It cost five cents and came out of a red machine.
It was my first Coke.
I was six years old.
There wasn’t much crime around there.
No one had very much, but they worked for what they had.
If welfare had been around then no one would have taken it.
They would have been ashamed.
Life was simpler then.
You pulled your own weight.
You didn’t have to be a victim.
You could protect your family and your property.
It was your right.
It was your duty.
It was OK .
Who is taking that right away from us?
People who don’t think you are capable.
They think you’re like them.
They think you need to be protected from yourself.
Remember the NRA?
I saved my money and joined when I was sixteen.
It took me all summer to save that money.
They’ve spent it all on postage asking me for more.
I’ve been a life member, thirty-odd years now.
But I haven’t sent them any more money.
I gave them more than money that year.
I gave them my whole sixteenth summer.
I thought it was worth it then.
I hope it was.
No one should be able to have a gun nowdays?
Read the Constitution sometime.
We memorized the preamble in school. “We the people…”.
We loved America.
We had a flag in our classroom.
We said the pledge of Allegiance.
No one knows what that is anymore.
They think the U.S. Constitution is the sister-ship of the Enterprise.
“Phasors locked on target, Captain”. “Fire, Mister Chekov”.
My father was transferred to Fort Sam Houston in Texas.
The streets were safe in San Antonio.
The people were nice.
You could bring a comb to school if it didn’t stick out of your pocket.
Policemen were friendly.
Kids knew about policemen.
If you are ever in trouble, run to a policeman.
Everyone smiled and waved to their policemen.
Things are different now.
No one much gives a damn.
No one’s word is good anymore.
If you are honest and work hard, someone will come along.
“You can’t do that”, they’ll say.
“You have to it this way”.
They don’t know what your job is.
They don’t know what you do.
But their job is to tell you how to do it.
They are civil servants.
It doesn’t make much sense to me.
If you don’t want to work, that’s OK too.
The government will raise the taxes of those who do.
So you can ride free.
I can’t complain about it because I voted.
My vote is supposed to count but I don’t think it does anymore.
People who don’t vote complain the loudest and get more done.
If you can’t win by reason, go for emotion.
You get more media coverage that way.
Politicians are no more than ten second sound bites.
They probably don’t even exist in real life.
Who do we vote for?
Faces who create problems they can’t solve.
They tell us things are going to get better.
We know they’re lying.
But we want to hear it.
We pay them to do that.
What can people be thinking about?
There are two hundred and seventy million people in America.
About ten percent will die this year.
915,000 from Cardiovascular disease
506,000 from Cancer
300,000 from miscellaneous diseases and other causes
92,000 in accidents
85,000 from Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
72,000 from Pneumonia
38,000 from AIDS
35,000 from other Infectious and Parasitic diseases
30,000 from unknown causes
27,000 from Suicide
25,000 in Homicides, of which 16,000 will involve a firearm.
Guns are involved in about half as many deaths as unknown causes!
But how could you sensationalize that?
More than 500,000 people will use a firearm this year,
To successfully defend themselves against a violent criminal.
The idiots say that we can decrease the 16,000 firearm related homicides by outlawing guns.
There are a lot of low wattage bulbs out there posing as politicians.
Why would that number decrease?
There would just be 500,000 additional victims of violent crime every year.
Isn’t that obvious to everyone?
What kind of solution is that?
Several hundred people were shot at random in Los Angeles in the first four months of 1994.
By gang members and other minions of society.
None were shot by the legal owner of a registered firearm who was committing a crime.
None were shot by a firearm of its own accord.
The vast majority of all violent crimes are committed by repeat offenders.
If a firearm is involved it’s stolen.
It wasn’t purchased legally.
That’s pretty obvious too, isn’t it?
The criminals that use them can’t buy them legally.
But they have them and you don’t.
Think about it.
If everyone was safe from everything.
And three meals, housing and medical care were provided.
No one would be happy.
That’s what criminals get. They aren’t happy.
That’s what animals in zoos get. They aren’t happy.
Let’s limit the sugar intake of legislators instead.
Let’s publish the way they vote in the papers every day.
They say guns contribute to crime.
They say the economy is great.
They said the Indians would be treated fairly if they gave up.
If someone wants you badly enough they don’t need a gun.
They don’t need anything except their hands.
Or a hundred dollars, if they don’t want to get their hands dirty.
Or a rock will do, or a sharp stick.
Or a string, or a seashell.
If we let everyone out of the prisons,
and lock all the guns in there instead,
Do you think crime will decrease?
Would you feel safer?
Why are people afraid of guns?
No gun has ever committed a crime.
People are violent, not guns.
People commit crimes, not guns.
If a drunk driver kills your family, that’s a violent crime.
All of the cars are registered, but that doesn’t solve the problem.
Cars contribute to violent crimes too.
Five or six times as many as guns do.
Guns will be obsolete before you know it.
More efficient things are in the works.
In the meantime I guess we can outlaw them and solve the crime problem.
Just like outlawing Cocaine and Marijuana solved the drug problem.
Just like prohibition solved the alcohol problem.
As long as we’re at it, why not make earthquakes illegal.
Eventually, everything will be illegal.
What difference will that make?
None of course.
It’s the same old story again.
Make honest people criminals.
Even though they aren’t.
It has never worked in the past.
It won’t work this time either.
It will make a lot of people think, though.
They will get rid of those nice, legal, registered guns.
And get nice, silenced weapons that aren’t traceable.
A lot of people are starting to do that anyway.
They think the day is coming.
Most Americans were willing to register their guns, at first.
No one liked it, but they wanted to do what was right.
Now they see what is starting to happen.
We will never get guns out of the hands of criminals.
Their solution is to take them away from the law abiding citizens.
I think we should start electing better people to public office.
It’s our own fault the government is full of bozos.
If you want to be a victim and give all your rights away,
If you want to be a liberal and give all MY rights away,
I know what happened in Warsaw.
I know what happened at Wounded Knee.
A lot of gun dealers aren’t renewing their licenses.
A lot of people won’t register their guns anymore.
That doesn’t mean they commit crimes with them.
It doesn’t make them any less honest.
It just means they know something of history.
When governments start taking away the rights of individuals,
They always find a reason to take away just one more.
They don’t ever stop.
They make a new law.
But when laws stop benefitting the people.
People start to ignore them.
And they have that right.
It’s in the constitution too.
Kids can be taught honesty.
Or they can learn dishonesty.
If you don’t want criminals, make the punishment worse than the crime.
It doesn’t have to be cruel or unusual.
It just has to be convincing.
Don’t you see what is happening?
Laws are just words on paper.
They don’t make dishonest people honest.
They don’t make honest people dishonest.
People who don’t intend to commit crimes are not criminals.
Just because someone pushed through a law.
Criminals intentionally contravene the rights of others.
They don’t care about the law.
They have rights.
Their victims don’t have rights anymore, but they should.
Victims shouldn’t have to be victims.
You shouldn’t have to have two locks on every one of your doors.
You shouldn’t have to barricade yourself in your own home every night.
But you do, don’t you.
And if someone breaks into your house,
To rob and mutilate you,
You can’t defend yourself or your family.
If you hurt the poor misguided bastard,
He will sue you and win.
Because his parents got divorced, maybe.
He’s really a good person, just misunderstood.
He doesn’t understand why he can’t just take what he wants.
You might as well let him.
A jury will award it to him anyway if he stubs his toe.
And if he kills you in the process, it’s society’s fault.
He’s just misunderstood.
The legal system has become a joke.
The judges know it.
The policemen know it.
The lawyers know it.
The criminals know it.
You and I know it.
But the politicians don’t know it.
They don’t know what the hell is going on.
They are too busy making new laws to find out.
Everyone jokes about inept politicians,
But it’s not funny anymore.
Politicians don’t do what we want them to do anymore.
The framers of our Constitution didn’t have the hard data, they say.
The didn’t have the benefit of statistics, they say.
The Constitution needs to be interpreted, they say.
But the people who outlaw your guns,
Won’t protect you.
They won’t let the police protect you.
They won’t let the courts protect you.
Now they are saying you can’t even protect yourself.
Who ya gonna call…..Ghostbusters?
I have a gun. I keep it loaded. I know where it is.
I don’t use it for hunting.
I don’t commit crimes with it.
I don’t like to shoot it at all, in fact.
But I maintain my proficiency and keep it clean.
Something my father taught me.
Now they say I shouldn’t have it because guns contribute to violent crime.
Either they’re complete fools, or they think I am.
But I’m tired of trying to get people to think.
I’m tired of listening to idiots.
Let me leave you with a thought.
If you don’t like it, just don’t think about it.
That will make it go away.
That will solve everything.
When welfare was invented, an estimate was made:
Maybe one person in a thousand would ever use it.
Guess how many now?
In the city of San Bernardino, for example,
Four people in ten are on welfare.
Guess who pays for those four?
The other Six.
What happens next year.
When it gets to be five in ten?
If there are five people in your family today,
You will be supporting ten people then.
Instead of only eight like you are now.
As well as the government.
Oh, yes you will.
Where do you suppose the money comes from?
Why do you think you don’t have any?
Do you know what a third-world country is?
Before the turn of the century,
You’ll be living in one.
The government knows it, too.
Why do you think they want your guns?
You can feel the ripples in the fabric of society.
In the fifties and sixties people were happy with their lives,
Now they aren’t anymore.
Senseless violence is on the rise.
And so is crime.
Everyone seems touchy, don’t they.
They get upset for no reason sometimes.
Anymore, people will kill you just for fun.
But you already know that.
You just don’t know why.
And if you did, what could you do about it?
Trust – Copyright(C), 1994,1995 by Tom Burnett. All rights reserved.
Trust is an interesting concept. When you say you trust someone, what do you actually mean? Well,
you probably mean you feel confident that you can predict the person’s actions in a given situation or
circumstance by a better than even chance based upon your personal knowledge of how that person has acted in
similar past situations. Usually this personal experience is based upon observations of a sufficient quantity and
quality to establish, in your mind, the level of consistency you expect the person to demonstrate, and is thus a
measure of the amount of trust you are willing to place in him or her.
Maybe you can most of the time. Because people are creatures of habit, and most of them are
psychologically stable, reasonably honest, and capable of bearing responsibility. Even so, it is still an attempt to
predict the future, and the past is not a scientifically sound basis for such an attempt.
Given sufficient data, you could certainly develop actuarial tables to provide a reasonably accurate
picture of the average lifespan, by gender, of a specific group of people in a particular geographical area, in
circumstances over which they probably have little individual control. While you may be able to determine the
age of death for a million people per year over a period of a hundred years and determine a relatively accurate
future expectation of average life span, attempting to predict the actions of one individual, even based upon
close observation, is so unlikely as to defy mathematical probability.
A person will always have the ability to choose, and may embark on a completely unforseen course of
action or react in a totally unexpected manner through dishonesty, whim, caprice, or for no apparent reason at
all in any given circumstance.
So when you say you trust someone, what do you actually mean?
The truth about earthquake safety
by Tom Burnett
Earthquakes usually occur without warning. At the onset, you will freeze for several seconds while your
mind attempts to classify the threat. During these seconds you will not move, take a breath, or blink. Your
synapse activity will increase to near maximum levels and the resultant cross-firing can easily overwhelm your
thought process and induce a panic reaction.
This is roughly analogous to spraying tiny droplets of liquid Mercury into R2D2. Dozens, then hundreds
of short circuits heat and splatter the Mercury into ever finer droplets which vaporize and boil into a greenish
vapor as the temperature reaches 357 degrees (C). As the insulation which protects the main circuit wiring
begins to melt, the exposed wires hum as they release thousands of tiny lightning bolts into the conductive
atmosphere. The net result can transform a person of normal mental activity into a carrot with legs.
Since thought and panic are mutually exclusive, these few seconds are very important because they
afford you the opportunity to maintain control. If you panic, anything you do will be wrong. Typically, people
start running. Brilliant. You will run until you reach the scene of your injury. If you don’t hurt yourself badly
enough there, you will keep running until you do. Almost ALL earthquake related injuries are self-inflicted. If
you are not injured initially, the chances are very high that you will not be injured at all if you simply remain
calm and stay where you are. It’s not like encountering an enraged Grizzly Bear while walking in the woods
with your kindly old grandmother. You know you’re going to be pretty safe as long as you can run faster than
granny. But an earthquake is different. You are not going to get anywhere in ten or fifteen seconds that’s any
better than where you are now.
You won’t be trapped in the house. if you are worried about it, keep the doors ajar during the day when
the house is occupied and leave some likely windows open at night.
During an event, the structure you are in will resemble a bag of Shake ‘N Bake and when was the last
time you saw anything jump out of a bag of Shake ‘N Bake and run out the back door? Walls sway, floors
move, things fall out of cupboards and break or roll around. There is sharp, slippery, or otherwise hazardous
debris on the floor. Try to remember that your vision will be impaired if your head is up your ass.
Stay where you are until the shaking stops. Do not hurt yourself. Day or night, pick up a flashlight and
exit carefully! If an exit is blocked, go to another one. Do not try to clear any debris or open a blocked exit,
because there will be an after shock in a couple of minutes and whatever you are playing with will fall on your
head and shuck the peas out of your pod!
EXIT ANY DOOR OR ANY BEDROOM WINDOW to the sidewalk:
TURN OFF THE GAS AT THE METER RIGHT NOW. Take the wrench
away with you. Then follow the sidewalk AWAY FROM THE STREET to the vacant lot. If you DO run
toward the street, make sure you stand directly under the high voltage transformer on the power pole (between
the condemned garage and the condemmed retaining wall). This will provide no end of amusement for whoever
does the autopsy, and when you see granny again don’t forget to ask how long she managed to keep ahead of
Since you forgot to turn off the gas, please do that now unless the house is already a giant fireball.
PLEASE take the wrench with you: (1) So you know you turned off the gas and don’t turn it off AGAIN!; (2)
Because you may need it to turn off the water; (3) Because if granny is after you with an axe you may need it to
fend her off.
GAS SHUT-OFF: Use the crescent wrench on the meter and turn the valve the only way it will go until
it stops (1/4 turn). Take the Goddamn wrench with you this time… Geez, I’ve only told you three times.
WATER SHUT-OFF: LEAVE THE WATER ON UNTIL IT IS OBVIOUS THAT IT SHOULD BE OFF.
For instance, if the house has burned down, fallen over, and sunk into the ground it would be OK to turn the
water off. Use the crescent wrench from the gas meter and turn the valve until the holes line up. The secondary
water shut-off is behind the basement door. If the house is gone, don’t worry too much about this.
POWER SHUT-OFF: Open the panel under the meter. Flip all of the switches down. If there are low
hanging wires in front of the box that weren’t there before, use the shiny metal wrench to push them out of the
Copyright (C) 1992,1993, 1994, 1995, 1996 by Tom Burnett, All Rights Reserved
Let us try and figure out whether or not aliens exist and if so, are they really extra-terrestrials from
another galaxy?; Do they look like the beings in “Close Encounters”?; Have thousands of witnesses actually
had close encounters or been abducted, or are they just nuts? Can we form an hypothesis based on what we
know? Can we develop a theory which will predict the future? Can we really answer these questions or do we
need to ask Jesus?
Let’s start with what we know. We know our universe is about 4.5 billion years old. We know how our
sun works. We know a bit about the chemistry and biology of our earth and her life forms. We know
something of evolution. We know that thousands of people have reported various types of contact with an
‘alien’ life form from which the extra-terrestrial beings in ‘Close Encounters’ were modeled. And we know that
an unknown percentage of these reporters say that the aliens have described their home planet and solar system
(Beta Reticulum as often as not).
All right, will someone out there please think about it? First of all, calculate the odds of the existence
other forms of life in the universe…………No, not Sixteen Gazillion to one. Those are the odds against anyone
ever winning the California state lottery…..The odds are exactly the same everywhere else in the universe as
they are on earth. So the existence of other beings is no more improbable than our own. I don’t know how
improbable WE are as life forms, but it doesn’t matter too much as long as a majority of us agree that we do in
fact exist, at least in principle. And since we do exist, the probability is that something else exists too. (Those
who conclude that since we exist it is unlikely that anything else in the universe does, please skip the rest of this
and go back to your hobby of staring at the sun until it goes out!)
O.K. We have determined that there is really no reason why extra-terrestrials should not exist since we
do, so let us accept the possibility that they might.
(1). Extra-terrestrial civilizations may exist.
Have they visited us? We don’t know from our data, but we can theorize. No, they probably have not
visited us. Evolution moves as fast as it can, but usually does not proceed too rapidly until the planet in
question has solidified and cooled off a bit. And there are a finite number of galaxies that can have evolved life
concurrently with ours. Older ones, which collapsed before ours was formed are not sending any visitors, even
if they had developed space travel at the speed of light. I don’t want to argue with the learned physics
professors about worm holes, so why don’t I just make the point that if an advanced civilization from a
collapsed galaxy arrived here and wanted a home, they would have one and EVERYONE would know about it.
It is probable that emerging space-traveler civilizations would send unmanned probes out, much as we have,
and if one of them landed here everyone would probably know about that, too. Especially if it started taking
samples with it’s scoop. Wouldn’t THAT be interesting? And the newer galaxies are still cooling off. So if they
have come, their home is a galaxy no younger than about 4.5 billion years old, probably in the Milky Way.
There is no evidence in general public circulation that definitely establishes such a visitation. Except of course,
the eight or nine times I was kidnapped by the Root people from Beta Epsilon and used for medical
(2) Extra-terrestrial visitations cannot be definitely established.
Bullshit you say? If they haven’t, then who are all the funny little beings in flying saucers that drop in
for no known reason, or grab hapless human and animal victims for some unfathomable type of medical
experiments and who knows what else? You don’t think someone made all that up do you? Even though they
Well, I’m not an expert in the field of probability. The pictures I’ve seen of UFO’s don’t look like
weather balloons or swamp gas or the planet Venus. I do know that anything is possible, and the odds for or
against something happening, at least in quantum mechanics, can never be zero. But from here, there are many
schools of thought, and I will present two of them. I will try and make a reasonable case for opposing
possibilities. First: The probability of an unrelated civilization forming on another planet in a remote solar
system, and evolving a head with two eyes, two ears, a nose and a mouth, all of which are configured in a
humanoid manner and which serve the same purpose as ours; Having two arms with fingers and two legs with
toes connected to this torso; having an obvious spinal column, lungs and a heart; with the entire entity encased
in skin with nearly the same physical appearance, size and range of motion as we have; Having the ability to
breathe the same mixture of gases as us without harmful effect, and having the ability to communicate directly
with us……to wit: HUMANOID, are so incredibly small as to be nonexistant. So, I put the possibility of this
occurrence at zero and state categorically that it cannot have happened, and that these aliens, if they exist as
described, are unquestionably related to us genetically. (We cannot have been ‘planted’ here and thus be
descended from them (since our DNA is related to every other form of life on earth), so our present form is a
matter of chance rather than a matter of choice. Since they are purported to look like us, or are at least
recognizably similar physiologically, a relationship exists if they exist.) Second: Since life on earth, and
presumably everywhere else is a result of random mutation following Darwin, and that only the most successful
species have survived, it seems reasonable that since we humans are the most successful life form on earth, any
life on another water planet will pass through a bi-pedal, binocular visioned, opposable thumb form similar to
us. In fact, it is almost inevetible. So it is not at all unreasonable to suppose that when we meet the aliens, we
will see a kinship of a sort. They will probably look familiar, after a fashion.
3. If these ‘aliens’ exist as described they are an evolved form of humanoid. (I don’t know if that means you
should be friendly toward them, or terrified of them).
Aliens may actually visit us, although there is no compelling and conclusive evidence available, at least
to me. If they do and they are human, the first documented and accepted proof of their existence will
concurrently prove the practicality of time travel, and will generate an immense, synthetic evolutionary leap.
Time travel is theoretically possible, at least to Stephen Hawking. Wormhole theory is conceivable to me up to
a point. The fact that we are not aware of visitors from the future renders the concept unproven until one arrives
and is on the Larry King show. Naturally, if time travel becomes possible at any point in our future, one would
expect evidence of the capability to manifest itself on historic occasions and at singular events. I mean, that any
future generation who developed it could be expected to visit us. They would bear some resemblance to us
(having evolved from us) and might very well transport themselves in those flying saucers we see pictures of.
So the logical conclusion is that ‘aliens’ are either not ‘extra-terrestrials’ at all, or they are… Got all that?
So we have solved certain parts of the puzzle and answered a few of the questions. If aliens are visiting
us, they are relatives so it is nothing to be alarmed about. Who knows? If we stopped trying to kill them, they
might not prove so elusive. But if we could travel back a million years we could expect the same treatment
from our pre-historic relatives. (Coincidentally, we would look exactly the same to our distant relatives as
‘aliens’ are supposed to look to us now). But our ancestors would not only kill us, they would eat us too. We
are reasonably safe here in the twentieth century since our diets contain so much synthetic filler that our cousins
from the future would probably find us toxic.
If you’re wondering how you can become a truly annoying individual,
try out some of the following “Ways To Be Annoying.”
101 Ways To Be Annoying
1. Sing the Batman theme incessantly.
2. In the memo field of all your checks, write “for sensual massage.”
3. Specify that your drive-through order is “to go.”
4. Learn Morse code, and have conversations with friends in public consisting
entirely of “Beeeep Bip Bip Beeeep Bip…”
5. If you have a glass eye, tap on it occasionally with your pen while
talking to others.
6. Amuse yourself for endless hours by hooking a camcorder to your TV and
then pointing it at the screen.
7. Speak only in a “robot” voice.
8. Push all the flat Lego pieces together tightly.
9. Start each meal by conspicuously licking all your food, and announce that
this is so no one will “swipe your grub.”
10. Leave the copy machine set to reduce 200%, extra dark, 17 inch paper, 99
11. Stomp on little plastic ketchup packets.
12. Sniffle incessantly.
13. Leave your turn signal on for fifty miles.
14. Name your dog “Dog.”
15. Insist on keeping your car windshield wipers running in all weather
conditions “to keep them tuned up.”
16. Reply to everything someone says with “that’s what YOU think.”
17. Claim that you must always wear a bicycle helmet as part of your
18. Declare your apartment an independent nation, and sue your neighbors
upstairs for “violating your airspace.”
19. Forget the punchline to a long joke, but assure the listener it was a
20. Follow a few paces behind someone, spraying everything they touch with a
can of Lysol.
21. Practice making fax and modem noises.
22. Highlight irrelevant information in scientific papers and “cc:” them to
23. Make beeping noises when a large person backs up.
24. Invent nonsense computer jargon in conversations, and see if people play
along to avoid the appearance of ignorance.
25. Erect an elaborate network of ropes in your backyard, and tell the
neighbors you are a “spider person.”
26. Finish all your sentences with the words “in accordance with prophesy.”
27. Wear a special hip holster for your remote control.
28. Do not add any inflection to the end of your sentences, producing awkward
silences with the impression that you’ll be saying more any moment.
29. Signal that a conversation is over by clamping your hands over your ears.
30. Disassemble your pen and “accidentally” flip the ink cartridge across the
31. Give a play-by-play account of a person’s every action in a nasal Howard
32. Holler random numbers while someone is counting.
33. Adjust the tint on your TV so that all the people are green, and insist
to others that you “like it that way.”
34. Drum on every available surface.
35. Staple papers in the middle of the page.
36. Ask 1-800 operators for dates.
37. Produce a rental video consisting entirely of dire FBI copyright
38. Sew anti-theft detector strips into people’s backpacks.
39. Hide dairy products in inaccessible places.
40. Write the surprise ending to a novel on its first page.
41. Set alarms for random times.
42. Order a side of pork rinds with your filet mignon.
43. Instead of Gallo, serve Night Train next Thanksgiving.
44. Publicly investigate just how slowly you can make a “croaking” noise.
45. Honk and wave to strangers.
46. Dress only in clothes colored Hunter’s Orange.
47. Change channels five minutes before the end of every show.
48. Tape pieces of “Sweating to the Oldies” over climactic parts of rental
49. Wear your pants backwards.
50. Decline to be seated at a restaurant, and simply eat their complimentary
mints by the cash register.
51. Begin all your sentences with “ooh la la!”
52. ONLY TYPE IN UPPERCASE.
53. only type in lowercase.
54. dont use any punctuation either
55. Buy a large quantity of orange traffic cones and reroute whole streets.
56. Pay for your dinner with pennies.
57. Tie jingle bells to all your clothes.
58. Repeat everything someone says, as a question.
59. Write “X – BURIED TREASURE” in random spots on all of someone’s roadmaps.
60. Inform everyone you meet of your personal Kennedy assassination/UFO/ O.J.
Simpson conspiracy theories.
61. Repeat the following conversation a dozen times: “Do you hear that?”
“What?” “Never mind, it’s gone now.”
62. Light road flares on a birthday cake.
63. Wander around a restaurant, asking other diners for their parsley.
64. Leave tips in Bolivian currency.
65. Demand that everyone address you as “Conquistador.”
66. At the laundromat, use one dryer for each of your socks.
67. When Christmas caroling, sing “Jingle Bells, Batman smells” until
68. Wear a cape that says “Magnificent One.”
69. As much as possible, skip rather than walk.
70. Stand over someone’s shoulder, mumbling, as they read.
71. Pretend your computer’s mouse is a CB radio, and talk to it.
72. Try playing the William Tell Overture by tapping on the bottom of your
chin. When nearly done, announce “no, wait, I messed it up,” and repeat.
73. Drive half a block.
74. Inform others that they exist only in your imagination.
75. Ask people what gender they are.
76. Lick the filling out of all the Oreos, and place the cookie parts back in
77. Cultivate a Norwegian accent. If Norwegian, affect a Southern drawl.
78. Routinely handcuff yourself to furniture, informing the curious that you
don’t want to fall off “in case the big one comes.”
79. Deliberately hum songs that will remain lodged in co-workers’ brains,
such as “Feliz Navidad,” the Archies’ “Sugar” or the Mr. Rogers theme song.
80. While making presentations, occasionally bob your head like a parakeet.
81. Lie obviously about trivial things such as the time of day.
82. Leave your Christmas lights up and lit until September.
83. Change your name to “John Aaaaasmith” for the great glory of being first
in the phone book. Claim it’s a Hawaiian name, and demand that people
pronounce each “a.”
84. Sit in your front yard pointing a hair dryer at passing cars to see if
they slow down.
85. Chew on pens that you’ve borrowed.
86. Wear a LOT of cologne.
87. Listen to 33rpm records at 45rpm speed, and claim the faster speed is
necessary because of your “superior mental processing.”
88. Sing along at the opera.
89. Mow your lawn with scissors.
90. At a golf tournament, chant “swing-batabatabata-suhWING-batter!”
91. Ask the waitress for an extra seat for your “imaginary friend.”
92. Go to a poetry recital and ask why each poem doesn’t rhyme.
93. Ask your co-workers mysterious questions, and then scribble their answers
in a notebook. Mutter something about “psychological profiles.”
94. Stare at static on the TV and claim you can see a “magic picture.”
95. Select the same song on the jukebox fifty times.
96. Never make eye contact.
97. Never break eye contact.
98. Construct elaborate “crop circles” in your front lawn.
99. Construct your own pretend “tricorder,” and “scan” people with it,
announcing the results.
100. Make appointments for the 31st of September.
101. Invite lots of people to other people’s parties.
Since I mentioned wormholes, I’ll put in a letter I wrote in response to a letter I got, which responded to
another letter I wrote.
The University of Texas
Department of Astronomy
Robert L. Moore Hall, 15.308
Austin, Texas 78212-1083
(512) 471-6016 FAX
ATTN: Professor J. Craig Wheeler
Dear Professor Wheeler:
Thank you for your kind letter of July 10. You are still wrong.
Speculation of what might be is certainly about all there is until a full theory evolves. And while
everyone has his or her own favorite unprovable hypothesis, the gist of Professor Novikov’s work seems to
violate causality as I understand it.
The point of my solution is not that there is no effect of the wormhole or time machine. It is that an
object entering a wormhole is automatically protected from any possibility of a paradox by virtue of the fact that
it cannot pass itself in time since the direction of time is irreversible in our universe regardless how an object
might travel outside our universe . The object might travel in time and through parallel universes, or might
remain suspended while time passes relative to it, but it could never meet itself in the event horizon of a
wormhole or anywhere else.
The closest meeting achievable would be a synchronous return to the time and place it left (again
relative to itself ), but it would still be a time machine since time measured by the object are conjecturally
different than time measured outside the wormhole. That is, it could theoretically re-enter our universe at the
place and time it left (or shortly thereafter) so far as it is concerned, but at a point in the past so far as the
universe is concerned, since the time-line of the universe would continue normally between the object’s
departure and return.