Steve Allen on the Bible

It wasn't hard to have a soft spot for Steve Allen. He stood up against Hollywood's immorality, in spite of being neck deep involved with that institution, and wanted to encourage critical thinking. Regrettably, he did not apply that to his two studies of the Bible - titled, first, Steve Allen on the Bible, Religion and Morality, and second, More Steve Allen on the Bible, Religion and Morality, both published by Prometheus Press. At least you won't have trouble remembering the names if you want to buy both titles.

Allen admits up front that he's not a qualified Biblical scholar; but in this day and age when postmodernism would have the average person believing Michael Jordan over Enrico Fermi on matters of nuclear physics, simply on the basis of the former being a celebrity personage, it's more than a little irresponsible for someone like Allen to go on record this way on a topic he knew so little about.

What, though, does Allen claim to have going for him? He claimed to have done "painstaking reading, analysis, and consultation of sophisticated scholarship" - all right, what does that mean? As the text progresses, it becomes clear that "sophisticated", "the best Christian scholarship," etc. means, "those who agree with Steve Allen" - and that tends to be folks who regard Christianity with contempt, as becomes clear from Allen's "Select Bibliography."

You won't find much in the way of conservative scholarship there. You will find Allegro's sacred mushroom thesis, and Eisenman with his Dead Sea Scroll conspriacy theories; there's a few by G. A. Wells (Allen's not a Christ-myther, though); there's the Encyclopedia Brittannica; there's Homer Smith's Man and His Gods (as Glenn Miller has wryly noted, a kidney specialist).

There are also many 1800s freethinkers like Stanton and Ingersoll and Paine (the latter two are actually referred to as "well-qualified scholars") -- as well as Bultmann. (See links 1-4 below.)

Conservative scholars...? Billy Graham makes an appearance, and that seems to be it.

It seems that all that Allen did was pick up whatever was most convenient (and agreeable) and then assumed he had done the job. It's not surprising to read from him that half of the manuscript of the first book was written in hotel rooms, with the Gideon Bible in the drawer as the primary source.

Much of the contents consist of "arguments by outrage" (see link 5 below) and we need not detain ourselves with those. Here is a sampling of the major factual errors: