Open Thread for Episode #800: Jen & Russell: “The Bible as Fan Fiction”

Here is the thread for today’s show with Jen and Russell. Jen’s topic is “The Bible as Fan Fiction.” She examines the idea that the Bible can be used to verify itself internally because there are multiple authors.


  1. Trippin Ink says

    This will be an interesting discussion I am an avid fiction reader and overanalyzer. Please bring up some tropes from!

  2. Scott Benton says

    The Bible as fan fiction is very similar to what I had been thinking about recently, only I liken it to early TV sitcoms. Each episode has its own story that follows the same characters but doesn’t strain to make them fit perfectly in every minute sense – for example, a character may be the son of one character in one episode but the son of someone else in a different episode.

    There’s no real continuity from show to show because the writers didn’t expect the shows to be seen more than once. That’s how I see many stories of the bible.

  3. says

    The “testimony contamination” problem really could only be mitigated if we had independent original documents, that are dated to be contemporary with the supposed Jesus events that corroborate the events.

    The moment all those different tales and stories were merged together, edited, modified, filtered… their capacity to operate as separate corroborating accounts was voided.

  4. Logan says

    The atheist who called in who had been in an accident was awe-inspiring mega-awesome! I started out expecting , dreading, a terrible troll caller and was left weeping with joy at the caller’s strength, insight, and humor. May that voice come to the intertubes as both a caller again and as a personal blog soon. And Jen and Russell, you guys were wonderful in your communication. Thank you.

  5. Daniel Lehnberg says

    Great episode! And the empathy you guys showed really made my day.
    I’m sorry for the Oslo-trolls, feels crappy to have them taint the rest of Scandinavians reputation as a-holes. Anyway, keep it up!

  6. says

    i remember when I was younger I have wanted to travel around the world but my parents haven’t money for that, then in my teenager year was also tired of paying for trains and buses and planes then I have discovered that wings have grown in my back then I trained myself in using them and cultivate that for some years. Best investment I have ever made in my life, now I can travel and fly for free.

  7. Cmaximus says

    Ah, I was wondering what their call was about, since they said they were going to take the call after the show. I thought maybe there was an interesting development in the saga.

  8. Curt Cameron says

    Did the conversation with “Matt” happen after the show? Assuming it did, was any headway made?

  9. says

    I had the same reaction. I kept thinking “If this is a troll, it’s the WORST sort of troll imaginable.” It would have been inexcusable. But he really was inspiring.

  10. says

    They basically said they would continue to troll the show unless Matt will be friends with them. Sort of how god will send you to hell unless you love him…?

  11. Cmaximus says

    Hmm, that makes zero sense on their part and sounds like a trolling move either way. I’m sure Matt is sooper! excited to be their friend.

  12. Lord Narf says

    Oh, damn. I have to listen to it on UStream for the after-show. The video is pretty horrible, yeah. What the heck is wrong with UStream? If the audio is vaguely coherent, I’m happy with that. I usually just listen to the MP3, anyway. But, it looks like the audio is dead, starting about 4 minutes in. What the hell?

    Say, guys, when you’re posting the MP3 version, is there any way you could include the pre-show and after-show stuff? There are often interesting discussions then, too. I hate having to rely on UStream for it, when that otherwise isn’t my first choice.

  13. Stephen Peterson says

    Re: “spirit science,” I think that guy meant something like this. It’s basically a giant synthesis of woo, everything from channeling to ancient astronauts to crystals and pyramid power. Though that particular channel has rather amusing cartoon drawings to helpfully explain everything (like how Hebrews are actually spirit-gurus from the future).

    Not sure if I should be relieved or disappointed that the caller didn’t get a chance to fully explain the ‘theory.’

  14. says

    Ya, thanks I have watched it earlier today on the web site of the show. (I think it is blip tv). I was happy that the show was already there and the video works well there, but I am disappointed like you that they are no after show on that version.

    UStream, is getting worst and worst, I don’t know why it is it so and why they don’t try to correct the problems. Before I could watch it live with small buffering here and there but since some months it is always buffering and jumping…But now it is even worst, I am (now I know that it is “we are”) not even able to watch it recorded, I thought that it was my laptop who had a virus or something. I see the image like 5 minutes without any sounds, then the clock on the player is going backward then I hear but the image is frozen for many minutes and then the image play fast motions. Anyway…

    Ya, would be nice if on blip tv or the mp3 we could have the pre- and after-show.

  15. Kazim says

    No they didn’t say that. They said they were sorry and they would stop. We’ll see. I do think it has been constructive talking to them. I obviously don’t trust them to just cut it cold turkey, but I think the “Matt from Oslo” calls have slowed down a lot in the last few weeks.

    By the way, if you are keeping track, their names are Joel and Einar, and they live in Sweden.

    And I know a fuckton of private information about them, which I promise will never tell any of you unless they start pissing me off again. 😉

  16. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Jen’s topic is “The Bible as Fan Fiction.”

    The [correct edition] is a director’s cut.
    The writing staff was waaay behind schedule on the previous release, and there were communication issues.
    This time lots of extra scenes, originally dropped for length and continuity, were restored. Other scenes were extended to focus on characters and themes that the director intended.
    Still disjointed and not that great, but it’s had a cult following for centuries.

  17. Gary Walker says

    Just want to say something about the golden rule, placing aside the historical interpretation, “Those who have the gold make the rules.”

    Jesus supposedly promoted the positive version, “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” This fits in with the fundajellical propensity to knock on doors and annoy people. They seem to think that since they were saved by door knockers and Bible thumpers, and they are sooo happy to be saved, then they should do the same to others.
    The negative version promulgated by Rabbi Hillel, 1st century bce, is, “Do not do to others that which is hurtful to you.” This is the live and let version, which I prefer. I think that this is yet another example of normal humans being much wiser than the super hero, Jesus.

    That’s all folks,

  18. mooniekate says

    I’ve made the bible-fanfiction connection myself. Every ‘personal relationship’ with jesus is a mary-sue. They are trying to ‘add’ themselves to the story with their own idealized character of themselves. Just knowing the history of how the bible was put together screams fanfiction.
    Rational Jen is rational.

  19. Amanda says

    Sometimes fan fiction gives us really good stuff–like a quest for a Holy Grail, Sir Lancelot, many Sherlock adventures, and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

  20. johnwolforth says

    Jen and Russell; You are completely amazing. You handled that call so well. And the caller had me choked up a little too. I’ve heard that “it’s not your fault” joke before, but never delivered quite so artfully. I would have had to at least take a minute to collect myself before taking the next call.

  21. jacobfromlost says

    So would new religions be “spin-off series”? Mormonism as “Laverne and Shirley”? Although “Laverne and Shirley” spun off from “Happy Days”, and “Happy Days” was certainly born out of the movie “American Graffiti”.

    I wonder when a religion jumps the shark? Scientology has to be pretty close. (Remember when Krammer told Frank Costanza that Festivus was just a little too “out there” for him, lol?)

  22. jacobfromlost says

    Good point. The bible isn’t just fan fiction, it is a collection of fan fiction that the fans themselves (at certain points in time) liked the most out of a much larger pool of fan fiction. Which also means there is a lot of fan fiction that was just tossed out (of the canon of fan fiction) because it just didn’t do justice to the story the fans wanted.

    The problem is that fans don’t always make their decisions on things that would make the story, as a whole, sensical. So you get conflicting stories, contradictions, and Richie’s older brother Chuck going upstairs in season 2 of “Happy Days” and never coming down again. (shrug)

    The fan fiction selection bias doesn’t just stop with the compiling of the bible, however, as believers themselves pick and choose what it is they like, what it is they want to follow, what it is they want to quote…and ignore all the rest. Like the way I ignore all those weird changes to Star Wars (what the hell is Hayden Christiansen doing at the end of Jedi? WTF? He was old, and he died, and his Force Spirit is suddenly young? Huh?).

    Also I liked the old Ewok dance song better. lol

  23. Lord Narf says

    Yeah, I clicked through, jumping about 3 – 5 minutes at a time, and I never got any audio past about the first 4 minutes.

  24. Lord Narf says

    Didn’t they say they would stop, a few episodes ago?

    … then immediately made obscene noises into the phone?

  25. Scott Benton says

    Hadn’t thought of it but I think it’s a great idea! Although, the spin-off is probably Christianity. You might even say that there was the old testament and the sequel, although the old testament had already jumped the shark in my opinion.

  26. Kazim says

    I’ve tried hard to get rid of various vocal tics through the years, that’s probably one I need to work on.

  27. Kazim says

    It’s not a condition, everybody’s got them. The first thing you learn in speech class is not to say things like “um” and “uh.” Some of them stick around forever. For Sarah Palin it was the word “also.”

  28. Lord Narf says

    A lot of people have a “… you know” tick. You hear that in some callers, and on podcasts and such, from the less polished public speakers.
    It took me a long time to turn the ums into pauses.

    My most aggressive issue involves adverbs. I grossly overuse one, like basically. Then, I force myself to stop, and another will slip into its place.

  29. thebookofdave says

    Don’t confuse evolution with evolution with transformation. The latter is a process which allows a vehicle, such as an automobile or aerial drone, to turn into a robotic soldier. It’s how the monsters are still able to stalk you, despite the cool new features you acquired through evolution.

  30. Lord Narf says

    Yup, that’s what we’re mocking. The gross ignorance of creationists and the avoidance of learning from the actual evolutionary biologists, instead of their fundie pastors, is what keeps the cycle going in the US. If they understood what Natural Selection really is, instead of the fundie straw-man of Natural Selection, we wouldn’t have such a high percentage of creationists in the US. We need to get this shit into high schools.

  31. jacobfromlost says

    Yeah, it seems the analogy is pretty good. There has to be enough of what people liked in the original show to give the spin-off legitimacy, but enough new stuff to keep the people from becoming bored (and they can also claim new “special knowledge”, which could be a prophet, a special new holy book, a new doctrine, or a new spin on an old idea).

    Then, at a certain point, people get bored again…and another spin-off is born.

    Someone sent me this image a long time ago, and I can’t remember who. But it illustrates this idea in a cool (nerdy) science fiction way.

  32. sonorus says

    I believe Buddhism had been spun off from Hinduism about 500 years before Christians got their own religion after a guest appearance on the Judaism show.

  33. mike says

    “It came down to a close vote, but I said NO! Russell had nothing to do with it!!” OMG that’s too funny, if Damien ever starts a blog TAE should let him submit a guest post, from that albeit brief conversation he seems very inspirational and very funny.

  34. leeslonaker says

    I admired the young mans spirit, it must be very tough for him to keep such a positive outlook while dealing with a traumatic brain injury. Didn’t he say that he decided he was an atheist after his accident? I’m guessing that the people telling him the he’s ” just mad at god ” are his family and closest friends. The very people who are his support group during his recovery and rehabilitation. It must make it a lot harder for him, it always is with people you love. I doubt they even understand that it is comforting to know that it wasn’t some loving god that chose him to inflict this tragedy on. That his loving father in heaven didn’t decide that inflicting pain and hardship on him served the greater good. A bad thing just happened.
    I wonder if the accident that caused him to examine his beliefs and realize that he was an atheist, caused his family to actually become more religious. It must be infuriating to have some one try to tell him that the whole affair is really a miracle, and how thankful he should be. I respect his ability to maintain a sense of humor, and a positive outlook on life. Good for him, I’m sure it meant a lot to him just to speak to some one who shares his world view, and respects it. It would have to mean a lot for him to call in to a live show considering the difficulties he is having communicating, even though it seems obvious to me that behind his speech impediment a witty, keen intellect still thrives. Best of luck to him, I hope he calls again, and I hope you find a moment to speak with him.

  35. extian says

    DUH. Everyone knows you have to have young Anakin’s spirit at the end of Jedi cuz that’s what he looked like before he went to the Dark side…even though he left the Dark Side as an older man for about ten minutes before he died…WHATEVER – Lucas wrote it, I believe it, that settles it!