GQ Lists Bible Among Books Not Worth Reading, Novelist Calls Scripture ‘Foolish,’ ‘Ill-Intentioned’

The editors of GQ Magazine recently released a list of “21 Books You Don’t Have to Read,” as they asked a number of novelists and several staff members to weigh in on “great books” that they believe have not “aged well,” as well as what publications they would recommend instead. One novelist cited the Bible, calling it “repetitive, self-contradictory, sententious, foolish, and even at times ill-intentioned.”

“The Holy Bible is rated very highly by all the people who supposedly live by it, but who in actuality have not read it,” wrote novelist Jesse Ball.

“Those who have read it know there are some good parts, but overall it is certainly not the finest thing that man has ever produced,” he opined. “It is repetitive, self-contradictory, sententious, foolish, and even at times ill-intentioned.”

Ball rather recommended “The Notebook, the Proof, the Third Lie” by Agota Kristof, a trilogy fiction novel that, according to its description, is about two twin brothers “who must learn every trick of evil and cruelty merely to survive” in a land torn apart by turmoil.

Ball said that he found the story to be “a marvelous tale of two brothers who have to get along when things get rough,” but added that the “subtlety and cruelty of this story is like that famous sword stroke (from below the boat) that plunged upward through the bowels, the lungs, and the throat and into the brain of the rower.”

The Bible was #12 on GQ’s list of books not recommended for reading. Other rejected writings included “The Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway, “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain, “The Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien, and “Gulliver’s Travels” by Jonathan Swift.

Ball’s comments quickly received pushback, including from J. Warner Wallace, a former atheist who now defends the Scriptures as an apologist. Wallace, a homicide detective, is known for his book “Cold Case Christianity,” in which he outlines the evidence that led him to affirm God’s word as truth.

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“As an atheist, I can remember saying something similar [to Ball’s remarks] to a Christian co-worker. But that all changed as I began to investigate the Bible using the skills I had developed as a detective. I’ve now come to appreciate the Bible above all other texts (religious or otherwise), largely because the editors of GQ are wrong,” he wrote in an article for Townhall.

Wallace said that as he began investigating the Bible, using the same skills he utilized as a detective, “I found that the Gospels varied in content and style, just as I would expect if they were reliable eyewitness accounts of the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus.”

“They weren’t overly ‘repetitive’ nor ‘self-contradictory,’ especially given my experience interviewing thousands of eyewitnesses,” he said. “The editors of GQ are wrong; the Bible is still a book you have to read.”

Union University Bible professor George Guthrie told the Baptist Press that Christians should rather feel pity rather than disgust over Ball’s remarks.

“To say that the Bible is ‘repetitive, self-contradictory, sententious, foolish, and even at times ill-intentioned’ is understandable coming from a secular person who has never read the Bible with an intent to hear, never studied even a small part, in all its complexity, to understand what is going on in its pages,” he said.

“Our response as believers should not be defensiveness or outrage, but pity for those who have never glimpsed even the smallest ray of beauty, the song of hope found in the Bible’s wonderfully cohesive story,” Guthrie stated.

1 Corinthians 2:14 says, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

The apostle Peter, who walked with Christ, also wrote in 2 Peter 1:16-21, “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to Him from the excellent glory, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ And this voice which came from Heaven we heard, when we were with Him in the holy mount.”

“We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts,” he continued. “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation, for the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”

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  • HpO

    QUESTION: Is Jesse Ball “a SECULAR PERSON who has never read the Bible with an intent to hear, never studied even a small part, in all its complexity, to understand what is going on in its pages”?

    ANSWER: I don’t know about that, because his personal history with the bible is still unknown. I do know, however, that Jesse Ball was “brought up as an ATHEIST” by his parents. Mom was “trained to be a nun before deciding the religious life wasn’t for her”; but it was Dad, “a Peter Kropotkin anarchist [and a former] seminarian”, who instilled a “kind of CONTRARIANISM … in me.” Whatever that means to him, one thing for sure is that Jesse Ball sees himself engaged in “a POST-RELIGIOUS work [in which] God is not so much silent as ABSENT”.

    Sources: (1) Joe Meno, “Inside the Bizarre, Brilliant World of Jesse Ball”, Chicago Magazine, June 27, 2016. (2) Rebecca Bates, “Different Ways of Lying: An Interview with Jesse Ball”, The Paris Interview, April 3, 2014. (3) James Wood, “But He Confessed: Jesse Ball’s ‘Silence Once Begun'”, New Yorker, February 10, 2014.

  • Reason2012

    1 Corinthians 1:18-29 “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. 20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.”

  • MCrow

    I disagree with this, actually. Regardless of religious beliefs, the Bible has a wide ranging cultural impact, particularly any culture that can be traced back to Europe

    • Specifically culture that can be traced back to Europe.

      • MCrow

        Not really. Christianity originated in the Middle East, so it spread numerous directions, including Africa and East. There are a lot of areas where those elements exist

  • Barefoot Soul

    Gee, I wonder what has enriched more people’s lives? The Bible or GQ?

    These publications must be falling on hard times if they have to bash Christians to get readers’ attention. Tell those shallow GQ readers and shallow GQ staffers to stick to shallow subjects.

    • This is the only way they can get Christians to notice their anti-Christ publishings, to say things so ridiculous that we feel compelled to say something about their ignorance.

  • Lydia Church

    GQ is what is not worth reading, now it is officially trash and toilet paper! The Bible is the best book because it is God’s Word! The writer of GQ is foolish and ill intentioned and just down right stupid! Sadly these retarded attacks upon our noble Christian faith will only get worse as the days grow darker. I can’t even read the article past the title because the rebuttal would take too long. They are wrong and God is right and all insults apply to themselves and that says it all. ( ;

  • robert boe

    1 Corinthians 1 : 20 Where is the wise man?Where is the expert in Jewish law?Where is the probing thinker of the present age? Has God not shown that the wisdom of this world is foolish? 21 Indeed,since the world through its wisdom did not know God,God in his wisdom decided to save those who believe,through the foolishness of the preached message 22 Yes Jews ask for signs,Greeks desire wisdom, 25 but we preach Christ crucified ,which is offensive to Jews and foolishness to Greeks 24 but to those who are called,both Jews and Greeks,Christ is the power of God and wisdom of God. We preach Christ crucified,because the foolishness of God is wiser than men,and the weakness of God is stronger than Men. Holy Bible ( Evangelical Heritage Version.)

  • robert boe

    Those that harden there own hearts against God’s word there is that danger if they persist in that wish of theirs .God might just harden there heart for them forever as they wished, as he did to some in the old testament. And then there is no hope for them , ever ,there forever Satans.

  • Susan Perelka

    This has been tried for centuries, to ban the bible (Old and New Testaments), to silence Jews and Christians. The bible is still here and Jews and Christians (disciples of Jesus Christ) are still here. Why? Because it is God’s Word being offered to mankind, to tell about the Grace He is offering them, despite the fact we have rebelled against the Creator and gone our own way. In His mercy, it remains. In His power, it remains. The gates of hell will not prevail against His church. Why? Because satan is not the Creator, he is the created, and is not stronger than God Almighty. In pride people think they can resist God, but you can’t. He is more powerful than ALL. He is over ALL.

    • Darwin C

      This was a click bait article to get people to read an article. It isn’t persecution, it’s just noise. Now you have something in common with fans of Tolkien, Mark Twain and Hemingway. And neither you nor them are being persecuted.

      • Susan Perelka

        Trials, tribulations, and persecutions is what Jesus Christ said we will endure (not just persecutions) and I have been ridiculed and cursed, just for believing in Jesus. BUT I still believe in Him. I stand by my above statement. You sir, are not more powerful than God, no one is, it is just a fact. Have a nice day.

        • Darwin C

          Somebody writing a click bait article and talking about the bible in the same breath as Tolkien and Hemingway is not persecution.

          That is also not a trial or a tribulation.

          Nobody is being silenced. Nobody is harmed.


          In the US, most pushback against christians is in response to behavior not beliefs. But even that isn’t what is happening here. A blogger wanted some clicks and thought that by annoying a large number of people in a single article, he/she could drive up page views. The article was absurd. Move on.

  • Darwin C

    The author of the article picked several books with large numbers of fans. The author then insulted each work and sat back to count the clicks. Anyone who reacts is just being played.

    There is no persecution here, just typical internet noise.

  • peanut butter

    Looks like l-G-b-t-Q magazine is soon to go the way of the wild goose. They have made a horrible mistake. But I guess they have their place in God’s plans, seeing who will follow Him and who will reject Him. There have to be things in the world to lead people astray, things to tempt. And boy is the devil having a field day right now, knowing he hasn’t got much time to recruit souls to spend eternity in hell with him.