O Me of Little Faith

O Me of Little Faith

You Are the Editor: Pocket Guide to the Bible

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you probably know that my last book, Pocket Guide to the Bible — published in 2006 by Relevant — is being repackaged and republished as part of Jossey-Bass’s new Pocket Guide reference series next summer, along with brand-new books Pocket Guide to Sainthood and Pocket Guide to the Afterlife.

The new books have been written and are now in the editing stages.

Pocket Guide to the Bible is already a published book and doesn’t require much editing at all. However, I do have the chance to change a few small things — mainly in the form of wording, minor edits, etc. — especially stuff that was in the original but that I don’t really like anymore.


(There were a few early critics of the book who didn’t appreciate the book’s flippancy and/or humor in my descriptions of certain biblical events or characters. Some of their critiques I chalked up to the fact that some reviewers are sticks-in-the-mud and just didn’t get it. Other critiques I took very seriously.)

So before version 2.0 of Pocket Guide to the Bible comes out, I’m going to change a few minor things. Here’s one of them.

On page 176, in the “Lists” chapter, I have a list of “Seven Biblical Suicides.” On number 6 in the list, about the suicide of King Saul’s armor-bearer, I use the made-up phrase “Cobained himself” to describe the armor bearer’s act of self-destruction. At the time, I was looking for a creative, culturally astute way to describe suicide without saying, yet again, “killed himself” or “committed suicide.” As I tried to think of famous people who had committed suicide, I settled on Kurt Cobain. His name was well-known, it was still culturally relevant, and it lended itself nicely to being turned into a verb.


At the time, I thought it was clever.

I was wrong. It was insensitive, not really that funny, and too cute by half. It’s still too soon to do that kind of thing. It might always be “too soon” to do that kind of thing, and I regret it.

So I’m taking the verb “Cobained” out of the next edition of Pocket Guide to the Bible.

But that might not be all, and here’s where I need your help. Many of you have read the book — some of you just purchased it recently, getting a signed copy directly from me at the bargain-basement price of $6.99 (shameless plug: see the sidebar at left). If you’ve read PGTTB, this is your chance to personally contribute to the next edition of the book. I want you to recommend any edits that fit within the following categories:


1) Any phrasing, words, or jokes that you think might have been inappropriate (like “Cobained” above)…

2) Any typos, mispellings, factual errors, or formatting errors…

3) Any jokes that, in your opinion, need to be removed or changed because they fall flat, don’t make sense, or are just stupid…

4) Any cultural references that worked in 2006-2007 but won’t be as funny in 2009.

We won’t be able to make any big changes like, say, adding a chapter or including a left-out biblical character to the “Who’s Who.” But any single-line changes in phrasing are entirely possible.

Disclaimer: There is no guarantee I will accept your edits, but I do want to know what you think and if you catch something good I want to make it worth your while. If you recommend edits to me and they end up making their way into the next edition of the book you will:


1) have the satisfaction of knowing you had a direct hand in the end product;
2) have my everlasting gratitude
3) be rewarded with a signed, free copy of either Pocket Guide to the Afterlife or Pocket Guide to Sainthood when they are released.

Seriously. I’ll make a list of people who recommended edits and note whether or not those edits make it into the book. The ones that do get a free gift next summer.

So, either email me (click the “contact Jason” link above left, and put PGTTB Edits in the subject line) or leave a comment below. And be nice about it. The original editors of the book — and, um, the writer, too — are frequent readers of this blog.

One more rule: This is a limited-time offer. Any edits have to be received by me, in comment or e-mail form, by next Friday, August 22. No exceptions.


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posted August 15, 2008 at 10:16 am

I don’t have a specific recommendation, but a general one:The profanity. The sheer, page-by-page, overwhelming profanity.If you could reduce it by even 25% – a mammoth goal, I realize – I think you’d be doing everyone a favor.

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