Does the Bible Advocate Book Burning?

It appears so. After Paul preached the gospel in Ephesus, and won numerous converts, the Book of Acts says, with approval, that there was a book burning (19:19-20 KJV):

Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.

Book burning is closely akin to iconoclasm (the destruction of things sacred to others), as in this fearful gesture of iconoclasm under the Taliban-like reign of the zealous monotheist Jehu, recorded in the Hebrew Bible, in II Kings 10:26-27 (KJV):

And they brought forth the images out of the house of Baal, and burned them.

And they brake down the image of Baal, and brake down the house of Baal, and made it a draught house unto this day.

A “draught house” is a polite way for the King James translators to tell us that the ruins of Baal’s temple were used by the Judeans as a place to take a piss.

And below are some fundamentalists, apparently prompted by passages like those in Acts and II Kings, destroying books. Those participating belong to Amazing Grace Baptist Church in Canton, North Carolina. They are “King James Version only” adherents (hence their ripping up of competing Bible translations).

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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4 Responses to Does the Bible Advocate Book Burning?

  1. Matt says:

    Seriously?
    So what is wrong with burning books? You truly have to be a modern day egalitarian to actually get worked up that the Bible “advocates burning books.. ”
    Don’t some simple questions enter your mind when making an asinine post like this such as “hmm, what were in the books they were burning?” were they books of art? were books of satanic rituals with human sacrifice? Were they math books? Were they porn?
    What if you have a book with satanic rituals and pedophilia; and further; what if these books are “sacred to others?” Is that synonymous in your mind as say, burning The Psalms?
    You don’t seem to be interested what so ever about the facts of what were being burned or why; merely what you’ve been programmed to think by your whatever silly institution of higher learning you happened to attend that awarded you your Bachelor of Opinion in the Dept of Social Science. “Burning books is bad… Don’t look into the matter any further than that… it’s bad; Hitler did it.”
    You do understand that followers of Baal regularly performed child sacrafice, right? Why not learn something about it first before babbling? Their religion was known for child sacrifice and sexual rituals.
    Here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia, but you need not rely on just that; it’s fairly common knowledge; or at least was:
    “And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Moloch”). In the Old Testament, Gehenna was a valley by Jerusalem, where apostate Israelites and followers of various Baalim and Caananite gods, including Moloch, sacrificed their children by fire (2 Chr. 28:3, 33:6; Jer. 7:31, 19:2–6).

    So, hey… at least the “Baalim” didn’t burn books though; just their children, so they weren’t guilty of your big liberal word of the day iconoclasm (wow, you must be brilliant; and I’m sure all of your associates tell you that you are).
    How about putting somehting in some sort of context at all when you’re complaining that they were “book burning”.

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      Now, now, Matt. Please recall that the ancient Israelites also sacrificed their children and relatives at the command of Yahweh. Children that disobeyed or talked back to their parents were killed on behalf of Yahweh, and relatives that worshiped other gods could also be legally murdered on behalf of Yahweh.

      And the problem is with precedent. The Bible’s support of such things as slavery, the destruction of pagan culture, the oppression of women, and book burning all reverberated through history in a terrible manner. Paul’s advocacy of women keeping silent in public and not to have authority over men (for example) heavily forestalled women’s equality through history. Likewise, book burning after the manner of that depicted in the Book of Acts is something that Protestants of the Reformation (and Catholics in the counter-Reformation) picked up to suppress the printing of religious dissent.

      Please also recall who it was that destroyed the ancient library at Alexandria where Ptolemy worked out his astronomy and perhaps a million books were housed. That event certainly breaks into the top five as among the most tragic moments in ancient history. A great deal of our collective human patrimony up to that time was lost because of religious fanaticism and a zeal for destroying things that went contrary to the Bible.

  2. Staffan says:

    Here is a little something from the Good Book, God’s instructions regarding the Midianites,

    31:17 Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.
    31:18 But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.

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