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11:46 a.m. - April 05, 2007
Bible Bracketology - Round One
March Madness is over, and all hail to Florida and Tennessee for winning the menís and womenís basketball championships.

But that doesnít mean you need to put away your blank bracket sheets. No sir-ee-bob.

A great new book The Enlightened Bracketologist : The Final Four Of Everything takes the growing obsession with the NCAA brackets (not the games, the brackets) and pits several categories of people, places, things, ideas, etc. in a winner-take-all showdown. Most of the brackets start with 32 contenders and one champion emerge. I think the funniest one that Iíve read is Nicole Richie defeating Jeffery Dahmer in the ďTell Me Again Why Theyíre Famous?Ē battle.

But with Easter coming up (and many of you all off for Good Friday) I was thinking that the book left one bracket out.

The Books of the Bible. Which book reigns supreme!

Now, I do go to church but Iím not Ďchurchyí, so this wonít be about which book saves the most souls. This will be about what books are the most readable, the most relevant, the most thoughtful, and the most insightful.

I limited the competition to 32 books, and Iím sorry but a lot of the minor prophets wouldnít make it past the first round anyway (sorry Nahum, better luck next time Habakkuk, see ya Haggai). I took the liberty (and I can, since this is MY bracket) to combine books or letters with two or more parts. So Samuel is combined, as is both letters from Peter and all three epistles from John. It just made it easier.

I also divided it so there are 16 Old Testament Books and 16 New Testament Books. Just because I can. Round one will be today, and Iíll spin out the other rounds, including the final, tomorrow.

So, with 32 viable contenders, I unveil:


First Round:

Genesis vs. Judges - Judges has some good historical documentation and itís a bloody mess, great for an action film director to tackle but not so great for someone wanting a book with peace and tranquility. Genesis also has a lot of mayhem and thrilling action, but I mean, itís GENESIS, for cryiní out loud. The first book of the bible wins in a rout. Genesis advances.

Exodus vs. Proverbs - I donít think many people will argue with the outcome of this one. While Proverbs is relevant, even today, on how to live oneís life in a good and righteous manner, it really canít measure up to a book that gave us a film that had Edward G. Robinson, Vincent Price, Yvonne DeCarlo, Debra Paget, Yul Brynner, John Derek, and oh yeah, that Heston dude. Exodus moves on.

Deuteronomy vs. Jonah - The scrappy upstart Jonah, a short story for the ages, matches up well against the classic scroll from Moses. Yet, the old standard prevails, because of the heartbreaking revelation that Moses will not enter the Promised Land, and the general story and warnings from YHWH to the Jews. Deuteronomy in a squeker, but Jonah covers.

Ezekiel vs. Joshua - While Joshua has the famous story of the Battle of Jericho, it is another bloody book of the Bible that Mel Gibson could have a field day filming. Ezekiel is deep and full of wonderful imagery that at times is baffling and hard to interpret, but is entertaining to read. Ezekiel, like his wheel, rolls on.

Samuel vs. Daniel - While the story of Saul and King David is poignant, and very important to Jews, Christians and Muslims, Daniel, with its direct and taut storytelling and fantastic imagery, upsets the top-heavy book. Daniel avoids the fiery furnace of defeat.

Isaiah vs. Kings - This is no contest. One of the best written books of prophecy, told in a poetic manner, topples the weighty history of Israel after the death of David. Isaiah wins in a rout.

Psalms vs. Jeremiah - He wasnít a bullfrog, and he really was kind of a downer. Heís in a tough matchup, as the songs and poems of praise can fill the spirit even if you are a non-believer. Meanwhile, the old grizzled prophet is just a bit grumpy. Psalms moves forward.

Ecclesiastes vs. Job - A tough matchup for me personally, because I really had high hopes for the Preacher. But you canít stop Job you can only hope to contain him. There is a time to play the game, and a time for the winner to move forward. The winner is Job.

Matthew vs. James - Thereís a late rally for the underdog, as more and more people believe that the author of the letter was actually the brother (flesh and blood) of Jesus, but Matthew just has so much to offer for the believer and for the lover of literature. Matthew moves ahead.

Mark vs. Corinthians - I always feel sorry for Mark, as he seems to be the Gospel that is ignored. The others get the credit and the glory, but Mark is the earliest Gospel and has some very nice passages not found in the others. While the letter is nicely written, and was probably bound in some rich leather (right Ricardo?) thereís just not enough there to contain Mark. The Gospel moves forward.

Luke vs. Thessalonians - Every tournament has its share of opening round routs. This is like Kansas taking on Coppin State. While there is a chance for an upset, itís not likely, and not going to happen here. Luke easily moves on to round two.

John vs. John 1,2,3 - Another rout, as the Gospel easily outweighs the combined volume of the three letters, two of which really donít have much to say about Divine works and are more of a ďHey, how are you. Weather here is nice.Ē letter in a way. The Gospel John gets the win.

Revelations vs. Galatians - Paul is a bit combative in this letter to the folks in Galatia. Itís nice to see Paul in a feisty mood, but in the end, the pure imagery and visions in Revelations is just too much to handle. Even if you think, like I do, the book is mostly allegory and written expressly for the folks that were living at that exact time and place in history, you canít argue with the writing in that book. Revelations summons the horsemen and rolls forward.

Peter vs. Acts - This is a closer matchup than you would think. Acts definitely has some great stories about the lives of the Apostles after Christ, and of the conversion of Paul. But something about the letters of Peter strikes me as an easier read and easier to contemplate and gather knowledge and wisdom. In an upset, Peter survives and advances.

Philippians vs. Ephesians - Paul, being prolific, wrote these two letters at various times of his ministry. Theyíre both nice works, but for me, the one Paul actually wrote (there is some doubt on his authorship of one) late in his career works for me. Philippians forges ahead.

Hebrews vs. Romans - Two more epistles do battle, and only one can emerge victorious. Much like in ancient times, Iíd have to go with the empire. Romans moves to the next round.

Stay tuned for the Sweet 16, and the rest of the tournament tomorrow. Who will be #1?


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