Bible Review 18:3, June 2002

It Ain’t Necessarily So

The Bible weaves together narrative, folklore, history and religion, but that doesn’t make it a “False Testament.”

By Ronald S. Hendel

Bible Review

One of my favorite Gershwin songs is a little ditty from Porgy and Bess called “It Ain’t Necessarily So.” (It’s particularly good when Ella Fitzgerald sings it.) The song begins with a rather scandalous lyric:

The things that you’re liable
To read in the Bible—
It ain’t necessarily so.

Lately this sentiment has received a lot of play in the national press, though not with Gershwin’s—or Ella’s—flair. Harper’s Magazine had an article on this subject titled “False Testament: Archaeology Refutes the Bible’s Claim to History.”1 Around the same time The New York Times had a similar piece titled “As Rabbis Face Facts, Bible Tales Are Wilting.”2 People seem sad or angry—or sometimes gleeful—that many of the stories in the Bible ain’t necessarily so.

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