An ex-Christian (Lauren O’Neal) and a nonbelieving sort-of Jew (Niko Bakulich) read the entire Bible, cover to cover, so you don’t have to. If you’ve ever been curious about what’s actually in the bestselling book in history but never found the time to read it, we’ve got you covered. Sunday School Dropouts is kind of like Mystery Science Theater 3000 for the Bible, or like listening to a recap of your favorite show, if your favorite show was about polygamous shepherds on very strict diets. The weird, the wacky, the wonderful—we’ll clue you in on everything they didn’t teach you in Sunday school.
It’s the season 3 finale! Niko and Lauren discuss a variety of underworlds, Dante’s Inferno, The Good Place, and why everything you thought you knew about heaven and hell is wrong.
Lauren, Niko, and special guest Sarah Michael (Niko's mom) discuss the Maccabees, dreidel disasters, all nine candles including the shamash, and everything else in the story of Hanukkah.
Niko and Lauren discuss the Zealots, the Sicarii, Flavius Josephus and the destruction of the second temple, and everything else in the story of the siege of Masada.
The Life of Flavius Josephus
Lauren and Niko discuss the siege of Jotapata, the destruction of the second temple at Jerusalem, Essene internships, and everything else in The Life of Flavius Josephus.
The Dead Sea Scrolls
Niko and Lauren discuss Bedouin goatherds, John the Baptist, a mysterious sect of Judaism called the Essenes, and everything else about the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Lauren and Niko discuss the Phoenix, the angel Phamael, a heavenly ascent, and everything else in the apocryphal book of 3 Baruch.
Beasts of the Bible
Lauren and Niko discuss the leviathan, behemoth, ziz, and other mythological beasts of the Bible.
Niko and Lauren discuss gopher wood, Mesopotamian flood myths, the curse of Ham, and everything else about Noah and his ark.
Apocalypse of Abraham
Niko and Lauren discuss Terah's idols, Jahoel, Abraham's revelation, a possible Jesus sighting, and everything else in the apocryphal Apocalypse of Abraham.
Philippians: Anthology Edition
Lauren coedited an anthology called Empty the Pews: Stories of Leaving the Church! You can read an excerpt and get a preorder discount at bit.ly/EmptyThePews. To celebrate we’re rerunning our episode with her coeditor, Dr. Chris Stroop.
Niko and Lauren discuss the archangels Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and more.
Lauren and Niko discuss cherubim, seraphim, grotesque eye monsters, and everything else about angels.
Comedian/playwright Rebecca Bulnes (@almondmilkhotel) joins Lauren and Niko to discuss Kabbalah, the sacred feminine, the bride of God, and everything else about the Shekhinah.
Acts of Andrew
Niko and Lauren discuss miracle inflation, marriage between cousins, X-shaped crosses, and everything else in the apocryphal Acts of Andrew.
Writer Nate Waggoner (@nathanielwagg) joins Lauren and Niko to talk about Gilgamesh, the White Stag, the Huns vs. the Magyars, and everything else tangentially related to the story of Nimrod.
Comedian and writer Ryan Houlihan (@ryanhoulihan) joins Lauren and Niko to talk about killing babies, magic amulets, seducing rabbis, and everything else about Adam's first wife Lilith
The Fall of Satan
In the inaugural episode of season 3, Niko and Lauren discuss the serpent, Adam and Eve, John Milton's Paradise Lost, and everything else about the fall of Satan.
Testament Part 4
Join Lauren and Niko for the thrilling conclusion of our playthrough of the Bible-based roleplaying game Testament.
Testament Part 3
Lauren and Niko continue playing the Bible-based role-playing game Testament along with their guests Greg (@leducviolet) and Maggie Tokuda-Hall (@emteehall).
Testament Part 2
Join Lauren, Niko, Greg (@leducviolet), and Maggie (@emteehall) as miniseason 2.5 continues with another session of the Bible-based RPG Testament.
Testament Part 1
Join Niko, Lauren, and our guests Greg (@leducviolet) and Maggie Tokuda-Hall (@emteehall) as we begin a game of Testament, the Biblically-based tabletop roleplaying game.
In a fat, juicy, 90-minute season finale, Niko and Lauren discuss Patmos, Armageddon, the true meaning of the word “apocalypse,” the number of the beast, seven lampstands/seals/trumpets/bowls of wrath, and everything else in the Book of Revelation.
Lauren and Niko discuss plagiarism in the Bible, Balaam's error, the Book of Enoch, the Assumption of Moses, and everything else in the Epistle of Jude.
Apocalypse of Paul
Lauren and Niko discuss Dante’s Inferno, milk lakes, celeb cameos, and everything else in the apocryphal Apocalypse of Paul.
Gospel of Judas
Niko and Lauren discuss Long Island strip malls, the realm of Barbelo, a new and exciting Demiurge, and everything else in the apocryphal Gospel of Judas.
Sulagna Misra (@sulagnamisra) joins Lauren and Niko to discuss the shortest book in the entire Bible, which doesn’t even mention Jesus: 3 John.
Lauren and Niko discuss the antichrist, hologram Jesus, whether the skateboarding scorpion crab is a fool, and everything else we can wring from the book of 2 John.
Exvangelical’s Blake Chastain joins Niko and Lauren to talk about testimony, sin, and light, which are the only three words in the book of 1 John.
Gospel of Mary
Lauren and Niko discuss The Da Vinci Code, common misconceptions about Mary Magdalene, the apostle to the apostles, and everything else in the apocryphal Gospel of Mary. Plus: the Cathar Crusade, and Jesus's Borat impression!
Niko and Lauren discuss Old Testament punishment, science in the Bible, those bad bad angels, and everything else in the book of 2 Peter. Plus: a bunch of really cool Sunday School Dropout stories from listeners!
Niko and Lauren discuss suffering in the body, the Harrowing of Hell, more justification of slavery, and everything else in the book of 1 Peter. Plus: two exciting visits, one from the fuck angels, and one from the inventor of cat curses!
Niko and Lauren discuss taming the tongue, wisdom literature in the New Testament, straight-up socialism, and everything else in the book of James. Plus: @leducviolet’s dad Jim, a longtime Catholic school educator,
Acts of John Part 2
Niko and Lauren discuss bedbugs, snake venom, gnostic weirdness, and everything else in the second half of the Acts of John. Plus: please don’t do necrophilia, and also please don’t watch someone else do necrophilia.
Acts of John Part 1
Lauren and Niko discuss painting peeping portraits, doing magic in the nude, terrible murder sons, and everything else in the first half of the apocryphal Acts of John. Plus: unruly members, and Lauren’s definition of love is too broad!
Lauren and Niko discuss high priests, the mystery of Melchizedek, an alternate take on Jacob and Esau, and everything else in the Epistle to the Hebrews. Plus: this book was definitely written by a woman, and maybe we actually like it!
Lauren and Niko discuss digital monsters, Biblical views of slavery, Paul using his passive-aggressiveness for good, and everything else in the Epistle to Philemon. Plus: enough alternate Bible translations to choke the Behemoth,
Gospel and Apocalypse of Peter
Lauren and Niko discuss a bizarre, alternate Easter story, the humanity and divinity of the apocryphal Jesus, a Dante-esque tour of the early Christian afterlife, and everything else in the apocryphal Gospel and Apocalypse of Peter.
Ryan Honaker joins us to talk about the Book of Mormon, greenies and comps proselytizing in Poland, Jesus’s vacation to the Americas, and everything else about growing up Mormon. Also: the book of Titus is in there somewhere.
1 and 2 Timothy
Niko and Lauren discuss the widow test, morality in the end times, and everything else in the books of 1 and 2 Timothy. Plus: a cider problem and Who’s Your Bible Dad?
Niko and Lauren discuss old-school communion, Christian conmen, rules for Jewish Christians, and everything else in the apocryphal Didache. Plus: filthy talking, and Niko’s hunt for mummy honey continues?
Acts of Peter
Lauren and Niko discuss talking dogs, a magician battle, the upside-down cross, and everything else in the apocryphal Acts of Peter. Plus: Niko wants mummy honey, and cat curses go where they’ve never gone before!
There's no new episode this week, but we're delighted to rerun a favorite of ours from the beginning of the second season! - Original show notes: - Niko and Lauren feed the text of the Bible to an artificial-intelligence program and have it create it...
Lauren and Niko discuss the lawless one, welfare in the Bible, and everything else in the book of 2 Thessalonians. Plus: Dr. Jason Staples (@jasonstaples) joins us to talk about Paul’s eschatology and why Paul is so obsessed with Gentiles.
Lauren and Niko discuss sending Timothy all over the world, footnotes about Satan, and everything else in Paul’s First Epistle to the Thessalonians. Plus: Tasbeeh Herwees joins us to talk about how Jesus is portrayed in Islam and how Jesus bumper stick...
Niko and Lauren discuss the Colossian heresy, possible gnosticism, a spooky mummy, and everything else in the book of Colossians. Plus: Writer and astrologer Luke Dani Blue joins us to read Jesus’s horoscope.
Acts of Thomas Part 2
Lauren and Niko discuss the Hymn of the Pearl, twin pranks, weird baptism rituals, and everything else in the second half of the apocryphal Acts of Thomas. Plus: the best character gets screwed over, and more gnosticism!
Acts of Thomas Part 1
Lauren and Niko discuss Jesus’ twin brother Thomas, celibate marriage, a spiritual palace scam, another exploding dragon, and everything else in the first half of the apocryphal Acts of Thomas. Plus: Hell is weird, but Heaven’s even weirder,
Gospel of Thomas
Niko and Lauren discuss Gnosticism, the Demiurge, the Pleroma, and all the rest of the secret mystical knowledge in the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas. Plus: How to Be a Spiritual Robot, and more anti-body propaganda.
Lauren and Niko welcome Dr. Chris Stroop to the show to talk about growing up Christian in Indiana, a twenty-year crisis of faith, battling demons Hulk-style, and everything else in the book of Philippians. Plus: rejoice in the Lord always, and again,
1 and 2 Clement
Niko and Lauren discuss apostolic succession, deposed presbyters, what a sermon really is, and everything else in the apocryphal books of 1 and 2 Clement. Plus: it’s literally impossible to follow Jesus, and listener mail!
Lauren and Niko discuss holy armor, salty babies, “mutual submission,” and everything else in the epistle to the Ephesians. Plus: a new segment called Pop Theology, and a quiz about famous Pauls. The music in this episode is the album Moon and Sun by E...
Acts of Paul and Thecla
Niko and Lauren discuss sexual sublimation, milk necks, wild beasts, and everything else in the apocryphal Acts of Paul and Thecla, which the church doesn’t want you to read! Plus: women be baptizing, and seals!
Lauren and Niko discuss barely literate scribes, psychosexual nightmares, WWPD, and everything else in Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians. Plus: Wow. What a surprise. Circumcision.
Infancy Gospel of Thomas
Niko and Lauren discuss Jesus’s first murder, whether Jesus can really read, The Twilight Zone, and everything else in the apocryphal Infancy Gospel of Thomas. Plus: our secret heist, and Joseph’s not my real dad!
Infancy Gospel of James
Lauren and Niko discuss the Virgin Mary’s childhood, strong babies, an alternate version of the Christmas story, and everything else in the apocryphal Infancy Gospel of James. Plus: Joseph goes on a vision quest, and the awkwardest donkey ride in history.
Niko and Lauren discuss the severe letter, super-apostles, Paul being a jerk, and everything else in the book of 2 Corinthians. Plus: alternative atonement theories, and how to blame scheduling problems on Jesus in three easy steps.
In this episode, Lauren and Niko discuss Paul’s views on re-used meat, gross misogyny, sexual immorality, and everything else in Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians. Plus: that Bible verse that people always read at weddings, and Ed Sheeran sucks.
Niko and Lauren discuss substitutionary atonement, vegetarianism, kinkshaming, and everything else in Paul’s epistle to the Romans. Plus: Big Bible Boy vs. Politic Man, and our harshest cat curse yet!
Lauren and Niko welcome Patricia Lockwood (@tricialockwood), poet and author of the new memoir Priestdaddy, to the show to discuss Pentecost, Paul on the road to Damascus, the original intactivist, and everything else in the book of Acts.
Lauren and Niko discuss not throwing the first stone, washing the disciples' feet, how to get to heaven, and everything else in the gospel according to John. Plus: the lost pop hit "Samaritan Woman," and this gospel sucks.
In a fat, juicy, hour-and-a-half-long episode, Lauren and Niko discuss the revised Christmas story, the parable of the sower, the parable of the prodigal son, and a bunch more of Jesus’s teachings in the gospel according to Luke.
Niko and Lauren discuss walking on water, fishes and loaves, Jesus’s crucifixion, Jesus’s resurrection, and everything else in the gospel according to Mark. Plus: sleep deprivation is real, and Jesus’s weirdest miracle!
Lauren and Niko discuss the birth of Jesus, between three and twenty magi, getting dunked on in the Jordan River, the crucifixion, and everything else in the book of Matthew. Plus: improbably named disciples, and John the Baptist’s head on a platter!
Niko and Lauren feed the text of the Bible to an artificial-intelligence program and have it create its own Bible passage. With the help of Rose Eveleth (@roseveleth), Greg (@leducviolet), Mallory Ortberg, Ezekiel Kweku (@theshrillest), and J. W.
3 & 4 Maccabees
Things get a little intense as Niko and Lauren discuss seven beautiful sons, more drunken elephants, the Holocaust, and everything else in the apocryphal books of 3 and 4 Maccabees. Plus: more gore than a Tarantino movie,
1 & 2 Maccabees
Lauren and Niko discuss the Maccabean revolt, battle elephants, Braveheart speeches, and everything else in the books of 1 and 2 Maccabees. Plus: king babysitters, and the best way to drink wine.
Niko and Lauren discuss offal, messengers, shoehorning Elijah, and everything else in the book of Malachi. Plus: we count down the top 12 minor prophets, and cow curses!
Summary: Lauren and Niko discuss myrtle trees, flying scrolls, the original Jesus, and everything else in the book of Zechariah. Plus: Robert Kashow, an actual Biblical scholar, explains some stuff to us!
Niko and Lauren discuss what happened when the Jews returned to Jerusalem, a new reason for God’s wrath, the original Jesus, and everything else in the book of Haggai. Plus: the difference between monkeys and apes,
Lauren and Niko discuss Adam, Eve, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses like you’ve never seen them before…...sort of. It’s the book of Jubilees, a different version of the book of Genesis with a lot more angels and a little more love.
We're off this week for New Year's, but here's a classic episode from the archives. We'll be back next week! - - Original summary: Niko and Lauren welcome Mallory Ortberg to the show to discuss meaninglessness, vanity, bad breakups,
On a Very Special 40th Episode Spectacular Episode, Niko and Lauren welcome Sunday School Dropouts logo designer Elise Carlton to the show to talk about everything except the book of Zephaniah! Plus: two kinds of owls, and Lauren freaks out again!
Lauren and Niko are joined by writer and educator Matthew Clark Davison to discuss altar boys, the real meaning of lay ministry, obscure burns on Catholicism, and everything else in the book of Habakkuk. Plus: dog psychics and flying statues!
Lauren and Niko discuss Nineveh, feminist lions, whether God is trolling Jonah even after his death, and everything else in the book of Nahum. Plus: another quiz, and another trip to the Bible with the crab on the skateboard!
Niko and Lauren discuss the urban/rural divide, the problem with “popular” prophets, messiahs from Bethlehem, and everything else in the book of Micah. Plus: an impossible quiz, and RIP Vine.
Lauren and Niko discuss big fish, prophetic temper tantrums, the sins of Nineveh, and everything else in the book of Jonah. Plus: Tasbeeh Herwees tells us about Jonah’s significance in Islam, and Veggie Tales!
Lauren and Niko talk about personified Wisdom, the rules of friendship, praising famous men, and everything else in the apocryphal book of Sirach. Plus: how to party like a biblical patriarch and Lauren wants to eat bugs!
Due to travel and illness, we're rerunning a classic episode from the archives! Enjoy Job with our special guest Greg, AKA @leducviolet. - Original summary: Why do bad things happen to good people? Did Satan win his bet with God?
Niko and Lauren welcome writer and podcaster Sarah Maria Griffin to the show to talk about Irish Catholicism, the Virgin Mary, abortion, and her new YA novel Spare and Found Parts. Plus: the book of Obadiah somewhere in there!
Lauren and Niko discuss simple country farmers, the day of the Lord, famous cookies, and everything else in the book of Amos. Plus: everyone’s sick of hearing about the apocalypse, and cat curses!
Niko and Lauren welcome Let’s Not Panic cohost Maggie Tokuda-Hall to the show to discuss locusts, CrossFit, and everything else in the book of Joel. Plus: the Maccabee Games, and a bunch of pontificatin’.
Lauren and Niko discuss metaphorical misogyny, literal misogyny, and all the other misogyny in the book of Hosea. Plus: Susanna and the Elders, and listener mail!
Lauren and Niko discuss the lions’ den, the fiery furnace, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and everything else in the book of Daniel. Plus: guest Scott Benson tells us about Bel and the Dragon.
Niko and Lauren discuss iconic scams, the siege of Bethulia, the beheading of Holofernes, and everything else in the apocryphal book of Judith. Plus: Artemisia Gentileschi, and Niko is a Samantha!
Lauren and Niko discuss bondage, zombies, wheeled angels, and everything else in the book of Ezekiel. Seriously, that’s all actually in the book of Ezekiel. Plus: guest Ironicus teaches us about ancient aliens!
Niko and Lauren welcome visual artist and director Michelle Sutherland to the show to talk about grief, responsibility, Burning Man, and everything else in the book of Lamentations. Plus: Where’s the party?
Lauren and Niko discuss the fall of Jerusalem, the Babylonian Exile, dirty loincloths, and everything else in the book of Jeremiah. Plus: 20/20 hindsight prophecies, and listener mail!
Lauren and Niko discuss retroactive prophecies, poetry about crushing your enemies, God’s classic abuser dynamics, and everything else in the book of Isaiah. Plus: Jesus and messiahs and apocalypses and stuff.
Niko and Lauren discuss the archangel Raphael, fish organs, demon rodeos, and everything else in the apocryphal book of Tobit. Plus: What’s the deal with Catholics? We halfheartedly investigate.
Song of Songs
Lauren and Niko discuss ghosting, Beyoncé’s visual album Lemonade, beautiful jeweled golems, and everything else in Song of Songs. Plus: Lola Prescott (@seelolago) tells us about the No Shame Movement.
Niko and Lauren welcome Mallory Ortberg to the show to discuss meaninglessness, vanity, bad breakups, and all the pop music that seems like it could probably be inspired by the book of Ecclesiastes, if you think about it.
Lauren and Niko discuss fallen angels, forbidden knowledge, cannibalistic giants, and everything else in the apocryphal book of Enoch. Plus: the messiah and the apocalypse and stuff!
Lauren and Niko discuss wisdom, sluggards, sparing the rod, dog vomit, and everything else in the book of Proverbs. Plus: dispatches from a podium party!
Niko and Lauren discuss the best of psalms, the worst of psalms, the horniest psalm, the most passive-aggressive psalm, and all the other psalms in the book of Psalms. Plus: an extra special quiz with guest Phil Shiu.
Why do bad things happen to good people? Did Satan win his bet with God? Are hot daughters worth more than regular ones? Lauren and Niko welcome @leducviolet (some call him “Greg”) to the show to definitively solve all the complex theological issues in...
Lauren and Niko discuss Cousin Mordecai, King Xerxes, the holiday of Purim, and everything else in the book of Esther. Plus: an authentic Midwestern Purim tale from Luke Dani Blue, and eunuchs!
Lauren and Niko discuss building walls, foxes, Water Gate (not Watergate), and everything else in the book of Nehemiah. Plus: nothing else, and Lauren freaks out!
Niko and Lauren discuss Persian kings, the return to Jerusalem, the building of the second temple, and everything else in the book of Ezra. Plus: the web of lies that holds our relationship together, and listener mail!
Lauren and Niko discuss Solomon (again), the greatest Passover of all time, and everything else in the book of 2 Chronicles. Plus: a campfire Bible song and the end of Biblical literalism.
Lauren and Niko discuss King David (again), Uriah the Hittite (again), Satan doing the Lord’s work, and everything else in the book of 1 Chronicles. Plus: a round of FMK and Lauren’s Etymology Corner.