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Jesus and Yahweh: The Names Divineby Harold Bloom
"It is a pity that Jesus and Yahweh is not a dense thirty-page essay. For in order to make a book — the condition of those addicted to continuous publication — Bloom must fatten his thesis. But he has only air for provender....The result is a painful repetitiousness, in which Bloom confronts us again and again with a thesis that might have been compactly handled in ten thousand words..." James Wood, The New Republic (read the entire New Republic review)
Synopses & Reviews
A brilliant and provocative character study of Jesus and Yahweh that will challenge the way we understand our cultural heritage.
Harold Bloom has written about religion and the Bible throughout his career, but now, with Jesus and Yahweh, he has written what may well be his most explosive, and important, book yet.
There is very little evidence of the historical Jesus — who he was, what he said. As Bloom writes, "There is not a sentence concerning Jesus in the entire New Testament composed by anyone who ever had met the unwilling King of the Jews." And so Bloom has used his unsurpassed skills as a literary critic to examine the character of Jesus, noting the inconsistencies, contradictions, and logical flaws throughout the Gospels. He also examines the character of Yahweh, who he finds has more in common with Mark's Jesus than he does with God the Father of the Christian and later rabbinic Jewish traditions. Bloom further argues that the Hebrew Bible of the Jews and the Christian Old Testament are very different books with very different purposes, political as well as religious.
Jesus and Yahweh is a thrilling and mind-opening read. It is paradigm-changing literary criticism that will challenge and illuminate Jews and Christians alike, and is sure to be one of the most discussed, debated, and celebrated books of the year. At a time when religion has come to take center stage in our political arena, Bloom's shocking conclusion, that there is no Judeo-Christian tradition — that the two histories, Gods, and even Bibles, are not compatible — may make readers rethink everything we take for granted about what we believed was a shared heritage.
"Prolific literary critic, Yale professor and professional provocateur Bloom (The Book of J) here tackles the characters of the Jewish and Christian gods: what god do we meet in Hebrew Scripture? Who is the Jesus of the New Testament, and does he bear any relation to the Jesus most Americans worship? Does, for that matter, the Hebrew Yahweh resemble the first person of contemporary Christians' Trinity? Bloom, as usual, skewers quite a few sacred cows — for example, he dismisses the quest for the historical Jesus as a waste of time, and says that Jewish-Christian dialogue is a 'farce.' But in fact Bloom's major points are somewhat commonplace, including his assertion that the Christian reading of Hebrew Scripture laid the groundwork for Christian anti-Semitism. A fair enough charge, but hardly a new one; theologians have observed, and debated, this point for centuries. Bloom's real brilliance lies in his smaller, subtler claims, such as his nuanced discussion of the different ways Matthew, Mark and Luke present Jesus, his assertion that Bible translator William Tyndale anticipated Shakespeare, and his observation that, contra Marx, religion is not the opiate of the people but their 'poetry, both bad and good.' The book is learned, even erudite, and sure to be controversial." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"A return to the Bible by the noted Yale professor...though the slapdash results lack the depth of most of the volumes he cites....Bloom barely provides a gloss on more substantial work...which are often invoked in these pages." Kirkus Reviews
"A fearless, provocative meditation on the themes I found so exhilarating 20 years ago....What ultimately gives this book its power and poignancy is the image of a 74-year-old Jew, crying out to a silent God who nevertheless 'won't go away.'" Jonathan Rosen, The New York Times Book Review
"[Bloom's] habit of viewing everything through the lens of Hamlet and King Lear may appeal to Bard worshipers but is unlikely to strike contemporary theologians as a robust methodology. Nevertheless, the book contains riches for the attentive reader..." San Francisco Chronicle
"[D]espite his dynamic and engaging style and his often provocative declarations, [Bloom] can also be abstruse, sometimes unnecessarily....Jesus and Yahweh presents a number of key ideas colorfully and emphatically, if sometimes belaboring them." Los Angeles Times
"[A] high-wire performance that will equally validate the opinions of those who champion Bloom as a professional provocateur and those who debunk him as a pretentious windbag." Houston Chronicle
"The interest of Bloom's analysis is undermined...by his anti-Trinitarian carping and his confused statements about the Incarnation and Atonement, which some may see as symptoms of willful ignorance or even anti-Christian prejudice." Booklist
About the Author
The author of twenty-seven books and the recipient of many honors, including a MacArthur Fellowship and the Gold Medal for Belles Lettres and Criticism from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Harold Bloom is Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University and is a former Charles Eliot Norton Professor at Harvard. He is best known for his New York Times bestsellers Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human; The Western Canon; and The Book of J, as well as his early classic, The Anxiety of Influence.
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