Sunday, June 7

The Book of God - Walter Wangerin

From the dustjacket:

Here is the Bible's story as it has never been told before.
The Bible as an epic novel, with all its sweeping action, its larger than
life characters, its universal themes of good and evil, and always, above everything else, its enduring story of a love that staggers the imagination: the love of God for his people.
The Book of God unfolds the Bible's story in a clean, continuous thread, free of repetitions, lists of laws and genealogies.
I'm not sure what I was expecting from this thick tome, subtitled The Bible as a Novel. I think the claim that it "add[s] flesh and bones to biblical characters - exploring their motives, their feelings, their relationships" was what intrigued me. Unfortunately I didn't find any of that in the small section of The Book of God that I was able to make my way through. Instead it read very much like the Bible, which I have read all the way though three times, albeit many years ago. For example, there's no indication of what was in Lot's mind when he told the inflamed men of Sodom that they could have his two virgin daughters instead of the travellers he was housing. The angels of the Lord might well have declaimed the sin of the city, but I've never seen how Lot was worthy enough of being spared, and this rendition gives no insight.
Similarly I'd have liked some interpretation of Abraham's thoughts when commanded to sacrifice Issac, or at least relief when his piety and love of God over his child was rewarded, but The Book of God sweeps right over it and on to the next event.
Had I been more patient it would have been interesting to see how Wangerin dealt with the conflicting reports in the gospels about Christ's crucifixion and resurrection, because there's no way to conflate all four versions into a streamlines whole - he'd have to pick certain elements unique to some gospels and omit details from others. But I was disenchanted with the project before I got past Esau and Jacob.
I appreciate that this approach would have the significant potential for controversy, but it would have been a more interesting read. As it was, I just didn't get the point.
If you haven't read the Bible and want to know the stories of the testaments, old and new, then the Book of God is probably a better bet than actually reading the Bible itself. If you're looking for something more, though, you'll be disappointed. I was. - Alex

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