Thursday, December 31, 2009

And I was doing so well... then I ran into my last book of the year... Number 33 of this year is Jesus and Yahweh: The Names Divine by my favourite literary critic, Harold Bloom. As with all Bloom books, I had to think hard while reading this one, which is basically where he looks at Jesus and Yahweh as characters in the bible, and at their inconsistent portrayals throughout. It was very interesting, but since I don't have a very biblical background (in that I've never read the darn thing all the way through or anything), much of it was over my head and difficult to get through. The parts where Bloom compared Jesus to Hamlet though, those I understood.

I did take a bible course in university, as I thought it would be helpful for my English degree. And it was, it certaintly made some of the more well-used allegories easier to recognize, but we only looked at some of the bible, mainly the Old Testament, not much of the New, so the parts of the book dealing with Jesus were pretty much a mystery to me. Which I actually think was part of Bloom's point; because Jesus' personality (such as it is) is so different in the various gospels, we definitely don't get much of a sense of who he was. And Bloom finds this very fascinating especially given the predominance Jesus plays in American religion, where much of it is centered on 'knowing' Jesus and how he 'knows' them. Bloom thinks that is rather preposterous.

He also points out that Yahweh somehow morphed into the Christian's "Father" of the Holy Trinity, but do not seem to be the same God. Yahweh, Bloom posits, is not love, yet the Father is supposed to be love. Also, the Father seems to have been stripped of any personality or humanity, but when you read the older stuff, Yahweh is full of both.

It's a very interesting, but difficult read, but I do find purely literary approaches to the bible rather interesting.