Customer comments on this Youngstown Ohio Book
The Open Book is a Question Mark
The change in biblical studies, with an increasing tendency to read the Bible as literature and to relate it to other literature, offers a field day to those who are skilled in both and there is plenty of evidence that they are able to exploit it. Anything in that department bearing the name of David Jasper is likely to be worth reading and this book is no exception. Fundamentally it is a resource book for teachers and students by two people with experience of both, but it also has much to offer to offer the general reader, especially those who find difficulty moving from the world of modernism (where life is rational and organised) to the world of post-modernism (which seems to be chaotic and marred by uncertainty). In a world where individual interpretations replace community interpretations and trust often gives way to suspicion, these editors explore religious literature afresh and at the same time uncover new biblical insights, not least in those biblical passages often neglected.
If the potential readership is broad so too is the literature. Eight chapters include extracts on origins (beginning with Genesis and the prologue to John and going on to the Quichı Indians and a creation story from the Iroquois), on sacred texts, biblical motifs and images, and on the great themes of literature and religion.
Writers include Ovid, Augustine, Wordsworth, Shakespeare, Luther, Bunyan, Kierkegaard, Teresa of Avila, Mark Twain, D H Lawrence, Goethe, Milton, Merton, Donne, Blake, Kafka, Eliot, Beckett, Derrida, and Ricoeur, to mention only a few of the more familiar. With such a wealth it is difficult to be selective, but Michıle Roberts, The Wild Girl, described as `a kind of fifth gospel written by Mary Magdalene', is a good example of breaking into new territory, the bringing together of Job and Kafka a creative way of tackling a theodicy, Elie Wiesel's Night perhaps the most moving, and Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood the seeds of a sermon on Matthew 7:3.
Once you begin to think this way it is difficult ever again to be content with interpreting biblical literature in isolation from other literature, and indeed from all the other arts and the whole world of culture. It certainly raises awkward and embarrassing questions but that may be a more effective way of uncovering religious truth than the traditional watering places of church, liturgy and sermon. Readers should be prepared to be stretched, occasionally alarmed and sometimes threatened, but much of the struggle is avoided only at our peril.
Very Brief Extracts
You should be aware that this "reader" offers extracts from 83 works in only 191 pages (the Amazon description as of 7/24/00 giving the page count as 400 is wrong); most works are represented through passages that are only a page or so in length. If you are expecting an anthology, you will be disappointed. If you are looking for a text that compiles brief passages relevant to the theme of literature and religion from a wide range of sources, this book will serve your needs.
A fine, scholarly selection and presentation.
Robert Detweiler and David Jasper edit Religion And Literature, a reader which offers selections from over seventy sources ranging from ancient classics and Western writings to literary analyses. Study questions at the end of each chapter lend to a fine scholarly presentation.