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This review is taken from PN Review 69, Volume 16 Number 1, September - October 1989.

TEXTS & TESTAMENTS Gabriel Josipovici, The Book of God: A Response to the Bible (Yale University Press) £18.95

In the beginning was Auerbach's Mimesis. The lessons of his first chapter took nearly thirty years to sink in, but with Frank Kermode's Genesis of Secrecy and Robert Alter's Art of Biblical Narrative we may feel that the giant generation of Biblical criticism is upon us - or, perhaps the Flood. Northrop Frye, Edmund Leach, Meir Sternberg, Gabriel Josipovici in the book under review here, and Harold Bloom in his forthcoming Ruin the Sacred Truths, all show that any critic worth his salt should now be engaged with the most important book of all. Worth his salt, incidentally, because there has been, so far, little interesting feminist criticism of the Bible: perhaps Lot's wife offers too cruel an example of what may happen to women who challenge God's word.

The two major battles have been won. Traditional Biblical criticism has been largely circumvented, its efforts to get back to an original text having been exposed as the expression of a deluded hope that there is some core of Biblical fact which can be objectively described, and its multiple emendations and corrections of editorial errors showing up the scholars' lack of a literary sensibility. A critic like Josipovici raids these scholars' work for its useful factual information and, having his cake as well, then uses their embarrassingly limited critical responses as a base from which to build his contrastingly brilliant readings. The other battle is within the literary establishment, the Bible as literature school of criticism, with all ...


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