Literary Legacy

Intro:

I wrote this review after finishing my first course of classes in the genre of Bible Literature. I left it in my editor, or queue, of unpublished to marinate over time. I find this helps me decide if it’s worth the light of day. I still haven’t decided. But here it is. It screamed for me to release it from confinement. “Give me liberty or delete me altogether,” it said.

“My people perish for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me” (Hosea 4:6)


The Written Word: Bible in View of its Literary Excellence

Studying the Bible as literature can be an exhilarating experience if one is already staid in their biblical theology, fully understanding the Bible is what it claims to be. Or even as a fledgling of the subject if God’s hand is guiding. And the teacher at the helm is honest with no side agenda.

And I can’t imagine any teacher doing as well as Dr. Justin Jackson in bringing the depths of the narrative into full view for our examination in all its beauty and emotion, with biblical accuracy fully intact.

I Initially read the extensive introduction to the textbook of an online class I recently completed at Hillsdale College, presented in the capable hands of Dr. Justin Jackson. The subject title is “Reading Genesis.” The subject matter is, you guessed it, reading Genesis and viewing it through the richness of its literary value. It’s been quite a few years since I have been in that type of setting.  It’s nice to be back sitting in class instead of facing it. It gets the creative juices flowing again in the ol’ grey matter.

The text is titled “Genesis: Translation and Commentary.” Authored by Robert Alter. He is a well-known scholar of Hebrew, a linguist, and a bible philologist. His targeted approach is to translate the Bible to preserve the original language’s rich nuance and emotion. In this case, Genesis. It is a book of its own that stands on its merit with a promise. In so making, Alter’s approach is one with a learned eye for classical Hebrew literature as well as biblical accuracy.

His introduction goes into great detail describing his goal (fifty-five pages) and is not light reading. I would recommend it for the serious student of both literature and the Bible. By the end of his introduction, I could already see the merits of his project. For the richness of its literary value alone, I can recognize the presence of God inhabiting the book.

I will let Alter speak for himself here:

“Genesis begins with the making of heaven and earth and all life, and ends with the image of a mummy–Joseph’s–in a coffin. But implicit in the end is a promise of more life to come, of irrepressible procreation, and that renewal of creation will be manifested, even under the weight of oppression, at the beginning of Exodus.

Genesis, then, works with disparate materials, puts together its story with two large and very different building blocks, but nevertheless achieves the cohesiveness, the continuity of theme and motif, and the sense of completion of an *archetectonically conceived book. Although it looks forward to its sequel, it stands as a book, inviting our attention as an audience that follows the story from beginning to end.”

Robert Alter – Genesis Introduction page x l v i i

Title: Genesis: Translation and Commentary, 1998.

Author: Robert Alter.

Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company.

[G.W. …and this is my first book review.]

*Note: “archetectonically” – The artful beauty and precision of structure.

Concluding Thought: This narrative translation brought the glittering jewels of the Bible into a fresh and sparkling radiance for me. I enjoyed the book translation and commentaries as well as the class. I have studied the Bible from varied perspectives. However, this is the first time for its pure beauty of literary excellence beyond comparison. [G.W.]

Disclaimer: I have no affiliated agreement or association with either the author or the college. My opinions are strictly my own and voluntary. I purchased this copy from Hillsdale College bookstore.



7 thoughts on “Literary Legacy”

  1. “It’s nice to be back sitting in class instead of facing it. It gets the creative juices flowing again in the ol’ grey matter.” So glad you are receiving a fresh anointing!! May God Continue to Prosper You in this environment🙏🏾

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, I never saw this revealing overview: “Genesis begins with the making of heaven and earth and all life, and ends with the image of a mummy–Joseph’s–in a coffin. But implicit in the end is a promise of more life to come, of irrepressible procreation, and that renewal of creation will be manifested, even under the weight of oppression, at the beginning of Exodus.” Thank you for sharing this!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “Give me liberty or delete me altogether.” I had to laugh at this as this is exactly what I’m looking for when trying to decide which lesson to release each month. So, you sold me on the class when I read, “And the teacher at the helm is honest with no side agenda” which in turn sparked greater interest in the class text. For my undergraduate degree I had to take either a course on either Old Testament or New Testament Literature. It was well known that the OT professor’s goal was to make as many students as possible into atheists so I opted for the NT class, which I thoroughly enjoyed, learned a lot historical content but always wondered if the professor believed in Jesus as anyone beyond a historical figure.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “It was well known that the OT professor’s goal was to make as many students as possible into atheists”
      Thank you for your witness of experience, Beth. My experience was in post-grad study of Theology. The “Professor” confessed to being Atheist early enough for me to walk out and drop the class. I heard many more with like experiences over the years. Therefore, my warning in the opening paragraph.

      Like

Notes:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s