Congregation: Contemporary Writers Read the Jewish Bible

David Rosenberg, Editor, Harcourt, Manufactured by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P $29.95 (526p) ISBN 978-0-15-146350-3
""Turn it and turn it, for everything is in it,'' so a Jewish sage once described the Torah, and 37 modern Jewish poets, novelists and critics add their biblical interpretations to countless precedents in this somewhat uneven omnibus. At its most personal and contemporaneous, the collection soars: Max Apple fancies a self-doubting Joshua who is ``an emblem of all sons hesitating after the death of all fathers''; Anne Roiphe reads in Nehemiah a plea for the return of territories by present-day Israel; Ezra evokes Jay Neugeboren's painful memories of a double lifebeing the least Jewish of his summer friends and the most Jewish of his friends during the school year; and Francine Prose vivifies the irascible God of Malachi. Unfortunately, incongruous here are Harold Bloom's literary analysis of ``J,'' a primary author of Exodus, and Leonard Michaels's repetition of the Freudian interpretation of Jonah. Although many of the writers claim to be rusty or unfamiliar with the Jewish bible, James Atlas on Hosea seems particularly out of his depth and the piece by Gordon Lish, who remembers ``whacking off'' to the ``dirty parts,'' is insulting. Curiously, Rosenberg (Chosen Days) offers two selections on certain books (Jonah, Daniel, etc.) while ignoring Micah, Haggai and others. (November 12)
Reviewed on: 11/02/1987
Release date: 11/01/1987
Paperback - 978-0-15-622040-8
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