Treating the Bible as a literary text is a standard approach in certain areas of scholarship. Jack Miles' innovation is to treat God as the main protagonist of this literary work, and to analyze his "character" as revealed in the text. Miles, a former Jesuit who studied in Rome and Jerusalem, and has a doctorate in Near Eastern languages, analyzed the Hebrew Bible (for the most part like the Old Testament, but ordered differently) to arrive at his literary exegesis. This God, it is clear, is certainly a complex character. Undoubtedly male, but possessed of seemingly multiple personalities, He is alternately creator/destroyer, protector/executioner, and warrior/lawgiver. Miles' "reading" of God, whose proactive role at the beginning develops into a passive silent presence, is entertaining, thoughtful and a worthy winner of the 1996 Pulitzer Prize
From Publishers Weekly
In a masterful, audacious inquiry, Miles attempts to tease out God's nature, character, motives and designs through a close textual analysis of the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament. He deduces that the God of Judeo-Christian tradition is an amalgam of several ancient, divine personalities. Worshiped as the source of mercy, wisdom, strength and love, God is also at times an abrupt, unpredictable, wrathful being: a destroyer as well as a creator. There is also Abraham's personal god, almost a "busy friend of the family"; God the lawgiver, who attaches supreme importance to justice; God as arbiter, conqueror and father; and the silent, omniscient God of the Book of Daniel, who knows in detail the entire remaining course of history. The Creator, in Miles's reading, is intimately linked to human destiny, because humanity, made in His image, is an indispensable tool in His quest for self-understanding. Miles, a former Jesuit and currently a Los Angeles Times columnist, has written a profound exploration of Western monotheism and the wellsprings of faith. 35,000 first printing; BOMC alternate; QPB selection; author tour.
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