• List Price: $14.95
  • Save: $4.86 (33%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
In Stock.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.
Gift-wrap available.
The Great Code: The Bible... has been added to your Cart
Condition: Used: Good
Access codes and supplements are not guaranteed with used items.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

The Great Code: The Bible and Literature Paperback – November 11, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0156027809 ISBN-10: 0156027801 Edition: 1st

Buy New
Price: $10.09
37 New from $8.68 51 Used from $1.99
Amazon Price New from Used from
"Please retry"
$8.68 $1.99
Unknown Binding
"Please retry"

Best Books of the Year
See the Best Books of 2014
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for 2014's Best Books of the Year in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.

Frequently Bought Together

The Great Code: The Bible and Literature + Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays + Northrop Frye on Shakespeare
Price for all three: $52.74

Buy the selected items together

Hero Quick Promo
Save up to 90% on Textbooks
Rent textbooks, buy textbooks, or get up to 80% back when you sell us your books. Shop Now

Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; 1 edition (November 11, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156027801
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156027809
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.2 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #302,538 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Northrop Frye (1912-1991) was professor emeritus at Victoria College, University of Toronto, and the author of many books on literary theory and criticism.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
See all 10 customer reviews
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

76 of 81 people found the following review helpful By Arch Llewellyn on December 30, 2002
Format: Paperback
"The Great Code" reflects a lifetime's thinking about the patterns and meanings of the Bible, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a page that doesn't contain some nugget of insight--my copy's covered in Papermate blue! Frye's central point is that the Bible's best read as a complex ecology of types: the accounts of Jesus in the Gospels, for instance, have less to do with his actual deeds and words, however much our modern idea of history would like them to, than squaring his life with Old Testament 'anticipations.' In Frye's view, Jesus scarcely sneezes without invoking a line from the Old Testament, a fact that points to the essentally literary organization of the Bible. That's not to say the Bible's "merely" literature--on the contrary, Frye wants to show how it expands our sense of what literature and myth really mean. Meanwhile, he injects on the sly an attractive theology of his own. Literature like the Bible provides the types for us--the chain of typological anticipations doesn't culminate in Israel or Jesus or Revelation, but continues into our own lives, waking us up to our radical freedom.
My major disappointment with the book is that it grandly ignores Jacques Derrida and the deconstructionist critique of Frye's assumptions about the relationship between language and life, Word and presence. He mentions Derrida in the intro (the book appeared in 1981) and hints at a counterargument, but I would have liked to see him follow through, since their brand of criticism aims squarely at Frye's type of reading. Those with a more historical interest in the Bible will also balk at Frye's acceptance of the book as a unity, endorsing the misreading that turned the rich and varied texts of the Hebrew Torah into a vast typological waiting room for the Christian Messiah.
Still, this is a powerful interpretation that anyone with an interest in myth and religion should greatly enjoy.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
39 of 44 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 13, 2001
Format: Paperback
I can't let the only other reviewer of this book stand unchallenged. Frye's magnum opus asks the delicious question, "What if the Bible, given all its historicial oddities, nonetheless stood as a unity, God-given or otherwise?" To this, Frye gives overwhelming response. The story of Israel, rising and falling; the story of humanity, rising and falling; the story of Christ, rising and falling with us, and rising again--this is the story most worth telling. Frye knows (almost) everything (the parenthesis is not because I know something Frye doesn't but because, of course, God knows things Frye didn't). The most extraordinary book, for those with the patience to read it. Worthy of all seekers, with the mind to mind it.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By jay vincent on June 18, 2006
Format: Paperback
Intellectual "tour de force" by the greatest critic of our time:take the time to read, study, and enjoy.

This great text is an all-time classic that will appeal to the scholar and the layperson alike.

Frye is an amazing syncretist. I have never read any author other than Frye who can slip in and out of various disciplines so easily,and all the while weaving a "seamless web" of an argument that is logically structured and beautifully written. I realize that some statements in the text may offend conservative readers, but overall, the book is neutral regarding any matter of systemic doctrine or denominationally specific exegetical concerns. If anything, Frye's text offers the highest praise for the Bible

by showing how the language and imagery of the KJV penetrates all aspects of western literary and intellectual culture.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Certain Bibliophile on March 17, 2011
Format: Paperback
"The Great Code" really re-configured the way that I conceive of the Bible as a literary document. After two centuries of historical criticism (or narrative criticism as it's called when applied to the Bible), it is refreshing to see a whole new interpretive methodology which looks inward at the Bible, instead of trying to test its significance by how well it correlates to something outside of itself. And that is the central thesis to Frye's argument - that the Bible is a unified mythology, replete with its own literary devices, that hardly needs confirmation from history or archaeology to successfully tell the story (mythos) that it tells. Because of this, the book has been the target of a number of appropriate historicist critiques, all claiming that one can't cut wholly separate the work of literature from its social and cultural context. Although these criticisms aren't all fair themselves, as Frye even considers the structure of certain metaphors (like the ubiquitous flood myth) modulate themselves repeatedly via literary transmission into new texts.

The first part of the book consists of a highly condensed theory of language which Frye employs in the second half. I found this part just as useful, yet often elided in critical reviews. According to Frye, his own ideas are highly influenced by Vico's "Scienza Nuova" which posits the idea of a cyclical theory of language wherein each human epoch uses language in a unique, irreducible way.
Read more ›
2 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?