by Andrew M. & Jacob Neusner Greeley ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 9, 1990
Inspired odd-couple casting, as a best-selling novelist-sociologist-priest known for his acerbic wit and a rabbi revered for his meticulous scholarship team up to produce a superb study of the Bible, from Genesis to Jesus. Of course, Greeley is also a scholar (most recently The Catholic Myth, p. 89) and Neusner has penned popular works (e.g., The Death and Birth of Judaism, 1980). This time out, the two men link arms to discover whether Judaism and Christianity can ""dialogue."" Neusner says no, asserting that ""religious people can talk together but religions cannot"" because different faiths ""are talking about different things to different people."" Greeley, ever the optimist, says yes, likening Judaism and Christianity to sisters (an analogy Neusner accepts) and suggesting that sibling communication must always remain open. In any event, this volume shines with brilliant and vivid scriptural analysis. Writing in slick, sly prose, Greeley champions the primacy of religious experience by saying that he ""reads the Bible like a love story"" and that ""religion is experience and story before it is anything else."" More cautious in substance and style, Neusner celebrates midrash (the Jewish technique of scriptural ""search and inquiry"") and declares his belief in the Torah as a prophetic guide to current events. Greeley offers poems, including a paraphrase of the erotically charged Song of Songs; Neusner offers quiet discussion of why, for example, ""the fall of Adam marked the rise of Israel."" Both seem dazed by Jesus; Neusner calls him ""simply incomprehensible,"" while Greeley says that ""a Jesus who does not disconcert is not Jesus."" And so on. Pick your scripture, and these two men--the most prolific writers in their respective faiths, according to the introduction--will expound upon it with intelligence and grace. A unique example of interfaith communication, and one of the best popular commentaries on the Bible in years.
Pub Date: July 9, 1990
Page Count: -
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1990
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