I AM JOSEPH by Barbara Cohen


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Again, as in The Binding of Isaac (1978), Cohen has cast the central figure as the narrator--to Some, questionable dramatic purpose and no ultimate good. Joseph is put in the unfortunate, even offensive position of proclaiming his own favored status (""we were twelve brothers, and we were all handsome, but I was the handsomest, and I knew it""). Events that he does not witness he must infer (the presentation of his bloody robe to his father) or learn about at second hand, if at all (his father's reaction to the news from Egypt). And the result is to project him as a doer, not the lost son of Jacob or the instrument of God. (He prospers in Potiphar's household, for instance, not because ""the Lord was with him,"" but because of his own efforts.) A more obviously objectionable alteration is the expansion and heightening of the attempted seduction of Joseph by Potiphar's wife (""She reached out her hand and grasped the knot by which my loincloth was held in place. . . . She pulled at the knot, it came undone, and my loincloth was in her hand. Her eyes grew wide. . .). And in the accompanying picture--ponderously inflated like all the others--she looks ready to have her way with him. The story of Joseph is one of the more direct and vigorous narratives in the Bible; with a little cutting, it suits kids just fine.

Pub Date: March 17th, 1980
Publisher: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard