SIGNS AND WONDERS: Tales from the Old Testament by Bernard Evslin

SIGNS AND WONDERS: Tales from the Old Testament

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Evslin's lively, intelligent retellings of Greek and Irish myths have been true to the tone and spirit of their separate cultures, yet informed by his own witty, original, but quite tenable interpretations. Here again his stories from the Old Testament reflect the King James style we think of as Biblical, in both the wording and rhythm of the sentences and the unfolding of the narrative--but with the addition of some concrete, carefully planted descriptive words and dialogue and without the misleading archaisms and the lists and begats which his tongue-in-cheek foreword claims the Devil put in to deter Bible reading. Evslin demonstrates early on that he doesn't shrink from putting words in God's mouth or disregarding scholarly caution on the ones that have come down to us--even in matters of disputed injunctions. Later stories--of Rebecca, Jacob and Esau, Joseph, Moses, David, and others, each following smoothly from the last--are made to read as full-bodied human drama, the inner struggles as dramatic as the action; but they are not made artificial or robbed of dignity by being novelistically ""fleshed out."" The Old Testament world view and attitudes have not been softened or distorted for contemporary sensibilities (though Evslin's decision to include the apocryphal Judith story toward the end makes a strong if far from contradictory answer to the prevailing view of woman). In fact, the perspective may well strike readers that much more powerfully as it emerges from these strongly realized stories. Readers familiar with the Old Testament will miss their favorite passages of poetry; and when it comes to arguing over interpretations, more faithful versions will have to be consulted; but Evslin might well arouse interest in doing just that.

Pub Date: Oct. 26th, 1982
Publisher: Four Winds