A broad overview of Christian interpretations of the initial chapters of the book of Genesis.
Diaz (The White Tortilla, 2006) offers readers a work four decades in the making. The author writes that he’s long grappled with the profound mysteries in Genesis’ first 11 chapters, which include the stories of Creation and Noah’s Ark, 900-year-old men, the Tower of Babel, and obscure genealogies. These are among the most debated and, indeed, labyrinthine passages of the entire Bible—hence, Diaz’s apt title. He aims to provide readings with “a broad spectrum of views…ranging from liberal to fundamental.” Chapter by chapter, he presents myriad interpretations, but he also avoids offering his own opinions on them in order to allow readers to come to their own conclusions: “There is room for variant understandings of Genesis” is a refrain that echoes throughout. For example, his chapters on the Creation story include a literal interpretation that God created the world in six days as well as modern glosses that incorporate the Big Bang theory and evolution into their understandings. Similarly, he gives equal footing to those who believe that Noah’s flood was a universal, worldwide event and others who believe that it was a local flood. Most of the book is an impartial survey of contemporary Christian literature on Genesis, but it also includes four appendices in which Diaz offers personal musings on apologetics, metaphysics, philosophy, science, and the concept of truth. All in all, this is an exceptional overview of contemporary, scholarly interpretations of Genesis, and it features an impressive bibliography. However, nonscholarly, ancient interpretations—particularly from Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Jewish thinkers—are mostly ignored aside from occasional references to St. Thomas Aquinas. Also, although Diaz is fair in his synopses of conflicting Christian interpretations, he tends to turn the arguments of biblical skeptics and atheists into straw men, hastily dismissing them as “absurd notions” and “anti-intellectual absurdities.”
An impressively researched review of Christian biblical thought.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)