THE LOST BOOK OF PARADISE by David Rosenberg

THE LOST BOOK OF PARADISE

Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Rosenberg, who's made a career from controversial translations of biblical materials (The Book of J, 1990; Job Speaks, 1977, etc.), now claims to have ``restored'' a pre-Genesis account of the Garden of Eden. The problem is, though, that while pre-Biblical tales of Adam and Eve undoubtedly existed, none are extant. Rosenberg's text is, then, the result of imposing a modern sensibility on ancient themes. The outcome is a strange stew of Hebrew, ecological, and New Age voices. Since Rosenberg contends that his ``Book of Paradise'' is stylistically and thematically linked to the Song of Songs, he converts the Adam and Eve story into a lush, lyrical romance: (first lines: ``If I spoke to her in breaths/lips inspire lips/to press''). The weirdness grows: Adam is taught to speak by plants; sexual congress comes not with Eve but with a female snake, who also teaches Adam the history of the Garden; Eve has anxiety dreams. Rosenberg doesn't help matters by framing the ``Book of Paradise'' with a fictitious commentary penned by a stepdaughter of Solomon's who talks like a modern professor (``I would venture that the work is inspired by the embrace of agriculture and horticulture''). Nor do his own notes inspire confidence, with their eagerness to find hints of feminism, psychoanalysis, Darwinism, and deep ecology in his imagined text. Most troubling of all, Rosenberg--perhaps realizing that most serious researchers will scoff at his work--seizes every chance to attack biblical scholarship (e.g., ``when scholars are blinded by intellectual pieties, it's time to turn to the poets''). Better advice: Turn to Genesis. It's a keeper.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 1-56282-759-6
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Hyperion
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1993




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