Josipovici is a novelist (Contre-Jour, 1986), critic, and professor of English at the Univ. of Sussex, but he approaches his formidable subject in the best spirit of a true amateur. With a freshness that comes only of interest, he here investigates the nature of the Bible and how we might go about reading it. What is the difference between the Bible and any other book? Is it a coherent whole, or a ""ragbag"" of stories, poems, and religious instruction? Josipovici credits Martin Buber with giving him ""a glimpse of how it might be possible to illuminate the Bible by looking at what it said rather than what lay behind it."" He stays close to the text, then, illuminating his meditations with comparisons to Kafka, T.S. Eliot, and Thomas Mann--and with observations from other literary/biblical critics, including Frank Kermode and Northrop Frye, and from theologians as well. Always keeping the Bible as a whole in view, he examines the fundamental elements of rhythm, speech, and character throughout both the Old and New Testaments. A subtle and complex work, scrupulously wary of reductionism. Josipovici's reading reminds us that the Bible can perhaps never be finally explained and that a true reading such as his enforces an encounter with oneself as well as with the Bible.