Recent views of the origins of religion offer two alternatives, says Reynolds Price, the first the Freudian of religion as oedipal tactic, and the second the Jungian of origins in the pools of collective unconscious. He points to the possibility of a third view arising from the existence of a particular body of fixed and accessible story--the canonical tales of Jews and Christians. Not a new focus certainly, but one that has the advantage of taking into account ""the force which ancient mythologies posit as crucial--the desire of the gods to be known by man, the pressure of transcendent revelation upon creatures who must then relate or strangle in awe."" (The non-Jewish-Christian mythologies are no more than referred to.) In the introduction, this discussion is cross-fertilized with the main theme, the origins of narrative and, logically enough, with Price's story of his own long involvement with Biblical narrative. His skills as university teacher and novelist are such that the reader turns with expectation from this introduction to the 30 stories the author has translated from the Latin of the Old Testament Vulgate or from New Testament Greek. Can he indeed conjure up out of these often appalling and intestinal stories ""the consolation of belief in an ordered world?"" Individual readers must decide for themselves, but there is no question that, in both narratives and discussion, this is a fascinating book.