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Jesus and Yahweh

The Names Divine


Harold Bloom (View Bio)
Hardcover: Riverhead, 2005.

Using his skills as a literary critic, Harold Bloom examines the character of Jesus, noting the logical flaws throughout the Gospels, and the character of Yahweh, finding that he has more in common with Mark's Jesus than he does with God the Father of the Christian and later rabbinic Jewish traditions. Bloom further argues that Christian Old Testament and the Hebrew Bible of the Jews are quite different books with different purposes, both political and religious. At a time when religion once again takes center stage in world affairs, Bloom's shocking conclusion, that there is no Judaic-Christian tradition — that the two histories, Gods, and even Bibles, are not compatible — will make readers re-think what seemed a shared heritage.

"JESUS AND YAHWEH is a fearless, provocative meditation…. Bursting with ideas and contradictions, discussions (and dismissals) of New Testament scholarship, accounts of Lurianic kaballah, gnomic Nietzschean utterances, and brilliant asides about the essence of American religion….. Bloom writes as if all Western literature were his private Talmud, turning it and turning it to reveal hidden meaning…. The battle between the New Testament and the Hebrew Bible is a struggle over religious truth that goes to a core crisis in Western civilization." — Jonathan Rosen, The New York Times Book Review

"JESUS AND YAHWEH adds one more to the long list of books in which Harold Bloom demonstrates that a formidable degree of learning can coexist with exceptional boldness of imagination. His prose style is by now familiar to a largely admiring readership: It could be described as at once dogmatic and discursive, serious though on occasion whimsical, engaging but exasperating, generous but verging on the narcissistic. He means to give you the world according to Bloom, and that world is one in which Bloom cannot help being a celebrity. A scholar of extraordinary range and productivity, he speaks with confident authority, indifferent to dissent, yet usually seeming aware that even the impressive weight of his learning cannot entirely control his addiction to the fantastic and astonishing." — Frank Kermode, The New York Review of Books

"The book is outrageous—nourishingly so. Bloom holds that the New Testament, far from fulfilling the old Hebrew Scriptures as Christians believe, vanquishes it. . . . Moreover, Yahweh and Jesus are so incompatible in spiritual, psychological, and literary terms that even to speak of a Judeo-Christian tradition is 'absurd.' . . . [This book] is for anyone who wants to learn how to read rather than just receive the Bible. Here is a man who has read every Biblical text in its original language, as well as everything ever written about the Book, and then with Promethean abandon dismisses centuries of consensus. . . . As the provocations pile up, the reading experience becomes akin to watching a musical virtuoso upend a beloved concerto. 'How dare he?' one thinks. Then: 'Go, white boy, go!' Better yet, the book generates a fierce desire to reread the Scriptures and see for oneself whether Bloom is a prophet or a madman. Best of all, JESUS AND YAHWEH shows by way of example how inane and even blasphemous it is to read the Bible literalistically in the service of a political ideology." — GQ Magazine

"The book is learned, even erudite, and sure to be controversial." — Publishers Weekly

"Bloom has strong, contentious opinions about everything from the letters of Paul to the Americanization of Jesus. His conclusions about the nature of contemporary Christianity, and its fundamental incompatibility with Judaism or Islam—or Jesus, for that matter—would generate enough friction in the American heartland to set off a prairie fire.... The book contains riches for the attentive reader (who is advised to keep a Bible and a few bookmarks handy). This is at heart a very personal exploration, and given Bloom's reportedly superhuman ability to recite verbatim textual passages from memory, he is a guide who truly contains multitudes.... How much influence do ancient ideas and narratives have over people who may never have encountered them directly? Bloom's belief in their lasting grip on us recalls Kierkegaard's assertion that 'an unconscious relationship is more powerful than a conscious one.' Judging from his analysis of the subtle relationships at the fractured core of Western religion, believers and nonbelievers alike have much to worry about." — San Francisco Chronicle

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