Communion: Contemporary Writers Reveal the Bible in Their Lives

Communion: Contemporary Writers Reveal the Bible in Their Lives

by David Rosenberg
     
 

The authors in Communion, largely of Christian background, approach the Bible not primarily as a religious text, but as literary, imaginative, and cultural bedrock. By comparing their first exposure to the Bible as children, as many of the authors do, with an exploration of what the Bible means to them and to their work today, the authors reveal the concussion and… See more details below

Overview

The authors in Communion, largely of Christian background, approach the Bible not primarily as a religious text, but as literary, imaginative, and cultural bedrock. By comparing their first exposure to the Bible as children, as many of the authors do, with an exploration of what the Bible means to them and to their work today, the authors reveal the concussion and reverberation of the larger Judeo-Christian, American culture on our private lives. In reexamining specific books of the Hebrew Bible and New Testament in such a personal way, the writers, essayists, and poets in Communion illuminate the text with their lives, bringing their counterparts among the Biblical authors to life as well. Such a rereading allows them to reinvigorate the Bible with new meaning, and to better reveal how the Bible has shaped and altered their thought.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
What difference does reading the Bible make in contemporary culture? Are biblical texts to be read as mere devotional tracts? Or do these texts have a more pervasive, though less visible, influence, shaping our lives, our attitudes and even our writing in mysterious ways? David Rosenberg (A Poet's Bible, 1992) gathers the voices of 40 well-known writers as they examine the effects that reading the Bible has had on their writing. Novelist Valerie Sayers contemplates the ways in which the Genesis story of Rebecca and the Lukan narrative of Mary and Martha have woven their stories into her stories about women in the modern South. Joyce Carol Oates, in a wickedly ironic piece, explores the Garden of Eden expulsions and the story in John of the woman taken in adultery. Helen Vendler crafts a small masterpiece on the manner in which the rhythms and themes of the Psalms and John, in particular, are integrated into our own experiences. But this collection is notable more for what is missing than for what is included. Where is the rich and gracious voice of Reynolds Price, for whom the biblical narratives, especially the gospels, are insistently woven into both his life and his writings? Where are John Updike's dyspeptic ruminations on things biblical, Clyde Edgerton's rollicking biblical comedy? (Mar.)
Kirkus Reviews
A generally strained anthology, with several memorable individual essays.

Poet and translator Rosenberg (Testimony, 1989; The Book of J, edited by Harold Bloom) has once again assembled a compendium of writers' essays on a single topic, in this case personal reflections on the Bible, often going back to childhood. Most of the writers are from Christian backgrounds, though most now approach the tradition with a healthy skepticism, and a few, like Catherine Texier, with "a fresh rage." The most intriguing contributions demonstrate how some writers have felt compelled to employ biblical models in their adult writing. Valerie Sayers, for instance, observing the matriarch Rebecca's bitterness and conniving strength, casts her in a contemporary novel. Several other creative essays trace common narrative threads through two seemingly disparate biblical books; Kathleen Norris uses both Jeremiah and Revelation to demonstrate how the poetry of apocalyptic literature is lost when the Bible is no longer read aloud. And slightly off the beaten track, Terry Tempest Williams discusses her reconciliation with her Utah childhood and the Book of Mormon in a convincing rite-of-passage essay. But all too many of the pieces fail to illuminate the biblical text: John Barth makes a confusing foray into the physics of creation; Elizabeth Hardwick's essay on the life of Jesus is afflicted with the very banality she fears will taint any attempt to write one's thoughts on the much-interpreted Bible. Readers are also advised to skip Rosenberg's pompous introduction, whose basic premise is that the Bible has been monopolized for too long by tweedy academics and needs at last to be understood on a personal level. The book's contrived division into three untitled parts leaves the reader wondering about Rosenberg's careless organization.

With this anthology topping out at 560 pages, Rosenberg could have been more discriminating in his selections and their presentation.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780385474849
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/17/1997
Pages:
560
Product dimensions:
5.22(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.35(d)

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