Jesus and Yahweh: The Names Divine

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The most controversial, explosive, and important book yet from the renowned author and critic.

Harold Bloom uses his unsurpassed skills to examine the character of Jesus: the inconsistencies, the contradictions, and the Gospels' flaws of logic. He also explores the character of Yahweh, who Bloom argues has more in common with Mark's Jesus than he does with God the Father of the Christian and rabbinic Jewish traditions. In fact, Bloom asserts, the Hebrew Bible of the Jews and the...

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The most controversial, explosive, and important book yet from the renowned author and critic.

Harold Bloom uses his unsurpassed skills to examine the character of Jesus: the inconsistencies, the contradictions, and the Gospels' flaws of logic. He also explores the character of Yahweh, who Bloom argues has more in common with Mark's Jesus than he does with God the Father of the Christian and rabbinic Jewish traditions. In fact, Bloom asserts, the Hebrew Bible of the Jews and the Christian Old Testament are very different books with very different purposes.

At a time when religion has taken center stage in the political arena, Bloom's controversial examination of the incompatible Judeo-Christian traditions will make readers rethink everything they take for granted about what they believe is a shared heritage.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Yale literary titan Harold Bloom never engages a subject in a conventional way. Whether his chosen topic is Shakespeare, the Western canon, or American religion, this distinguished MacArthur fellow grapples with big ideas while others nibble around the edges. Readers shouldn't be surprised then that Bloom's double-pronged study of Jesus and the Hebrew Bible's Yahweh bristles with thought-provoking, often controversial contentions. Bloom argues, for instance, that the quest for the historical Jesus is essentially a waste of time; he discovers radical differences between the Hebrew Bible of the Jews and the Christian Old Testament; and dismisses Jewish-Christian dialogue as a farce.
Jonathan Rosen
… 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, and in Bloom himself. It helps explain why, in Bloom's agonistic literary universe, literature, despite his genius for explaining it, can seem oddly irrelevant. It is religious truth that matters.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Prolific literary critic, Yale professor and professional provocateur Bloom (The Book of J) here tackles the characters of the Jewish and Christian gods: what god do we meet in Hebrew Scripture? Who is the Jesus of the New Testament, and does he bear any relation to the Jesus most Americans worship? Does, for that matter, the Hebrew Yahweh resemble the first person of contemporary Christians' Trinity? Bloom, as usual, skewers quite a few sacred cows--for example, he dismisses the quest for the historical Jesus as a waste of time, and says that Jewish-Christian dialogue is a "farce." But in fact Bloom's major points are somewhat commonplace, including his assertion that the Christian reading of Hebrew Scripture laid the groundwork for Christian anti-Semitism. A fair enough charge, but hardly a new one; theologians have observed, and debated, this point for centuries. Bloom's real brilliance lies in his smaller, subtler claims, such as his nuanced discussion of the different ways Matthew, Mark and Luke present Jesus, his assertion that Bible translator William Tyndale anticipated Shakespeare, and his observation that, contra Marx, religion is not the opiate of the people but their "poetry, both bad and good." The book is learned, even erudite, and sure to be controversial. (Oct. 6) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Using his literary skills to compare Jesus and Yahweh, famed scholar/critic Bloom shows that the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Old Testament are different in intent and ends up arguing that there is no Judeo-Christian tradition. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A return to the Bible by the noted Yale professor and literary critic, though the slapdash results lack the depth of most of the volumes he cites. Reinforcing his reputation as a cultural provocateur, the 75-year-old Bloom (Where Shall Wisdom Be Found, 2004, etc.) issues proclamations like Zeus hurling thunderbolts from an academic Mt. Olympus. He seems more intent on igniting firestorms of controversy than providing thoughtful analysis. Almost sure to incite an argument is his contention that the very notion of a Judeo-Christian tradition is a fallacy, that it would make as much sense to speak of a Christian-Islamic tradition (were it not for the alliance between America and Israel). Identifying himself as a heretical Jew, Bloom will also surely get a rise from the Christian devout with his almost throwaway suggestions that Jesus likely escaped crucifixion and traveled to India, and that the Gospel of Thomas has more credibility than the Synoptic Gospels of the Bible. As provocative as Bloom attempts to be, this book is more often maddening than stimulating or enlightening. The short, sketchy chapters of the first half (the "Jesus" section) read more like notes for a finished and fully realized study. Chatty and first-person discursive rather than cohesively scholarly, Bloom rambles and repeats himself, indulging in digressions before circling back to the most contentious points without deepening or amplifying his arguments. Along the way, the literary critic proclaims that Hamlet is Shakespeare's Jesus (and that Yahweh combines elements of Hamlet, Lear and Falstaff), compares the Gospel of Mark with Edgar Allan Poe, calls Philip Roth America's Kafka and elevates Wallace Stevens aboveall American poets since Whitman and Dickinson. Why? In most cases, because he says so. Bloom barely provides a gloss on more substantial work, such as the two volumes by Jack Miles (God: A Biography, 1995; Christ: A Crisis in the Life of God, 2001), which are often invoked in these pages.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780641982781
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 3/6/2007
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Harold Bloom

Harold Bloom is arguably the world's greatest, and certainly most famous, literary critic. Author of twenty-seven books and the recipient of many awards, he is best known for his New York Times bestsellers Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, The Western Canon, and The Book of J.


"Authentic literature doesn't divide us," the scholar and literary critic Harold Bloom once said. "It addresses itself to the solitary individual or consciousness." Revered and sometimes reviled as a champion of the Western canon, Bloom insists on the importance of reading authors such as Shakespeare, Milton, and Chaucer -- not because they transmit certain approved cultural values, but because they transcend the limits of culture, and thus enlarge rather than constrict our sense of what it means to be human. As Bloom explained in an interview, "Shakespeare is the true multicultural author. He exists in all languages. He is put on the stage everywhere. Everyone feels that they are represented by him on the stage."

Bloom began his career by tackling the formidable legacy of T.S. Eliot, who had dismissed the English Romantic poets as undisciplined nature-worshippers. Bloom construed the Romantic poets' visions of immortality as rebellions against nature, and argued that an essentially Romantic imagination was still at work in the best modernist poets.

Having restored the Romantics to critical respectability, Bloom advanced a more general theory of poetry. His now-famous The Anxiety of Influence argued that any strong poem is a creative "misreading" of the poet's predecessor. The book raised, as the poet John Hollander wrote, "profound questions about... how the prior visions of other poems are, for a true poet, as powerful as his own dreams and as formative as his domestic childhood." In addition to developing this theory, Bloom wrote several books on sacred texts. In The Book of J, he suggested that some of the oldest parts of the Bible were written by a woman.

The Book of J was a bestseller, but it was the 1994 publication of The Western Canon that made the critic-scholar a household name. In it, Bloom decried what he called the "School of Resentment" and the use of political correctness as a basis for judging works of literature. His defense of the threatened canon formed, according to The New York Times, a "passionate demonstration of why some writers have triumphantly escaped the oblivion in which time buries almost all human effort."

Bloom placed Shakespeare along with Dante at the center of the Western canon, and he made another defense of Shakespeare's centrality with Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, an illuminating study of Shakespeare's plays. How to Read and Why (2000) revisited Shakespeare and other writers in the Bloom pantheon, and described the act of reading as both a spiritual exercise and an aesthetic pleasure.

Recently, Bloom took up another controversial stance when he attacked Harry Potter in an essay for The Wall Street Journal. His 2001 book Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children of All Ages advanced an alternative to contemporary children's lit, with a collection of classic works of literature "worthy of rereading" by people of all ages.

The poet and editor David Lehman said that "while there are some critics who are known for a certain subtlety and a certain judiciousness, there are other critics... who radiate ferocious passion." Harold Bloom is a ferociously passionate reader for whom literary criticism is, as he puts it, "the art of making what is implicit in the text as finely explicit as possible."

Good To Know

Bloom earned his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1955 and was hired as a Yale faculty member that same year. In 1965, at the age of 35, he became one of the youngest scholars in Yale history to be appointed full professor in the department of English. He is now Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale and Berg Visiting Professor of English at New York University.

Though some conservative commentators embraced Bloom's canon as a return to traditional moral values, Bloom, who once styled himself "a Truman Democrat," dismisses attempts by both left- and right-wingers to politicize literature. "To read in the service of any ideology is not, in my judgment, to read at all," he told a New York Times interviewer.

His great affinity for Shakespeare has put Bloom in the unlikely position of stage actor on occasion; he has played his "literary hero," port-loving raconteur Sir John Falstaff, in three productions.

Bloom is married to Jeanne, a retired school psychologist whom he met while a junior faculty member at Yale in the 1950s. They have two sons.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Harold Irving Bloom (full name)
    2. Hometown:
      New York, New York and New Haven, Connecticut
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 11, 1930
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A., Cornell University, 1951; Ph.D., Yale University, 1955

Table of Contents

Introduction     1
Prelude: Eight Opening Reflections     10
Who Was Jesus and What Happened to Him?     17
Quests and Questers for Jesus     20
The Dark Speaking of Jesus     26
The Belated Testament     43
St. Paul     52
The Gospel of Mark     58
The Gospel of John     72
Jesus and Christ     89
The Trinity     96
Not Peace But a Sword or Divine Influence     110
The Divine Name: Yahweh     127
Yahweh Alone     129
What Does Yahweh Mean by "Love"?     165
The Son, O How Unlike the Father     171
Jesus and Yahweh: The Agon for Genius     179
The Jewish Sages on God     193
Self-Exile of Yahweh     200
Yahweh's Psychology     217
Irreconcilability of Christianity and Judaism     221
Conclusion: Reality-Testing     235
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 22, 2010

    Harold Bloom's "Jesus and Yahweh.

    This is an essential read for all who wish to examine in an intellectually honest fashion the narrative that has become the terra firma of Western theo/philo thought.

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    Posted November 6, 2009

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    Posted June 24, 2010

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