Joyful Noise: The New Testament Revisited

Overview

Like many of their contemporaries, novelists Rick Moody and Darcey Steinke attended Sunday school as kids but drifted away from religion as adolescents. Now, as adults, they are grappling anew with the teachings of the Bible. Rejecting the hard-edged dogmas of many mainline denominations, they have reread the New Testament, reviewed their own life experiences — and come up with their own personal interpretations of Christian tenets.

Moody and Steinke's renewed interest in ...

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Overview

Like many of their contemporaries, novelists Rick Moody and Darcey Steinke attended Sunday school as kids but drifted away from religion as adolescents. Now, as adults, they are grappling anew with the teachings of the Bible. Rejecting the hard-edged dogmas of many mainline denominations, they have reread the New Testament, reviewed their own life experiences — and come up with their own personal interpretations of Christian tenets.

Moody and Steinke's renewed interest in Christianity struck a chord with other notable writers — and the result is this extraordinary collection of original essays. Gathering together some of the freshest and most thought-provoking voices in contemporary literature — including Madison Smartt Bell, Benjamin Cheever, Lydia Davis, Jeffrey Eugenides, Lucy Grealey, bell hooks, Ann Padgett, Joanna Scott, and Kim Wozencraft — joyful Noise offers a fascinating range of probing and very personal interpretations of what Christianity means today. Whether it's Kathy Bowman's poetic riffs on the significance of "Jesus's Feet" or Barry Hannah's guilt-tinged recollections of a neighborhood outcast who went on to find fulfillment as a hippie minister, these remarkable and wonderfully eclectic meditations are sure to find an eager audience among boomers and twentysomethings looking to renew their faith.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Novelists Moody (Purple America, LJ 2/15/97) and Steinke (Suicide Blonde, Atlantic, 1992) have brought together 21 essays by 21 different contributors including themselves, none of whom are biblical or New Testament scholars. They are all writers, howevernovelists, poets, playwrightswhich makes this book about faith a most interesting read. With a deep interest in religion, the contributors have selected New Testament passages or themes on which to provide very different kinds of commentaries or as launching points for personal reflections on religion. One chapter, for example, is a poetical reflection on Jesus' feet, another on the teenage Jesus with a consideration of the adolescent spirit vis--vis religion. Recommended especially for collections including inspirational reading.John Moryl, Yeshiva Univ. Lib., New York
Kirkus Reviews
A bid to shed fresh light on the New Testament, weighed down by a disappointingly predictable party line: Jesus-as-radical-moral-teacher.

These baby boomer writers have mostly "revisited" only a fraction of the New Testament, the Gospels, which novelist Moody (Purple America, p. 164, etc.) sees as "great liberal documents in strong support of ethical universals." In rescuing the New Testament from the Christian Right, though, these writers don't realize that by almost exclusively using the Gospels, they've ceded some of the richest territory to the fundamentalists. That's why Joanna Scott's marvelous essay on Revelation is nothing short of a revelation (her discussion of symbols as "masks" in the text is truly stunning), and why Ann Powers's contribution, "Teenage Jesus," falls flat. In her zeal to make Jesus culturally relevant to bohemian boomers, Powers utterly trivializes his message and mission. Portrayals of Jesus as a rebel with a good cause, or a misunderstood ethical teacher, are beyond prosaic. Several of the writers mention that their views of Jesus were heavily influenced by the rock-opera movie Jesus Christ Superstar, which helps explain this book's unidimensionality. Why not try new turf and explore the irascible Paul? Aside from one obligatory essay on 1 Corinthians 13 (de rigueur at American weddings), Paul is completely ignored. Standout essays include bell hooks's creative offering on the transformative power of love; Benjamin Cheever's offhanded appeal to "judge not," and Jeffrey Eugenides's witty portrayal of the Holy Ghost in Acts: "Jesus gets all the attention, all the reviews," Eugenides wryly observes.

The editors of this anthology should have heeded his remark. In its narrow purview, this New Testament revisited is considerably less juicy than the original.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316579957
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 1/18/2008
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 260
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 5.00 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Parable of the Hidden Treasure 3
Jesus' Feet 14
Jesus Was a Convict 19
Marvelous Revelation 29
A Love Supreme 40
Within and Without 51
"Was" in John 61
Teenage Jesus 75
My God 89
Love's Alchemy 107
The Good Enough News 114
Underdog: The Holy Spirit of Acts 124
The Rock 135
Snake Bite 145
Corpus Christi 152
Judge Not 172
Paring Off the Amphibologisms: Jesus Recovered by the Jesus Seminar 183
The Magnificat 203
Sermon with Meath 216
Forthwith 228
Afterword: The Baby 237
Notes on Contributors 248
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