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God: A Biography

By Jack Miles

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Format: Paperback, 464 pages
Miles shows us God in the guise of a great literary character, the hero of the Old Testament. In a close, careful, and inspired reading of that testament - book by book, verse by verse - God is seen from his first appearance as Creator to his last as Ancient of Days. The God whom Miles reveals to us is a warrior whose greatest battle is with himself. We see God torn by conflicting urges. To his own sorrow, he is by turns destructive and creative, vain and modest, subtle and naive, ruthless and tender, lawful and lawless, powerful yet powerless, omniscient and blind. As we watch him change amazingly, we are drawn into the epic drama of his search for self-knowledge, the search that prompted him to create mankind as his mirror. In that mirror he seeks to examine his own reflection, but he also finds there a rival. We then witness God's own perilous passage from power to wisdom. For generations our culture's approach to the Bible has been more a reverential act than a pursuit of knowledge about the Bible's protagonist; and so, through the centuries the complexity of God's being and "life" has been diluted in our consciousness. In this book we find - in precisely chiseled relief - the infinitely complex God who made infinitely complex man in his image. Here, we come closer to the essence of that literary masterpiece that has shaped our culture no less than our religious life. In God: A Biography, Jack Miles addresses his great subject with imagination, insight, learning, daring, and dazzling originality, giving us at the same time an illumination of the Old Testament as a work of consummate art and a journey to the secret heart of God.

About the Author

Jack Miles is a writer whose work has appeared in numerous national publications, including The Atlantic Monthly, the The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times, where he served for ten years as literary editor and as a member of the newspaper's editorial board. The recipient of a Ph.D. in Near Eastern languages from Harvard University and a former Jesuit, he has been a Regents Lecturer at the University of California, director of the Humanities Center at Claremont Graduate University, and visiting professor of humanities at the California Institute of Technology. His first book, God: A Biography, won a Pulitzer Prize and has been translated into fifteen languages. Currently senior advisor to the president of the J. Paul Getty Trust, a foundation supporting art and scholarship, Dr. Miles lives with his wife and daughter in Southern California.

Reviews

In a masterful, audacious inquiry, Miles attempts to tease out God's nature, character, motives and designs through a close textual analysis of the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament. He deduces that the God of Judeo-Christian tradition is an amalgam of several ancient, divine personalities. Worshiped as the source of mercy, wisdom, strength and love, God is also at times an abrupt, unpredictable, wrathful being: a destroyer as well as a creator. There is also Abraham's personal god, almost a ``busy friend of the family''; God the lawgiver, who attaches supreme importance to justice; God as arbiter, conqueror and father; and the silent, omniscient God of the Book of Daniel, who knows in detail the entire remaining course of history. The Creator, in Miles's reading, is intimately linked to human destiny, because humanity, made in His image, is an indispensable tool in His quest for self-understanding. Miles, a former Jesuit and currently a Los Angeles Times columnist, has written a profound exploration of Western monotheism and the wellsprings of faith. 35,000 first printing; BOMC alternate; QPB selection; author tour. (Apr.)

Despite its provocative title, this is a serious attempt to come to an understanding of the portrayal of God in the Tanakh, i.e., the books of the Hebrew Scriptures in the order of the Hebrew Bible, as opposed to the order in the Old Testament. Miles, a former Jesuit with a Ph.D. in Near Eastern languages who is currently a member of the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times, offers "knowledge of God as a literary character." While some may not care for how God is portrayed‘at one point he is "whiny"‘the book will appeal to believers and nonbelievers alike as an excellent introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures that does not read like a Scripture commentary. Recommended for all collections.‘Augustine J. Curley, Newark Abbey, N.J.

EAN: 9780679743682
ISBN: 0679743685
Publisher: Random House Inc
Dimensions: 20.57 x 13.23 x 3.07 centimetres (0.39 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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