All great books bear rereading. If you love a story enough, you might read it a dozen times and it will never get old. Just this evening I finished a book, though not a story: Walter Brueggemann’s Theology of the Old Testament. I found it very interesting and very informative, but I shall have to read it again to get the full picture behind it. However, I shall not reread it immediately. I am also in the process of finishing The House at Pooh Corner, an equally great book in its own way.
Over the years I’ve found a great pleasure in looking up the original versions of children’s stories I read as a child, whether originally told by the Grimm brothers (whose volumes I have read several times) and Hans Christian Anderson (which I hope to read again some day) to J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan and Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio (both of which I’ve read only once) to Frances Burnet’s A Little Princess and The Secret Garden (I read the originals in childhood and as an adult) and–of course–Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass (which every child in America has read) …
Yet, despite hoping to finish off the second Winnie the Pooh book soon, I find that the larger tomb Theology of the Old Testament is a book which I hope to reread sometime soon, too–after rereading Alfred North Whitehead’s Process and Reality, and then a large dose of Dostoyevsky: The Idiot; Devils; and The Brothers Karamazov. Why Dostoyevsky? Because–though I am rereading what I’ve listed–I am hoping to read up for a string of novellas, the first of which is The Firebird Unchained which I am writing myself. Yet while swimming all this literary material, I am reminded of the fact that the “Book of Books” that a person rereads throughout their lifetime is–for the religious person–the Bible.
Truthfully, I have only barely looked at the Bible since last year. I reread part of Genesis and Daniel–but there are extraordinary circumstances with that. Plus, if I had been doing my religious duties in the synagogue, then during the appropriate times I would be reading part of the Torah and part of the Haftorah. I must guiltily admit that I just listen to the Hebrew, which I do not understand well enough to interpret. Nonetheless, I have read the Bible–whether as the “Hebrew Bible” or “Old Testament”–five times in its entirety. More, today I signed a contract with urlink.pub that they will be publishing:
The Bible According to Eve: Nevi’im I: The Histories: Eve in Search of Adam;
The Bible According to Eve: Nevi’im II: The Seers: Eve Supplants Lilith;
The Bible According to Eve: Ketuvim: The Writings: Eve Struggles with God and Man and Prevails.
The second of these three I had already signed away, and a different publisher published The Bible According to Eve: The Women of the Torah for me. Regardless, what was made exciting about these books for me was the process of retelling timeless stories, beloved, odd, irritating and disturbing from a new perspective. I thrilled to the stories that churchgoers leave out of the Sunday School lessons for children. I guess it showed; an editor who reviewed The Bible According to Eve: The Women of the Torah, said that he rated it R and it might be a bit too taboo for children. However, I feel that sometimes to get to the heart of what matters in a story, you can’t prettify things, you have to admit that murder, incest, and rape do exist in the Bible. The age of bowdlerizing Bibles has long since past.
Though I finished writing my four-book set when I was 35, and I am 43 now, I am still learning. Hence I am reading and rereading Walter Brueggemann and–for that matter, though he is a philosopher more than a Bible scholar–Alfred North Whitehead. However, I am learning through the “primary source” as well…