Thursday, September 13, 2007

Reader's Diary #290- The Good News Bible: Judges (FINISHED)

Maybe I just have short stories on the brain, but The Book of Judges almost seems like a book of short stories. Rather than carry a single plot throughout, we get stories of battles between six prominent Israelites (including Samson and Gideon) and their various foes.

Warning, Graphic account to follow:
And what violent tales they are! The next time anyone suggests that the world is getting more violent or that the media has a newfound preoccupation with gore, simply refer them to the Bible. In one of the frightfully more memorable scenes, Sisera, an army captain, is attacked in his sleep with a hammer and a tent peg. It is struck with such force that it goes "right through the side of his head and into the ground." In another Tarantino-esque moment some "perverts" show up at a man's house demanding to have sex with a traveling Levite man who is staying there. Instead, the men inside throw the Levite's concubine to them, and she is raped and abused until the morning. When the Levite comes upon the concubine's body the next day, he cuts it into twelve pieces, sends them to the tribes of Israel, and basically requests their help in seeking vengeance. I don't remember the last time I read anything as gruesome or horrific.

Steering away from those tales, I also want to comment on a particular sentence from Judges 7.12: "...the desert tribesman were spread out in the valley like a swarm of locusts, and they had as many camels as there are grains of sand on the seashore." In a single sentence there lay a simile and an exaggeration. I appreciated this unusually clear figurative language and longed for more obvious declarations that many parts weren't meant to be taken literally. But that almost goes down into religious debate category and I only want to explore the Bible on a surface level: based only on its merits as literature.


Chris said...

Ewww. And the good news is...?

John Mutford said...

Chris: Yeah, when you read books like that last one, the happy title seems a little out of place for sure. There's also irony in the title of this particular book, at least when we use the modern English interpretation of the word "Judges". These tales actually took place during a particularly lawless period.

Anonymous said...

The good news is we don't throw concubines to pervert travelers anymore. I hope. I read Leviticus once and all I could think of was PETA and how desperately it was needed.

The gospel has the good news. New Testament. Judges is in the Old Testament, pre Christ. Nice titleing there, Bible People.