The Divine Drama:
The Old Testament as Literature
by John Dancy
The Lutterworth Press
ISBN: 0 7188 2987 5 800 pp
The title of the
book The Divine Drama immediately gives away the
angle at which John Dancy wishes to approach his subject.
A headmaster by profession Dancys work is a culmination
of the experience he had in trying to teach the Old Testament
to intelligent six formers. Through his experience
he found it best to approach the Old Testament as one would
any great work of literature, what matters is the text
itself: all else is secondary.
The book is set
out in such a manner so as not to lose the enthusiasm of the
reader. Dancy isolates 30% of the Old Testament and 15% of
the Apocrypha with which he refers to in a very easy to grasp,
logical manner. In neatly breaking down the Old Testament
Dancy makes the book very digestible and easy to dip in and
to make the book accessible to a wider audience than just
scholars and believers Dancy is sure to keep the
text unassuming, choosing to celebrate the tragic nature of
the Bible rather than using his book to moralise. His obvious
intrigue and enthusiasm for the subject comes across in his
approach. This is demonstrated in his introduction where he
sets the bible in its historical context by intricately describing
the origins of the Hebrew language, Hebrew storytelling and
the Old Testament in his own particular fashion Dancy does
run the risk of offending the fundamentalist Christian or
Jew. It can seem presumptuous to refer to only parts of the
bible (the word of God) while disregarding others and that
it is inappropriate to treat the Bible as a work of literature.
However, these questions and others are something that Dancy
covers in his appendix and it is clear that he treats the
issue seriously and in a sensitive manner.
Dancy does not
wish to preach to the converted but tries to come up with
a book, which uniquely targets a broader educated reader.
The book works on many levels and appeals from those who simply
want an introduction, to those who want a completely different
take on the Old Testament. A good book from which the reader
can take what they desire.
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