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The articles in this issue have been divided up into the following categories







The Divine Drama: The Old Testament as Literature

by John Dancy

Publisher: The Lutterworth Press
ISBN: 0 7188 2987 5 800 pp
Price: £19.99

Reviewed by Daniel Dangoor

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 Dancy’s 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 out of.

By attempting 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 Hebrew poetry.

In approaching 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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