Dramatic Look at the Bible; Author Sees Book as History

Article excerpt


The following are excerpts from an interview with author David Rosenberg. He co-wrote the New York Times best-seller "The Book of J." His most recent release is "Abraham: The First Historical Biography."

I'm a thinking Jew. .. I'm not an observant Jew. What I call a thinking Jew is someone who is open to speaking to all of American culture, especially the Christian religion. Usually the more religious Jews are not interested in speaking to the Christian culture, which America primarily is. That is a big difference. When I was growing up, there were very few Jews that would speak out from the Jewish community to the Christian culture, it was almost always within. That's how it is with most religions. ..

What the Hebrew Bible does is give you dramas. It doesn't say anything. It gives you dramas. There is drama of the life of Moses. There is drama of the life of Abraham. There is sexual dysfunction. He can't have kids. So on and so on. It's drama. It doesn't say anything. It doesn't say believe in this. Believe in that. People don't get it. They don't read it as if it's dramas. They read it as though it's trying to tell you to "live this way," which it is not. It's so important to get back to what it really says, in a time like ours, which is more confused than ever about where religion and culture get mixed up.

People are always complaining that religion is getting too involved in culture and politics. They say, "There is too much culture like 'The Da Vinci Code' getting involved in religion." There is a big article in the New York Times about the Christian reaction to "The Da Vinci Code" movie. When I have been going around the country recently, I just came back from Washington and Chicago, audiences in the bookstore ask me about "The Da Vinci Code." It is a question about some kind of homogenized confusion about the natural and the supernatural. It's about a code that's been hidden about what really happened to Jesus.

I say, "There's a tremendous thirst for history today, real history." That's why my book is flying off the shelves. So is "The Gospel of Judas." It's flying off the shelves everywhere I go. Why? It's not really what's in it. People don't even know what's in it. It's just because there's a tremendous hunger for real history, because there is so much confusion. And in fact, you don't get it in Dan Brown's book "The Da Vinci Code." What you get is secret history, fiction. It's a novel.

What I'm trying to say is the Hebrew Bible was written to be history. It was not written to be a prescription on how to live. The Ten Commandments are part of the story, but it's just a small part of the story. .. Proverbs is one of 36 books, one of the smaller of 36 books in the Hebrew Bible. It's a collection of proverbs of all kinds. Some are funny, some are ironic. Yes, some of them are about how to live, like the Golden Rule, a version of it is in there, but no one would think that the Golden Rule or versions of it are religious. They go back to most ancient people, maybe even the Neanderthals had some version of it. Otherwise, how did they get along? ..

Basically, there is a book that's a best-seller now called "The Jesus Papers." All these books, what are they doing? It literally says, "Explosive new evidence that challenges everything we know about the life and death of Jesus."

These things happen all the time. …