2/02/2010

Back to the Bible: Reading Genesis and gathering the Crumbs.

Some detractors of left wing noodle twisting liberals seem to think that we don't read the bible over here on Preludium or in other revisionist hot-spots. To the contrary. I am, as we speak (or write) in the midst of putting together a short Lenten study on doing Justice, using Micah as a baseline. And, because a friend generously gifted me with a copy, I am re-reading for the thousandth time The Book of Genesis. Dr. Harvey Guthrie would (I hope) be proud of my keeping up.

Of course I am reading the version by R. Crumb, the visionary cartoonist of hippie-land and things west of Berkeley. The Book of Genesis, with every word included, none left out, is an amazing work of five years. There are several excellent reviews, including this one in the New York Times and this one by Robert Alter in the New Republic. I am not reviewing here, merely delighting.

This is a fine work with just enough added zest to get us through the begats, every one, with continued interest in the wide range of characters God brings onto the stage and Crumb draws. More, Crumb gives us hints of tears when betrayal happens and grim wonder when circumcision is demanded, frightening possibilities of God's anger and disappointment in the created, and lots of flesh, for after all Genesis is about a lot of begetting and creating.

If this had been available while in seminary, it would have gone well with a bit of wine, the Kinks or perhaps Jefferson Airplane, and Dr. Guthrie's great classes. It would have been great fun.

It still is.

9 comments:

  1. I never tire of Genesis - and am delighted with Crumb's work. 'course, was a big fan back in the 70's!

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  2. My brother gave me this for Christmas, and I was thrilled!

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  3. An excellent Bible study on the 10 Words (mis-represented as the 10 Commandments) led by the rabbi in our interfaith clergy group, including Baptists, a Nazarene and a Quaker, to name a few, and me the Episcopalian, the only one who knew that the first letter of the "commandments", the Hebrew aleph, has no sound at all. If anyone wants to know why that's important, let me know.

    I am a liberal. I take the Bible seriously. That is why I am a liberal. I read my Bible every day, seriously. I converse with the Creator through the readings. Now I will have to go out and find Crumb's Genesis. Sounds like he makes taking the Bible seriously fun!

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  4. Ah, yes! Looks like fun--truly!

    But, west of Berkeley? --ummm, that would be that little strip of tidal mud flats, The Bay, Alcatraz and then the Golden Gate, and some would even say the Far East is what's west of Berkeley. Even in a certain state of mind --San Francisco is never west to a native Berkeleyite... it's a whole different world hidden in a fog bank most of the time.... just sayin'!

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  5. Bring the book to EC! I'd love to flip through it.

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  6. Speaking of brainy artists taking on illustration of the Bible, I can recommend very highly Barry Moser's illustrated edition of the KJV. Even if you don't recognize the name, you'd recognize the work--he's the dean of woodcut print-makers--and the illustrations are deeply alive and thought-provoking. It's interesting to see artists of Crumb's and Moser's stature taking on those stories again.

    pax, Devon

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  7. I look forward to reading it stoned.

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  8. I'm very curious to see this thing.

    The religious right will be predictably outraged, not by the illustrations themselves, but that they were done by Crumb and presented in a comic book format.

    Judging from what I can see on this cover, Crumb's illustration here looks as conventional as the old Dore engravings that illustrated Victorian Bibles.
    I'm curious to see what the rest look like.

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  9. Harvey Guthrie5/2/10 10:19 PM

    Harvey Guthrie is indeed proud of you for keeping up, and for joining him in keeping up via R. Crumb.

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