'Cons Who Rule a Ruined World'

Literary critic Harold Bloom, whose latest book analyzes Jesus and Yahweh, offers his thoughts on God and faith.

Continued from page 1

And then I remember taking as an undergraduate--out of real curiosity--a course in New Testament Greek and read the entire Greek Testament and got to know it pretty well and got more and more puzzled by something: How can it possibly be that we don't have an Aramaic Gospel of Jesus Christ? All the scholars agree that he spoke Aramaic to his disciples, who would have known no other language, and to the crowds in Galilee, who clustered around him, and they knew no other language. If you believed that this particular personage from Nazareth, whom I refer to in the book as a "more or less historical figure"--if you believed that this was indeed God or the son of God or the anointed Messiah, how can you fail to preserve the actual words, sentences, that he had spoken? How could you not commemorate his discourses literally? Why is there no Aramaic gospel? And what makes me especially suspicious from the start is, as you know, scattered through the gospels are some seven or eight Aramaic phrases, which have been put in more or less, as it were, to spice it up or authenticate it, though it's never explained why they are there. That they did not preserve an Aramaic gospel makes me very suspicious indeed.

I decided not to repeat this question in this book because I figured it was already going to be, no matter how I tried to restrain it, very offensive to a great many Christians and a great many Jews, which isn't my fault, but theirs. That's a rather harsh statement on my part.

What do you mean by that?

I mean that both Christians and trusting Jews over-literalize biblical text, read metaphors as though they are facts, maybe don't know how to read, even when they are celebrated scholars, they really have no idea what reading is all about.

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