God's Ire: Thirteen Bible Stories

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The Bible has been worn down for us by centuries of preaching and believing. It's no longer vibrant or alive. It's so tired, in fact, so abstract, that it's hard to see or hear or feel it at all. Bible as Literature courses (which I've taught several times) are one way to try and keep it alive, to keep its head above the muddy floodwaters of dogmatic belief; but the literary forms the Bible was written in (and even the ones it's been translated into) now seem stale as well.

What "God's Ire" attempts to do, then, is to give the Bible literary CPR. In it I retell thirteen key stories from the Bible, keeping the characters and events intact but updating the literary forms: turning the stories into modern short fiction, or into the transcript of a television talk show, a social work report, a dream interpretation, a play, a long poem. Each retelling gives the Bible story in question a modern edge, a knife of disquiet and inner conflict.

A few examples:

In "Dirt," the story of Adam and Eve, the narrator Yahweh keeps finding creation surprisingly and frustratingly difficult. The humans he shapes out of the dirt make unexpected demands on him. One of the other gods is trying to sabotage his new world. He has to push himself to grow faster than he'd expected—including becoming omniscient, something he wishes he'd thought of in the beginning.

In "Daughters Who Seduced Their Fathers," the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, the daughters of Lot go on a television talk show to tell the story of how their father tried to throw them to an angry mob to be raped and murdered, and then later, after they fled to the hills and believed the entire human race had been wiped out, they got their father drunk and naked and got pregnant by him.

In "Cursing God," a couple of rednecks named God and Satan lay a bet (winner gets God's pickup) that Job won't cave and startcursing God if Satan kills all his children and livestock and steals all his wealth and health. Job surprises both men by accusing God of unfair play.

In "Rehearsal for the End of the World," Jesus is gearing up to stage a play that he's calling "The End of the World," to be shown exclusively to John on the Isle of Patmos, so John can write the vision down as the Book of Revelation. The logistics of the play Jesus is rehearsing are nightmarish: where do you find millions of locusts like horses arrayed for battle, wearing gold crowns on their heads, hair like women's hair, teeth like lions' teeth, scales like iron breastplates, and the noise of their wings should be like the noise of many chariots with horses rushing into battle?


Part One
Cursed Creation: Prehistory

1. Dirt
(Genesis 2-3)

2. The Triplets
(Genesis 6-9)

Part Two
The Wandering Patriarchs: c. 2000-1650 BCE

3. Daughters Who Seduced Their Fathers
(Genesis 19)

4. Cheesehead
(Genesis 38)

5. Dream Well
(Genesis 37-50)

Part Three
The Battle for Palestine and the Bodies and Souls of Israel: c. 1300-700 BCE

6. Ba'alling
(Exodus 32, Numbers 25)

7. The Nazirite
(Judges 13-16)

8. The King's Oldest Son
(2 Samuel 13)

9. Jezebel & Elijah
(1 Kings 16-22, 2 Kings 9:30)

10. Hosea!
(Hosea 1-3)

Part Four
Destructive Salvation: Posthistory

11. Cursing God

12. Going Along
(Matthew 1-2)

13. Dress Rehearsal for The End of the World

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