If you’ve read more than three of my posts the fact that I’m an atheist comes up fairly often. However, I did attend a religious school that gave me a decent grounding in the Bible and I’ve read the book (particularly the OT) many times. There are many segments, tales, stories, etc., that I really enjoy as literature. Since I’ve made so many posts about inconsistencies, historical inaccuracies, barbaric acts indicative of an unmedicated God, etc., I wanted to start a thread on some things I like in the book.
Some of my favorite moments:
The Entire Saga of Absalom - in my opinion this rivals Shakespeare and any other great literary work or figure in the degree of tragedy, love, realism, emotion, etc… The image in 2nd Samuel 18 of David in his gatehouse, this father of two dozen faithful sons wailing and weeping for the one who murdered his brother (though admittedly with reason), raised an army against the father him, killed another of his sons, exiled him, slept with his harem, and would probably have taken his life is so visceral and so human, so illuminative of the complete illogic of human nature that affects us all, that I have almost no problem believing it happened. The way it even weaves it’s way into the old man’s impotent senile last days (“Let not [Joab’s] hoar head go down to Sheol in peace!”, fulfilling his vow not to avenge the murder of the son who would have murdered him- echoed [I’m guessing intentionally] in The Godfather when Vito promises not to avenge his son’s death but charges Michael with the task)- he’s ancient and wizened and so far gone he can’t rule, can’t fight and can’t even mount a beautiful maiden, but his love for that son is as strong as ever.
The line "Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted" is one I have always found hauntingly beautiful.
The story of Dinah (recently novelized in near Mysts of Avalon style as The Red Tent) is one I always found not so much moving or particularly human as out & out funny. (Not the rape part, obviously, but the way the brothers take their revenge- you gotta give 'em points for brilliance.)
I love Kurt Vonnegut’s (decidedly non scholarly but still interesting) interpretation of Jesus’s rebuke to Judas (Vonnegut’s interpretation is that it was less formal than sarcastic: “Chill dude… there are still gonna be poor folks to help tomorrow, let’s enjoy the moment”. (I think he was probably calling on ancient scripture, but I like Vonnegut’s version better.)
There’s much I love in religious art, particularly the Pietà (though I see it less religious than maternal- this woman isn’t holding her Savior or her God but the baby she carried and bore- at this moment she’d gladly have a live carpenter than a dead redeemer for a son- to me the one brilliant moment in Gibson’s Passion was the stumbling scene/flashback for the same reason), but then these aren’t biblical.
So for Dopers, whether religious or not, what are your favorite moments?