This book considers a range of twentieth-century novelists who practise a creative mode of reading the Bible, exploring aspects of the Book of Genesis which more conventional biblical criticism sometimes ignores. Each chapter considers some of the interpretive challenges of the relevant story in Genesis, especially those noted by rabbinic midrash, which serves as a model for such creative rewriting of the biblical text. All the novelists considered, from Mark Twain, John Steinbeck and Thomas Mann to Jeanette Winterson, Anita Diamant and Jenny Diski, are shown to have been aware of the midrashic tradition and in some cases to have incorporated significant elements from it into their own writing. The questions these modern and postmodern writers ask of the Bible, however, go beyond those permitted by the rabbis and by other believing interpretive communities. Each chapter therefore attempts to chart intertextually where the writers are coming from, what principles govern their mode of reading and rewriting Genesis, and what conclusions can be drawn about the ways in which it remains possible to relate to the Bible.
Genesis of Fiction Modern Novelists as Biblical Interpreters