Search SBL

SBL Forum Archive
<< Return to SBL Forum Archive E-Interview with Jack Miles on Christ: A Crisis in the Life of God

SBL: Inyour sequel to God: A Biography, youcontinue with your literary approach: history and theology are bracketed for theaim of grabbing hold of God (and Jesus) as characters depicted in the Bible. Youjuxtapose psalm with gospel, criss-crossing the scriptural terrain, bridging thedivide between "old" and "new." Could you describe for ushow you arrived at this approach? What do you find most exciting about it, aswell as most difficult?

JM: Thebiblical rule and, for that matter, the postbiblical rule, both Jewish andChristian, down to the threshold of modern times was not the rule of deferenceto original intent but the rule of creative reuse" (Christ, p. 263).I have not invented a new approach but revived an old one. The methodologicalquestion that faced me was whether, by a second naivete, precritical exegesiscould become fruitful again in the form of a postcritical exegesis produced infull awareness of what critical exegesis had accomplished.

In the illuminated, twelfth-century StammheimMissal, to choose just one example of precritical "creative reuse,"the Easter Sunday page surrounds the central image of Christ in mid-resurrectionwith other biblical images: David slaying Goliath, Samson bringing down thegates of Gaza, Abiathar slaying a lion, and Elisha raising the Shunamite's sonfrom the dead. Taken as an artistic whole, the setting vigorously and yet almostplayfully asserts that resurrection is the divine warrior's culminating battlevictory. The artist's theography asserts a preference for classic ChristusVictor theology as in the Victimae paschali:

Mors et vita duello

conflixere mirando

Dux vitae mortus

regnat vivus.

Various other theological emphases werepossible for Easter Sunday; but even within the Christus Victor preference,other images were possible than the duel-shaped images chosen. The choices theartist made can either be disparaged as arbitrary or honored as artistic. Whatis clear is that had he tried conscientiously to include everything, the resultwould have been a perfect horror of an illuminated page. He had no choice but toleave out more than he put in.

The challenge I set myself was similar, thoughmore complex. I sought:

first, to select passages for assembly into aGospel harmony around the ironic master image of the Lamb triumphant—the Lambabove a caption reading nenikēka ton kosmon;

second, to tell the Gospel story through thesetexts, allowing selected Old Testament texts to echo loudly within them;

and, third, to offer my commentary on thisensemble as a kind of voiceover. Parts two and three were relatively easy; theywrote themselves in the way that commentary writes itself, and I had manymodels. Part one was extremely difficult, but it became rewarding as the textsselected began to assume an artistic shape that, as it seemed to me, yielded anoriginal interpretation.

Interpretation by unexpected juxtaposition hasbeen endlessly provocative and rewarding in Western tradition. This principleinforms not only the Christian lectionary as well as Jewish midrash and halakhah(a traditional chumash has, without the illuminations, the page-structureof an illuminated Christian Bible) but also much of scripture itself. Who ismore ad hoc and uncritical than Jesus when he asserts in reply to the chargethat he has claimed to be God: "Is it not written in your Law 'I said, Youare gods'? Gods is what it calls people to whom God's word hascome, and scripture cannot be set aside" (John 10:34-35).

Well and good for Jesus, you cry, but not foryou, my friend: Quod licet Jovi non licet bovi. Yet does it not matterthat precritical Christian exegesis, verbal and nonverbal, did allow itself thislicense through most of its long history? I might turn the charge around andcry, "Who are you to deny Christian exegetes (artists, poets, and musiciansas well as preachers and theologians) their ancient, tradition-sanctionedprivilege?

The difficulty of such exegesis, at this pointin time, is inseparable from the excitement of it. It forces the exegete to stopasking "How did the story make sense to them?"—i.e., to the originalauthors—and ask "How does it make sense to me?" And that questioninevitably entails asking "What don't I like? What will I leaveout?" I agree with a wonderfully désabusé statement of A.N. Wilsonin his Jesus:

A patient and conscientious reading of the Gospels will always destroy any explanation which we devise. If it makes sense, it is wrong. That is the only reliable rule-of-thumb which we can use when testing the innumerable interpretations of Jesus's being and his place in human history (p. 252).

Yet it is, of course, just this internalinconsistency that makes the Gospels endlessly stimulating and fertile; withoutit, Christianity would never have survived. The partial reading that I offerresults in part from my giving myself as a questioner a certain willed identity.In asking "How does it make sense to me?" I have chosen to make"me" impersonal and literary rather than personal and existential,deliberately excluding the first-person pronoun (as well as donnishcircumlocutions like "the present author") from the main body of thetext. Operatively, my question at each step in both books has been: "Howwould these stories best make sense to the anonymous reader of a classic ofworld literature?"

Billions of readers, worldwide, do not believein the existence of the Judaeo-Christian God, and I had them much in mind as Iwrote, postulating that they might find the Western "Yahwiad" worthreading just as we who do not believe in the existence of Zeus or Hera stillfind the Iliad worth reading. The goal, while keeping the focus on God, theprotagonist of the story, was always to see these readers in the periphery,defining them for this purpose as, preeminently, readers who were unchurched,off-campus, and, more often than not, off-shore. God: A Biography hassold well in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean translation partly, I think, becauseI wrote it with a weather eye on how the Western God-story, Jewish or Christian,would read to non-Westerners. I tried to think about our god as if he weresomebody else’s god and then, like the Stammheim illuminator, choose my textsaccordingly—which is to say, coldly. This may seem an odd principle. It'slike thinking about your children as if they were the neighbor's. But thinkingabout your children as if they were the neighbor's can be quite revealing.

In the end, of course, the existentialdimension cannot be excluded. I am more keenly aware of it now that the writingis behind me. And in the end, I realize that a reading of this sort can onlystand if the validity of some sort of reader-centered rather thanauthor-centered interpretation is conceded. Reader-centered criticism is nonovelty in general literary criticism, of course, even if it is still somethingof a novelty in Bible criticism. Because no one reader can claim to be allreaders, no such reading can ever claim to be coercively singular and objective.But if one is not writing for the church, that claim is easily enough renounced,and then many other rewards come into view.

SBL: Inyour books you pursue grand sweeps of character and motivation; I wonder how youaddress variations in theme, style, and tone of the texts? Following your ‘Bibleas great religious art’ framework, do you think of it as a singular work ofart, or many? Do the Letters have any different qualities as literature than theGospels, even if we disregard historical categories such as authentic andinauthentic?

JM: Inthe major languages of Europe and the Americas (I leave aside modern Greek), Bibleis a singular noun; and in all of those languages that have a definite article,the article is commonly used with this noun: the Bible. The historicemergence of the Bible as a definite literary singularity is the historical factabout it that matters most for my neo-precritical exegesis. I speak of thisemergence itself in "One Bible from Many Scriptures (How It Happened andWhy It Matters)," Appendix I of Christ: A Crisis in the Life ofGod. I speak of the consequences of this emergence in "The Bible asRose Window (or, How Not to See Through the Bible)," Appendix II of thesame book. There I quote Frank Kermode:

It is an empirical fact that each book has its own history; it is also true that the association of many books in a canon was the result of a long historical process and owed much to chance and much to the needs and the thinking of people we know little or nothing about. But is also a fact that works transmitted inside a canon are understood differently from those without, so that, if only in that sense, the canon, however assembled, forms an integral whole, the internal and external relations of which are both proper subjects of disinterested inquiry (Christ, p. 328).

By "disinterested inquiry," I take itthat Kermode means to dissociate the criticism he defends from theologicallyinterested, divinity school "canon criticism." His concern, and minein these books, is with the subsequent aesthetic effect of this historicunitization.

Because quoting a historically remote Psalm when discussing a passage in Mark is the sort of thing that preachers have done to good effect for centuries, secular critics, and not historical critics alone, have seemed to feel that if they did the same, they would be joining the church. Kermode is right that for the evangelists themselves these echoes were not just harmony but religious authentication. But those in our day who decline to acknowledge the allusions as authentication can nonetheless enjoy them as harmony—and must do so if they are not to miss the haunting elegance and acrobatic virtuosity of the New Testament performance (Christ, p. 285).

So then, yes, the Letters are different fromthe Gospels, Torah is different from the Prophets, and so forth. But theartistically distinctive feature of the collection is the way each of itscomponent parts eventually flavors all the others. Precritical exegesis savoredthe taste of the stew. Modernist, critical exegesis prefers to taste each flavorseparately, but some critical exegetes have their regrets. I was once quitetouched by the rueful, almost woebegone air of a Bible scholar explaining on aChristmas radio program that the magi come from Matthew while the shepherds comefrom Luke. A crèche combining the two is a mistake, he said, but his heart wasn'tin his own observation. Other scholars, of course, are gleeful in pointing outthis sort of mistake, but it is the rueful scholar whose awareness is keener,for it is not only in popular devotion that this sort of "mistake" ismade. Liberties of this sort are taken in the greatest art and the mostpenetrating theology.

Consider, for example, the Isenheim altarpiece,whose rendition of the crucifixion many honor as the greatest ever produced.Matthias Grünewald brings John the Baptist back from the dead to make him awitness to the crucifixion. In the altarpiece, John, painted smaller than Jesus,stands at the foot of the cross, pointing triumphantly to the dying divinebridegroom ("He must increase, I must decrease"). Near John, therestands a lamb bleeding into a chalice ("Behold, the Lamb of God"). Acritical Bible scholar could certainly point out that though the Gospel of Johnknows nothing of the beheading of John, neither does it report John’s presenceat the crucifixion. Yet what would be the point? Grünewald’s mistake,inspired by the Fourth Gospel as a whole, is deliberate; it is a liberty to apondered point.

When the Frankfurter allgemeine reviewedChrist: A Crisis in the Life of God (the German edition, at Hanser Verlag,actually preceded the English, under the title Jesus: Der Selbstmord desGottessohns), the reviewer faulted me for inserting a synoptic baptism sceneinto a narrative line derived mainly from John. He implied that I had done thisby inadvertence or on a whim. An American reviewer later made the same objectionin the Los Angeles Times. But like Grünewald, I had made this mistake toa point: This post-critical or neo-precritical juxtaposition makes it possibleto imagine God Incarnate (from John) repenting at the Jordan River (from thesynoptics), a reconception rich with characterological promise.

This eclectic procedure undeniably neglects the literary specificity of each work thus touched on; but the intent of the procedure is not to discuss all or indeed any of the books of the New Testament as separate works, much less to reconstruct the historical truth about Jesus, but rather and only to discuss God Incarnate as a character found in all of them. By a further narrowing, the intent is not to discuss every passage involving Jesus but only to examine a selection of passages that foreground his identity as God Incarnate and highlight the revision that is accomplished through him of the identity of God as previously revealed in the Old Testament (Christ, p. 297).

What moved me, in the first place, to writeboth this book and God: A Biography was a hearing of J.S. Bach's St.Matthew Passion, whose incomparable opening chorus includes the lines



Den Bräutigam!

Seht ihn!


Als wie ein Lamm.

Johannine imagery in the St. Matthew Passion.How dare he!

SBL: Inyour appendices, you present your method and nimbly treat the history of methodsin biblical studies. You throw down the gauntlet regarding"historicism." Given that many SBL members are engaged in some form ofhistorical reconstruction what do you have to say to them about the usefulnessof their endeavors?

JM: Iapplaud and admire their endeavors and will continue to follow their resultswith respectful interest. As the saying goes, he who knows no history remainsforever a child. It remains true, however, that

An immense population that thinks of itself as neither particularly religious nor particularly antireligious neither gloats if much of the Bible proves unhistorical nor feels any noteworthy quickening of interest if some of it proves historical after all. The fascination of the text—and clearly it does continue to fascinate—begins to lie elsewhere, in the work itself rather than in the events that the work may partially record or in the tangled history of how the work came to be written (Christ, p. 289).

What I question is not the inherent interest ofhistorical reconstruction as such but the contribution that it is presumed tomake to religious belief and practice:

The religious relevance of history is not self-evident or self-establishing. A further, constructive step must be taken to establish that relevance, and this step is itself confessionally religious rather than neutrally historical. The action by which religious importance is assigned to history cannot be presented as a discovery but only proposed as a commitment (Christ, p. 269)

I am neither more nor less skeptical of thehistoricity of the Bible than the average Bible scholar. However, rather thanspeak of a small historical kernel, I prefer to speak of a large historicalhusk. It is only because of the success of the Bible as literature that we areinterested at all in the Bible as history.

One of the obstacles that literary criticismhas to overcome is the sense that it is so easy that anybody can do it and so"fanciful" that it cannot matter. It is true that even inferiorhistorical criticism is difficult to write, while inferior literary criticismis, alas, all too easy to write. Nonetheless, it is possible to make a cult, ora fetish, of the difficulty of historical criticism. I think of Yeats:

The fascination of what's difficult

Has dried the sap out of my veins, and rent

Spontaneous joy and natural content

Out of my heart.

I think also of the late Herbert Chanan Brichto,who wrote in his Toward a Grammar of Biblical Poetics (Oxford UniversityPress, 1992):

...fine scholars who are essentially philologists may only rarely have recourse to fiction for recreation; and the recourse to the conventions of the composition of fiction (or the exposition of these conventions, literary criticism) may involve for them a language or mode of discourse foreign and incomprehensible....

Scholars of such orientation (and they yet constitute a large majority of the world's biblicists) may greet with equanimity or even with mild approval suggestions that principles of literary criticism developed in connection with extrabiblical literature may be deployed to enhance our appreciation of Biblical texts. But when the deployment of these principles results in a challenge to the methodologies that have become synonymous with "scientific Bible study," the legitimacy of their application to a unique literature, the Bible, is impugned; and the entire approach shunted aside as unworthy of further serious consideration (p. vii).

Literary criticism does indeed give rein to theimagination more than historical criticism can or should, but there are patentfailures of the imagination just as there are failures of the mind. One must notsuppose that nothing is at stake. Historical criticism does not lose its raisond'être the moment it begins to be boring, but literary criticism probablydoes. Therein lies its risk, its excitement, and its supreme difficulty.

Having more or less defined myself out ofhistorical criticism, I will now risk saying that I welcome the shift that seemsto be taking place in New Testament-related historical research from the firstcentury B.C.E. back toward the first centuries C.E. where the emphasis lay inthe late nineteenth century. Here is where the truly fruitful collaboration ofJewish and Christian scholars is likeliest to occur. I recently had the pleasureof reading Daniel Boyarin's work-in-progress, Making a Difference: Judaism,Christianity, and Late Ancient Genealogies of 'Religion'" inmanuscript. This is a work that will quickly disabuse any New Testamentscholar of the notion that when "the early church" revised theGospels, a Jewish vision was adulterated by a Gentile one. The adulterations areno less Jewish than the original, a fact whose full implications have yet to begrasped.

SBL: Ifyou had the desire and ability to start a doctoral program for persons aiming toteach the Bible in universities and seminaries, what would the curriculum looklike? What degrees would be granted, what books published, what courses taught?

JM: Ican only quote what I have written on this topic in Christ:A Crisis in the Life of God:

"It is strange but true that advanceddegrees are not offered [in the study of the Christian Bible as a whole], andeven undergraduate courses are rare. Jews take advanced degrees in the Tanakh,or Jewish Bible, but Christians must choose a degree either in the Old Testament(usually listed as 'Hebrew Bible') or in the New. Advanced degrees in thewhole of Christian scripture are simply not available. After completing theirdegrees, Christian scholars trained in either Old or New Testament seldom teachor publish on the far side of the pedagogical divide. The institutionalizationof this divide, which rightly surprises scholars of literature and religionoutside the hypertrophied culture of biblical research, has survived even theimpact of the Dead Sea Scrolls, a large and astonishing body of literature thatfalls, in every sense, between the Old Testament and the New. A pedagogicalbifurcation of some sort may be defensible if the goal is to write historicalcriticism of the bible, or outright history using the Bible as one source amongothers. After all, a thousand years of cultural evolution do separate Saul benKish, the doomed king of First Samuel, from Saul of Tarsus, the Apostle to theGentiles. We do not expect a historian of France to specialize in bothCharlemagne and Charles de Gaulle; why should we expect any comparable feat froma historian of ancient Jewry? If, however, the goal is not historiography butliterary appreciation—the focused, stereoptic perception of the Old Testamentand the New as a single, synthetic work in which the two Sauls have indeed cometo rest between one pair of book covers—then pedagogical bifurcation isindefensible.

"If there were such a thing as an advanceddegree in the entirety of the Christian Bible, those seeking it might arguablynot need to learn Hebrew and Aramaic so long as they mastered the Greek of theSeptuagint and read the scriptures in the language in which Matthew, Mark, Luke,John, and Paul knew them. (See Appendix I on the status of the Septuagint as adivinely inspired 'original' text for Hellenistic Judaism long before thebirth of Jesus.) Obviously, however, it would be better if students of theChristian Bible did know Hebrew; and indeed far more fruitful for them to haveread the Tanakh in the original Hebrew than to have read fourth-century Gnosticcodices in the original Coptic. One has had the distinct impression atgatherings of New Testament scholars that mastery of Coptic is more nearly derigueur for the consummate New Testament scholar than is mastery of Hebrewand that, as a result, allusions to the Old Testament in the New are undervaluedand sometimes missed altogether. Even scholars who are determined to stress,above all else, the Jewishness of Jesus are more likely to do so byreconstructing the Judaism of his day than by hearing echoes of the Tanakh inthe New Testament. The institutional segregation of advanced study of the OldTestament from advanced study of the New Testament can scarcely avoid having avariety of such untoward consequences. Reference works preserving a heritage oftheologically motivated intertextual noticing do not obviate the need for a NewTestament scholar to be imaginatively steeped in the Old Testament: No referencework can substitute for a habit of mind and a well-stocked memory" (pp.277-78).

SBL: Alsoin your appendix, you prick the historical balloon with the argument that askinga religious work of art to divulge historical data is not rewarding. Yet to someit may matter a great deal whether Jesus really claimed divinity, or whethersome writer created it. Where is that "line between the real and theimagined" for you? Would you make a distinction between the historicity ofJesus and say, that of Hercules?

JM:Yes, I would, but a more apposite comparison might be to Socrates. There issurely more Plato than Socrates in the Socrates of Plato’s Dialogues. Thoseinterested exclusively in the historical Socrates may do better with Xenophon'sdrab little life of Socrates. But for philosophical as distinct from historicalpurposes, Plato's amalgam of the remembered Socrates with his own brilliantlyinvented Socrates is surely the more rewarding. By the same token, for aestheticas distinct from historical purposes (and, arguably, for religious purposes aswell), the evangelists' amalgam of the remembered Jesus with their owninvented Jesuses is more rewarding than any reconstructed historical Jesus—anyJesus written up as if by the Xenophon we lack.

Do you not draw your own "line between thereal and the imagined" differently in different cases? When you readShakespeare's Julius Caesar, you know that there was a historicalCaesar; and you know that you can, if you like, check Shakespeare's account ofCaesar's assassination and its aftermath against other sources. But do you?Since you are probably interested in the play as a play rather than as ahistorical source, the briefest review of the historical facts is likely tosuffice. I venture to guess that you do not deny the historicity of Caesar'sassassination but simply set it aside when appreciating the play as a work ofart.

In a similar way, when appreciating the Gospelsas a synthetic work of art, each Gospel irradiating the other three, you may setaside their relative historicity not in order to deny it but only to recognizeits limited relevance to the task you have in hand. Having done that, you maywell notice that you have recovered at full aesthetic force such dubiouslyhistorical features as the angel chorus at Jesus' birth, his debate with theDevil, and his wonderfully theatrical ascension into heaven. Having sethistoricity aside, you now have no reason to gloss over these features. You maylinger over them and savor them at will, and you may find that the story gainssignificantly in charm and energy as a result.

SBL: Inthis book, you find a God who is guilty, a flawed hero unable to keep hispromises. In this light, Christ becomes a face-saving necessity for God'scharacter integrity. And yet, while God nor Jesus themselves refer to such a"crisis" in the mind of God, you artfully suggest through scripturalinterpretation that such is the case. Are you doing what church theologians havebeen doing for centuries—allowing religious literature to speak to yourimagination? How else would you defend your forays into the 'mind of God'

JM:Yes, I am doing what church theologians have been doing for centuries—allowingreligious literature to speak to my imagination. To the extent that theology is fidesquaerens intellectum of a God as found in the Bible, there is an obviousanalogy between it and any character-centered literary criticism. Speculationabout God's motives—what he "must" have wished or intended orcondemned—is as inescapable in this process as is speculation about theprotagonist of a novel. Does Anselm not proceed in this way when he postulateswhat "must" offend God and what "must" placate him? On twooccasions, I anchor my own speculation in the text: God Incarnate's repentanceat the Jordan and his comparison of himself, past and future, to a poisonoussnake (John 3:14-15). More broadly, though, the anchor is simply the audibleseriousness with which God made the promises to Israel that he has sospectacularly failed to keep. How can we suppose him not to be troubledby this failure? If I demur when I am told that when thinking this way, I amwriting theology, I do so only because the term theology as used in theacademy normally refers to a discipline dealing with some substantial subset oftheologians, and my ambition falls far short of that.

In these books, I offer, as I indicated inresponse to your first question, what I like to call theography or christography:a suggestive re-telling of the Bible story (Christ is not a sequel to Godbut the entire Bible story told for a second time) with extensive,admittedly subjective "voiceover." The voiceover, the commentary, isnot unlike what the omniscient narrator provides in many a novel. And just as itis possible to say of any novelist that he is "really" doinganthropology because of the assumptions he makes about human beings, so itpossible to say of these two books that they are "really" theologybecause of the assumptions that I make about God. However, they are not theologyin any fuller or more developed sense than that one, any more than theomniscience of a novelistic narrator constitutes anthropology in any but ahighly restricted sense of the word.

I might add in this connection that the way thefathers of the early church councils dealt with contradictory passages in theNew Testament in their attempt to reconcile the humanity and the divinity ofChrist has much in common with syncretistic literary criticism—criticism thatforces a character to add up. These texts were, if we think of Chalcedon, as farremoved from their time as Shakespeare is from ours. They were, in effect,classics no longer subject to revision. Yet the council fathers could not allowthemselves to escape syncretism as critical exegetes do by saying "Thesynoptics say X, but John says Y; as for us, we say take your pick."Somehow, the several stories had to be made to cohere as a single story. Thedifference between precritical, conciliar dogmatic synthesis and my own neo-precriticalaesthetic synthesis is that theirs was imposed while mine is merely proposed—and,at that, proposed not for belief but merely for enjoyment and appreciation.

SBL: Howdo you answer for the substantial theological implications of many of yourstatements? How do you hope that theologians, or even the freshman religionstudent will respond to —for example, a suicidal God—as you present?

JM: Ido not consider myself answerable for the religious implications of any of mystatements. I do not mean to be arrogant, but this point is one that simply mustbe grasped if the full implication of literary Bible criticism is to be grasped.It is perfectly acceptable, for religious purposes, to bowdlerize the Bible—ifnot by outright excision, then by tacit omission. Teaching the Noah story inSunday school, I was once instructed by the teacher's manual to soft-pedal themass slaughter; children with pets were often upset by this animal holocaust,the authors of the manual had observed. Rather than upset the children, I wasinstructed to stress the rainbow, and I did so gladly. I was happy that thechildren were given a rainbow as their craft assignment for the class, and I donot object when appropriate, analogous elisions are made for preaching toadults. From another Sunday, for example, I recall that the lectionary stoppedits narration of the golden calf episode at Moses' success in diverting Yahwehfrom genocide. Omitted was the Levites' ensuing slaughter of their fellowIsraelites down in the camp and God's for-good-measure plague on the followingmorning. The lectionary's tacit omission amounted to tacit theologicalrevision; and since I endorsed the revision, I applauded the elision. But notonly does a literary critic of the Bible have no obligation to make God come outpreachable, he has a positive obligation not to simplify or"improve" him for any such extra-literary reason. Imagine what wouldhappen to Hamlet if out of respect for the Danish monarchy, say, a Shakespearecritic chose only to talk about the prince's kinder, gentler side!

As for suicide, I should perhaps begin bynoting how remarkable I found it that no reviewer of God: A Biography sawfit to comment on my characterizing God's instructions to Moses and Joshua'senactment of those instructions as genocidal. Many readers commented on this inletters to me, but it was as if even the most favorably disposed reviewers foundthe subject unmentionable. Ruthlessness is one of God's definingcharacteristics; and when he finally turns against his own violence, he ischaracteristically ruthless with himself: He turns himself into a sacrificialanimal. It is to this enormity that I intend to draw attention in my new book byeschewing circumlocutions like voluntary death or noble death or martyrdom,by using the plainer word suicide, and, as noted above, by lingeringover the image of the Lamb of God. As literature, if the spectacle of the divinewarrior engineering his own defeat and his own traumatic experience of humandeath is not seen as shocking, then it is not seen at all.

SBL: Whathave been your interactions with faith communities over your book?

JM:Members of my own congregation, St. Edmund's in San Marino, California,attended a book-signing in a local bookstore. Because of his great intelligenceand liberality, I invited comment about my work when it was in progress from theRev. Frederick H. Borsch, then Episcopal bishop of Los Angeles. I have lecturedabout the book at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, the University ofChicago Divinity School, and Boston College. Otherwise, there have been nointeractions with faith communities, and I don' particularly expect there tobe any. I have no academic appointment, and I recently discontinued my columnwith I leave aside as not meeting the definition"communities" the letters that I am already beginning to receive fromindividual readers, including the occasional younger scholar. I recall beingtold by the late Ralph Wendell Burhoe of a famous biologist (Dobzhansky?)"I can never persuade my colleagues, but their students find meintermittently interesting."

SBL: Wheredo your interests take you next?

JM:With your indulgence, I will invoke Gibbon, De nobis ipsis silemus, thoughmaybe Mr. Micawber is more to the point: "Something will turn up."

Citation: , " E-Interview with Jack Miles on Christ: A Crisis in the Life of God," SBL Forum , n.p. [cited Sept 2004]. Online:


© 2020, Society of Biblical Literature. All Rights Reserved.