Additional Book Information

Series: NYRB Classics
ISBN: 9781681376370
Pages: 192
Publication Date: August 15, 2023

The Bible and Poetry

by Michael Edwards, translated from the French by Stephen E. Lewis

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An NYRB Classics Original

The Bible is full of poems. It includes the Psalms and the Song of Songs of course, but poetry also plays an immense part in the Prophets and shows up in the books of the Old Testament. The New Testament, for its part, reverberates with allusions to the poetry of the Old Testament and concludes with Revelation, a visionary poem, while Jesus, seeking to open his listener’s eyes to the kingdom of heaven, describes it with the poetic epithet of “a treasure hid in a field,” while the son of God is the “true vine,” “the light of the world,” “the good shepherd,” “the way, the truth, and the life.” The Bible, in other words, asks to be read poetically throughout, and yet readers have rarely considered the implications of that, much less heeded its call.

In The Bible and Poetry, the poet and scholar Michael Edwards seeks to transform how the Bible and Christianity are understood, arguing that poetry is not an ornamental or accidental feature of the Bible but is central to its meaning. The creative use of words that is poetry is the necessary medium of the Creator’s word, and belief emerges not from precepts and propositions but out of the lived experience—this is what the Bible offers above of all—of the power of that word.