To the Editor:
I am sorry that Spencer Brown’s enthusiasm for the “Bible” (“The Bible and a Liberal Education,” October 1953), as bound by the Christian churches, blinded him to the fact that he was dealing with two very different books—or rather collections of books. It is only from a religious point of view that one can speak of the Bible and comprehend not only the Hebrew Scriptures, written between the 12th and (at the latest) 3rd centuries B.C.E., but also the Greek writings of the New Testament, separated from these by half a millennium. From a critical point of view, from the point of view of the Bible as literature, which Mr. Brown explicitly takes up, there is hardly any connection between them. And I think that if Mr. Brown were a more perceptive critic of ancient literature, he would have made this distinction and in making it spared certain religious sensibilities.
One overwhelming point would at least have been alluded to, if he had taken the point of view of the critic: that in the Hebrew Scriptures we have a collection of documents written from different and contradictory points of view, and consequently illuminating with remarkable power a whole world of thought and action; while in the New Testament we have a work of direct religious propaganda, closer in its form to the Koran or the Book of Mormon than to the Hebrew Scriptures. A figure such as Jesus is inconceivable in the Hebrew Scriptures— where even God makes mistakes.
Tel Aviv, Israel