Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Wednesday November 10, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 10:25 AM

Updike on God

“In Exodus 3:14, when Moses asks God his name, the answer in Hebrew, ’Ehyeh-’Asher-’Ehyeh, has been commonly rendered I AM THAT I AM but could be, Alter reports, simply I AM, I AM.  An impression grew upon me, as I made my way through these obdurate old texts, that to the ancient Hebrews God was simply a word for what was: a universe often beautiful and gracious but also implacable and unfathomable.”

— John Updike, review of Robert Alter’s translation of The Five Books of Moses, in The New Yorker, issue dated Nov. 1, 2004, posted online Oct. 25, 2004


  1. I agree with Mr. Alter. 

    Comment by NickyJett — Wednesday, November 10, 2004 @ 11:04 AM

  2. There have been some interesting theories and correlations between the Hebrew alphabet, mathematics and G-d.  I like Updike’s description, thanks for sharing. 

    Comment by BlackPerle — Wednesday, November 10, 2004 @ 5:03 PM

  3. If I correctly recall the sources I checked a year or two ago, Updike’s a longtime member of an Episcopalian church near his home, switching from a similar denomination about 1970. From Updike’s surprising ‘discoveries,’ it’s evident he never studied the Pentateuch before. He’s not familiar with Philo’s commentary either, or the literal meaning wouldn’t seem so potent. Okay, I’ve critiqued Mr. Updike’s blind spots — now to tackle my own ignorance. What’s the significance of the loss of the word “THAT”?

    Comment by stephenhoy — Thursday, November 11, 2004 @ 10:34 AM

  4. The significance of no “THAT”? Beats me, but this commentary seems relevant.

    Comment by m759 — Thursday, November 11, 2004 @ 11:05 AM

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