the odd, disjointed compilation
of ancient Hebrew texts and later Greek texts
called the Bible
has lost its claims to historical truth,
or to supernatural revelation.As history and revelation,
Bible stories have long ago fallen away;
almost nothing that happens in it
its miracles, large and small,
are of the same kind and credibility
as all the other miracles
that crowd the world’s great granary of superstition.
Only a handful of fundamentalists read it literally,
despite debunking by experts
and critical reason.
If I read the books and verses of the Bible
it is because they tell beautiful stories,
stirring and seductive.
I explore the stories in the Bible
because they are transfixing stories,
dense and compelling.
The beauty of the Song of Songs
or the poetic hum of the Psalms
are beautiful as poetry alone can be.
They were best translated into our own language
in the highest period of English prose and verse,
in Shakespeare’s rhythms and vocabulary
making them more seductive.
These are good tales and great poetry,
and I do not worry about their sources.
I read them as fiction
as I read all good stories,
for their perplexities
as much as for their obvious points.
I can be stirred by the Bible
as enduring moral inquiry,
working to translate the knots of the Bible stories
into acceptable, contemporary, and even universal ethical truths.
I think that
enduring moral teaching can be found
in the Bible’s stories.
I read Bible stories with intellectual detachment,
and a sense that the Bible is
an extraordinary compilation about human nature and
In reading Bible stories
I also learn that I need more.
I am fed up with
the stolid apparent meanings of its verse,
searching for deeper meanings that enrich me.
In defying logic
Bible stories invite imagination,
and as a fictional creation,
its ideas about Deity remain compelling,
in their plurality.
I neither believe nor doubt
as I read Bible stories,
but remain suspended in Wonder
where good reading really takes place anyway.”