Thisby Thestoop and the Black Mountain

It’s fair to say that I read a good number of books children’s books. Having kids of my own, I like to pilfer their shelves from time to time. In our house, we like to stock “the classics” as a sort of quality guarantee. Since children’s books became a genre there have been writers who have tried to cash in on the children’s market as a way to make a quick buck with little effort. Reading “the classics” means that you get the best books from every era without having to wade through the formulaic twaddle, most of which has mercifully been forgotten over the years.
It’s a different story with modern children’s books. Picking up a new children’s book means taking a chance on wasting your time, and the modern children’s book publishing machine loves tried and true formulas. After the success of Harry Potter we got books about schools for magical/mythological/specially talented kids who are sorted into groups based on their personalities. After The Hunger Games took off, we’ve have had m…

Apocrypha Continued

Well, I'm plugging along and will hopefully finish reading the Apocrypha today. I'm taking this brief opportunity to catch up on my notes. This post will most certainly be shorter than my last one.

The Letter of Jeremiah: Just 73 verses intended as a letter written by Jeremiah to those about to be exiled from Jerusalem to Babylon. The section in the letter about the idols of the heathen is very much in line with the humor in the book of Jeremiah.

Azariah and the Song of the Three Jews: This appears (according to my ever-handy footnotes) to be a hymn to God later attributed to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace. This one was really short, so I don't have much to say about it.

Susanna: This was a really fun story. I had actually read this one previously, but it deserves a re-read. Susanna is a chaste and beautiful wife, who is stalked by a couple of lustful elders. They catch her alone in her garden and try to force themselves upon her. When she resists, they begin shouting loudly so that people come running. The elders inform the household that they caught Susanna in the garden with a young man. With no witnesses, everyone naturally believes two elders of the people over one woman, so Susanna is sentenced to death for unfaithfulness. But thankfully, Detective Daniel is on the case to investigate and clear Susanna's good name.

Bel and the Dragon: What can I say? This story is hilarious. Centered around food references, Daniel shows to Cyrus that the god Marduk (Bel) is not eating all the food that the people leave for him each night, but rather the priests of Marduk and their familes. Daniel is a good detective in this story as in Susanna. Daniel then kills a large dragon that the Babylonians worship by feeding it poison. In the last part of the story, Daniel is thrown into the lions den again, and is miraculously fed by the prophet Habakkuk. It's like comic books when the writers decide to do a crossover between two popular comics (Wolverine and the Hulk, Superman and Batman, etc.). Daniel emerges from the lion's den unscathed, and his persecutors are tossed in and quickly eaten.

1 Maccabees: A great historical narrative. I had read brief blurbs in textbooks about the intertestamental period, but I got a much clearer picture by reading this book which is culled from letters and contemporary sources. Epic in scope and very interesting. 2 Maccabees tells, essentially the first part of the story of 1 Maccabees, but rather than follow Judas and his men, the story focuses on the plight of the people in Jerusalem. It is much more theological in nature than 1 Maccabees.

1 Esdras: This is the story of Ezra and Nehemiah. It is almost identical to the Biblical narrative, except for one interesting scene that show Zerubbabel earning the right to rebuild the temple by winning a contest of wit set by the king.

Well, that's where I am now. One more post should finish off the Apocrypha, and then I can get on with the rest of the books I have to read before the end of the summer. I love my job.


Erica said…
Bel and the Dragon definitely cracked me up.

Have to wonder just how overweight those priests were, having those late night snacks...