Is Yahweh a Boy?

The Concept of the J Text Deity in Genesis

--for Jack Miles

1. The Boy God Hypothesis

After bringing the general educated reader up-to-date with extremely recent Biblical scholarship--particularly Jack Miles's Pulitzer Prize winning God: A Biography1--I will argue a new thesis: in Genesis 2:5--3:24, the Creation-Fall episode which is the earliest part of the Biblical "J text," Yahweh was originally pictured to be a presexual child of about twelve.

A more modest proposal than it seems: a single step, in fact, beyond Miles, who had pondered that God is "portrayed, with apparent sincerity and unwavering consistency, as truly without a past" (JM, 88). Working backwards from Miles's points took me to the boy god hypothesis, and I wasn't at all sure Miles, my own teacher, hadn't gotten there first. He had even said, "We must think of God as newborn and yet not a babe" (JM, 88). Jack Miles generously responds that while he had mentally pictured Yahweh in that section as quite young, he had pictured him as a "beardless Zeus." In this essay I'll argue for five or six years younger.

Miles also reminds me that Harold Bloom, in the essays later collected as The Book of J, sometimes calls Yahweh an "imp." While Bloom never develops a child god hypothesis, "an imp may be either a minor devil or a mischievous boy," Miles writes. I'll add other quotations to show that Bloom has almost arrived here, too.

If I can make plausible (who could "prove" it?) my carefully confined point--about the J text, not the Bible, and only at its very start--it will change how we must regard everything that follows in the J text, which, as Richard Elliott Friedman points out, is "the foundation," the West's "original conception of God and humanity--before we added layers and layers of later conceptions to it."2 Excavating, like archeologists, the J text's original ideas of deity, we travel back in Time to encounter the first moments of Western religious thought.

The boy god hypothesis has advantages. First, it explains several striking anomalies about Yahweh's character in the Torah. Second, it helps us more precisely guess the probable genre of the original J text. Third, and above all, it suggests that when the Redactor (the final editor) spliced J together with later texts, he inadvertently but inevitably gave the Bible's composite God a frightening, unstable quality none of the earlier conceptions had ever had. Seeking to blur together two concepts of the deity, the Redactor inevitably defaced him, in both the literal and negative senses of the term. Christianity and Islam both inherited a God whose character had been accidentally changed by a literary device, montage.

Arguing the first part, the literary critic depends on the Bible scholar. Arguing the (to me more interesting) points two and three, the literary critic is on home ground, and can use his specialty.

2. Methodology

Miles, in God: A Biography, traced God's maturation in the Jewish Bible (the "Old Testament" to Christians), leading inevitably to this question about God's age at the start of J.3 Jack Miles himself did not ask it. He did not need to. His subject was not J, but the composite text of our familiar Bible, authored/assembled by the scholar we call the Redactor sometime after the Babylonian empire put an end to the last Jewish state in 586 B.C.E.

The Redactor (Richard Elliott Friedman favors Ezra) supervised the combination of several older, varying texts of the Torah, into one compromise text that the Jews could unite behind. (The first five books of the Bible are called the "Torah" and have special authority in Judaism.) After defeat and the Babylonian Captivity, the Jews could no longer afford the luxury of multiple Torahs. For the religion to survive, everyone had to, as it were, start singing from the same songbook. Since first proposed in the 1700s, such, broadly, has been the argument called "the Documentary Hypothesis."4

More specifically, the Redactor (often abbreviated "R"), himself a high priest, satisfied the various factions by intercutting the earliest written Torah with sophisticated Torahs written far later. That earliest written Torah, c. 900 B.C.E., refers to the Deity as "Yahweh" and is known as the "J" text (for "Jahve" in German, the language of the scholars who first worked on it). It was itself, like Homer's Iliad, a grand synthesis of even earlier folk tales (late Bronze Age or Iron Age I, at least eleventh century B.C.E.) from the oral traditions, and by the time R worked with it had probably been compounded with yet other early texts.5

This material, some of it very ancient and folkloric, the priestly Redactor had to square with sophisticated religious texts (like "P" the Priestly text) composed perhaps 600 years later by professional theologians like himself. More time separates the original oral Yahweh myths from P's and R's theology than separates Beowulf from Erasmus; and more civilization. Usually R was able to choose one version over another; but apparently, neither faction would give up certain key moments (the Creation, the Ten Commandments) and the Redactor was forced to include both, the famous "doublets," with editorial help to blend the two together.

It is an observation almost as old as the Documentary Hypothesis that when the historic emergency forced the Redactor to intercut shepherd folk tales with professional theology, he created a book filled with (at its best) complexities and (at its worst) irreconcilable contradictions. R's breathtaking jumpcuts give the West's God his double nature, so odd and marked as to puzzle every child: the cosmic God that created the entire Universe is simultaneously as close and personal as any little clan's familiar spirit ever was. For several hundred years, the Documentary Hypothesis has tried to make sense of these uncanny shifts in the Deity's power and nature by (so to speak) regarding the text R left us as a kind of film montage, by finding R's splice marks, disassembling his montage, and showing that R cut it together from earlier--and far more consistent--reels. The earliest of those reels, "J," is my topic--and not all of J, either, only its very start. (The reader will see later why I deliberately use the language of film criticism to analyze R's art.)

But once biblical scholarship has disentangled these earlier texts, and approximated a translation, the rest of the job is literary criticism. The present essay is in that tradition. Of course, literary critics, working on translations, must rely on one biblical scholar or another. The present essay relies upon Jack Miles's work, but has a different topic: the concept of the deity that the early J text held. That was of no interest to Jack Miles, whose topic was precisely opposite--the concept of the deity that R builds up through montage.

Scholars debate exactly which parts of the Bible constitute the old J text, especially toward the Torah's end. Richard Elliott Friedman has argued brilliantly, if controversially, that J extends past the Torah, further into the Bible than anyone had (recently) thought, to incorporate most of the Davidic royal sagas. I limit my discussion, however, to passages no scholar currently doubts are J's very start--those which exist in our Bible as Genesis 2:5 to and including Genesis 3. These are the famous passages in which God creates Adam from the clay, has trouble finding a partner for him, and creates Eve; they disobey, are discovered, and expelled from Eden. (Simply for ease of reading, I'll refer to Gen 2:5--3:24 as "Creation--Fall.")

The boy god hypothesis will heighten our esteem for R's artistry. Scholarship speaks of his Torah as if it were a mere compromise. He's sharper than that. Here a literary critic who works with film and film technique can uncover much. The Redactor, a sophisticated theologian himself, has managed to montage the text in such a way that he erased the J text's old concept of deity; a victory all the more complete because his montage technique probably hid what he was doing from that text's supporters until a generation after he had done it.

But his montage tactic created side effects I cannot believe R desired. He defaced, at the same time, both the J text's and the P text's image of the Deity. Since R's intercut of the original texts, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have lived in fear of a God uncanny, frightening, vengeful to the point of macho, mysterious to the point of obtuseness--yet he is a God not found in any of the ancient texts, nor was he intended to be that way by the Redactor. Western history has quailed before a God who is the accidental artifact of a montage.

3. Assumptions and Anomalies

Many have exclaimed, in passing, how youthful Yahweh seems in Creation--Fall. Harold Bloom not only calls the J text's Yahweh an "imp," he remarks that in this scene he's "child-like" when he makes Adam from wet clay, "rather like a solitary child making a mud pie or building clay houses near water."6

There's a good reason he's "child-like." He's a child.

Trying to think the unthinkable, let's dare to wonder exactly how young the J text first imagined Yahweh to be. What we now see as anomalies may actually be clues to Yahweh's age; as if you were reading a posting in an internet discussion group which puzzled you until you realized, "This person posting is about twelve!"

a. Other Canaanite Boy Gods

The first question we should ask ourselves is, "Why didn't I think of Yahweh, in Genesis 2:5--3:24, as a child?"

Unless we are literal believers, we probably believe, with current scholarship, that Yahweh began as a Canaanite deity, who was then adopted by a "people" (or group or economic class) living in Canaan that would much later join with many varied ally groups to think of themselves as Hebrews (or "habirus," something like the Chinese ku li, "bitter labor," which English preserved as "coolie labor" with its overtones of sweat and foreignness; "Jews" is a much later concept). One important group of these proto-Israelites very likely came from servitude in Egypt, perhaps as few as those Americans who came over on the Mayflower. Later all Israelites adopted the Exodus story as their own, perhaps the way all Americans later celebrated Thanksgiving, adopting, in some sense, that ancestry. I've seen polls saying that only about five percent of contemporary archeologists still believe the Biblical Exodus from Egypt took place.7 These proto-Israelite Canaanites wor-shipped deities, who, like their contemporaries, the Greek gods, have lives which mirror human lives. They are born, mature, have adventures, marry, procreate. Storytellers could tell tales about Baal's childhood without irreverence, just as a Norse scop could tell tales about Thor's.8

The boy god theme was a particularly popular one in Yahweh's part of Canaan. In the Baal legend as preserved on clay tablets at Ras Shamra-Ugarit in Syria, and on an Egyptian papyrus from 1550 to 1200 B.C., currently in the Morgan--the Astarte Papyrus--we find Baal's principal rival identified as a boy god, mocked for his youth at length. Baal and Yam vie in front of the high God to rule the Earth, each claiming that their waters vivify it: Baal's rains, Yam's rivers. Then, in Theodore Gaster's translation: "At that moment there was a stir at the back of the heavenly ranks, and a diminutive creature pushed his way forward. It was Ashtar, the youngest of the gods, a mere youth in his teens." He claims appropriately but comically to be the spirit of the "rills and runnels."

But God merely laughs in his face. "You?" he cries, his eyes twinkling merrily. "Why you are not even old enough to manage a wife; how much less, then, to rule the earth!" And he dismisses him from his presence.

Yet when Baal goes down to Mot's kingdom of the dead, little Ashtar successfully usurps the throne. "He is a doughty youth, to be sure," his mother Asherat exclaims to God. The Baal-ist narrator has great fun with the boy god:

So Ashtar went up to the throne of Baal to take his place as king of the earth and master of the gods. But when he sat upon the royal seat, his head did not even reach to its top, nor his feet to the footstool, for he was but a child. Howbeit, although he was too small to sit upon the throne of Baal in the mountain of the North, Ashtar went down to earth and there reigned as king.

Baal returns, angry, and swiftly takes revenge:

He determined to settle accounts with Ashtar, who was presuming to reign in his stead. So he took his bludgeon and smote Ashtar roundly until he fell. Then he returned to the Mountain of the North and seated himself once more upon his royal throne."

This is external evidence that, at exactly the right time, in exactly the right place, Baal's followers are aware of a boy god who is a pretender to Baal's throne. Indeed, he has managed to sit upon it for a time. The mocking caricature of him reminds me of WWII cartoons of Hitler, diminishing his threat by turning him into a tiny, gesticulating clown--derision in direct proportion to the anxiety he actually inspired.9

In sum, the Canaanite pantheon already includes the concept of a boy god, and knows at least one other boy god. Since scholarship now assumes that the J text originated in similar old Canaanite legends about Yahweh, it is odd if Yahweh has no childhood, not if he does. It is odd that there are no stories about it, as there are about Baal's. What happened to them?

Perhaps we've found one: Creation--Fall. R didn't even disguise it, I will show, just printed it second, and let montage take over.

b. Anomalies created by the kingly god hypothesis

Even knowing nothing of Canaan, if we just stick to the text and ask ourselves why, when we read Creation--Fall, we picture Yahweh as a white-bearded king rather than as a boy, we will have a hard time explaining. The great challenge to doing Biblical scholarship of any kind is to see only what is there, and no more.

Think of Marc Connelly's once famous 1930 play, Green Pastures.10 While attending Sunday School in the South, an African-American girl about six years old falls asleep. She dreams the story of the Bible, bringing--as we all must--her own Weltanschauung to it. The Biblical figures inevitably become Southern small-town African Americans: she sees God as her country preacher; Pharaoh becomes a kind of self-important Fraternal Lodge commander in a fez.

Our own dream of J's Creation--Fall is no less filtered through our own Weltanschauung. I ask undergraduates to read the text, then ask them to describe how they pictured Yahweh when they read. My favorite answer--a very knowing and funny answer--was "I pictured him as a younger Charlton Heston with a tan." The student was wryly acknowledging, "I get my image from the movies, not from this text. I projected it onto the text." Most students report having unconsciously pictured Yahweh as a very powerful man, just under fifty, "with a white beard, eight feet tall, with the robes and all of that." We smile, but it will be a battle for us, too, to see no more than is actually in the text.

Of course, the lay reader has even less chance of avoiding that image than the scholarly reader. Even in highly accurate translations like the Study Edition to Oxford University Press's New English Bible, where the text says "Yahweh God," the reader finds, LORD GOD--in capitals, no less. "Lord" is not a translation of "Yahweh." Instead, by old (and to me questionable) custom, supposedly as a homage to medieval Jewish practice, the word "Lord" is substituted for the sacred name "YHWH," or Yahweh, too sacred to pronounce. The New English Bible editors admit in the introduction that they "have followed ancient translators in substituting 'LORD' or 'GOD,' printed as here in capital letters, for the Hebrew name."11 A "substitution" is not a translation. What chance does one have to picture Yahweh any other way, when one reads LORD GOD instead of his name? One can't help noticing how such changes help scholars smooth together for readers the truly lordly God of the P text, and Creation--Fall's highly anthropomorphic Yahweh, not lordly at all.12

Notice: nothing in the J text says Yahweh is anything like that. Our mental picture of a white-bearded, regal Yahweh in Genesis is purely our assumption projected onto it. Surely he is a god (one of many--monotheism is far in the future), but there isn't one descriptive statement, in fact, which would disqualify him from being seen as a Canaanite boy god similar to Ashtar.

God: A Biography drills you in this way of thinking about the Bible. At every point, Miles asks how far God has developed, matured, evolved. Miles points out that the Ancient of Days comes much later, almost at the Bible's end. The Ancient is not even in the Torah, the first five books which formed the original Jewish "bible"--let alone in J's opening Creation-Fall episode (JM, 10, 371).

How old is Yahweh? Miles also shows us that Yahweh isn't even thought of as a father until "several hundred pages later, in II Samuel 7," nor does he "present himself as a king until even later, at Isaiah 6" (JM, 12). He certainly doesn't act like one. He begins as, in Miles's term, a "friend of the family," who describes himself simply as "your father's god" (JM, 66--70). In power, he is somewhat more than the Arabian genie was to Ali Baba.

Yahweh's limited, genie-like powers are consistent with those of other Canaanite deities, but there are strange things about J's Yahweh which are not. In his deservedly influential book, The Sacred Canopy, Peter Berger talks about how different Yahweh is from other area gods. "He appears without mates or offspring, unaccompanied by a pantheon of any sort."13 If he is a mature man, and a king, Yahweh is roughly as out-of-place among the other Canaanite deities as he would be on Mount Olympus; and in the same general way.

Yahweh, then, unlike other Canaanite gods, has "no past," no childhood, there are no tales of his maturation. He's single and childless, pictured with no consort. He's not even interested in sex. He has no royal court, no friends. And he has, compared to other Canaanite gods, an unusual, all-absorbing interest in his new creation, Man.

4. The Boy God: A New Hypothesis Resolves the Anomalies

As soon as we drop our unfounded, anachronistic assumption, stop picturing Yahweh as his later self, and picture Yahweh as a boy, anomalies disappear in droves. Suddenly there is indeed a story about his childhood: we are reading it. Suddenly it is no longer a mystery why he lacks a mate, or a child. He still is one.

When Berger wonders why Yahweh "lacks" a pantheon, Berger assumes Yahweh must be the king of the gods. Berger is completely wrong to describe Yahweh as "alone." Other gods exist in the text. In Creation--Fall, Yahweh even talks with them, alarmed, about Adam and Eve getting to the tree of immortality and "becoming like us." If we (without evidence) assume Yahweh is the king of the gods, then it is certainly difficult to explain why those other gods haven't been routinely clustering around him in a royal court. But if Yahweh is merely a boy god nearing puberty, starting out for the first time on his own, undergoing what seems like a personal quest, in which he explores his growing powers, then we understand why the other gods are remote. Or rather, why he is. Like Ashtar, mocked by the Canaanite High God for being too young even to manage a wife, he hasn't qualified to join the court yet. The J text does record a moment, after the Fall, when the sexually mature gods notice Yahweh's female creations, come over and add to his misery.

Perhaps the hardest thing to explain about Yahweh, when you picture him as the Ancient of Days, is why he needed Man in the first place. It's even harder to explain in Canaanite context. His whole, delighted science-project approach to the creation, including man, finally gets a motive, when we picture a preadolescent creating things as a form of joyful exercise, out of pleasure with, and to learn about, his own growing power. (The growth of Yahweh's powers, while his people are buffeted about waiting for him to mature and come into his own, is the J text's lost theme.)

Lots of odd things finally make sense. Once the humans are created, Yahweh is whole-heartedly interested in them, the way a child--another child--might be completely interested in, and satisfied by, his dog or his pony. Think of those children's stories in which a child's life revolves obsessively around Flicka, or the Yearling, or the Red Pony. That's normal childhood behavior. J's author(s) knew children as well as we do.

Miles constantly points out that Yahweh never seems to know what the outcome of his actions is going to be until it happens. More-over, Yahweh is often "surprised" by his actions' "effects, and inclined to repudiate them"--indeed, he becomes so dismayed he finally decides to flood the world and start over. Familiar as we are with the tale, Yahweh's surprise that Adam is unhappy, and his solution, still surprises us. (Indeed, it makes classes laugh, and, I will argue, it was intended to.) Yahweh's incomprehension is the greatest anomaly, and what gave me the hint.14 Yahweh sees to his surprise that Adam is lonely, and Yahweh's first thought is that the man needs a pet. He keeps pets himself. Why shouldn't the man? He doesn't know that the man wants a woman. And Yahweh, while the man waits--surely this was meant to be a comic moment--creates every animal in the world before he figures that out. Without knowing anything about the likelihood of Canaanite boy gods, disregarding all the other evidence, just looking at this one incident, how old would you estimate that person to be? Remove our historically and textually unfounded assumption that Yahweh is a kingly grown-up man, and what is now a baffling moment--at best a poor reflection on Yahweh's judgment--is revealed to have been, in J's original tale, a charming and poignant moment, no reflection on Yahweh's judgment, only on his maturity, in this long ago time before he came of age. (I'll return to that point. It makes a difference to the reader if Yahweh has grown up since all this happened.)

That's the first half of Creation--Fall. In the second, the boy god encounters the mystery of sex and what it can do to your ordered universe. Hesiod and Homer had made that a major theme, too, at a parallel moment in their culture. The man's sexual desire, and adult need for a companion, plainly surprise the boy; the results will horrify him.

To the audience, knowing what would follow, it was a comic but sad moment when the boy thoughtfully provided his new pet, the lonely, mature adult male with . . . pets. When the boy creates a mature woman for his pet, that's an even bigger mistake, for everything flies out of control as the sexual dynamic which erupts between the mature man and mature woman instantly leads them to an adult treachery the boy never dreamed of, and which astonishes and frightens him. The boy, alarmed, protects himself from them, and then, overcome with confusion and pity, clothes them, his pets, for the outside world to which he must expel them.

That's a far more coherent story than we get by allowing R and the English-language editors to make us picture the LORD GOD. (There are probably complex gender issues involved in the later priesthood wishing to erase all memory of that very unpatriarchal boy god.) Why resist the coherent story and cling to the paradigm which produced all the anomalies? There is neither textual support, nor historical support, for us to continue in that unprofitable reading. The assumption that we were dealing with a grown-up person, just because he was a "god," fits neither Canaan, nor the era, nor the text. That paradigm produces oddities, anomalies, and baffling moments. We would abandon any reading of a novel which turned out to be similarly unsupported, anachronistic, ignorant of the culture it came from, and productive of little but confusion.

5. Yahweh's Name: "The God To Be"

The boy god hypothesis even goes further than any other toward explaining Yahweh's notoriously puzzling name. "The Hebrew word Yahweh is a verb functioning as a noun," Jack Miles explains, "most likely the abbreviation of an ancient sentence-name," such as "Dances with Wolves," which could become "Dances" for short (JM, 420). Canaanite gods sometimes have such names (and so do we: "Tills the Earth" is my own name, "George"). The problem is that "yahweh" is a verb. Attempts to theorize this as meaning "Pure Being" are hopelessly abstract, given the era and J's anthropomorphic deity.

My student, Stefan Klocek, points out that if what the original fabulists wished to signal was "a god who grows from a boy-god into a mature adult god," perhaps the name represents

[a way] to refer to this god in terms of his metamorphosis. . . . It is possible that the J tradition was highly aware of the growth of their god, and indeed relied on it as an explanation for his failure to prove himself as a powerful god. It was far easier to explain why their god had failed to prevent another god from causing harm to them, if their own god was "just too young." Eventually they came to refer to their god not as God, but as their "future god": "He who will become our god."

In fact, in the Creation--Fall episode, Yahweh is repeatedly called "Yahweh God," literally "Will Be God," or "Becoming God," or "The God To Be."15 Klocek's theory sounds plausible to me. Here, however, the literary critic reaches his method's limits. He can make this kind of proposition, but those who know the languages must decide whether to investigate it. Nor does the boy god hypothesis depend on this translation of the name.

6. External Verification

Finally, the boy god hypothesis has the real possibility of something that would clinch the argument: external verification.

Here's another well-known puzzle. Baal plays a great role as villain in Yahwistic literature. He was the competition. It's somewhat anomalous that Yahweh doesn't, conversely, appear as the villain in Baal's legends. In an e-mail, Jack Miles points out that this is not un-precedented, for the small religions know of the big, but the big do not necessarily notice the small.

However, when we looked for references to Baal's rival, Yahweh, in the Baal texts, we were looking for references to an invader god coming in from Egypt with the Israelites. We no longer believe that history. We now realize we should be looking for a Canaanite god who, for some reason, spoke to the experience of part of the Canaanite underclass, who adopted him as their own. We have to look in the Canaanite legends themselves.

Above all, when we looked for references to Yahweh, we looked for references to a ruler god rivaling Baal. But if we look for a reference to a boy god, the Baal legend certainly does know of an upstart boy god who imagines himself as Baal's principal rival, and rival for the rule of the earth, at that. (See text cited above.) Classically-educated scholars should reflect on the way the Greek gods' names changed under the impact of the varying migrations. The Canaanite tribes were even more syncretic, Jack Miles advises me. We have never investigated whether that god, "Ashtar" in Baal's dialect, was in some syncretic way related to the Canaanite god called "Yahweh" (however that was pronounced--it's far from certain) in the Israelite dialect, because we didn't realize we were looking for references to a boy god.16

Here, at least, is more external confirmation, from outside the Bible, than we were ever able to find. Does it not explain why, when we thought of Yahweh as a ruler god, we never could find him mentioned in the literature of his main rival? And now that we have a new paradigm, previously "unimportant" data may suddenly push us forward. We know, at least, what we might be looking for.

7. Montage: Uncovering the Redactor's Art

Yet it is no accident that we slipped into our assumptions. R him-self led us into error through a brilliant montage stratagem. (I return with relief to the tasks a literary critic has been trained to do.) Throughout the Torah, R finds ways to encourage us, whenever we hit a portion of the J text, to project onto Yahweh the image of the P text's King.

We know that the Redactor's job was cutting and splicing, trying to bring texts (and with them, Jewish religious factions) into as much harmony as possible. The Redactor did not hesitate to cut, and, less frequently, to add. When texts were too well known, too vital to some faction to be done away with, he printed both. I think we now can explain why R, when he is forced into a "doublet," consistently does the opposite of what we'd expect. He chooses to run the text written later, first.

Scholarship tends to speak of R's editing role as if he were a United Nations observer, neutrally adjudicating the dispute between the factions. Even Friedman tends to see him as a compromiser, though an unwilling one, since he is most likely an "Aaronid" priest with a powerful stake in the P text. (See below. Since I quote Friedman, I'll stick with his terms for the factions.)17

After the 1990s, canon-changers ourselves, we know the amount of anger and in-fighting involved in so small a change as getting Toni Morrison added to a Norton Anthology, let alone revising sacred texts. If R was in fact Ezra, he was not only a priest but a powerful political figure personally backed by the Persian Emperor. Ezra had already enacted draconian measures aimed at apostasy. As a priest and an educated theologian, he would not wish to knuckle under to this antiquated idea of God, if politics didn't force him to.

As Richard Elliott Friedman reminds us, R found preserving J repugnant for powerful practical reasons as well. J and P were not merely different texts, "P was polemic--it was an answer-torah" produced to counter J and E and their fusion, JE. The priesthood had, during the kingdom's long division, divided into two battling factions, each--like the Pope tracing his legitimacy back to Peter--tracing its legitimacy back, one faction to Moses, the other to his brother Aaron. Each Torah supported one side: "JE denigrated Aaron. P denigrated Moses. JE assumed that any Levite could be a priest. P said that only men who were descendants of Aaron could be priests" (REF, 217). (Whether R was Ezra or not, textual evidence indicates that he was an Aaronid priest.)

Above all, "the person who wrote P was . . . developing a concept of God" that would "defend his group's livelihood." The grand, cosmic, and remote deity of the P text can only be approached by obtaining the lawyerly services of one's priest. "Over and over, P develops this point that the Aaronid priest at the sacrificial altar is the people's proper channel to the deity." One can't be forgiven "just because one is sorry. . . . In the P text, there is not a single reference to God as merciful. The very words 'mercy,' 'grace'. . . 'repent' never occur" (REF, 196--197). In trouble? You need a priest, and an Aaronid priest, at that. The J text, by contrast, though it supported the "Mushite" priests, pictured a close, personal, merciful God, moved by personal repentance, priest or no priest. That was a threat.

R had to seem receptive to the Mushite priestly faction demanding J's inclusion--supported, no doubt, by everyone who disliked the Aaronids' legalistic concept of religion. R seems to bow to their wishes: he includes their preferred version of Creation immediately following the incomparably more sophisticated version of the later Priests--his own faction. I notice the text, as he gives it to us, never specifies Yahweh's age, and I wonder if that's an accident. In Creation--Fall, we have a deity whose age is never mentioned, but who has the interests, and lifestyle, of a healthy, curious twelve-year-old.

The Redactor is no simple cobbler, splicing texts together like stitching a sole to a boot. R practices an art: montage, the director's art.18

One of the familiar parables about montage, and how it works, describes how the Russian director Pudovkin (or in some versions his teacher, Kuleshov--the story varies but the moral is the same) performed an experiment with the great actor Mosjukhin. Pudovkin told Mosjukhin nothing, only to "look at the wall," then took a lengthy close-up in which Mosjukhin looks off-camera, but you can't see at what. Then Pudovkin got some stock footage of a banquet table, of a beautiful woman, of a cute child. He intercut these stock shots with Mosjukhin looking at the wall. When he projected it, the audience saw: steaming food, close-up of Mosjukhin looking off-camera; beautiful woman, Mosjukhin looking; charming child, Mosjukhin looking.

And the audience said, "What a genius Mosjukhin is! With just the subtlest movements of his face, first he saw the food and showed us hunger; then he saw the woman, and showed us mute desire; and then he saw the child, and somehow conveyed a warm, protective love."19

It was all just the same shot, of course, of Mosjukhin looking at the wall. In this way Pudovkin made the point that montage does not simply connect shots, it creates something new, that was present in neither shot before.

Move from Pudovkin to Eisenstein's equally familiar Odessa Steps sequence in Potemkin. Traditionally, young filmwriters start their studies by taking that sequence apart, separating the shots of the runaway baby carriage, from the woman's face, from the marching boots. It isn't hard (alas) to imagine a Ph.D. candidate who devotes himself full-time to studying the Second Unit which filmed the carriage (call it the C text) and another Ph.D. who studies only the woman's face (the W text) and another scholar who studies only the boots (the B text). But none of those texts has any meaning until they're put together, in a certain order, in the Odessa Steps sequence--call that the M text, for Montage-text. Then, suddenly, meaning is created.

The Documentary Hypothesis had, for so long, kept scholars devoted to uncovering the J text, the P text, and so forth, that no one--in a manner of speaking--was paying attention to the Odessa Steps anymore; as if the Torah, that highly artificial, Eisenstein-like, Pudovkin-like act of Montage was somehow not the culminating art which gave all the texts meaning--new meaning, as Pudovkin showed.

Miles's work recalled attention to the Montage-text and the novel meanings produced by its art. The editors, the Redactor himself, had been spoken of as mere anthologists, despite (ironically) the historians' growing evidence--within the Flood, for instance--of countless careful intercuts, some no longer than an eyeblink. The historians themselves had provided the evidence that the Redactor was a Director; his art was Montage, and if he wasn't an artist, then Eisenstein wasn't either. Miles began doing a kind of film criticism, insisting the historical critics turn the projector on and run the film, to notice the new M text produced when the clips of J and E and P, so carefully spliced together, play in this new sequence across the screen of the mind.

Notice, therefore, that in Genesis, R does not run the earlier, simpler version first, as one might have expected. Instead, he moves from the later to the earlier, from the complex to the simple. I suggest that R does the counter-intuitive thing, and places the P text, with its grown-up, autocratic God, first, instead of the older text, specifically to let the P text create one's first impression of the Deity. R wanted P's cosmic, sophisticated version of the Deity, not some old Canaanite jinn, to stay with you throughout the Torah. By the time you hit the J text version of Yahweh, R has seen to it that you have the P text's picture of Him firmly in your mind, and it is more than most readers can do to blank their minds, read the J text as if they hadn't just read P, and see the boy god. That was just the way R wanted it. He did this consistently. R "began the major sections of his work with P stories or laws, never with J or E," Friedman noticed, without speculating about motive or montage (REF, 218). Faced with two versions of the Ten Commandments, for instance, once again R does not go from simple to complex, or from early to late. R first gives you the P text. Only when you have something cosmic and stupendous firmly in your mind does he then run the J text, which comes off like a series of amendments and footnotes to the grand strictures of the Decalogue you've just read. Sometimes a J scene will seem (as it does in Creation-Fall) like a flashback close-up on part of the action, a zeroing in on part of the Creation.

8. The Method's Side Effects

But the method's success had side effects which it is impossible to imagine R wanting, or even seeing.

He may have been indifferent to the fact that every bit of drama in the J text was lost. We've seen how the Redactor ruined the charming moment in which the boy, sympathizing with his pet's loneliness, tries to give him a pet, before finally realizing he needs a woman of his species. By starting the book with God already a cosmic Deity, the entire J Bildungsroman plot vanishes, creating a horde of puzzling moments later in the composite book. With the plot also went the lesson the J text wanted us to draw from history.

The lesson in a moment; first, the plot. What kind of story was J's story, before R neutralized it? R, in his first shots, indelibly created the sense of a cosmic deity who can divide the light from the dark; Michelangelo, by common consent, pretty much caught the majesty of those lines and of that God on the Sistine's ceiling.

Then R ran the J text, in which that Deity (now burned into our minds) apparently condescends to embody himself on the earth as little more than an immortal human. Here, for once, intended or not, is an improvement, a great new dramatic effect that wasn't in either earlier text. There is a wonderful awesomeness, to picture the Cosmic God Himself walking around on the Earth, scooping up clay in His Own Two Hands. It is a moving Condescension. Of course we're mystified that He cannot seem to spot Adam and Eve when they simply hide behind a bush (even Superman has X-ray vision). And the way events instantly slip out of His Own Two Hands is bewildering, and His reactions are so excited and overwrought that theological genius has had to use all its ingenuity to excuse them.

I don't even count the multiple numerical and historical inconsis-tencies with the first Creation story, since no one but a scholar can remember them to be troubled by them. It is R's god we will always see after those first Michelangelesque moments, and all through the Bible we will be wondering why, for instance, the Israelites are so amazed when he "throws the horse and rider into the Sea." Didn't he divide the light from the dark? But they hadn't heard that version. The Creation--Fall account they knew, the J account, gave them no such reason to trust Yahweh's judgment or his powers. Yahweh must prove himself to people who knew him very well.

R had to subsume J somehow because the point of the Priestly Creation story is opposite the point in the J text. The P version ends happily, for God and man. The J version doesn't. R had to seem to include both stories, while neutralizing the primitive old text, because the stories weren't just different but opposites.

If we remove our unfounded assumption of a ruler god in charge, somehow letting all this happen for some inexplicable ("mysterious") purpose, we can see that the J version is a story of inexperience and failure. If we do some "form criticism" and compare Creation--Fall with fables we know, we recognize a genre: the Sorcerer's Apprentice.

The sorcerer's apprentice tries his hand. His creation, the man and the woman, more mature than he is, instantly conspire--he can't control them, all his plans fall apart. Their children are the first murderer and the first victim. In a significant sexual twist, the Canaanite gods, older than Yahweh and highly sexual, notice his human women, come over and copulate with them, so that they give birth to a race of giants. Pretty soon the whole world has gone bad and the sorcerer's apprentice is dearly sorry that he ever created it. He resolves to wipe it out and be done. The boy god, sadder but wiser, destroys his creation with a flood and starts over again.

Scholars speak of Creation--Fall as "etiological myth," explaining why we have to labor for our bread, why women give birth in pain. We call it a "theodicy," a justification of God's justice. That's anachronistic. The late Bronze Age and Iron Age storytellers chanted hundreds of years before anyone associated gods (of all people! and I say that deliberately) with anything like the modern concept of "justice." (In both the West and Asia, it seems no older than the 500s B.C.E.) The only question evident in the text is, "Why is everything awful?" Not "Why is Yahweh just?" A large part of J's answer is that the landless, homeless, pre-camel "ass nomads" whose plight this Sorcerer's Apprentice tale originally spoke to, were the children of a lesser god. The boy god and his failed experiment become part of the explanation that these illiterate, state-less coolies, braceros and illegal aliens, wandering along the margins of literate, prosperous, ancient cities, have for their hard lives.

During the Solomonic Enlightenment, J, newly proud of dynasty and state, had a vision. Like Homer later, J arranged the old tales into a connected narrative with a new theme: how the people suffered while Yahweh was a boy--but when he came of age, what a change there was! Do the dramatic stages sound familiar? In the first act, he's an inept kid; in the second, he's learning; and in the third, the boy, grown into his powers, marshalls his doubting country after a defeat, scores incredible triumphs over the mightiest nation in the world, and becomes his people's greatest hero. What J saw in the old legends was the same dramatic potential Shakespeare saw in the old stories he fashioned into Henry IV, part 1; Henry IV, part 2; Henry V. "So when this loose behavior I throw off," Hal says at the Mermaid, "my reformation, glittering over my fault, shall show more goodly and attract more eyes than that which hath no foil to set it off" (I ii184-iii.). Imagine Henry V without the first two, and it's just another dull hero play.

And so J, as a "foil," preserved all the boy god's immaturity, and his initial failures in Act One. In Act Two, the tribe does the best it can while he slowly grows into his powers. Abram must starve, beg from Egypt, let them take his wife as a concubine; Joseph must suffer Egyptian jail; while Yahweh's powers are slowly maturing. (For a full discussion of these points, see Miles's chapters "What Makes God Godlike?" and "Friend of the Family.")

All this was to set up Act Three, a kind of Yahweh V. J's mighty third act originally had all the amazement of watching Prince Hal reform: Yahweh, whom we met as a child, who had been the sorcerer's apprentice, who had had to flood his first creation, who couldn't even save Sarah from Egyptian fornicators, girds up his loins like a man and humbles the greatest country in the world. It is the kind of reversal Aristotle thought the finest dramatic effect.

The third act starts when Moses wanders off into the desert and encounters--with a tremendous shock for J's readers--Yahweh, all grown up. Yahweh announces to Moses, in great contrast to what we saw of him even during the Joseph episode, that he now has absolute power even over Egypt, and Moses is going to be his point man. In the original J, Moses' incredulity and consequent terror must have been enjoyably plausible, even while the audience, with a thrill of pride, knew that Yahweh had grown up and could bring it off. In the original text, the Israelites' lack of faith in this grand scheme to invade the settled cities of Canaan, with Yahweh (of all people) at the helm, was no more implausible than the English soldiers' misgivings about Prince Hal. In R's version the Jews, deprived of motive, seem amazingly, even disgustingly distrustful, "stiff necked," ready to fear the worst. Indeed, they seem for all the world like soldiers led by a general they knew as a lackluster boy. R's version preserves the odd fact that Yahweh has to do his first miracle "on spec," as the film world puts it. Why doesn't he ask them to agree to the contract, the Ten Commandments, before leading them out of Egypt? Involving as it does his abilities to lead them to the Promised Land, he shows them what he can do first, then proposes the partnership--he, not they, proposes it, even as he proposed it to Moses, who was as dubious as the Jews. With the boy god hypothesis, we glimpse the buried dramatic structure, and all this finally makes sense, including the Jews walking through the Wilderness on the edge of panic over where their neophyte general is leading them. J's third act exploits all the dramatic possibilites Shakespeare exploited, of a leader coming to win his people's trust. J gives Yahweh numerous, stirring, Hal-like speeches--"We few! We band of brothers!"--and despairing, Hal-like moments to reflect "upon the king! . . ." And in the end Hal became King Harry, Yahweh became the Lord of Hosts, and J's audience rode to vindication and victory with him.

All that dramatic effect, R spoiled by splicing together, with Prince Hal, a transcendent deity. J should sue.

Yet we must appreciate R's formidable artistry. Not allowed simply to dispose of Prince Hal, he managed to cut together the texts in such a way that Prince Hal/Yahweh--whose first-act weaknesses J insisted on, to set up his great third act--would vanish and the image of the cosmic deity remain in Hal's place.

9. The Accidental God

There was a greater loss than the loss of a dramatic masterpiece. Most importantly, the Redactor's success harmed the West's image of the Deity, and he never could have desired that.

Biblical scholars like Friedman have long observed that "when the redactor combined all the sources, he mixed two different pictures of God," swirling together a "personal" and a "transcendent" deity so that human beings now came into "close personal dialogue with the all-powerful master of the universe . . . a balance that none of the original authors had intended." (Italics mine.) Christianity, Judaism, and, I would add, Islam have "lived and struggled ever since with a cosmic yet personal deity" (REF, 238).

But I am arguing that the "two different pictures of God" were even more different than scholarship has suspected, and the unintended damage from the montage consequently greater. The frightening, unstable quality of the West's God, which we have thought was simply there and had to be lived with, was an editorial accident.

We have seen how in Creation--Fall, the Redactor's clever montage leaves us picturing the almighty cosmic God who has just separated the Day from the Night as unable to guess Adam's need for a woman, so that Yahweh seems bewilderingly thick; at best, "mysterious." Neither the P text God nor Yahweh had been dumb or mysterious, till that montage. The Priestly God had been cosmic; Yahweh had been a touching boy. Only R's composite God seems either dumb or inscrutable--an inevitable side effect of the combination.

Experience in film leads me to agree with Friedman's theory that the Redactor and his staff never saw the problem. They were too close to the work. The factions demanding both J and P be included would be focusing on that simple fact--not on the montage. They themselves projected onto the new work their own assumptions--concepts of god developed long ago, from reading their texts alone in their integrity. The first children who were raised with this composite text, confronted with a god who at one moment could create universes and at the next act like a child, were the first to feel the unnerving contradictions of the composite God.

That was a far more serious side effect than the ruining of J's Bildungsroman. R's obscuring of Yahweh's age meant that the audience, when they read the J sections, would attribute what had been the acts of a boy to a mature man. What was innocent became ignorant, and childish naïveté became bewildering stupidity, finally written off to a deep "mysteriousness" about this obtuse god.

And worse. In God: A Biography, for instance, Jack Miles remarks that Yahweh, at the end of the Creation--Fall episodes, seems "not just less powerful and less generous" than the God we met in the P text at the book's start, "but far more vindictive," and as "gratuitous in his wrath" as the first section's God "was gratuitous in his bounty. . ." (JM, 35).

But that's only because R's montage has made us picture these deeds as the deeds of a man, not of a boy. If we're talking about a boy, our attitude softens. If a man did what Yahweh does he would indeed be "vindictive," and "gratuitous in his wrath."

But if these were the acts of a panicked twelve-year-old whose quest project has gotten out of control, it all looks different. He is superior to the adults, in power but not in guile. The J text wins a lot of sympathy for the boy in his distress--and the deceitful grown-ups look all the worse, far more deserving to be punished. No need for justifications. One is on his side.

If R, rereading his new work, realized that his composite God would now look "vindictive" and "gratuitous in his wrath" to millennia of readers like Jack Miles (as well as to John Milton and all the other felix culpa theologians who, uncomfortable with the new Creation--Fall, decided God needed their defense), R certainly couldn't have enjoyed the thought. Those alive to gender issues will notice that instead of the West picturing God as a child, creative but touchingly fallible, or as a serene bureaucrat, calmly in charge, they now pictured God as a powerful man with a child's temper, given to abrupt and violent acts.

Nor could R have likely foreseen another enormous, unintentional change he was making in our concept of the Deity, by forcing us to imagine a distant, lordly, patriarchal grown-up who sometimes acts like a twelve-year-old.

In the J text, Yahweh's acts are the unintentional errors of youth--acts safely outgrown long before the reading audience's lifetime. I can remember, in early childhood, hearing stories of my father's long-ago wild youth. I was completely in his power, and I needed him to guide my life, but the adolescent foolishness he told me about didn't threaten my feelings of security and safety. He'd done that long ago, when he was a kid. He was a grown-up now, and my wise, all-knowing father. So the J text's audience could listen, unthreatened, to stories of Yahweh's mistakes while he was still a boy. The full J text later described the way Yahweh, by their lifetime, had grown up; indeed, he'd grown up long ago, conquered mighty Egypt, and led their ancestors to a home.

But R had, by running the Priestly text first, made sure they pictured a cosmic, eternal god, outside time or personal change. So R's readers now pictured the acts in Creation--Fall being done by a fully mature, unchanging god--and therefore possible still. It is as threatening as if one's father's adolescent wildness was not outgrown, but permanent in his nature, and, even worse, was now coupled with his enormous mature power.

This awful defacement of the concept of the Deity was another inevitable side effect of attributing a boy's acts to a mature man. Both older texts offered you better. The P text had a cosmic god, austere and remote, infinitely powerful but (this was the whole practical point of that text) also infinitely assuagable through correct sacrifice, if you were wise enough to seek the guidance of your priests. The J text had a tribal god who made mistakes in his youth, but who, long ago, in the days of Moses, had grown into his maturity, and was no threat to the present reader. Only the new montage text had--and had by accident--an infinitely powerful cosmic god who did things which might be forgiven a twelve-year-old, but which were terrifying and uncanny coming from a grown-up, and a mighty one.


Fuller versions of these notes will be found at There is a response mechanism there: I welcome advice on any part of this essay.

1. Jack Miles, God: A Biography (New York: Knopf, 1995); hereafter cited JM. Miles, a Harvard-educated scholar of the Hebrew Bible, originally trained to be a Jesuit. Before the Pulitzer, he was for many years the well-known editor of the Los Angeles Times Sunday Book Review. He is currently Senior Advisor to the President of the J. Paul Getty Trust. I thank Jack Miles for encouraging this essay with a string of calls and e-mails in 1998--99, if I may do so without implying he's entirely convinced by my argument. He has not seen this final draft; its mistakes are all my own.

2. Richard Elliott Friedman, The Hidden Book in the Bible: the Discovery of the First Prose Masterpiece (San Francisco: Harper San Francisco [sic], 1998), p. 4; hereafter cited HBB, followed by page number. Friedman, the Kazin Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at the University of California, San Diego, in this work reconstructs and retranslates the J text.

3. The Jewish Bible, Tanakh, is the Old Testament, but in a different order at the end.

4. Probably more scholarship exists on the Bible than on any other subject. The best introduction to the Documentary Hypothesis (high scholarship, but as exciting as a detective novel) is Richard Elliott Friedman's Who Wrote the Bible? (New York: Summit, 1987); hereafter cited REF.

5. In particular see Friedman's 1997 account of J's relations with E in HBB, pp. 350--60, which updates his account in REF. For many years, starting with The Art of Biblical Narrative (New York: Basic, 1981), Robert Alter has been analyzing the changes made from oral to written versions of the J material and much else; hereafter cited RA. I was one of Alter's first students (1964!), but in those days he was analyzing the picaresque tradition in the European novel; in a way, he never stopped, for what is Moses individually and the Jews collectively, but the picaresque?

6. Harold Bloom and David Rosenberg, The Book of J (New York: Random, 1991), pp. 175--6. Jack Miles, by the way, was the "clever" reviewer Bloom later thanked, in his work on the canon, for his suggestion (Bloom adopted it) that if J's author were indeed a woman, David's wife, Bathsheba, may have been that woman--"a non-Israelite married to David, aggressively advancing her son Solomon's career, in possibly disgruntled old age when everything fell apart after his death." In the interest of full disclosure: when I was an Assistant Professor of English at Yale, Bloom graciously allowed me, for a year, to attend his graduate seminar; but back in 1972--73, it was all about "the anxiety of influence" and the "Visionary Company," not the J text.

7. Miles thinks that "5%" is "much too low," but I have seen that number. In an e-mail, Miles rightly rebukes me: "By 'exodus,' does one intend the miraculous sea-crossing? Or only the re-migration northward of a group of Semites after a change of regime?" The polls aren't specific enough. I take my picture of the ethnic situation from Robert Drews's study fitting Israel's emergence into the larger Mediterranean picture: The End of the Bronze Age: Changes in Warfare and the Catastrophe ca. 1200 B.C. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993). General readers may consult Hershel Shanks, the editor of Bible Review and Biblical Archeology Review, for commentaries.

8. I thank my students Stefan Klocek, Joanna Perry, and David Carr for their skill in locating hard-to-find Canaanite texts on the internet, and their analyses of these texts in the light of my hypothesis. See, a frequently updated site by Christopher B. Siren (; hereafter cited CS. Also see, a site copyrighted by Lilinah biti-Anat [sic] 1995--1997, hereafter cited LBA.

9. Translated by Theodore H. Gaster in his book, The Oldest Stories in the World (Boston: Beacon Press, 1952), pp. 209--10, 222, 224. See also and The Catholic Encyclopedia at

10. Marc Connelly, Green Pastures (1930), based on Roark Bradford's Ol'Man Adam an' His Chillun, won the Pulitzer Prize. Embarrassing as the play is now, it was in its time--like the all-black production of Virgil Thomson and Gertrude Stein's Four Saints in Three Acts and Orson Welles's WPA-financed Voodoo Macbeth--a step forward in casting off the minstrel show stereotypes. See Cristina Ruotolo's article "Delivering Gertrude Stein: American Modernism with an All-Black Cast" in a future issue of Magazine.

11. New English Bible: Oxford Study Edition (New York: Oxford University Press, 1976), p. xx.

12. By the same token, the first lines, which more accurate translations like HBB give as "earth and skies," the Oxford changes to "earth and the heavens," quite another thing. "Heavens" sounds like the cosmic deity creating an Olympus or Valhalla or the Universe itself.

13. Peter Berger, The Sacred Canopy: Elements of a Sociological Theory of Religion (New York: Anchor Doubleday, 1967), p. 105; hereafter cited PB.

14. Just before school started that year, my six-year-old son suddenly discovered dogs, and a friend's dog, a canny Australian sheephound named "Blue," became the center of his every waking thought. When I taught Genesis that September, Yahweh's enthusiasm, his ceaseless activity and creativity for the sheer joy of it, and his obsession with his new creation looked familiar to me. Also, my young son needed no more than Blue, but Blue, a mature animal, needed more than my son. I saw that poignancy hovering over the J text, too. The boy god enjoys man more than man enjoys him. The next step was realizing that my friend and teacher had almost said it himself, and that nothing in either the text or the era disqualified the reading. Indeed, it dissolved anomalies.

15. From Stefan Klocek's unpublished student monograph given me for use in this paper (San Francisco, 1998). Used by permission. Miles was critical of this section. The verb forms of Archaic West Semitic lie far beyond my field of expertise. I retain the section because I sense that Stefan Klocek is onto something, that Yahweh's essence is growth, and the anomalous verbal name relates to it: "Becoming God"? "The God To Be?" It's the critic's job to be right when he can, but more often--if you believe in truth as dialectic--to be wrong in the right ways. This is provocative. Someone may go right, seeing where Klocek and I went wrong. I dared to write this essay in that hope.

16. Four centuries later, both Yahweh and Ashtar are mentioned on the ninth-century B.C.E. stela erected by King Mesha of Moab; but I am only claiming, like most scholars, that the class which turned "Israelite" adopted Yahweh from some original in the Canaanite pantheon. I don't claim that adoption ended the original's existence there.

17. Jack Miles dislikes, for good reason, the pairing of "Aaronid" with "Mushite." In an e-mail, he points out that, for consistency, if we "use the derivatively Greek forms (any that end --id are derived from Greek)," then the factions should be paired as "'aaronid' and 'moysid.' If using forms that combine Hebrew roots with English '-ite,' then it should be 'mushite' (I see no reason not to say 'moshite,' which at least some Jewish readers will recognize) and 'aharonite.'" I decided it would be the least confusing path for my readers, however, to keep to the terminology of the text I'm quoting.

18. Robert Alter, I've discovered, makes the same point about the Redactor's art being similar to film montage and even cites Eisenstein in support (RA, 145).

19. A version of this famous tale can be found in the entry, "Vsevolod Illareonovitch Pudovkin," in David Thomson, A Biographical Dictionary of Film, 3rd Edition (New York: Knopf, 1994).

20. To appreciate the full extent of the West's theological anxiety, we can compare it with Confucian East Asia, as I have in an essay complementary to this one, also written in reply to Miles's work. Either see my essay on Confucius in APAH, or access my website, where I have posted it for the reader's convenience. Go to and click on APAH, then the "sample chapter."