THE MAN WITH THE BOOK

Now I saw in my dream, as Christian went on his way toward the City, reading from the Book, that he came upon a toll gate at the entrance to a great highway, and there he beheld a marvelous chariot which dazzled his eyes. And in the chariot sat a man in strange garments with his head shorn.

DR. IVY: Hop in, Dad; want a lift to the city?

CHRISTIAN: What manner of words are these? And whither.…

IVY: Just sit down. I’m in a bit of a rush. What’s the matter? Too fast? This Jag has a lot of soup. Where are you from? Destruction? Can’t say I ever heard of it. Sounds like a good place to be from! What’s the book you’re carrying?

CHRISTIAN: Sir, this is the Book that leads me in the path of righteousness. Because of what I have read in it I am journeying to the City. Are you bound thither at this fearful rate, or is this the broad highway that leadeth to destruction?

IVY: Not a bad term for this pike; it does lead the nation in traffic deaths. But don’t be alarmed; I’ll get you to the city. I’m glad you read the Bible, but isn’t it a bit ostentatious to carry it in your hands that way? It suggests Fundamentalist bibliolatry.

CHRISTIAN: I know not who these are whom you scorn, but did not Moses bear the Words of God in his hand as he came down from the mount?

IVY: To be sure, but you can scarcely conform your daily behavior to the myths of Heilsgeschichte, however meaningful they may be as witnesses to redemptive action. You don’t follow me? After all, we know nothing about Moses. The Sinai tradition was Israel’s way of historicizing the Babylonian New Year mythology. What is significant is the philosophy of history that arose in Israel in which Israel’s past was related in mythological language to the act of God.

CHRISTIAN: ...

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