The Book of J is a collaboration between the poet and translator David Rosenberg and the literary critic Harold Bloom. The book retells part of the story of the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible. The narrator is a shadowy figure called "J" or "the Yahwist," who is one of the most important sources for the Bible. The Yahwist is a recognized figure in biblical scholarship, but Bloom controversially identifies her as an aristocratic woman at the court of King Solomon, perhaps even Bathsheba, the king's mother. Even if J is not Bathsheba, she is represented as someone who was a witness to some of the key events in the Pentateuch and therefore a reliable source of information.
The classification of this text is controversial. It is based on Jewish and Christian scripture but is an unusually free and poetic translation. Identifying the genre is further complicated by the difference between Bloom's contribution to the text and Rosenberg's. Bloom's part is literary criticism and commentary. Rosenberg's is best described as a poetic translation of ancient literature.
The origins of The Book of J appear to lie in the late tenth or early ninth century BCE. Rosenberg then translated this text, with little or no reliance on the many English versions of the Bible already in existence, and Bloom read the translation and wrote his academic commentary. The book was well received by such distinguished critics as Sir Frank Kermode, who praised the originality of Rosenberg's translation. Critics who viewed the book less positively were more inclined to take issue with Bloom's commentary than with Rosenberg's translation. A common complaint is that Bloom makes many unsupported assertions, particularly about the probable characteristics and identity of J.