Who is the narrator of The Book of J by Harold Bloom and David Rosenberg? What is the role of their character in the text? How does the way they are represented direct the persuasive force of the narrative? What sort of text is the book? To what genre of literature does it belong? What evidence do you find for the circumstances of its production or reception?

The Book of J is narrated by an aristocratic woman at the court of King Solomon, identified by Harold Bloom as "J" or "the Yahwist," who wrote some of the early parts of the Bible. She is presented as an authoritative source, with direct knowledge of many biblical events. The text is a poetic translation of portions of the Bible, accompanied by scholarly commentary, and was generally well received by readers and academic critics alike.

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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.

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