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(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

God: A Biography Jack Miles

American nonfiction writer, journalist, and theologian.

The following entry presents criticism on Miles's God: A Biography (1995).

A theological scholar, Miles received the Pulitzer Prize in Biography for his first major publication, God: A Biography. From 1960 to 1970 Miles studied as a Jesuit seminarian at Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and Hebrew University in Jerusalem; he studied the Hebrew Bible at Harvard University, earning a doctorate in Near Eastern languages in 1971. Miles taught in the theology department at Loyola University, worked as assistant director of Scholars Press, and served as an editor at the University of California Press and Doubleday before joining the Los Angeles Times in 1985, where he worked as a book columnist and editorial board member for ten years. In 1995 Miles became the director of the Humanities Center at the Claremont Graduate School near Los Angeles.

Plot and Major Characters

Miles received a 1991 Guggenheim Fellowship for God: A Biography, which was published in 1995 and earned the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Biography. The "biography" is actually an interpretation of God's "life" drawn from careful analysis of the Hebrew Bible. The events of God: A Biography will seem out of order to those unfamiliar with the Hebrew Bible, the Tanakh, which can be broadly described as switching the middle and ending portions of the Christian Old Testament. The difference is crucial in Miles's interpretation of God's behavior, from His first creation to His subsequent reactions toward humankind.

Major Themes

Miles's "biography" presents a portrait of God as a being with faults, inconsistencies, and conflicting personalities. Miles argues that the Book of Genesis presents God with two personas: the God who is "lofty, unwavering and sincere in his creative actions," and the Lord God, who is "intimate volatile and prone to dark regrets and darker equivocations." Miles contends that over the course of time, God learns and matures. In...

(The entire section is 477 words.)