With simplicity, vividness and force

The Old Testament is not only law; it is history, poetry and philosophy of the highest order. After making every deduction for primitive legend and pious fraud, after admitting that the historical books are not quite as accurate or as ancient as our forefathers supposed, we find in them, nevertheless, not merely some of the oldest historical writing known to us, but some of the best. [..] The stories of Saul, David and Solomon are immeasurably finer in structure and style than the other historical writing of the ancient Near East. Even Genesis, if we read it with some understanding of the function of legend is, (barring its genealogies), an admirable story, told without frill or ornament, with simplicity, vividness and force. [..]

[The Psalms] are marred for us by bitter imprecations, tiresome “groanings” and complaints, and endless adulation of a Yahveh who, with all his “lovingkindness”, “longsuffering” and “compassion”, pours “smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth”, promises that “the wicked shall be turned into hell”, laps up flattery, and threatens to “cut off all flattering lips”. The Psalms are full of military ardor, hardly Christian, but very Pilgrim. Some of them, however, are jewels of tenderness, or cameos of humility . “[..] As for man, his days are as grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more”.

– Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage

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