Harold Bloom, Jesus and Yahweh: The Names Divine, 2005 —

A work studded with extraordinary and unsettling insights: Christianity an usurpation rather than excrescence of Judaism? The New Testament as deliberate misreading of the Hebrew Bible?

In this slim, dense volume, Harold Bloom, the late Yale humanities professor — who did not shrink from antagonizing America’s million-mom PTA by declaring that it would be better if grade school children should read nothing at all than read Harry Potter — sets his sights on even bigger game: the Godhead Him-/Her-/It-/Themself.

A life of literary study and criticism has evidently left Bloom bereft of any approach to Yahweh and Yeshua other than as literary characters. But then, as he had already made clear in his Shakespeare and the Invention of the Human, Bloom considers all of us literary characters, too — or, worse luck, poor parodies thereof.

In his at times too-cryptic aphorisms and in the way he interpenetrates the personal with the cosmic, Bloom reminds me of no one so much as another great nay-sayer: Frederick Nietzsche.