David Kossoff sets alive the great stories of the Bible, placing them in the context of real places, events, and feelings. This volume brings together for the first time his best-selling works--Bible Stories and The Book of Witnesses.
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Dr. David Kossoff was an award-winning actor, storyteller, and writer. His imaginative Bible stories on BBC radio since the early 1960s gained him an immense following. Kossoff's writing provides delightful reflections on biblical characters.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
IN THE BEGINNING Try to imagine, if you can, what it is like to have no possessions at all, nothing, not even the language of the country you've just arrived in as a refugee. Mind you, very few people are able to imagine such a thing, though there are thousands of men and women and children alive now who could tell you from experience what it is like to have nothing at all. To understand the first story in the Bible, we have to imagine something a hundred times harder. Not just to have nothing at all, but when there was nothing at all. The very beginning of time. The dawn of history. Page one. Nothing at all. The earth, as the Bible itself beautifully puts it, 'without form, and void. Only (even more beautifully) the Spirit of God moving over the face of the waters'. An emptiness; formless; a dark, endless waste of water. No living thing. No plant or tree. Nothing. Only God. The Bible tells a million stories of what God did later. Miracles. Mighty happenings and small matters, judgments and punishments, second chances, endless forgivings, great grace, mercies beyond counting. All to do with people. But this is before all that. Before people. Before anything at all. A void -- and God. God had done no miracles, made no judgments, and punished nobody. Nobody to punish, or judge, or forgive, or show mercy to. No seas to part, no bushes to burn, no tablets of law to hand down, no slaves to free, nobody for God to bless or arrange a miracle for or make a prophet of. Nothing. A void. It must have been dull for God. I've thought so since a child. I was the sort of child who liked to know why and I once asked a learned uncle why God made the world. My uncle thought hard. My aunt too. I waited. They were both clever. Then my uncle said, 'Well, he had to do something. To occupy himself.' And my aunt said, 'You ask why? Tell me, why not?' . . . And the thought was planted. And grew into a picture in the mind. A picture I have to this day. A picture of God looking out over an endless dark sea. A God who'd been by him-self for a long time. A quiet, thoughtful God, feeling sort of empty. A bit bored perhaps. Maybe even lonely. Sitting silent, still. And then suddenly thinking, 'I know, I'll make a world. I need to do something. To occupy myself. Why not?' Mind you, before God started to make the world, he gave it a lot of thought. Big job. Not much to go on. No previous experience in such work. No really good materials either. Just a vast midnight, always dark, covering a great waste of nothing but water. 'Right,' said God. 'First things first! Some light to work by. Let there be light!' And there was. 'Pleasant effect,' thought God and turned it off and on a few times. He could see that permanent light might not be so good after all, so he said, 'Some of each. Turn and turn about. Sometimes more dark, sometimes more light. Light will be called Day and the dark time will be called Night. One of each together will be called a day. Good.' Then God looked at the endless water. 'Too much,' he said and decided to halve it. But where to put the other half? Nowhere to empty it. So he pointed upwards and the water heaved and lifted and boiled upwards into a gorgeous roof over the water below. Every colour, every kind of cloud. God looked up. 'I will call that Heaven,' he said. 'Beautiful. It looks a nice place to live.' And he moved in. From above God could see everything. No different from today really. Except that then there was less to look at. Unbroken water, you remember. So God drew on the water with his finger and the land came up. It was interesting to draw the different shapes. 'All the pieces of land,' said God, 'will be called Earth and all the water will be called the Seas.' All the shapes of Earth looked rather bare so God thought about it for a while and then covered all the bareness with trees and plants and vegetation of every kind. 'And every kind,' he said, 'will contain its own seed, and thus continue.' Then God thought of a way to improve on his Day and Night invention, which was a bit hard on the eyes in its sudden change. He hung outside his home two globes of light. One large, to look after the Day and the other smaller, for the Night. No sudden changes; as one dimmed, the other came on. Nice effect. Also he named them. The larger he called Sun, and the smaller, Moon. Then he made a million smaller moons and called them stars. God was enjoying himself. The greatest artist of them all was having fun and not feeling so lonely. 'Next,' said God, 'things that move. That fly, and crawl, and swim, and walk.' And he used every colour and shape and texture that came into his mind. Huge sea-monsters, tiny birds, exquisite insects, delicate dancing creatures, and slow, heavy ones. Nothing was forgotten. Not a feather, not a fin. Remembering his arrangement for the plants he gave to the living things their seeds too. 'Multiply,' he said. 'Fill the seas and the sky and the land. There's plenty of room.' God was pleased with his work but had an odd feeling still of loneliness. Of something still to do. He sat looking down into a calm lake, down at his own reflection. Then he smiled. 'That's it,' he said. 'I'll make someone to talk to. A man. He can look like me.' Adam and Eve Now, when God decided to make a man to live in the brand-new world he'd just created, he hadn't thought much about it other than that he would use himself as model and do the work with his own hands. All the animals, plants, birds and fishes he'd sort of imagined and said, 'Let there be', and there they were; but the man, the most exciting, he wanted to make. Special job.
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