Monday, April 20, 2020

On "Dating a Somnambulist" by Kate Folk (849 words) ***

In Kate Folk's world, weird stuff happens. That weird stuff is metaphorical for the angst we feel in regular life over the mundane. This mundane finds its way into lists here of what her sleep-walking boyfriend picks up a night. And yet, despite the trouble, Folk's narrator lives on--there could be worse things in other worlds. Read the story here at Hobart.

On "The Samaritans" by James Alan Montgomery ***

Another book on Samaritan history, theology, and literature, this one was written in the early twentieth century, unlike The Keepers, which was written closer to its end and which I read some months ago. It covers a lot of similar ground, though it is a bit more esoteric and, for me, proved a bit less interesting.

Montgomery spends the first half of the book discussing their history, which is one of near constant persecution.

The places where Montgomery goes into further detail than the previous book I read (at least as I remember it) are with regard to religion. He devotes a lot of space to discussing what the Samaritans believe(d) and how that compares to Jewish thinkers, including in various Jewish works. Of interest are their unique translation of the scriptures. Unlike the Jewish scriptures, they go to great lengths to avoid anthropomorphizing God in anyway. In this way, there is no possible ability to interpret there as being a "second god"--in the form of a coming Jesus. For them, the Messiah, if there is one at all, is simply the return of a Mosaic figure--or it was Moses himself, who is their real hero, more than even Abraham. In fact, in some accounts, Moses is said to have a preexistence.

Samaritan views in many ways apparently line up with Sadducean ideas. And although they rejected many Pharisaical ideas, they were in many ways very strict with the law--to a greater degree than some Jewish people. The angelic realm is largely dismissed. Resurrection is not something they didn't believe in, and then at other times did. Montgomery makes clear that views change over time. 

As for the Samaritan tie to gnosticism and Simon Magus, Montgomery largely dismisses the ideas as being motivated by anti-Samaritan polemic. Assuming Simon was a Samaritan, he did not, in Montgomery's view, represent the views of most other Samaritans.

It is the exhaustiveness of Montgomery's book and its more dated language that makes it less approachable than the previous volume I read, but it still provides some useful information.