S.A. Alenthony's Reviews > The Book of Lilith

The Book of Lilith by Robert G. Brown
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May 02, 09

Read in May, 2009

The Book of Lilith is Dr. Robert G. Brown's unique retelling of what is perhaps the most central human mythology: the story of our origins. A blend of satire of orthodox scripture and the ancient tales of the little-known first female, this entertaining book narrates a both literal and figurative trek from west to east.

The Book of Lilith presents, in modern vernacular, a translation of the Book of Lilith, a long lost but recently discovered manuscript found in Iraq. The introductory story by which the document is first discovered and communicated to the author involves a uniquely 21st-century twist on the age-old scheme of holy instruction revealed through unexpected methods (like burning bushes or buried golden plates). Once the translation itself begins, it rapidly grows clear that the originators of Christianity certainly wouldn't want this “holy book” included with the others that they chose to include.

Lilith is the first woman – and not only the first woman, she even precedes Adam. Fashioned to be the physical agent of the goddess Inanna, she has the function of giving souls to living beings, which prior to her arrival had all been mindless automata developed through evolution. Her primacy as first human, as well as her soul-giving power, soon rankle the First Man to no end, and only worsens his self-centered and piggish nature. From that point on, the story develops an interesting contrast between religious ideas as males and females would conceive them--and those of us that were raised in a western religion will recognize even more just how male-centric our spiritual traditions are. There is much humor here as well, especially in the retelling of a certain famous scene in Eden involving a snake.

Covering a time span that precedes and follows the events in Genesis, the familiar landscape of the bible eventually recedes as Lilith treks eastward, encountering both wisdom and savagery (there is a series of public executions at one point that will make your sphincter automatically tighten, for good reason). There is a pleasing melding that eventually takes place with a number of eastern religious ideas, as well as a chance at redemption for the First Man himself.

I recommend this book to readers that enjoy irreverent fiction or new stories spun from a variety of mythological threads. Or anyone that appreciates profound ideas vibrantly expressed, such as in my favorite passage from the book:

"I finally began to see the necessity of suffering. It was the cry of the metal as it was sharpened by the stone, the sighing of the clay as it was shaped upon the wheel, the cracking of the fire as it revealed its inner light, the moving darkness that made light a thing of ever changing beauty."
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