Alan Jacobs lifts the title of his book from Hamlet, but it could just as easily be a description of the Roman god Janus, whom Ovid invokes in his poem "Fasti": "Two-formed Janus what god shall I say you are,/ Since Greece has no divinity to compare with you?/ Tell me the reason, too, why you alone of all the gods/ Look both at what's behind you and what's in front." Unacquainted with his neighbors to the east, Ovid thought a retrospective and prospective god was peculiar to the Romans. Jacobs is intimately acquainted with Yahweh, the God of the Bible whom we might regard as the Judeo-Christian analogue of the pagan Janus. Like Ovid, Jacobs invokes his all-seeing God in a book that explores how Christians-avoiding the dangers of presumption and despair-can discern a shape and meaning in their lives to tell stories with both comeliness and counsel.
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Issue: "Christ in a Post-Christian Culture" Jan./Feb. 2009 Vol. 18 No. 1 Page number(s): 37-39
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