“Joseph and the Way of Forgiveness: A Biblical Tale Retold” by Stephen Mitchell— Another Look at Joseph

Mitchell, Stephen. “Joseph and the Way of Forgiveness: A Biblical Tale Retold”, St. Martin’s Essentials, 2019.

Another Look at Joseph

Amos Lassen

Stephen Mitchell brings new life into the ancient story of Joseph in “Joseph and the Way of Forgiveness”.  He gives us a novelistic version of the Biblical tale in which Jacob’s favorite son is sold into slavery and eventually becomes viceroy of Egypt. Through lyrical, witty and vivid prose, we get new insight to this foundational legend of betrayal and forgiveness. Mitchell unites the narrative with brief meditations that and Zen surprises that expand the narrative and give new light to the main themes.

Mitchell enters the minds of Joseph and the other characters to reanimate one of the central stories of Western culture and shows that this ancient story continues to challenge, delight, and astonish.

 The Joseph story is one of the most profound and moving passages in the Bible. Stephen Mitchell makes it a deceptively simple version of the story of Joseph and his brothers through his glorious prose and wisdom. Many have had trouble understanding the relationship of the brothers and how they acted to Joseph. In a class I took years ago, the professor maintained that it was one of the most important Bible stories for it was Joseph who was responsible to bring the Israelites to where they were enslaved.

Mitchell interprets the dream sequence by dreaming it onwards and comparing it to how we read a story from the Bible— by telling it onwards, again and again, with imagination. Stephen Mitchell reimagined of the story of Joseph is an enhanced retelling in exquisite language with subtle insight and powerful lessons and the moral wisdom behind them. This modern Midrash adds metafiction and  style to the story that we have read and reread.

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