How do the books of the Bible relate to what we know of world history? This question is at the heart of Nelda Moffatt’s enjoyable, yet flawed, book The Right Hand of God.
In this clever survey, the author attempts to overlay the major stories and figures of scripture with recent discoveries in science, anthropology, astronomy, archaeology, and sociology. Her purpose? To make the Bible come alive in a relevant way for modern readers.
Although the book is relatively short, Moffatt covers a lot of ground, connecting current theories on dark matter and dark energy to the Genesis creation stories while drawing parallels between Adam and Eve and ancient peoples like Cro-Magnon. She seeks to build a bridge between the mythical Tree of Knowledge, evolution, and heightened states of consciousness—intriguing ideas.
Moffatt explores the Jews and the Babylonian Captivity, development of monotheism, and the inspiration for Sumerian writing and architecture. She also provides an overview of the development of the Judeo-Christian religion in the post-biblical world, from the Roman Empire to the Enlightenment. Ultimately, the book calls for an “Age of Integrity” based on solid Christian values and the realization that “everything is related to God.”
Moffatt is an endearing author. Her desire to educate and breathe new life into the Bible is lively and earnest. Where she comes up short is in the imbalance of her prose. Sometimes her lines are crisp and clean, other sentences trip over her enthusiastic ideas (e.g. the book begins: “THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD examines the Bible and Christianity in the context of history, so the church may have an all-encompassing view of history and of the world – within a metaphysical framework that includes all of knowledge – yet is easy to understand”). These and other frequently awkward, difficult-to-decipher passages prove distracting and undermine her authority.
Final call: the book is erudite and fun but needs stronger editing to support Moffatt’s interesting ideas.