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by Calvin Miller
Published by InterVarsity Press, 1975-79 (Reissued in one volume, 1992)
Recommended by: Ross Pavlac
I read Miller's Singer Trilogy when it first came out in the late 70s, and re-read it this year as part of my program of reading all the books listed on the Christian Fandom site. Since its original publication, the trilogy has been released in a single volume omnibus edition.
This work is a poetic and allegorical retelling of the public ministry, death, and resurrection of Christ, the history of the church, and the end times. Very broadly, you could call The Singer a retelling of the gospels, The Song a retelling of the book of Acts, and The Finale a retelling of the book of Revelation. However, Miller re-imagines the story in his own way, and creates his own myth, which means that there are many elements of the story which are not allegorical images, but rather elements which make Miller's own narrative coherent.
On the one hand, this means that, unlike many similar works, Miller's version is moving and powerful. In too many such works, once the reader has matched up all the characters in the story with people in the Bible, they know exactly how the story is going to run. In contrast, Miller's work, while based upon the Biblical accounts in its broad strokes, has its own narrative thread, and therefore retains the ability to catch the reader by surprise. It also has original and powerful images which express Biblical principles in a different way than we might expect.
On the other hand, like all allegories, this work is prone to misinterpretation. (It is possible, for example, to construe the conflict between the Troubadour, or Christ figure, and the religious leaders as boiling down to differences over worship style, and thus see the work as an attack on liturgical churches.) In fact, some people will probably be upset any time Miller departs from a strict adherence to the Biblical accounts (for example, the way he mixes issues from the twentieth century into the story in The Song.) However, the trilogy deserves to be considered as a creative work in its own right, rather than "The New Testament in disguise."
Don't let the size of the book intimidate you. The story is written in verse, which means that there are short lines and a lot of white space on each page, and there are also illustrations throughout, reducing the amount of space given over to text even more. Therefore, it is a much shorter read than it might appear to be. Greg Slade
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