Getting Mooned by God
TO: The Editor of the London Review of Books
RE: Michelangelo's 'David
Dear Friends at the LRB:
In his review of John Paoletti's "Michelangelo's 'David,'" (4 February 2016) your reviewer wrote "To be able to see the divine figure from behind, violating a prohibition imposed by God on Moses, was a transgression associated with the Devil." Perhaps Mr. Nagel has access to a different version of the Bible than I do. Moses (being Moses) was pestering God for a look-see at His holy visage, and in what we must suppose is a fit of divine exasperation, God says that if Moses sees His face he will die, but then offers:
And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen. (Exodus 33:17-23)
Of course today's fundamentalist Christians are reluctant to accept the view of such an irascible if not coarse deity and have continued make up a variety of specious transliterations of this section of the Book of Exodus to exorcise this lapidary moment.
However, those of us who grew up in Bible-belt territory (I did) have always enjoyed this tableau of such a cranky, divine mooning.--- L. Lark