Ancient Israel: Myths and Legends, by Angelo S. Rappoport – This is actually a collection of three books in one volume, all dealing with Jewish mythology that expands on stories and characters from the Bible. In addition to material from the Talmud and other traditional Jewish sources, there are also some Christian and Islamic takes on the stories. There are summaries of many different legends here, from the beginning of the world up through Esther and Mordecai, with a lot of focus on the patriarchs and Moses. As the author indicates, the myths are generally intended to convey moral lessons, and often explain troublesome parts of scripture, but some of them seem to mostly just be attempts to make the biblical characters even more legendary than they already were. Did you know that Esau killed Nimrod, Moses briefly ruled as King of Ethiopia, and the sons of Jacob all had superhuman strength? That’s how some of these myths would have it, anyway. I have used a few of the stories I read about in this book as jumping-off points for blog posts, and I am sure I shall continue to do so.
They Came and Ate Us: Armageddon II: The B-Movie, by Robert Rankin – The sequel to Armageddon: The Musical sees Elvis, with the help of Barry the Sprout, faking his death and trying to assassinate the Antichrist in the nineties before he can launch a nuclear strike. Rex Mundi, the hero of the first book, is also sent back in time from the post-apocalyptic future, and the two once again join forces to attempt to save the world. Also featuring in the story are gods disguised as world leaders, a would-be novelist who works at digitizing books on the occult, demons manifesting as computer programs, and a mechanism that can be used to reset time on Earth in case of catastrophe. Good follow-up to the original book, even though it doesn’t end up resolving that much.