The Bible: Utopian, Dystopian, or Neither? Or: Northrop Frye Meets Monty Python

Philip Davies


In The Great Code (1982), Northrop Frye rewrites the mediaeval and early modern myth of human existence as progression from Fall to Judgment from a humanistic and Romantic perspective, recoding the Bible as a series of utopian visions which together constitute a single grand utopian vision. This article in turn rewrites Frye's Code from a modern Western perspective which eschews both naïve optimism and tragic vision for a dark comic or Pythonesque view of life, recognizing the absurdity of human ambition and pointlessness of human existence, while laughing in the face of it. By splicing Frye's optimistic sequences in a different way, it is possible to produce quite another code, which is neither utopian nor dystopian, yet always disappoints. The paper thus lays out a myth of disenchantment as a decoding of the biblical narrative, concluding that the human predicament is insoluble, because neither God nor humanity have the power to change.

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