So I watched God on Trial, and thought it was a brilliant TV play. The BBC (WGBH Boston who co-produced) ought to do more individual TV dramas: they can be very potent when well directed (as this was) and well acted (as this, throughout, certainly was). But Frank Cottrell Boyce gets the greatest credit for a brilliant script. True, in some of the earlier sections I found myself thinking, 'perhaps it's ever-so-slightly by-the-numbers, like a sixth-form ethical debate ... look, there's a bit from Dostoevsky! Ah look, it's Darwin's nasty wasp!' But by the time Sher's Rabbi Akiba got to his big speech I was wholly carried along with it. His listing the genocides and mass-murders celebrated in the Torah is powerful, but Boyce deserves a BAFTA for one line alone: 'God isn't good. He was never good. He was just on our side.' That line keeps coming back to me. It's not just that it's a penetrating critique of the crasser tendency to recruit God to one's own war, political campaign etc. It's more. It's a thirteen-line demolition of the very idea of a personal God.
The Greeks styled their Gods as capricious, unpredictable, quick to anger because after all: that's how the universe we live in is. A Tsunami kills tens of thousands, and then next day the sun comes out. JHWH is a little like that, in the Torah. The problems come when we wish to restyle this unpredicatble, indifferent being as all-loving, all-wise and so forth: is a contract signed with an irrational agent ever legally binding?