I just finished the novel Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe. This is considered the first English novel (although that point can be argued, of course). I really enjoyed the novel. There was one stumbling block. The novel spans around 35 years of Crusoe’s life, and the novel is under 300 pages. So, it felt like time was going by too fast, almost unnaturally. So, as a result, my favorite passages are ones where time is stilled, and a vivid image is painted. I have picked two favorite passages. They stood out to me for two reasons: (1) because they put me in the moment by showing me a poignant scene, and (2) because they brought to mind two of my favorite passages of Scripture. Below I will quote the passages from the novel next to the Bible passages that they reminded me (I am not arguing that Defoe had these associations in mind when he wrote the novel–I don’t know whether he did or not.
1. From the novel: Crusoe surveys, for the first time, the aftermath of a cannibalistic feast performed by the savages.
When I was come down the hill, to the shore, as I said above, being the S.W. point of the island, I was perfectly confounded and amaz’d: nor is it possible for me to express the horror of my mind, at seeing the shore spread with skulls, hands, feet and other bones of human bodies; and particularly I observ’d a place where there had been a fire made, and a circle dug in the earth, like a cockpit, where it is suppos’d the savage wretches had sat down to their inhuman feastings upon the bodies of their fellow-creatures. (pp. 130-131)
From Scripture: Ezekiel surveys the valley of dry bones.
The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lordand set me down in the middle of the valley;[it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath[to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.”
So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling,[c] and the bones came together, bone to its bone. 8 And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them. 9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” 1So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.
Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’1Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.” (Ezekiel 37:1-14 ESV)
2. From the novel: Crusoe, along with his savage friend (Friday), Friday’s father, and a Spaniard, sits down to eat.
As soon as I had secur’d my two weak rescued prisoners, and given them shelter, and a place to rest them upon, I began to think of making some provision for them: And the first thing I did, I order’d Friday to take a yearling goat, betwixt a kid and a goat, out of my particular flock, to be kill’d, when I cut off the hind quarter, and chopping into small pieces, I set Friday to work to boiling and stewing, and made them a very good dish, I assure you, of flesh and broth, having put some barley and rice also into the broth; and as I cook’d it without doors, for I made no fire within my inner wall, so I carry’d it all into the new tent; and having set a table there for them, I sat down and eat my own dinner also with them, and, as well as I could, cheer’d them and encourag’d them; Friday being my interpreter, especially to his father, and indeed to the Spaniard too; for the Spaniard spoke the language of the savages pretty well. (p. 190)
From Scripture: Jesus, along with Simon Peter and other disciples, sits down to eat (n.b. after Christ’s death on the cross).
After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards[off.
When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 1So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come andhave breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. (John 21:1-14 ESV)