A very concise and simple book explaining the historical origins of the Jewish legend of the Golem. Two main messages Byron creates are thus as follows:
1) Thru language we are able to express our creation
2) There is a danger in creating life when we attempt to play God
The first point is a reflection of a Jewish thought that Biblically speaking, we are all (as in human beings) created in God’s image, therefore we all have the capabilities of unlocking the power of God thru our expression, just as God was able to create with his Word.
Thus, historically, the notion of creating a Golem is rooted in man’s ability to create thru language life, although what constitutes life is up to debate. The very notion of a soul is defined by man’s ability to communicate, or so Byron argues, and his point is that all humans start out as Golem’s and never achieve personhood until we are able to fully express the spirit, or as he states, breath of God that was so given first thru the nostrils of Adam, which according to Biblical accounts is called the first man. Thus, out of our own creation, we are able to express life thru our own word, which is expressed through first thoughts, then language, then communication, and finally creation.
The second point is a modern reflection of the desire of man to fulfill the role of a savior thru our own devices, as has been historically demonstrated with examples Byron cites. One particular example is obviously the Jewish legend of the Golem, perhaps the world’s first fictional robot, as well as the play R.U.R. and its first description of what we have come to identify as the modern artificial robot. However, more extreme cases are given with citation of human cloning and tales of birth being conducted via artificial wombs as well as transplanted ovaries into surrogate birthing mothers.
The case is clear that tho as humans we are endowed with the creative spirit God has given us, we also bear the weight of human sin and folly in our own quest for self-determination. Thus, we are doomed by our very own quest for salvation if we are to place our trust and care in a savior that we create out of clay, as is the case with the legend of the Golem. Much like Frankenstein’s monster, we may start out with good intentions, but it is this very same self-determination that will doom us to destruction by a creation we have come to call a golem. Thus, the implication is that self-determination is deadly, and only by surrendering to God can we ever escape the destruction that inevitably awaits the damnation of the human spirit, dwelled in heavenly bodies waiting for our return.