One of the surprises waiting for me when I got back from SBL was that the cover design for my forthcoming book The Only True God: Early Christian Monotheism in Its Jewish Context
had been finished. Here’s what it is going to look like:
The fireworks on the cover are not, to my knowledge, intended to represent the “fireworks” that often fly when people discuss God in general or monotheism in particular. The cover is a bit surprising for a book about ancient religion. I think, however, I can offer some explanation as to why a cover like this fits the book better than something more antiquarian. Whether this reflects anything that the cover designers had in mind, we’ll probably never know.
First, any attempt to provide an image connected with ancient monotheism and Christology may be off-putting to some potential readers. If the book featured an image of Jesus, or of the Trinity, such a depiction would, when placed together with the title, seem to end dialogue. It would suggest that the one(s) depicted on the cover are “the only true God”, end of conversation, and that is not the sort of approach taken in the book.
Second, most monotheistic traditions agree that the one God ultimately transcends the ability of any image or even any language to describe or do justice to. And so those mysterious lights symbolize that aspect nicely.
They always say “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, but of course we do so anyway. So what do you think of it? If you dislike it, leave a comment. If you like it, leave a comment, or just pre-order it at a significant discount!