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The Book of "Genesis": A Biography (Lives of Great Religious Books)

The Book of "Genesis": A Biography (Lives of Great Religious Books) [Kindle Edition]

Ronald Hendel

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One of Jewish Ideas's 40 Best Jewish Books of 2012

"Hendel's engaging and accessible biography reminds us that Genesis remains 'an astonishing book of marvelous realism and the root from which we came.'"--Christopher McConnell, Booklist

"Hendel does cover the story of Genesis's ancient foundations and original sense, but rightly devotes most of the book to detailing how it became so freighted with often contradictory meanings over time. His essential conclusion is that the ways in which Western culture has understood Genesis--as a literal account of events, as a figurative depiction of divine action, as a collection of folktales and tribal origin stories--'tend to correlate with the ways that people have understood reality.'"--Brian Bethune, Maclean's Magazine

"Hendel is telling the story of Genesis--not retelling stories from it. . . . [Hendel] takes things in an intriguing direction. If Genesis is the product of various strands of cultural DNA (spliced together long ago by scribes who believed the literal truth of the material they were helping to transmit, while also needing to reconcile elements that didn't quite fit together) then the book's subsequent history is, in a way, encoded in its genome. . . . [A] revelation in its own right."--Scott McLemee, Inside Higher Ed

"If any book deserves to have a biography written about it, it is the opening to the Bible."--Economist

"The biography of Genesis turns out largely to be a history of how it has been read, and Ronald Hendel's book has much to offer people interested in history, literature and philosophy, as well as religion."--Owen Richardson, The Age

"Original and refreshing."--Arnold S. Ages, Jewish Post & Opinion

"The Book of Genesis portrays the evolving relationship between a book and readers who pursue plain and imaginative understandings, contest truth claims before science, and read contemporary realities into ancient texts. . . . Brilliant and informative . . . this volume makes a case that streamlines but does not oversimplify. . . . [A]ttractive . . ."--Choice

"This series contains the latest scholarship about a specific subject, gives great opportunity for acquiring a limited but significant amount of knowledge, and enthuses readers to go into it in much more detail. This possibility is enhanced by the presence in the Dead Sea Scrolls volume of suggestions for further reading at the end of each chapter."--Charles H. Middleburgh, Charles Middleburgh blog

"In Ronald Hendel's erudite, well-written and surprisingly sparse and entertaining The Book of Genesis: A Biography, the Bible--the Book--is treated as a written document that is living and thriving across the ages. It is essentially as its name implies the quintessential prototype of a book, and whether we take it as the Word of God, whether we agree with its ideas or not, whether we take it literally or figuratively does not diminish its importance for Western literature and civilization."--Arash's World

"This wide-ranging account tells the remarkable story of the life of Genesis like no other book."--World Book Industry

Product Description

During its 2,500-year life, the book of Genesis has been the keystone to almost every important claim about reality, humanity, and God in Judaism and Christianity. And it continues to play a central role in debates about science, politics, and human rights. With clarity and skill, acclaimed biblical scholar Ronald Hendel provides a panoramic history of this iconic book, exploring its impact on Western religion, philosophy, science, politics, literature, and more.

Hendel traces how Genesis has shaped views of reality, and how changing views of reality have shaped interpretations of Genesis. Literal and figurative readings have long competed with each other. Hendel tells how Luther's criticisms of traditional figurative accounts of Genesis undermined the Catholic Church; how Galileo made the radical argument that the cosmology of Genesis wasn't scientific evidence; and how Spinoza made the equally radical argument that the scientific method should be applied to Genesis itself. Indeed, Hendel shows how many high points of Western thought and art have taken the form of encounters with Genesis--from Paul and Augustine to Darwin, Emily Dickinson, and Kafka.

From debates about slavery, gender, and sexuality to the struggles over creationism and evolution, Genesis has shaped our world and continues to do so today. This wide-ranging account tells the remarkable story of the life of Genesis like no other book.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 571 KB
  • Print Length: 296 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 069114012X
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (28 Oct 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0091XBFDS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #461,253 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.6 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars this was a good book, but not a biography 28 Dec 2012
By Bob S - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
There is not much of Genesis in this book. It barely refers to only four stories Creation, Noah's ark, Jacob's sacrifice and couple lines about genealogy chapters and only in passing. Most of the book is the history of the effect of Genesis on western society. I was hoping for more analysis of the test of Genesis and how the stories were developed. Even though the book was not what I expected, it is well written and interesting.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars great overview of changing views of genesis 18 April 2013
By jeff symstad - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
While I am familiar with some interpretations of the Bible, I was unaware how much those interpretations change over time. I cannot address the scholarly aspect of this book, but I think it is a great introduction into the ways the Bible, especially Genesis, has been seen and how those interpretations are related to larger cultural and historical issues. The writing is sometimes repetitive and could sometimes be a clearer. Overall, I think it is a good read that gets a person thinking.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great sumary of years of study and research 15 Aug 2013
By Val J. Littman - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I found Ron Hendel's approach a great connection to what I learned in Seminary years ago , and brought up-to-date clearly and with insight. I also found this approach one that I would share with my atheistic friends. His professional research approach woudl appeal to their inquiring minds. It is a great point for discussion for believeres and non- believers - Christians and non- christians.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hendel finds Genesis in the way we live! 28 Nov 2013
By RJ - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Religion studies always eluded me; here Hendel presents a simple, sophisticated and entertaining glimpse into one of the most vexing questions of the human condition.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Many layers of meaning 12 Feb 2013
By Wee Beastie - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book presented the many layers of understanding that go into the Book of Genesis in a most intellectual way. I would recommend it to anybody interested in religion.
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