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The Book of "Genesis"


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi Introduction - The Life of Genesis 1 Chapter 1 - The Genesis of Genesis 14 Chapter 2 - The Rise of the Figural Sense 45 Chapter 3 - Apocalyptic Secrets 63 Chapter 4 - Platonic Worlds 83 Chapter 5 - Between the Figure and the Real 109 Chapter 6 - Genesis and Science: From the Beginning to Fundamentalism 145 Chapter 7 - Modern Times 196 Afterword - Stories of Our Alley 242 Timeline 247 Notes 249 Index of Citations 269 General Index 271

About the Author

Ronald Hendel is the Norma and Sam Dabby Professor of Hebrew Bible and Jewish Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the editor in chief of "The Oxford Hebrew Bible" and the author of "Remembering Abraham" and "Reading Genesis".


One of Jewish Ideas Daily.com'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

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