I can honestly say that I love Genesis. For the last several months I have been reading and re-reading this book of the bible. The themes of the book could not be broader: Genesis deals not only with the spiritual biggies of God, creation, salvation and redemption. But it also deals with the human condition with majestic sweeps that encompass love, death, sin, murder, sex, anxiety, jealousy and evil. It is truly a stunning book.
Genesis takes today’s pop versions of faith-lite and smashes them into a thousand pieces, giving us stories. themes, and characters that are complex and so deep that they can be picked up on car radio’s in underground tunnels (sorry RZA lyric there). Genesis is like a reticent master in an old Kung-Fu flick, you approach him with a question, he sends you away with a seemingly meaningless story, a story which acts like a grenade with a slow timer, a few days later you find your mind blown as you realise the truth in the story.
Today more than ever as so much of modern Christianity wrestles with the temptation towards triteness. We need to read Genesis, who’s old stories can still drop depth charges into our souls.
Some Guides for your Journey
As I have been reading through Genesis a few books have helped me on my pilgrimage
Klinghoffer was a fairly non-observant Jew who has now become Orthodox. Klinghoffer explores particularly the life of Abraham. Klinghoffer uses many stories found in the Midrashic Rabbinical commentaries. Which although often confusing for Christians are an interesting insight in to Jewish exegesis. What I found fascinating is that many Christians take a view that Genesis was edited by a number of writers, the Orthodox Jewish position is that the book represents a unified whole, every story, every word is meant to be there, no matter how out of place or mundane it seems. As a Christian who has been through Bible College I could not but be inspired by the way that Klinghoffer and his fellow Orthodox Jewish colleagues hold Scripture in such holy awe. Personally such a view has reinvigorated my own personal bible reading.
A classic, if you are reading the OT you must at least wrestle with Brueggemann. The photo he has on many of his books always cracks me up, he looks like a teacher who still practices corporate punishment. Often dense, and sometimes seemingly impenetrable; Brueggemann makes you fight for you supper, but the wrestle is worth it.
In contrast to Bruegemann, Longman’s book is accessible, but don’t be mistaken it is not lightweight it is a fantastic tour of the book, which will enrich your journey through the ancient and mysterious world of Genesis.
A great teacher brings what you are reading alive; Borgman is an English professor and his perspective on Genesis is fantastic, bringing to life the way in which the book speaks to our human predicaments. In many ways this book is the Christian version of Klinghoffer’s book. Borgman makes the point that the historical critical method, has ruined our ability to read Genesis as a unified whole.