PG 467: Exploring Ways of Reading Genesis

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Module Level

9/10 MTh/PhD/STL/Masters Seminar Course

Time Allowance

Ten two-hour seminars


Seminar attendance, participation and weekly reflection papers Short 2000-word essay 25% and Final 5000-word essay 75%

Module Aims

This seminar seeks to enable students to engage in a close reading of selected passages from the Book of Genesis, and to discover the narratives as a resource for faith and imagination today. Interpretations of the Book of Genesis have played a fundamental role within Judaism and Christianity. Readings of Genesis have provoked debates over creation versus evolution, the development of the Christian doctrine of original sin, and the historicity of the stories of the patriarchs and matriarchs. Readers have discussed the moral justification for God’s command to Abraham to sacrifice his son, the ethics of Jacob as a trickster, and the view of women in a patriarchal context. A rich text like Genesis needs many diverse reading strategies, some of which will be explored in this module.

Indicative Syllabus

• Methods of Interpreting Genesis

• Resources for Studying Genesis

• Cain & Abel: Sacrifice and the Mystery of God

• Call of Abraham: Obedience and Blessing

• Abraham & Sarah: Faith and Betrayal

• Characterization in the Genesis narratives: Significant details and Gaps

• Near-sacrifice of Isaac: Sacrifice and the Mystery of God

• Women in Genesis: Protagonists or Victims

• Story of Joseph: Trial and Triumph

• Garden of Eden story: Gift and Sin

• Priestly creation narrative: Image of God, Subduing the Earth


  • Book of Genesis.
  • Alter, R., The Art of Biblical Narrative. New York: Basic Books, 1981. [221.66 ALT]
  • Bellis, A. O., Helpmates, Harlots, and Heroes: Women’s Stories in the Hebrew Bible. 2d ed. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2007. [221.922082 BEL]
  • Blenkinsopp, J., Creation, Un-creation, Re-creation: A Discursive Commentary on Genesis 1-11. London: T&T Clark, 2011. [222.1107 BLE]
  • Boehm, O., The Binding of Isaac. London: Continuum, 2007. [222.1106 BOE]
  • Crenshaw, J. L., Defending God: Biblical Responses to Problem of Evil. Oxford: OUP, 2005. [Ebook]
  • Fischer, I., Women Who Wrestled with God. Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2005. [221.9 FIS]
  • Hendel, R. S., Reading Genesis: Ten Methods. Cambridge: CUP, 2010. [222.110601 HEN]
  • Kessler, E., Bound by the Bible: Jews, Christians, & the Sacrifice of Isaac. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. [222.11092 KES]
  • Kugel, J. L., Traditions of the Bible. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998. [Ebook]
  • Moberly, R. W. L., The Theology of the Book of Genesis. Cambridge: CUP, 2009. [222.1106 MOB]
  • Pontifical Biblical Commission, Interpretation of the Bible in the Church. Boston: Pauline, 1999. [220.6 PBC]
  • Sarna, N. M., Understanding Genesis. New York: Schocken, 1966. [221.7 SAR]
  • Ska, J. L., “Genesis 22: What Question Should We Ask the Text?” Biblica 94 (2013) 257-67. [Ejournal].
  • Ska, J. L., Introduction to Reading the Pentateuch. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2006. [222.1061 SKA]
  • Trible, P., Texts of Terror. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984. [221.9 TRI]
  • Wenham, G. J., Genesis. 2 vols. Word Biblical Commentary 1-2. Waco/Dallas: Word, 1987, 1994 [220.7 WBC]
  • Westermann, C., Genesis 1-11: A Commentary. London: SPCK, 1984. [222.1107 WES]