Genesis is ancient literature. It was written almost 3000 years ago in a far away land, in a culture we do not really understand, in an ancient language called Hebrew that we are still learning about. And it was written in a narrative style. It is in a sense a collection of stories – stories most of us know very well because we grew up learning them. It is written in prose. The significance of that is all the other religious literature of the ancient near east was written in poetry. But the ancient author of Genesis rejected poetry as unsuitable for telling their story. So because it is literature we will try to bring literary analysis to the stories to help understand why they were told in the way they were.
It is important to understand how literature is experienced in older cultures. We do it by silent reading. In the ancient world it was a very different experience based on oral and aural transmission. The mouth and the ear. That experience puts a great responsibility on the writer, the reader and the listener.
We will explore how the writer(s) of Genesis created new literary styles to tell religious stories in prose. And in doing that we may learn new ways of understanding the themes of Genesis.
On Reading Genesis The Creation Story An Overview of Israelite History The Ancient Near East The Documentary Hypothesis Noah and the Flood The Abraham Story Abraham - where was he born and when? An Appreciations of the Literature of Genesis The Joseph Story and Its Egyptian Background The Whole Text of Genesis