And God Remembered: Genesis as Story - My Next Book
Saturday, April 11, 2015
Click here for Genesis 1:1 - 2:3
I just completed the first chapter of my next book, titled And God Remembered: Genesis as Story. But I am going to do something different here. (See below for the link to the first chapter.) I am going to make each chapter available as I complete it, and post a little summary here to my blog. Once I finish all of the chapters, I will either release the book as an eBook under my own imprint (Xanesti Creative Solutions) or will see if I can interest a publisher in it.
For those who have followed this blog, you have noted that my topics are usually political or economic. I have, in the past, written some posts that tackle topics from a biblical point of view.
What I am going to do here will be a bit of a crossover between Bible commentary and what we like to call a 'devotional' in our church circles.
But I am going to expressly avoid all of the technical language you would normally find in a commentary on a book of the Bible. This kind of book is usually written for the academic community first, and the author is conventionally under an academic obligation to trace her thinking through the work of other academics.
It is certainly not that I have low regard for this kind of thing. But it does not tend to reach a very wide audience. So I will expressly not be writing here for the academic community, and I will not assume the obligation to trace my thinking through the thinking of others. Toward the end, though, I will provide a list of suggested reading. But my list will be purposefully slanted. As an Evangelical Christian with a seminary degree I am well-aware of the titles which an Evangelical reader would be likely to encounter when reading on Genesis. I will present a list of books - mainly by Jewish authors - which a typical Evangelical reader would otherwise be very unlikely to encounter.
Books that we would call 'devotional' are often called 'inspirational' in the broader book market. These books usually take an upbeat tone and focus on the good. While I certainly want to be upbeat and there is a lot of 'good' to focus on in Genesis - I want to probe, poke, challenge, and maybe even frustrate my reader a little. I will offer questions at the end of each chapter that do just this.
When we encounter the Bible today we encounter it in chapter and verse divisions. But these divisions are actually quite recent compared with the age of the manuscripts themselves. I will refer the reader to the boundaries of each passage by chapter and verse in the title of the chapter. But after that I will not refer to them. I will do this because the divisions tend to interfere with recognizing the proper beginning and ending of the stories - and thus making it more difficult to engage with the story as a reader.
I will thus leave it to the reader to follow the stories from the biblical texts. Of course you can do this with an actual bound Bible, or with an online resource like Bible Gateway. If you click on this link, you will see it takes you to Genesis 1, using the New American Standard Bible (NASB). I recommend following the chapters in this manner because it may be difficult to locate an actual bound copy of the NASB.
The differences between translations is a common topic of conversation and debate in church and the seminary classroom. Because Hebrew storytelling depends heavily on repetitions which differ slightly in their second instance, and on allusions between passages by the use of a thematic word, I prefer translations which adhere more literally to the Hebrew wording. This tends to make the stories a bit 'bumpier' in English. Other version like the New International Version (NIV - which is easily the most popular among American English versions) try to 'smooth' the reading by using various English words for the same Hebrew word. With stories that depend on repetition and allusion, though, this tends to hide clues which would otherwise have been obvious to the Hebrew reader.
I have a formal background in both biblical Hebrew and Greek, so I feel comfortable pointing these things out. I'll be doing so in this book, but will spend as little time as possible with this, only raising it when I believe it significantly impacts how we understand the stories. I especially like Bible Gateway because the reader can sign in via Facebook and then use the web site's tools to actually mark up and highlight the text, much like we like to do with our actual Bibles during a study or sermon. By signing in, the site will save your markings and notes. I encourage the reader especially to track these observations in Bible Gateway by highlighting and taking notes.
So please join me in this enterprise by clicking here and downloading the first chapter as a PDF file. I welcome comments here at this post.