The Book of Genesis: A Biography

Ronald Hendel, Author
Ronald Hendel . Princeton Univ., $24.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-691-14012-4
Reviewed on: 12/03/2012
Release date: 10/01/2012
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The Bible's first book is the focus of this contribution by Hendel, professor of Hebrew Bible and Jewish studies at the University of California, Berkeley, to Princeton's Lives of Great Religious Books series. The premise of a "biography" of Genesis is especially fitting. More than any other book, Genesis has a long history of both development and influence. Its life has been rich, and it's not dead yet. In a brief and eminently readable book, the author covers well-traveled ground in the first two chapters, discussing a diversity of sources in Genesis and its relationship to other ancient Near Eastern literature. Readers familiar with this basic information will find reward in reading on. Hendel shows a pendulum swing between realism and "figuralism" over the centuries, noting historical methods of interpretation from allegorical to literal, from ancient gnostics to modern fundamentalists, illustrated by specific examples. A book such as this cannot hope to cover everything, and is uneven in its attentions. Nevertheless, there is a little something for everyone here. (Nov.)
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