cover image In the Beginning: A New Interpretation of Genesis

In the Beginning: A New Interpretation of Genesis

Karen Armstrong. Alfred A. Knopf, $20 (195pp) ISBN 978-0-679-45089-4

Having written A History of God (1993) and Jerusalem (1996), prolific and bestselling author Armstrong turns her considerable imaginative skill and critical acumen to an interpretation of the first book of the Bible. In a series of short meditations, Armstrong explores each of the major scriptural units in Genesis, from the creation accounts (Genesis 1-3) to the death of Joseph (Genesis 50). In her reflection on and interpretation of Adam and Eve's fall from grace, she notes that the act of plucking the forbidden fruit renders the couple like God, in that they use their ""wisdom and the power that comes with it for apparently evil ends as well as for good."" Armstrong integrates the sophistication of biblical scholarship with the more raw inquisitiveness of the common reader. The result is a lyrical chronicle of one woman's wrestling with Genesis that can serve as a guide to others grappling with the book. While many of Armstrong's readings may provoke controversy, she provides a model of scriptural interpretation that is as notable for its scholarship as it is for its honesty and vulnerability. (Oct.)