By Ronald Hendel
Examining Genesis provides a breathtaking view of the main important ways in which Genesis is approached in glossy scholarship. Essays via ten eminent students disguise the views of literature, gender, reminiscence, assets, theology, and the reception of Genesis in Judaism and Christianity. each one contribution addresses the historical past and reason of the strategy, insightfully explores specific texts of Genesis, and deepens the interpretive achieve of the tactic in query. those methods of analyzing Genesis, which come with its vintage earlier readings, map out a pluralistic version for figuring out Genesis in - and for - the fashionable age.
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Additional resources for Reading Genesis: Ten Methods
The doubled emphasis on the progressive vision – first the staircase and then angels – brings the scene into sharp experiential focus. The divine things are placed squarely in the reader’s imagination as the reader sees the vision through Jacob’s eyes. This rhetoric of memory makes the reader a witness to the revelation, reviving the past with the pragmatic effects of “presentative” language. When worshipers entered the sacred site of Bethel, they saw the standing stone and the place where Jacob slept, dreamt, and vowed.
2 2 J. G. Herder, The Spirit of Hebrew Poetry, translated by Edward Marsh (Burlington, VT: Edward Smith, 1833), Vol. 1, 228. 16 ROBERT ALTER The emphasis on “human” at both the beginning and the end of the excerpt is noteworthy. The patriarchal tales are referred to in relation to the literary genre of pastoral narrative, but they are judged to be more penetrating, more psychologically and morally true, than mere pastoral. The comparison between Jacob and Ulysses – Erich Auerbach will return to it a century and a half later – is even more revealing.
3 Like the scope of memory itself, the method of attending to cultural memory in Genesis is multifaceted. The following discussion focuses on the theory and practice of reading Genesis as a book of cultural memory. I first turn to salient theories of cultural memory, with an aim to highlight the stakes and interpretive gains of reading Genesis in this mode. Then I turn to a perspicuous narrative sequence in Genesis: the stories of Jacob’s dream and his journey to Mesopotamia. theories of cultural memory Of the many facets and theories of cultural memory,4 I address three that are most relevant for biblical scholarship: social frameworks, mnemohistory, and poetics.