During its 2,500-year life, the book of Genesis has been the
keystone to almost every important claim about reality, humanity,
and God in Judaism and Christianity. And it continues to play a
central role in debates about science, politics, and human rights.
With clarity and skill, acclaimed biblical scholar Ronald Hendel
provides a panoramic history of this iconic book, exploring its
impact on Western religion, philosophy, science, politics,
literature, and more.
Hendel traces how Genesis has shaped views of reality, and how
changing views of reality have shaped interpretations of Genesis.
Literal and figurative readings have long competed with each other.
Hendel tells how Luther's criticisms of traditional figurative
accounts of Genesis undermined the Catholic Church; how Galileo
made the radical argument that the cosmology of Genesis wasn't
scientific evidence; and how Spinoza made the equally radical
argument that the scientific method should be applied to Genesis
itself. Indeed, Hendel shows how many high points of Western
thought and art have taken the form of encounters with
Genesis--from Paul and Augustine to Darwin, Emily Dickinson, and
From debates about slavery, gender, and sexuality to the
struggles over creationism and evolution, Genesis has shaped our
world and continues to do so today. This wide-ranging account tells
the remarkable story of the life of Genesis like no other book.
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