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Unformatted text preview: Excepts from the Hebrew Scriptures ___________________________________ GENESIS New Revised Standard Version Introduction [from http://www.anova.org/sev/htm/hb/01_genesis.htm ] Genesis, meaning "origin" (genealogical), covers the time from creation to the descent of Jacob and his sons into Egypt. The book is generally divided into a "primeval history" focusing on all of humanity (chs 1-11) and an "ancestral history" focusing on Abraham and his descendants (chs 12-50). The primeval history has two major sections that parallel each other: (1) the creation of the cosmos and stories of the first humans (1.1-6.4); and (2) the flood and dispersal of post-flood humanity (6.5-11.9). It features universal traditions similar to myths in other cultures, particularly in the ancient Near East and Greece. For example, the Mesopotamian Atrahasis epic was written hundreds of years before chs 1-11, yet it parallels numerous particulars of the biblical narrative as it describes the creation of the world, a flood, and the vow of the gods (here plural) not to destroy life with a flood again. The ancestral history picks up where the primeval history left off and tells the story of God's choice of Abraham and the transmission of the promise (12.1-3) down to the twelve sons of Jacob/Israel, the progenitors of the people of Israel. These stories are closest to oral folklore, so it is often difficult to find ancient textual parallels to chs 12-50. Nevertheless, recent scholarship has found similarities between Israelite tales about the matriarchs and patriarchs and modern legends told in oral cultures. For example, there are some striking parallels between the depiction of the clever deceptions of Jacob and others (e.g., 25.27-34; 27.1-45) and the celebration of wily "tricksters" in Native American and other traditions. These different parts of Genesis are united by a set of "toledot" ("descendants") headings, each of which guides the reader in the major focus of the section that follows it (2.4; 5.1; 6.9; 10.1; 11.10; 11.27; 25.12; 25.19; 36.1, 9; 37.2). They lead from a focus on the world at the outset to the final focus of the book on the twelve sons born to Jacob. In addition, other patterns also characterize these genealogically defined sections, such as the parallels between the pre-flood and flood/post-flood stories of chs 1-11 that were noted above. Using these kinds of guides, we can outline Genesis as follows. The narrative opens with the pre-flood primeval history, creation and its aftermath (including Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, etc.): 2.4- 6.8. It then moves to the flood and post-flood primeval history, the re-creation of the world and replay of destructive patterns from before the flood (Noah and his sons, Tower of Babel): 6.9-11.9. Then follows a genealogical bridge to the ancestral history: 11.10-26. The longest part of the narrative is the ancestral history, the giving of the promise to the sons of Jacob/Israel: 11.28-50.26. This is in three parts: First, the history, the giving of the promise to the sons of Jacob/Israel: 11....
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This note was uploaded on 04/30/2009 for the course LITERATURE 230 taught by Professor Mullen during the Spring '09 term at American University in Bulgaria.
- Spring '09