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The Book of Genesis

Gain a brand new perspective on the first book of the Old Testament with this brilliant and fascinating course that examines the true purpose and message of The Book of Genesis.
Book of Genesis is rated 4.2 out of 5 by 113.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Never looked at Genesis in this light before. I have heard the stories of the patriots many times, but this lecture series gave me a whole new perspective. Understanding more about the literal composition and the history painted a more complete picture. Please consider offering more of Dr. Rensburg's books of the Bible lectures.
Date published: 2024-06-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Added a new dimension to understanding... It has been quite some time since I watched this series, however it has stayed with me - the impressions it left - I suppose mainly because of the stories and word studies throughout - and the Professor's pleasant presentation and teaching method. I have such a deep love for these types of things, it reaches back to my childhood. This Professor, in my opinion, honors, writings that are ancient, profoundly inspired and beautiful - the greatest - and cherished by me my entire life. He added a new dimension and depth that I had not known before. I bought some of the suggested literature, but they seemed rather lacking in comparison to this Professor's perceptions, insights and intellect. My words are inadequate at the moment, this course belonged to someone else, and they wanted it back... therefore I am going to invest in my own personal copy so I can watch it again and again. Thank you.
Date published: 2024-01-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Worthwhile investment. This is a good course. The teacher knows his subject and his delivery is concise and organised. For me,a lot of what he had to say was not new. I haven't heard anything that has struck me as new or revelatory.This is not to say that I haven't enjoyed his presentation but I was somewhat disappointed with how much I already knew of what he had to say. This is a course for those who know only a little about Mesopotamia in ancient times and have not yet been introduced to close analysis of the text. I would be interested in this professor coming up with a "Part II" or an extension of the topic.He knows his stuff and he is an effective presenter.
Date published: 2023-10-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Literary and Historical; Not Theological This is a broad and deep literary and historical analysis of the Book of Genesis. Be aware it does not treat theological aspects. Our professor is clear and knowledgeable, although sometimes (for my taste) he spends a bit too much time on details of literary analysis. Nevertheless, I highly recommend the course to any interested in this approach, but only for those already possessing a general knowledge of the Bible. (For an introductory course, I even more highly recommend 'Reading Biblical Literature: Genesis to Revelation'.)
Date published: 2022-11-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding course! Before I listened to this course, I worried that it might be too dogmatic. Instead, it was a perfect blend of the historical, theological, and literary aspects of the Book of Genesis. Professor Rendsburg brought so many interesting details to light that I was constantly telling my family, :You should hear what I learned today about Genesis." I wish there were similar courses for all the other books of the Bible!
Date published: 2022-09-06
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Course in Creative Writing - not Religion We bought this course after watching Professor Rendsburg's other course,"The Dead Sea Scrolls". We thought his Book of Genesis course would follow in the same excellent vein - namely tracing the archeological and historical records of the events in Genesis. We were very wrong in that assumption! Professor Rendsburg presents the Book of Genesis as an example of ancient fictional creative writing. He denies the veracity of the many of the key events depicted in Genesis as defying common sense. For example, he says it was impossible for 600,000 male Jews to leave Egypt as well as being impossible for a 400 year stay there. As justification he invokes his own ideas of "common sense" and ignores the extensive genealogical and census data presented in Exodus and other places. But by far the most egregious "sin" committed by Professor Rendsburg is his deconstruction of the most fundamental tenets of Judaism: the belief by ALL Jews that the Torah was dictated as a whole by G-d on Mt Sinai to Moses who then wrote it down and placed it in the Ark alongside the Tablets. There can be no Judaism without that belief ( see Maimonides for eg)! Yet Professor Rendsburg goes to great length to make it clear that his histrorical record shows that this could not have been possible. This course is a very dangerous one in my opinion because it provides a scholar's justification for the denial of Judaism as a Religion. As such it follows a historical precedent that has caused much suffering to the Jewish People over the centuries.
Date published: 2022-07-31
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting, but.. The background and cultural history were very thorough and helpful but the delivery style boarded on arrogant and pedantic.
Date published: 2022-02-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Informative Great class, great instructor too!! Learned many things about Genesis that were hidden.
Date published: 2022-02-04
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Overview

The Book of Genesis is familiar, clear, powerful, elegantly written. It is the book with which both Jews and Christians alike begin their Bible. But is it possible that our understanding of the Book of Genesis we've all grown up with isn't as complete as we'd like to believe? Its deceptively simple message hides an intricate structure and treasures of detail behind sophisticated literary devices. Professor Gary A. Rendsburg shows you how to fully appreciate what he calls "one of the most remarkable literary compositions from the ancient world."

About

Gary A. Rendsburg

I've always had a love of history, so I very much enjoy bringing this aspect to our course.

INSTITUTION

Rutgers University
Dr. Gary A. Rendsburg holds the Blanche and Irving Laurie Chair in Jewish History in the Department of Jewish Studies at Rutgers University, where he also holds an appointment in the History Department. He earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in Hebrew Studies from New York University and taught at Canisius College and Cornell University-the latter for 18 years-before joining the Rutgers faculty in 2004. The author of six books and more than 120 scholarly articles, Professor Rendsburg takes a special interest in literary approaches to the Bible, the history of the Hebrew language, the history of ancient Israel, and the development of Judaism in the post-biblical period. His works include The Bible and the Ancient Near East (1997), a general survey of the biblical world coauthored with the late Cyrus H. Gordon, and, most recently, Solomon's Vineyard: Literary and Linguistic Studies in the Song of Songs (2009), coauthored with Scott B. Noegel. Professor Rendsburg has visited all of the major archaeological sites in Israel, Egypt, and Jordan and has explored Qumran, the site of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, repeatedly for several decades. He has participated in excavations at Tel Dor and Caesarea. His main research interests are the literature of the Bible, the history of ancient Israel, the historical development of the Hebrew language, and the relationship between ancient Egypt and ancient Israel. Professor Rendsburg has received several fellowships including the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

By This Professor

The Dead Sea Scrolls
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On Reading the Book of Genesis

01: On Reading the Book of Genesis

This lecture introduces the course's ground rules—a holistic (rather than separate-source) treatment that approaches the text as literature, history, and theological treatise that must be read with, and understood from, the world-view of its original readers.

35 min
Genesis 1, The First Creation Story

02: Genesis 1, The First Creation Story

We plunge immediately into the biblical text, with the goal of learning how to read the literature of ancient Israel, so greatly removed from our own world in both time and place.

32 min
Genesis 2–3, The Second Creation Story

03: Genesis 2–3, The Second Creation Story

This lecture highlights the four major differences between the first and second creation accounts and discusses the main reason why Genesis, and hence the Bible, begins with two divergent narratives.

33 min
An Overview of Ancient Israelite History

04: An Overview of Ancient Israelite History

This lecture presents historical background necessary for any study of the Bible, including the history of ancient Israel from Abraham, c. 1400 B.C.E., to the conquest of Alexander the Great, c. 330 B.C.E., and the development of the biblical canon.

31 min
The Ancient Near East

05: The Ancient Near East

We survey the broad context of ancient Israel and its world - the ancient Near East divided into the three major geographical regions of Egypt, Canaan, and Mesopotamia.

32 min
The JEDP Theory and Alternative Approaches

06: The JEDP Theory and Alternative Approaches

The unified approach to the two creation accounts presented in Lecture 3 is one most scholars debate, citing many contradictions. This lecture introduces their four-source hypothesis, and discusses its good points and its problems.

31 min
Genesis 6–8, The Flood Story

07: Genesis 6–8, The Flood Story

We compare the Bible's account of the flood to the story incorporated in the "Epic of Gilgamesh," the literary classic of ancient Mesopotamia, and also use the biblical version as a way of comparing the contrasting methods of the JEDP and unified-whole theories.

31 min
Genesis 9, Covenant

08: Genesis 9, Covenant

This lecture focuses on a crucial concept in biblical studies and how this idea of a bond between God and humanity, in general, and the people of Israel, in particular, distinguished ancient Israel from other cultures and religions of the ancient Near East.

31 min
Genesis 12–22, The Abraham Story

09: Genesis 12–22, The Abraham Story

This lecture presents an overview of the Abraham narrative, focusing on the interrelated themes of God granting the land of Canaan to Abraham and Abraham's quest for an heir.

31 min
When and Where Did Abraham Live?

10: When and Where Did Abraham Live?

This question gives rise to considerable scholarly debate. We examine the arguments and also discuss the insights into Genesis provided by the archives and epic compositions, respectively, of two ancient cities.

31 min
Genesis 21–22, Abraham Put to the Test

11: Genesis 21–22, Abraham Put to the Test

We look in detail at the last two chapters of Abraham's story (including the "Aqedah," or binding, of Isaac) giving a close reading to the text that focuses on the different literary techniques used by the author.

31 min
Women in the Bible—Sarah and Hagar

12: Women in the Bible—Sarah and Hagar

A relatively new avenue of biblical scholarship is an increased awareness of the many important female characters in the story. We illustrate the point by examining the roles of Sarah and Hagar in the Abraham narrative.

31 min
Genesis 24, A Bride for Isaac

13: Genesis 24, A Bride for Isaac

We look at the longest prose narrative in the Torah (made so by the unusual method of its literary construction) and also explore the reasons for its focus on a minor, and anonymous, character.

31 min
The Barren Woman and the Younger Son

14: The Barren Woman and the Younger Son

This lecture looks at the literary and theological reasons for the persistence of two key themes throughout Genesis - the woman unable to bear a child and the superseding of an older brother by a younger one.

32 min
The Literary Structure of Genesis

15: The Literary Structure of Genesis

In this lecture we look systematically at the way individual stories are assembled to create a literary whole. We look at literary and theological reasons for mirroring structures within the stories of Abraham, Jacob, and Joseph, as well as parallel structures within the creation stories.

31 min
Different Bible Translations

16: Different Bible Translations

We pause from our close reading of Genesis to examine the issue of different translations of the Bible (including the possible approaches and the reasons for them) illustrating the differences with several passages.

31 min
Genesis 27, Jacob and Esau

17: Genesis 27, Jacob and Esau

The well-known story of Jacob and Esau allows us to see the literary device of repetition at work, as well as Rebekah's role as instigator of the deception of Isaac and the punishment she receives for her actions.

31 min
Genesis 29, Jacob and Rachel

18: Genesis 29, Jacob and Rachel

We discuss several literary devices available to ancient Israelite writers, including the use of "typescene" (the repeated narration of a theme or story using different characters or circumstances) in the tale of Jacob and Rachel meeting at the well.

31 min
The Date of the Book of Genesis

19: The Date of the Book of Genesis

When was Genesis written? Previous lectures have dated it, in passing, to the 10th century. This lecture defends that conclusion, starting with the tendency of many authors to reveal and reflect the present when writing about the past.

31 min
Genesis 37, Joseph and His Brothers

20: Genesis 37, Joseph and His Brothers

This lecture focuses on the final main section of the Book of Genesis (the Joseph narrative) including a look at the difficult question of who actually transported Joseph to Egypt and the author's reasons for making this question so difficult.

31 min
Genesis 38, The Story of Judah and Tamar

21: Genesis 38, The Story of Judah and Tamar

We look at the links of theme and vocabulary between the stories of Judah and Tamar, and Joseph being taken to Egypt, and we explore the moral lesson Tamar's story was meant to convey to ancient Israelite readers.

31 min
Genesis 39, The Story of Potiphar’s Wife

22: Genesis 39, The Story of Potiphar’s Wife

This lecture examines a motif also present in ancient Greek and Egyptian texts - the handsome young man resisting seduction by his master's wife. We discuss the similarities and differences.

31 min
The Egyptian Background of the Joseph Story

23: The Egyptian Background of the Joseph Story

There are many points of contact between the Joseph story and ancient Egypt. They show the author's intimate knowledge of Egyptian culture and his expectations that his Israelite audience would absorb many of the details.

31 min
One Last Text—and the Text as a Whole

24: One Last Text—and the Text as a Whole

The concluding lecture offers an opportunity to look ahead to the succeeding Book of Exodus, re-examines a key part of Genesis in light of what we discover, and reaches a major conclusion concerning what the Book of Genesis is really about.

29 min