This commentary views the book of Genesis as a sacred text that, in conjunction with other biblical books, enabled the people of Judah/Israel to begin anew after the nation’s destruction by the Babylonian Empire.
In Genesis, the Creator God brings forth life by the Word alone. Stories of disaster and destruction, often a crux of interpretation, find new resonance when set against the backdrop of a nation scattered and in disarray, for they reflect the suffering and theological dilemmas of invasion and warfare. The promises of God to Abraham form the heart of the book and offer more than mere survival; they promise abundant life, children beyond counting, overflowing blessings, and life begun again in the land. Genesis is a profound resource of faith for all communities and individuals who have known loss and seek new life.
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“Judah but then mysteriously withdrew (Isa 36–37 and 2 Kings 18–19). Judah survived and became heir to the name Israel.4 More than one hundred years later, the neo-Babylonian Empire defeated Assyria and, in a series of military invasions, attacked Judah, nearly destroyed the nation, and threatened the people’s future.” (Page 4)
“the first creation account is proclamation, an act of faith, an inducement to hope” (Page 28)
By any measure Kathleen O’Connor is among the best readers of text of her generation. She brings to her interpretive work a lively imagination, a playful sense of the dramatic, a keen awareness of the urgent crises of the day, and grounding in deep faith. She brings, moreover, two particular gifts to the commentary that serve in compelling ways to redefine the work and capacity of a commentary. First, she is steeped in “trauma study” and so sees how texts are responses to disaster. Second, she offers an artistic sensibility about language so that in her hands the text continues to be generative. This is a most welcome commentary that summons the reader to rich and probing interpretation that effectively finesses the gap between ancient and contemporary. It is a work of art.
—Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary
A beautifully written commentary that captures the literary and theological essence of the book of Genesis. O’Connor skillfully demonstrates how Genesis responded to a people’s trauma by reframing the traditions of their ancestors as stories of survival. She reveals how, through the aid of their Creator God, the people could cope with the disaster they faced and move beyond it to a new life.
—Gale A. Yee Nancy W. King Professor of Biblical Studies Emerita Episcopal Divinity School
Finally, an altogether fresh reading of Genesis which will delight seasoned interpreters and beginning students. Informed by disaster and survival studies, Kathleen O’Connor’s work brings breathtaking clarity and theological insight to the biblical text and its afterlife.
—Louis Stulman, University of Findlay
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