The God who is revealed as a character in Genesis is always a savior. In Genesis, David Cotter, helps readers discern a structure in the book whereby the least and the weakest are the object of God’s saving help.
Genesis begins with an introduction to the methodology that is used throughout the book. The introductory essay deals with the theory of Hebrew narrative and the challenges posed to biblical exegesis by contemporary literary theory. The stories of the Creation, the Flood, and of Abraham’s generations were stories of salvation for the underdogs and the outcasts. With expert literary and narrative scholarship, Cotter analyzes the Hebrew narrative in a commentary unlike any other.
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“To be in God’s image means to be blessed with the responsibility of ruling the world in such a way that it is the ordered, good, life-giving place that God intends it to be. Perhaps an analogy will make the point better. God: Universe:: Humanity: World. As God is to the entire universe—the One who creates a good, blessed, nonviolent place where life is possible and order reigns—so Humanity is to be to the world. We live up to this responsibility when we make the world good, live in just nonviolence, and render the blessed life possible here.” (Page 18)
“When the serpent approached the woman and offered the fruit to her she already possessed ethical knowledge. She knew that her action would be wrong. If she already knew the nature of evil and possessed the ability to make moral choices, the tree’s meaning must be something other.” (Page 30)
“The result is that a richer biblical image of Woman develops. She is not merely a helpmeet for Man; it becomes evident that she and he both are created in God’s image and that they possess corresponding strengths.” (Page 32)
“Both serpent and ground are cursed, but the humans, however heavy their punishment, are not cursed” (Page 35)
“Speech, with which the appearance of human communion had been marked, is here absent. They do not speak to each other because now they know that they need to hide from each other. The bad thing they have learned is that they are not to be trusted, if not with God’s gifts, then certainly not with each other. God is conspicuously absent as his creations freely work out their destiny and make it clear that they prefer a world in which they have chosen to disobey. Disobedience is central to the text, to their relationship with God, and reverses everything they have known until now. The disobedience is on the part of both Man and Woman. He is with her and participates without persuasion. The snake speaks to the woman using plural forms, indicating that he is targeting both Man and Woman.” (Pages 34–35)
Cotter has provided an interesting resource. His will be a volume known for its focus on structure. It joins a growing number of commentaries that treat Genesis from a literary vantage point. . . . It can no longer be said that‘historical-critical’ studies dominate work on this biblical book.
—David L. Petersen, Candler School of Theology, Emory University
Genesis provides fresh insight into the book of Genesis. Cotter argues successfully that it has been redacted to form a single, coherent narrative, albeit constituted of several subplots. Cotter educes the narrative subtlety of the text. . . . Cotter’s use of narrative criticism provides a restrained reading that is convincing and provocative as he interprets the text in new ways based on nuances that often go unnoticed. This commentary will best serve those in confessional settings who are interested in narrative approaches to biblical interpretation.
—David G. Graves, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School