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Publisher's Summary

Nearly everyone in the Western world is familiar with the stories in the book of Genesis. Its language is simple. Its powerful sentences are short. And its messages glisten with clarity. But is it possible that the understanding of the book of Genesis we've all grown up with isn't as complete as we'd like to believe? That its deceptively simple sentences and surface appearance hide from contemporary readers a purposeful and intricate structure designed to let its depth and detail and implication resonate with the readers and listeners of its own time?

These 24 fascinating lectures offer the necessary tools to change our perceptions of the book of Genesis, showing us how we might read, hear, think about - and feel - its words as an ancient Hebrew would have, allowing us to gain a new appreciation of "one of the most remarkable literary compositions from the ancient world," as Professor Rendsburg calls it, the book with which both Jews and Christians alike begin their Bible.

With a detailed, line-by-line literary parsing that gently probes its language, exploring how and why its effects were achieved and what the book's author-or authors-were saying, Professor Rendsburg reveals more insights than most of us have ever dreamed were there. Among those insights, you'll learn why the book of Genesis has not one but two creation stories, what hints the book's many contradictions offer about its authorship, and more.

Although this is a course whose emphasis is literary, with detailed analysis dominating, Professor Rendsburg is mindful that the book of Genesis is, for many, a theological pillar of religious faith. And he is both respectful of that reality and aware of it in an even broader historical, social, and archeological context.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2006 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2006 The Great Courses

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Jacobus
  • Johannesburg, South Africa
  • 07-22-13

Clear, illuminating but without a PDF study guide

What made the experience of listening to The Book of Genesis the most enjoyable?

Prof. Gary A Rendsburg uses clear and simple language to reflect on the subject matter at hand (some of which might be a bit technical to new comers to the book). He furthermore approach the Book of Genesis from a historical, theological, and archaeological angle and ultimately evaluates its quality as literature. He covers a vast amount of issues not only related to the Book of Genesis but to the Old Testament/ Torah in general.

What did you like best about this story?

It is very difficult to single out a specific part. Prof. Rendsburg was able to give an excellent overview on current scholarly insights on Genesis. His explanation of Genesis 1 is top notch. He doesn't get into nit picking about the historicity of the account but places it squarely within its Ancient Near Eastern framework. He was able to show the function of the various doublet stories in various parts of Genesis. He also challenged the JEPD hypothesis convincingly. He leaves you with a lot of food for thought.

Have you listened to any of Professor Gary A. Rendsburg’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No I haven't. He started of a bit staccato in the first two lectures, but got more relaxed as he continued with the lectures. I think he did an excellent job.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

It more than just a beginning or a big bang, its a journey!

Any additional comments?

The Great Courses comes the study guides for easy reference. Unfortunately the Audible downloads have that lacking which is very disappointing. For that the overall rating drops with one star.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Great Book

Would you listen to The Book of Genesis again? Why?

This book has a lot of relevant information that are both academic and spiritual. I'd like to go back occasionally to refresh my memory about the topics discussed as I continue my research on the stories and history of the bible.

What did you like best about this story?

I like the fact the author is very open minded and was prepared to back up his arguments and views with supportive materials. I may not agree with all his views 100% but I can respect them because he makes his reasoning clear.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

The title of the movie would be "The End Begins".

Any additional comments?

If you have questions about the bible or biblical stories in general, read this book. It doesn't really try to justify the unexplainable but it does a good job of deducing what could have caused them and though it only covers the first book, it's a start.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A nice exploration

Any additional comments?

Professor Rendsburg has an exceptional knowledge in ancient literature as well as the culture and history that surrounds it. He uses those gifts to give a fascinating and scholarly take on Genesis. Newcomers as well as seasoned studies will find new discoveries and fascinating insights. The creation accounts as well as the Abraham narrative are high points. He doesn't always conform to the scholarly norm but when he strays from it, he tells the listener, backs up his thought, and gives compelling reasons for a new look. I really enjoyed this work. Also, for those of you who want to look at a brief study on an earlier date for the Exodus, google "rendsburg exodus" and there is a pdf on that.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great course! Excellent Lectures

I enjoyed listening to this course. The lectures were engaging and insightful and the professor clearly knows what he is talking about. I learned a great deal. Hope he does other books of the bible.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Wish he did the whole bible! A great listen!

Kept me wanting more. Wish he would do more bible books. Will purchase them if he does!...

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Terrible narrative-awful performance

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

The content is fine but the narrator is absolutely terrible. Reading directly from the text, no intonations, just droning on and on and on. Worse than the dull, brain numbing university lecturers. There should be some joy in reading

How could the performance have been better?

Very dull, straightforward reading, droning on and on. It's so bad you can't even fall asleep while listening. Awful. Worst I've encountered in audible so far.

Was The Book of Genesis worth the listening time?

Definitely not worth the time nor the money with this godawful drone like narration.

Any additional comments?

Professors should not read books if they can't use their voices attractively. If I wanted boring dull lectures that suck the joy out of everything, I'll go to a university lecture, thank you. Awful.

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The best!

I have read several books from the learning company and this one is the best in my opinion.

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Quite Tedious

I've listened to a lot of Great Courses lectures, but I struggled to finish this one. The professor focuses too much on a literary analysis and pays less attention than I hoped to theological issues. He spends a lot of time looking at how the original Hebrew text reads, with a lot of attention paid to word play and alliteration. I found him too focused on the minutia, and lacking in the bigger picture.
Also the relationship between Genesis and Christianity is not covered well. For example, the professor discusses the phrase 'Let us make man in our own image', settling on the royal 'we' to explain the plural subject. However he does not even mention the Trinity as a possible explanation, even if he himself is not a Christian.
Amy-Jill Levine's The Old Testament and Cynthia Chapman' The World of Biblical Israel were both much more balanced, informative and interesting. Professor Rendsburg's other course on the Dead Sea Scrolls is also a much better listen than this one.

2 of 8 people found this review helpful

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disappointed

I think a more theological view should have been presented on Genesis, it was more literary and frankly the approach was disappointing. I base it on all the other courses offered on the subject.

1 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Jonathan
  • 03-29-15

Brings Genesis to Life

A whole lecture course on Genesis may seem a lot, but in the hands of Professor Rendsburg it seems barely enough. It is an outstanding account that I thoroughly recommend. Details of the individual parts of the story are interspersed with lectures on historical background, different versions of the bible etc. This works really well as an approach and kept my interest up completely. For more details on content I recommend looking at the Great Courses web site. And if after finishing this course you want a detailed account of the biblical story after Genesis, I recommend very highly Dr Bill Creasy's "One Year Bible".

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Suttonbus
  • 08-13-17

Understand the First Great Book of the Bible

very easy to follow but deeply scholarly this course will enthuse you to deeper bible study

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  • Maddock
  • 09-29-16

Skimming stones

The lectures are concise and easy to listen to. I would have liked more on Creation and Adam and Eve and I felt that some of the conclusions on the old testament author borrowing stories required more explanations. However the lectures provide some invaluable insights into the people of Genesis given this is an overview.

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  • Norman
  • 04-29-16

Outstanding

Where does The Book of Genesis rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is one of the best in my collection, one I come back to reperatedly.

Have you listened to any of Professor Gary A. Rendsburg’s other performances? How does this one compare?

Like his other course on the Dead Sea Scrolls, Prof Rendsberg semonstrates an almost obsessive eye for detail.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Anyone wanting a true understanding of the Genesis account of creation - this is a good place to go.

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  • Paul F. Herring
  • 02-15-16

The best book on Genesis

Awesome. Most impressive. Thank you so much Prof. Rendsburg. Possibly the best book of dozens I have read on Genesis.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful