“Reading Genesis: Beginnings” edited by Beth Kissileff— New Meanings and Interpretations

reading genesis

Kissileff, Beth (editor). “Reading Genesis: Beginnings”, Bloomsbury. 2016.

New Meanings and Interpretations

Amos Lassen

“Reading Genesis: Beginnings” is a new anthology edited Beth Kissileff fills Genesis with meaning. It brings together intellectuals and thinkers who use their professional knowledge to illuminate the Biblical text through the use of insights from psychology, law, political science, literature, and other scholarly fields giving us modern Biblical readings, and receptions of Genesis. We hear from a scientist writes about Eve’s eating behavior; law professors discuss contracts and collective punishment; an anthropologist writes on the nature of human strife in the Cain and Abel story; political scientists have a say on the nature of Biblical games, Abraham’s resistance, and collective action. We have selections from such notables as Alan Dershowitz, Ruth Westheimer, Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, Dara Horn, Ilan Stavans, Sander Gilman, Russell Jacoby, Alicia Suskin Ostriker, Jacqueline Osherow, and Joan Nathan among others. Perspectives come from law professors, philosophy, political science, academics and literature, science, journalism and sexology.

Looking at the story of Abraham and the binding of Isaac, we read of Abraham moving very slowly and this suggests, perhaps, his resistance to what he has been divinely ordered to do. In the story of Rebecca we learn that the reason Rebecca felt she had to deceive Isaac was because of an old prophecy that once a matter “is from God” (such as the prophecy that the elder shall serve the younger Jacob). Because the matter is fixed, Rebecca must fulfill it. Isaac’s own experiences (almost being sacrificed and then saved at the last minute) makes him more open to the possibility of unexpected change, but he is not interested in taking control of a situation.

Here is what you will find here:

Table of Contents

  • Introduction – Beth Kissileff
  • The Creation and Its Aftermath (Genesis 1-3) – Steven J. Brams
  • The Apple and Eve: A Neuropsychological Interpretation (Genesis 2-3) – Harry R. Kissileff (PhD)
  • God’s Serpent (Genesis 2-3) – J.H.H. Weiler
  • “It Is Not Good For Man To Be Alone” (Genesis 2-3) – Dr. Ruth Westheimer and Jonathan Mark
  • Bloodlust (Genesis 4) – Russell Jacoby
  • On The Tower of Babel (Genesis 11) – Ilan Stavans
  • Hesed: Feminist Ethics in Jewish Tradition (Genesis 12, 24) – Susan Schept
  • Famines, Feasts and Fraternity: Food (and Drink) in the Book of Genesis (Genesis 18) – Joan Nathan
  • Why Genesis (Genesis 18) – Alan Dershowitz
  • Looking Back at Lot’s Wife (Genesis 19) – Rebecca Newberger Goldstein
  • The Face of the Other: Sarah – Hagar Then and Now (Genesis 16, 21) – Alicia Suskin Ostriker
  • The Binding of Isaac and the Arts of Residence (Genesis 22) – Ronald R. Krebs
  • Writing: A Jewish Paradox – Sander L. Gilman
  • “The Matter is from God”: Retold Narrative and the Mistakes of Certainty (Genesis 24) – Beth Kissileff
  • Jacob: Some Notes on Character Development and Repentance – Dara Horn
  • Contracts of Genesis (Genesis 27) – Geoffrey P. Miller
  • Judah and His Brothers: Becoming the Leader of His Pride (Genesis 37-50) – Renan Levine
  • Imperfect Forgiveness: Joseph and His Brothers (Genesis 37-50) – Moses L. Pava
  • “That We May Live and Not Die”: Judah as Life Force of Genesis (Genesis 38) Jacqueline Osherow
  • Zaphenath, Kugelmass, and Milton (Genesis 41) – Jeffrey Shoulson
  • “They Did Not Recognize Him”: Failed Facial Recognition in the Family of Joseph (Genesis 42) – Seth Greenberg
  • The Death of Jacob: Responding to the End of Life (Genesis 47-50) – Steven Albert
  • List of Contributors
  • Index of Biblical Passages
  • Index of Biblical Characters
  • Index of Names and Concepts

Using modern tools of analysis, these stories can and will guide our exploration of human nature. The essays are stimulating and give us new insights on the same stories that we read over and over every year.

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