This book invites readers to reconsider what they think they know about the opening chapters of the Book of Genesis, from the creation of the world, through the Garden of Eden, Cain and Abel, the Flood, and the Tower of Babel, to the introduction of Abraham. Edwin M. Good offers a new translation of and literary commentary on these chapters, approaching the material as an ancient Hebrew book. Rather than analyzing the chapters in light of any specific religious position, he is interested in what the stories say and how they work as stories, indications in them of their origins as orally performed and transmitted, and how they do and do not connect with one another. Everyone, from those intimately familiar with Genesis to those who have never read it before, will find something new in Genesis 1-11: Tales of the Earliest World.
About the author
Edwin M. Good is Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies and of Classics at Stanford University. He has written extensively on the Hebrew Bible as well as the history of the piano.
"This accessible, informed volume is ideal for undergraduate courses or adult education programs on the opening chapter of Genesis. Good's translation yields new insights even for those who have worked with the Hebrew. His relating knowing good and evil to sexual ability (cf. 2 Sam 18:26) is an intriguing hypothesis; his reading of Cain's failure in light of a gendered desire subtle but plausible; and his recognition that, for the Bible, the status of "hero" is ambiguous spot-on."
— A. J. Levine, Choice
"[T]his volume provides an original look at these captivating chapters of Genesis. Good's careful attention to details brings fresh insight to the uninitiated and elicits probing questions from the text . . . Genesis 1-11 is a delightful read."
—Kyle Greenwood, H-Net
"This book will be indispensible for scholars, students, and general readers interested in the 'primeval narrative' of Genesis 1–11: it is a rare combination of outstanding linguistic analysis, keen literary-critical insight, and uniquely engaging prose. Good brings fresh perspective to literature that has become all too familiar in its standard translations. The result is a new translation that is as provocative and readable as Seamus Heaney's Beowulf, with the much added value of a highly accessible scholarly commentary."
—Timothy Beal, Case Western Reserve University
"There exist innumerable commentaries on Genesis, and yet, there are surprisingly few that are broadly accessible. Tales of the Earliest World fills this gap nicely. Written in clear, smooth-flowing prose, it introduces the reader to the challenges of the Hebrew text of Genesis 1–11."
—Steven Weitzman, Stanford University