Reading Genesis: Beginnings

By :  Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary Posted On Nov 2, 2016 | Author Conversations: Between the Lines

Deuteronomy 32:47 says the Pentateuch should not be “an empty matter.” This new anthology from Beth Kissileff fills Genesis with meaning, gathering intellectuals and thinkers who use their professional knowledge to illuminate the Biblical text. These writers use insights from psychology, law, political science, literature, and other scholarly fields, to create an original constellation of modern Biblical readings, and receptions of Genesis: A scientist of appetite on Eve’s eating behavior; law professors on contracts in Genesis, and on collective punishment; an anthropologist on the nature of human strife in the Cain and Abel story; political scientists on the nature of Biblical games, Abraham’s resistance, and collective action.

The highly distinguished contributors include Alan Dershowitz and Ruth Westheimer, the novelists Rebecca Newberger Goldstein and Dara Horn, critics Ilan Stavans and Sander Gilman, historian Russell Jacoby, poets Alicia Suskin Ostriker and Jacqueline Osherow, and food writer Joan Nathan.

Beth Kissileff is a writer and journalist.  Reading Genesis: Beginnings is the first of a series; Reading Exodus is in the works. She holds a PhD in comparative literature from the University of Pennsylvania and has taught English literature, writing, Hebrew Bible and Jewish studies at Carleton College, the University of Minnesota, Smith College and Mount Holyoke College. She is the author of the novel Questioning Return (Mandel Vilar Press, 2016) and is at work on a volume of short stories and a novel. She was Prozdor valedictorian in 1985 and lives in Pittsburgh with her family.

Dr. David Kraemer, Joseph J. and Dora Abbell Librarian and professor of Talmud and Rabbinics, JTS, served as moderator.