*** DEBUG END ***

In the beginning . . .

27 June 2011

John Rogerson reads a discussion of Genesis


Old Testament Theology: The theology of the book of Genesis
R. W. L. Moberly
Cambridge University Press £15.99 (978-0-521-68538-2)
Church Times Bookshop £14.40

THIS is best described as a series of essays on selected chapters and topics from the book of Genesis. The essays include an engagement with Richard Dawkins on the subject of creation, a consideration of James Barr’s view that Genesis 2-3 is not about a “fall”, and a discussion of the conclusions drawn by Regina Schwartz from God’s apparently arbitrary acceptance of Abel’s sacrifice and his rejection of that of Cain.

Dawkins’s use of the Flood story opens a chapter that considers, among other things, the relationship of the Flood narrative to the epic of Gilgamesh, and what happens if you interpret the end of the narrative with and without the clause in 8.21 which says that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was evil. The problems raised by the promise that Abraham would be a blessing to all the nations, the nature of the religion of the patriarchs, and the way in which some Christians have used Genesis 12.3a to justify support for Israel are next dealt with, as is the question whether Genesis 22, the story of the Binding of Isaac, portrays Abraham as a monster or a model.

Whether, and in what way, one can or should speak of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as “Abrahamic faiths” is a discussion in response to Karl-Josef Kuschel; and the final chapter engages with Gerhard von Rad’s interpretation of the story of Joseph.

It will be seen from this account of the book’s contents that what is meant by “the theology of the book of Genesis” is the interroga­tion of the text in the light of modern questions that are raised about it. The discussions of these questions often lead to alternative readings by the author — readings that tend to reaffirm, although not uncritically, more traditional understandings of the selected parts of Genesis. The author draws on a number of suggestions that he has made in earlier publications.

Readers will find that one of the most useful aspects of the book is the way in which it engages with writers who have used Genesis negatively rather than positively. It is a demonstration of why Genesis continues to be important for Jewish and Christian faith and practice.

Canon J. W. Rogerson is Emeritus Professor of Biblical Studies at Sheffield University.

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Church Times Bookshop

Save money on books reviewed or featured in the Church Times. To get your reader discount:

> Click on the “Church Times Bookshop” link at the end of the review.

> Call 0845 017 6965 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5pm).

The reader discount is valid for two months after the review publication date. E&OE

Forthcoming Events


Church Times/RSCM:

Festival of Faith and Music

26 - 28 April 2024

See the full programme on the festival website. 

Early bird tickets available


Intercultural Church for a Multicultural World

28 May 2024

A Church Times/Church House Publishing webinar

Tickets are FREE


Church Times/Modern Church:

A Political Faith?

Monday 3 June 2024

This panel will explore where Christians have come to in terms of political power and ask, where should we go next?

Online tickets available


Church Times/Modern Church:

Participating in Democracy

Monday 10 June 2024

This panel will explore the power of voting, and power beyond voting.

Online tickets available


Green Church Awards

Closing date: 30 June 2024

Read more details about the awards


The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times


To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)