Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Studying Genesis - Resources

Now that I've begun my chronological Bible reading, it reminded me of this Genesis Bible study from 2004. This isn't a complete "study" but simply sharing some of the things that brought Genesis alive for me.

Gustave Doré, The Creation of Light
So many things have changed since 2004. For one thing, I read Robert Alter's translation on my Forgotten Classics podcast. I'd fallen in love with his authentic, vivid rendering and reading it aloud turned Genesis into my favorite Old Testament book.

I've also come across some other good references in the last 12 years, some new and some old. I've got asterisks by the references that are new since then.
I'm going to refresh and republish the study as I work my way through Genesis again.

*Genesis: Translation and Commentary by Robert Alter. I read this a bit every day and was blown away by Alter's translation and notes. Reading both for morning reflection and prayer AND as prep for eventually reading Genesis on my podcast, with commentary from various sources, one of which will be this book. No translation and commentary I have read has so vividly brought alive this scripture. The commentary is cultural and literary rather than religious, just fyi, but that simply enhances it for the reader who already has a religious grounding. The introductory article about scripture from a literary standpoint as well as how modern translation tends to explain rather than accurately translate is almost worth the price of admission alone.

Genesis, Part I: God and His Creation and Genesis, Part II: God and His Family.  I originally read this online and it is no longer available free or to individuals, so we're lucky that it has been published. This is the first study I ever read which really made Genesis seem personal instead of a lot of old religious myths. It offers spiritual insights to specific sections being studied, connection with the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and revealing connections with the deeper layers of mean in Scripture throughout the Bible such as typology.

*The Navarre Bible: Pentateuch. The Navarre commentaries are consistently excellent and have a lot of thoughts from Church Fathers, Popes, saints, and the Catechism. They add wisdom from the 2,000 years of Church contemplation on scripture since Jesus.

*St. Irenaeus Ministries Genesis Study - Scripture study that is practical and I've listened to this for years. The teacher is extremely insightful in giving connections between scripture and daily life. He keeps it real and although he has an orthodox Catholic point of view, this is the podcast I recommend to non-Catholics. You'll find his Genesis study on iTunes or in the archive (linked above) in the 2013 listings.

Life Application Study Bible: New International Version. This Protestant Bible is an interesting resource. The footnotes are fresh, interesting, and a good resource for historical questions such as how threshing was done when Ruth met Boaz for example. They also have maps and occasional one page essays about main figures of the Bible. There is a tendency to ask questions at the end of commentary such as, "Do you listen to God like this person, etc.?" which I find rather annoying but they may not strike everyone that way. I would advise the NIV version as I have been told that translation is more accurate than the New Living Translation.

*Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Manners and Customs: How the People of the Bible Really Lived. This puts different Biblical epochs into context by looking at everything from what people wore and ate to how they traveled, fought, and dressed. It really puts everything into context for the modern person. I've never forgotten reading about Ur where Abram lived (before he set out for parts unknown at God's behest and became Abraham) and how everyone lived. It really set my imagination alight. Suddenly those Old Testament figures are all quite a bit more human and three-dimensional.

The Complete Bible Handbook: An Illustrated Companion by John Bowker. This is a DK book which means first and foremost that it is beautifully illustrated. Luckily, it also is very approachable, scholarly, and reverent in covering the history and cultural context of the Bible. Each book of the Bible is covered by five types of double-page spreads: "Book" (origin, significance and key themes), "Story" (significance of specific passages, characters, and events), "Background" and "History" (cultural contexts, historical facts), and "Theology" (interpretation, theory).

*Archaeological Study Bible (which has an adamant "WOOHOO Protestant Biblical books choice, BOO Catholic books choice!" section of the introduction). Their practically pure archaeological take on things is eye opening. One must just keep in mind that they may fall short when it comes to Catholic teachings if they happen to comment on those things (which I haven't seen happen yet other than in their stern comments about which books should be in the Bible).

*Ignatius Genesis Study Bible. I like the commentary and essays but find the large format to be clunky and hard to handle, so much so that I actively avoid using it.  Be that as it may, the commentary is excellent and that is what counts.

For all the Genesis lessons, go to the Genesis study page.

No comments:

Post a Comment