Summer Reading 2020

This Summer, we are reading the Book of Genesis, from the Hebrew Bible. Any translation you have is fine; or, you can access the link to Genesis (Jewish Publication Society; see also Tanakh) from the home page: this is the version we will use for our close readings in class.

We will approach the text as a cultural artifact and not necessarily as scripture, so we will not be dealing with theology. We will spend about three or four weeks working on it at the start of school, discussing big chunks in class, and doing close reading of selected passages. Hopefully, one of these extracts might be used to represent the translated work that some of you choose to use in your Individual Oral assessment. Remember, we need to link the extracts to a global issue, and Genesis is a perfect fit for this.

The Unit will be in four parts—the primeval prologue (chapters 1-11), followed by the Abraham, Jacob, and Joseph cycles. Genesis is about beginnings—of the world, of humanity, and of a particular family that grew into a nation unlike any other, then or now. So our focus will be on the book’s human, as opposed to its divine, qualities. The patriarchs are people like the rest of us, and they have much to teach us all. Some of us will be familiar with Genesis, others not, but it doesn’t really matter. Try to read it as a story, which, of course, it is.

In case you are wondering, there will be a comprehension quiz before we begin, and a written assessment at the end. Then, we’ll move on to The Road, a modern dystopian novel that will surprisingly bring some of the issues in Genesis back into focus.

A modern translation is best for clarity, like the ESV, but I will be taking the extracts from the JPS edition referenced above. It will be difficult to find study material that is not devotional or theological (usually Christian) in nature, if you become confused. I encourage you to simply write down your questions as you read and we can consider them in class.