Reading Genesis (Hardcover)

Reading Genesis By Marilynne Robinson Cover Image

Reading Genesis (Hardcover)


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One of our greatest novelists and thinkers presents a radiant, thrilling interpretation of the book of Genesis.

For generations, the book of Genesis has been treated by scholars as a collection of documents by various hands, expressing different factional interests, with borrowings from other ancient literatures that mark the text as derivative. In other words, academic interpretation of Genesis has centered on the question of its basic coherency, just as fundamentalist interpretation has centered on the question of the appropriateness of reading it as literally true.

Both of these approaches preclude an appreciation of its greatness as literature, its rich articulation and exploration of themes that resonate through the whole of Scripture. Marilynne Robinson’s Reading Genesis, which includes the full text of the King James Version of the book, is a powerful consideration of the profound meanings and promise of God’s enduring covenant with humanity. This magisterial book radiates gratitude for the constancy and benevolence of God’s abiding faith in Creation.

Marilynne Robinson is the author of Gilead, winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award; Home (2008), winner of the Orange Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; Lila (2014), winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award; and Jack (2020), a New York Times bestseller. Her first novel, Housekeeping (1980), won the PEN/Hemingway Award. Robinson’s nonfiction books include The Givenness of Things (2015), When I Was a Child I Read Books (2012), Absence of Mind (2010), The Death of Adam (1998), and Mother Country (1989). She is the recipient of a 2012 National Humanities Medal, awarded by President Barack Obama, for “her grace and intelligence in writing.” Robinson lives in California
Product Details ISBN: 9780374299408
ISBN-10: 0374299404
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: March 12th, 2024
Pages: 352
Language: English


"Extraordinary . . . a writer’s book, not a scholar’s; it has no footnotes. Its power lies in the particular reading it gives us of one of the world’s foundational texts, which is also one of the foundations of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author’s mind and faith. We want to know what Robinson thinks of Genesis for the same reason we’d want to know what Tolstoy thought of it.” —Francis Spufford, The New York Times Book Review

Alluring, contemplative . . . Robinson considers the weighty issues in clear-eyed prose; her close readings compel us to imagine these characters anew . . . The selling of Joseph into Egyptian bondage is an artful essay unto itself, gleaming like a Fabergé egg amid cerebral analysis.” —Hamilton Cain, Boston Globe

“Like so much of Robinson’s writing, [Reading Genesis] is alive with questions of kindness, community and how to express what we so often struggle to put into words.” —David Marchese, New York Times Magazine

"The genius of Reading Genesis lies in its collapse of the space between the holy and the mundane, the metaphysical and the physical." —Judith Shulevitz, The Atlantic

[Robinson] occupies a unique place in American culture today . . . readers look to [her] for a certain kind of book that no one else provides—gracious, grave, radiant, and revelatory, with a distinctly anachronistic tinge . . . As a work of biblical commentary, Reading Genesis might be a departure from the historical novels and collections of essays that she is known for, but it is also a natural next step.” —Briallen Hopper, New Republic

A brilliantly fresh reading of familiar stories, highlighting both the small details we might miss and the large-scale shifts in understanding that the storytelling represents . . . [Reading Genesis] invites us to take time in reading the stories again, in the company of an exceptionally wise and perceptive storyteller, one of the foremost novelists today in the English language . . . a work of exceptional wisdom and imagination, a real model of how to read the biblical text with the eyes of an adult faith.” —Archbishop Rowan Williams, The Telegraph (UK)

“Marilynne Robinson has managed to thread the theme of goodness into her entire body of work . . .[In] Reading Genesis, she does it once again, unfolding a tapestry of ideas drawn from her keen exploration of the first book of the Bible . . . [Robinson] seeks a deeper understanding of goodness that transcends any particular faith tradition.” —Joan Taylor, Christian Science Monitor

“[A] rich and provoking study . . . Robinson finds a way to produce a powerful meditation on hope at a time when that virtue is generally in short supply . . . In luminous prose she challenges a modern reader to understand just how unusual a book Genesis is, pregnant with meaning that stretches to our own day.” —Julian Coman, The Guardian (UK)

“Robinson’s sharp literary eye and clear, lyrical prose shine new light on some of our oldest stories . . . Readers will find astute insights on the power and gravity of human agency, and even some hope.” —Delaney Coyne, America

"In this illuminating work of biblical analysis, Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist Robinson, whose Gilead series contains a variety of Christian themes, takes readers on a dedicated layperson’s journey through the Book of Genesis. The author meanders delightfully through the text, ruminating on one tale after another while searching for themes and mining for universal truths . . . [A] luminous exegesis." Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Robinson skillfully melds her literary interpretation with her theological one . . . Like the biblical book it explicates, Robinson’s offering is demanding, intense, and best read slowly." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"A literary, scholarly, and personal reading of Genesis . . . Throughout this deeply involving and enlightening exegesis, Robinson links Genesis to the profound dilemmas of our time." —Donna Seaman, Booklist