Really Useful Guides: Genesis 1-11

Really Useful Guides: Genesis 1-11

£5.99

Get to grips with Genesis 1-11 in an hour!

'Each time you read a story you may gain a different perspective on it and discover new insights. Nowhere can you do this more than in Genesis 1—11, which in my view contains some of the most profound religious literature ever written.'

This Really Useful Guide to Genesis 1—11 opens up afresh what can be a familiar text. In showing us how to engage with these stories, Rebecca S. Watson gives us background information about how, why and when Genesis was written, tips for reading and studying, and a summary of how Genesis 1—11 fits into the biblical story. Written in bite-sized chunks and full of jargon-free practical guidance, this book will give you more confidence to engage with the Bible and a greater understanding of the nature of God.

Each Really Useful Guide focuses on a specific biblical book, making it come to life for the reader, enabling them to understand the message and to apply its truth to today’s circumstances. Though not a commentary, it gives valuable insight into the book’s message. Though not an introduction, it summarises the important aspects of the book to aid reading and application. The series is edited by Simon Stocks and Derek Tidball.

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Title Really Useful Guides: Genesis 1-11
Author Rebecca S. Watson
Description

'Each time you read a story you may gain a different perspective on it and discover new insights. Nowhere can you do this more than in Genesis 1—11, which in my view contains some of the most profound religious literature ever written.'

This Really Useful Guide to Genesis 1—11 opens up afresh what can be a familiar text. In showing us how to engage with these stories, Rebecca S. Watson gives us background information about how, why and when Genesis was written, tips for reading and studying, and a summary of how Genesis 1—11 fits into the biblical story. Written in bite-sized chunks and full of jargon-free practical guidance, this book will give you more confidence to engage with the Bible and a greater understanding of the nature of God.

Each Really Useful Guide focuses on a specific biblical book, making it come to life for the reader, enabling them to understand the message and to apply its truth to today’s circumstances. Though not a commentary, it gives valuable insight into the book’s message. Though not an introduction, it summarises the important aspects of the book to aid reading and application. The series is edited by Simon Stocks and Derek Tidball.

Details
  • Product code: 9780857467911
  • Published: 18 October 2019
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 96
  • Dimensions: 105mm wide and 148mm high

'Each time you read a story you may gain a different perspective on it and discover new insights. Nowhere can you do this more than in Genesis 1—11, which in my view contains some of the most profound religious literature ever written.'

This Really Useful Guide to Genesis 1—11 opens up afresh what can be a familiar text. In showing us how to engage with these stories, Rebecca S. Watson gives us background information about how, why and when Genesis was written, tips for reading and studying, and a summary of how Genesis 1—11 fits into the biblical story. Written in bite-sized chunks and full of jargon-free practical guidance, this book will give you more confidence to engage with the Bible and a greater understanding of the nature of God.

Each Really Useful Guide focuses on a specific biblical book, making it come to life for the reader, enabling them to understand the message and to apply its truth to today’s circumstances. Though not a commentary, it gives valuable insight into the book’s message. Though not an introduction, it summarises the important aspects of the book to aid reading and application. The series is edited by Simon Stocks and Derek Tidball.

Rebecca S. Watson is a research associate at the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion in Cambridge, and a tutor and director of studies at the Eastern Region Ministry Course, which trains people for ministry in the Church of England. She has worked in theological education and research throughout her career. She lives in Northamptonshire with her husband, their two children and two mad terriers. 

This is a fantastic little book: it has a lovely accessible tone, exudes faith and still manages to pack a lot of teaching into it. I might want to argue a few points here or there but overall the author has given a sophisticated, nuanced reading that will challenge and help her readers extremely well.

Elizabeth Harper, Lay Ministries Enabler for the Diocese of Bath and Wells 

Science & Christian Belief, Vol 33, No. 1. Review by Ivan Haigh

The Genesis 1 to 11 Really Useful Guide, by Rebecca S. Watson, is a delightful little book. It is little; it fits easily into the palm of a hand, back pocket of a pair of jeans, or top pocket of a shirt. I read the whole book in less than an hour. Yet despite its small size, it is a really charming book and I would readily recommend it to anyone.

Each Really Useful Guide focuses on a specific biblical book. These small guides are not mean to be commentaries, instead they summarise the important aspects of the book in question in a jargon-free way, to aid reading and application. Their goal, as advertised, is to transform understanding of the biblical text, to help a reader engage with the message of the book in new ways today, giving confidence in the Bible and increasing faith in God.

As you will have guessed by the title, this particular guide focuses on the first eleven chapters of Genesis, one of the most discussed and debated parts of the Bible. The book is laid out in nine chapters. The first six chapters are relatively short and briefly discuss: why we should read Genesis 1 to 11; what is Genesis 1 to 11; what does Genesis 1 to 11 say; how does Genesis 1 to 11 say it; where do these stories come from; and reading Genesis 1 to 11 today. In these chapters Rebecca keeps coming back to the importance of stories, which often inspire us, help us gain a different perspective and discover new insights, in a way that pure philosophy and science can’t.

Through a series of stories, Genesis 1 to 11 explores profound questions about God and his commitment to the world. Rebecca points out that Genesis 1 to 11 performs a similar function to Rudyard Kipling’s Just so Stories, which provide a fun way of explaining why things are the way they are. The first eleven chapters in Genesis address some of the most important questions about life and existence, through narrative that puts God at the centre.

Chapters 1 to 6 are really an introduction to Chapter 7, which is the heart of the book. Chapter 7 makes up more than half of this little book and describes tips for reading this part of the Bible. It touches on the major stories: Creation; the Garden of Eden; Cain and Abel; the Genealogies and associated stories; the sons of God and daughters of men; the flood, sin, sacrifice, blessing and covenant; Noah’s drunkenness and the cursing of Ham; and lastly, the Tower of Babel. Rebecca takes the reader through each of these stories in turn and points out key themes. These themes are only touched on very briefly, but are handled in a thought-provoking way. Despite the fact that I have read these chapters of the Bible hundreds of times, on several occasions Rebecca’s book pointed out things I hadn’t considered before. This made me want to pick up my Bible straight away and read these passages again in a fresh way.

The last two chapters briefly discuss Genesis 1 in 11 in relation to the rest of the Bible, and list 11 questions for reflection or discussion.

There are many things I liked about this book. I particularly liked that Rebecca kept challenging me throughout to think about how the key themes in this first part of Genesis translate into our own context today. For example, she invited me to think carefully about whether the perpetually busyness of my life (and I am sure many of yours) is the best model for life, when you contrast it with God resting on the seventh day and encouraging his creation. I also liked that Rebecca encouraged me to momentarily step into the shoes of someone else in these stories and think, wonder and ask questions, even if we don’t always find clear-cut answers we can all agree on.

When I first picked up this book, I thought initially that it would be geared towards new Christians, who were starting to read the Bible for the first time. However, having been a Christian for more than thirty-five years, I found the book very thoughtful and engaging to me personally. It has given me new insights and has encouraged me to read and mediate on these passages in fresh ways. The small size of the book makes it a perfect book to take away on holiday and read on a train or plane. It would also be a great book to read and discuss in groups, for example, as part of a church home or connect group. I also think this book would be good for non-Christians interested in understanding key themes in Genesis and the links between science and Christianity.

Dr Ivan Haigh is an Associate Professor in coastal oceanography at the University of Southampton

 

Transforming Ministry, April 2020. Review by Claire Disbrey

This little book is a new title in BRF’s ‘Really Useful Guides’ series. The books in this series are described as ‘not a commentary and not an introduction’. Taking about two hours to read, they are a valuable extra tool for acquiring general biblical literacy, understanding some of the more obscure passages in the scriptures, and help in using them to find messages for today.

In her book on Genesis 1-11, Rebecca S Watson discusses different ideas about where these ancient stories could have come from, different influences that might have shaped them, and how and when they might have been put together in their present form. Believing that these old stories explore profound questions about God, humanity, creation and sin, she tackles some of the problems they raise and leads us to helpful ways of approaching and applying them. The book ends with some questions for reflection or discussion which could be useful for Bible study groups.

 These small books could be useful for preachers who want to dig deeper into the context or meaning of a passage and have more time than needed to read an ‘introduction’ but not enough time to read a whole commentary. They would also be useful to read or study together to increase biblical literacy among our congregations.

Reviewed by Claire Disbrey


Review by Dr Hywel Clifford, Lecturer in Old Testament, Ripon College Cuddesdon

This is a stylish guide to Genesis 1-11. After considering what it might mean to approach these biblical chapters as readers today, Rebecca Watson provides numerous tips about their sections, episodes, and details, in their interwoven literary sequence. To write freshly on Creation, Flood, and Babel is no easy task, but this is done elegantly and engagingly, with both traditional and modern insights and applications offered about sacred texts which are so significant, and, of course, so memorable. Here you will find a tasty entrée for making rich sense of the feast that is the opening of Genesis, that great book of beginnings about the world and the human family in which we all have a role to play. Some questions for reflection and discussion bring this informative guide to a close.

Dr Hywel Clifford, Lecturer in Old Testament, Ripon College Cuddesdon & Member of the Faculty of Theology and Religion, Oxford University.