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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars God wrestling with God
Perhaps if you haven't read these since childhood Sunday school, you still think these are simple stories. These compact stories all have deep issues about life and what it means to be human. I was surprised by the feeling that God may be wresting with what it means to be God and allow humans freedom. There almost seems to be a trial and error approach to creation...
Published on July 5, 2001 by Gary Sprandel

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars Unfortunate conclusions
Another reviewer reports correctly that "the people in Genesis are all exposed as being very human, with fractured families." So far, so good. That is true, and it is precisely the point of all the stories in the Torah: people are human, and G-d has given them free will. They often make mistakes, from which mankind is supposed to learn.

But the...
Published on August 1, 2008 by Alyssa A. Lappen


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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars God wrestling with God, July 5, 2001
By 
Gary Sprandel (Frankfort, Kentucky) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Perhaps if you haven't read these since childhood Sunday school, you still think these are simple stories. These compact stories all have deep issues about life and what it means to be human. I was surprised by the feeling that God may be wresting with what it means to be God and allow humans freedom. There almost seems to be a trial and error approach to creation. The people in Genesis are all exposed as being very human, with fractured families. The people on the video are also very human, and at time the discussions are very personal, like sitting in with an old friend. This book and videos offered an amazing number of views, and one shouldn't view them as dogma. I was particularly surprised by feminist and Koran views. I hope to read further by Burton Visotzky who was a participant. For an example of unique reading of Abraham and Isaac see Kierkegaard's "Fear and Trembling".
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28 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Response to complaint about book being to liberal, April 30, 2001
By 
Michael W. Scarbrough (fort worth, texas United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Genesis: A living Coversation (Pbs Series) (Audio Cassette)
I don't agree...I found this book exciting. Most books today considering the question of Genesis are generally written by conservative believers and marketed to the faithful. We've been fed the conservative point of view fairly consistantly since the founding of this country. In my experience, I find that the conservative rarely reach out to conduct this kind of inquiry, instead focusing on "spreading the word" they personally endorse with very little time for others' interpretations of the bible's message. They rarely reccomend such books as this to their peers, for fear of the questions which may arise from the text. (this is, as I've said, based upon my own experiences, and doesn't apply to conservatives as a whole, I should hope.) I read and consider both camps, but have always seen the field as unbalanced in the conservative direction, especially here in the south. Welcome this book, read this book, and consider this book. It's a rare thing thoughtfully constructed.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Illuminating conversation, December 15, 2004
When I watched the PBS series, I locked myself in the room each week so I wouldn't be disturbed. Imagine several bright, articulate folks who weren't arguing over the historicity of the Gensis accounts, but simply looking for their meaning. Moreover, all weren't Biblical scholars. Their ranks included novelists and playwrights who understand the narrative elements far better than I. As I watched I developed favorites who I looked forward to hearing from again and others who drove me batty.

When I bought the book, I found it to be incredibly helpful for me as a preacher to identify the questions that might be asked of the Genesis text that I would fail to ask because of my own biases or my own fear of asking a sacreligious question. The book is especially good in it's examination of the image of God and the wrestling Jacob stories, but perhaps my favorite is the discussion of call and promise, particularly because of strength of the scholars-Robert Alter, Burt Visotzky and my favorite, Lew Smedes.

This book can help us answer the questions people are really asking, instead of the ones we want them to ask. Highly recomended
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Myths Come Alive, October 13, 2000
This review is from: Genesis: A living Coversation (Pbs Series) (Audio Cassette)
Joseph Campbell, reknowned professor of world mythology, has said that the three great religions--Judaism, Islam, and Christianity--are at loggerheads with one another while forgetting their common roots.
The Book of Genesis is that common ground. And in this dialogue hosted by television journalist Bill Moyers representatives from these three traditions join each other in illuminating their audience as to the nature of God, of man, ethics, worship, and religion. Rabbis, ministers, Muslims, writers, artists, scholars, and educators discuss the stories of Genesis and to provide us with a myriad of perspectives and interpretations.
With such a cornucopia of viewpoints it is easy to side with one and reject the others. Yet in the end, the question to ask is not 'Who is right?,' rather 'What can we learn from the other?' Truth, as the participants urge us, has many faces.
Although the printed (book) edition offers some parts unavailable in the audio format, the cassette version is the better choice since it certainly captures the full flavor of this unmoderated and lively discussion.
Package includes ten cassettes, and a leaflet containing photos and biographies of the participants.
[...]
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Talking about Genesis, March 13, 2000
This review is from: Genesis (Paperback)
A group of contemporary intellectuals, under the leadership of Bill Moyers, gathers to exchange views concerning main issues from the stories of Genesis. Matters such as creation, God's relationship to man and vice-versa, evil, family relations, faith, temptation, murder, and moral values are discussed among the participants. It represents a friendly and inspirational exchange of ideas, with mutual respect for each others religious background, be it Jewish, Christian, or Muslim. The book is based on the televised PBS series which unfortunately I did not have the opportunity to watch and which certainly must have been quite interesting. The input given by each participant proves once more that no matter how much has been written and said about the stories in Genesis, there is always further room for interpretation and spiritual nourishment.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, fast delivery, great shape, November 3, 2011
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Genesis with Bill Moyers and others is such a thought-provoking book. It looks at stories with new eyes, daring to say things I thought only I believed. Discussions do not vary from the biblical text, but until Ishmael and Jacob split, the same history is
Common to Hebrew, Islam, and Christianity, and those from Islam are part of discussions.
It arrived long before I dared to hope for its delivery.
It was in better shape than are many new books I get.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fun conversation to trigger thinking, May 25, 2014
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This review is from: Genesis: A living Coversation (Pbs Series) (Audio Cassette)
This was the first out of the box (former Christian Fundamentalist) book I read that helped me start thinking in broader terms.
I checked this out in audio at the library years ago and had to return to it again. It was still a fun ride all over again!!
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4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful and encouraging book, February 5, 2014
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I found this to be a wonderful and encouraging book. Reading the conversations between these scholars, artists, ministers, rabbis, etc., breathed new life into the Genesis stories for me. I especially enjoyed the multiplicity of perspectives of various Christians, Jews, Muslims, at least one Hindu, and agnostics.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Unfortunate conclusions, August 1, 2008
Another reviewer reports correctly that "the people in Genesis are all exposed as being very human, with fractured families." So far, so good. That is true, and it is precisely the point of all the stories in the Torah: people are human, and G-d has given them free will. They often make mistakes, from which mankind is supposed to learn.

But the discussions of Genesis in Moyers' book, are otherwise hopelessly inconsistent with Jewish thinking. And since Genesis is, after all, the first book in the Jewish Torah, or Five Books of Moses, it's somewhat incomprehensible that Bill Moyers would consult just one Jewish authority, Rabbi Burton Visotzky. Then again, I once heard Moyers dismiss Judaism as the product of an "angry G-d," which was repaired by the coming of Christ. So it's not surprising that Moyers presents by and large extremely negative views of the Genesis stories, making all those people sound devilish.

Consider for example Moyers' take on the story of Abraham and Isaac.

According to him, G-d is angry and unforgiving. Moyers furthermore condemns Abraham as a mere trickster hiding "behind his wife's skirts" and resorting to cunning.

There are, however, many other rabbinical interpretations of Abraham and Isaac story in Genesis, Chapter 22. One of the best, to my mind, is offered by W. Gunther Plaut in his 1981 English-opening edition of The Torah: A Modern Commentary and The Torah: Genesis.

Plaut correctly notes that the first command to Abraham "issued by Elohim---the generic term for G-d or gods---and the command is one that other elohim could and did make" during Abraham's era.

However, when Abraham is about to perform the sacrifice, "it is Abraham's G-d, Adonai, who stays his hand." In other words, the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob "not only rejects the sacrifice of a son by a father, but rejects, as well, its use as a theological theme. This is in stark contrast to Eastern religions...in which a father's sacrificial gift of his son plays an important role."

Thus, Plaut concludes that the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob rejected the contemporary norms of Biblical times, together with any and all acts of child sacrifice.

Plaut's interpretation makes eminent sense, whereas Moyers attempts to discredit the lessons embedded in Genesis, particularly that of Abraham and Isaac.

Whereas Moyers constructs a vindictive, dead conversation on Genesis, Plaut genuinely reflects living Judaism.

While individual rabbinical scholars may disagree over varied interpretations of Biblical passages, for millennia Jewish sages such as Rashi and Maimonides have agreed that Torah is open to interpretation. Indeed, they encourage interpretation, teaching that the faithful should deeply question holy texts. The goal, over time: for each person to reach fuller and deeper understanding of HaShem (literally, "The Name" [of G-d]). In large measure, thus has the living, loving Jewish faith --- always in pursuit of truth, peace and justice --- evolved.

It's a terrible shame that Rabbi Visotzky allowed Moyers to get away with this nonsense.

The book has nice art work, though.

---Alyssa A. Lappen
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A true conversation, October 21, 2006
Bill is an extraordinary visionary. What a thought to bring together scholars from multiple religions to talk about Genesis. This is a must read. The conversation is insightful and enlightening. No wonder Fundamentalists dislike Bill. He is fully inclusive and working to build bridges across the chasm of beliefs. Understanding will only be built through learning conversations, not by intolerance.
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Genesis: A living Coversation (Pbs Series)
Genesis: A living Coversation (Pbs Series) by Bill D. Moyers (Audio Cassette - February 27, 1997)
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