The Genesis of Ethics

The Genesis of Ethics

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by Burton L. Visotzky
     
 

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One of America's most respected theologians guides readers through a close reading of the narratives of the Book of Genesis, exposing their brutal power and revealing how their moral dilemmas apply to ethical issues we face in our lives today.


From the Hardcover edition.

Overview

One of America's most respected theologians guides readers through a close reading of the narratives of the Book of Genesis, exposing their brutal power and revealing how their moral dilemmas apply to ethical issues we face in our lives today.


From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A peculiar attempt to study the book of Genesis as "an ugly little soap opera about a dysfunctional family."

Visotzky (Midrash and Interreligious Studies/Jewish Theological Seminary of America), who is known for his Bible study groups for the literati, goes out of his way to be non-Orthodox, unorthodox, and often offensive. He is to the art of biblical exegesis and ethical homiletics what Richard Bey and Jenny Jones are to psychoanalysis. The bad taste begins with boasts about rich seminar students like Ivan Boesky and is capped by his recollection of the time when his elderly grandfather's fourth wife burst into the room to announce to the family that her husband must be dying because he no longer wanted to have sex with her. The author quickly abandons the premise of a discussion of biblical texts to excoriate Abraham as a "scoundrel" who pimps for his whorish and servant-beating wife Sarah. In subsequent generations, Isaac, who is almost "murdered" by his dad, is traumatized by the "cruel ritual" of circumcision and meets his bride when he is "urinating in the field" (one of many mistranslations). Jacob, whose dream ladder is termed a phallic symbol, is "avaricious" and his "offspring derive from a slough of despondent amorality and dysfunction." Not surprisingly, dangerous Ishmael and Esau are depicted as loving, innocent victims. The most important and neglected character here, God, is called a "mean son of a bitch" and a "disagreeable godfather" with sinister plans.

Visotzky concludes with the admission that readers "will find my method in this book impudent, even blasphemous," but, consistent with his logic here, the author hopes that thrashing the Bible will increase its appeal as a tool of ethical teaching.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307556318
Publisher:
Potter/TenSpeed/Harmony
Publication date:
02/10/2010
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
1,054,567
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

Burton L. Visotzky holds the Nathan and Janet Appleman Chair of Midrash and Interreligious Studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. He lives in New York City.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Genesis of Ethics 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
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