Armed with the laws of literary structuralism and of oral epic, critics have recently attacked the long-standing consensus that Genesis was sewn together after the Babylonian captivity by a tendentious editor, competent but careless of internal consistency. Vawter, of De Paul University, stays with most of the experts and the documentary theory, but has taken the new criticism into account. The book's point of view is eloquently stated in an introductory section: the compilation of Genesis was engendered by recent historical experience, independent of the materials from which it was fashioned; the compiler and his audience found in these materials insight and resonances that illuminated that experience. While to read the vast mass of ancient Near East myth, saga, and legend is like chewing sawdust, this Genesis selection when incorporated into the Biblical continuity has a universal and perennial appeal. Vawter examines the whole of the text with a wealth of historical and critical expertise. The book's only faults are the chatty style of the commentary and a certain flat-footedness when it comes to a good story. But if something a little more sophisticated than the ""ordinary reader"" the preface refers to is needed, it is still quite accessible and could restore Genesis to the enjoyment of many.