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READING GENESIS by Marilynne Robinson Kirkus Star


by Marilynne Robinson

Pub Date: March 12th, 2024
ISBN: 9780374299408
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

A deeply thoughtful exploration of the first book of the Bible.

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. Robinson approaches Genesis with a reverence and level of faith uncommon to modern mainstream writers, yet she’s also equipped with the appropriate tools for cogent criticism. Throughout this luminous exegesis, which will appeal to all practicing Christians, the author discusses overarching themes in Genesis. First is the benevolence of God. Robinson points out that “to say that God is the good creator of a good creation” sets the God of Genesis in opposition to the gods of other ancient creation stories, who range from indifferent to evil. This goodness carries through the entirety of Genesis, demonstrated through grace. “Grace tempers judgment,” writes the author, noting that despite well-deserved instances of wrath or punishment, God relents time after time. Another overarching theme is the interplay between God’s providence and humanity’s independence. Across the Book of Genesis, otherwise ordinary people make decisions that will affect the future in significant ways, yet events are consistently steered by God’s omnipotence. For instance, Joseph is sold into slavery by his brothers, and that action has reverberated throughout the history of all Jewish people. Robinson indirectly asks readers to consider where the line is between the actions of God and the actions of creation. “He chose to let us be,” she concludes, “to let time yield what it will—within the vast latitude granted by providence.”

In this highly learned yet accessible book, Robinson offers believers fresh insight into a well-studied text.