JWST 207 Fall 2014 From Adam to Noah: Literary Imagination and the Primeval History in Genesis

Cross Listed as COMP250, REL207, CLAS207
How long did Adam and Eve live in the Garden of Eden? What was the mark of Cain? Why did Enoch not die? Who was Noah's wife? How did Giants survive the Flood? These are only a few of the fascinating questions that ancient readers and interpreters of the Book of Genesis asked and attempted to answer. The first ten chapters of Genesis present a tantalizingly brief narrative account of the earliest history of humankind. The text moves swiftly from the Creation to the Flood and its immediate aftermath, but this masterful economy of style leaves many details unexplained. This course will explore the rich and varied literary traditions associated with the primeval history in the Genesis. Through a close reading of ancient noncanonical sources such as the Book of Enoch, Jubilees, and the Life of Adam and Eve, as well as Jewish traditions represented in Josephus, Philo, and Rabbinic literature and other accounts presented in early Christian and Gnostic texts, we will investigate the ways in which the elliptical style of Genesis generated a massive body of ancient folklore, creative exegesis, and explicit literary re-imagining of the early history of humankind. We will then turn to several continuations of these variant traditions in medieval and early modern literature, with particular attention to the extensive material on the figures of Cain and Noah. All readings are in translation.
Class Format: discussion
Requirements/Evaluation: evaluation will be based on class participation and several writing assignments
Additional Info: core course for COMP
Additional Info2:
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preference: students who have already taken a course in Biblical literature
Department Notes:
Material and Lab Fees:
Distribution Notes: meets Division 2 requirement if registration is under REL or JWST; meets Division 1 requirement if registration is under COMP or CLAS
Divisional Attributes: Division II
Other Attributes: ARAB Arabic Studies Electives, JWST Core Electives,REL Jewish Tradition Courses
Enrollment Limit: 19
Expected Enrollment: 19
Class Number: 1721
JWST 207 - 01 (F) LEC From Adam to Noah Division 2: Social Studies Edan Dekel
TR 09:55 AM-11:10 AM Greylock Makepeace 1721
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