This commentary views the book of Genesis as a sacred text that, in conjunction with other biblical books, enabled the people of Judah/Israel to begin anew after the nation’s destruction by the Babylonian Empire.
In Genesis, the Creator God brings forth life by the Word alone. Stories of disaster and destruction, often a crux of interpretation, find new resonance when set against the backdrop of a nation scattered and in disarray, for they reflect the suffering and theological dilemmas of invasion and warfare. The promises of God to Abraham form the heart of the book and offer more than mere survival; they promise abundant life, children beyond counting, overflowing blessings, and life begun again in the land. Genesis is a profound resource of faith for all communities and individuals who have known loss and seek new life.
By any measure Kathleen O’Connor is among the best readers of text of her generation. She brings to her interpretive work a lively imagination, a playful sense of the dramatic, a keen awareness of the urgent crises of the day, and grounding in deep faith. She brings, moreover, two particular gifts to the commentary that serve in compelling ways to redefine the work and capacity of a commentary. First, she is steeped in “trauma study” and so sees how texts are responses to disaster. Second, she offers an artistic sensibility about language so that in her hands the text continues to be generative. This is a most welcome commentary that summons the reader to rich and probing interpretation that effectively finesses the gap between ancient and contemporary. It is a work of art.
Columbia Theological Seminary
The insightful and incisive Kathleen O'Connor has done it again—this is an engaging, scholarly interpretation of the book of Genesis that provides a fresh and generative lens for the ancient text. By reading the Joseph narratives in light of the traumatic experience of the survivors of the destruction and fraught rebuilding of Jerusalem, O'Connor provides timely, rich reflections that illuminate the world around us today. O'Connor's commentary is a rich treasure that will shape our reading of Genesis for many years to come.
Columbia Theological Seminary
In the second volume of her Genesis commentary, Kathleen O'Connor combines her keen exegetical insight with the same theological and pastoral sensitivity that characterizes her work on Lamentations and Jeremiah. By proposing an early Persian period audience for the book of Genesis, she illumines the stories of the wandering ancestors, highlighting the hope the book offers to a postexilic audience that was traumatized by generations of imperial turmoil and left in disarray. O'Connor offers a glimpse to modern readers of how biblical narrative helps the traumatized community reimagine a reordered future under the promises and providence of God.
—David G. Gerber, Jr.
McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University