In this vivid new interpretation of Genesis, former Episcopal priest John R. Coats looks at the ancient text and its characters in a new light, as storiesabout people whose day-to-day concerns, triumphs, and failures are not unlike our own. In fact, understanding the people and stories of Genesis can help you understand your own life, family, and colleagues. In the relationships of Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, Rachel and Leah, and Joseph and his brothers, for instance, you can see an all too familiar escalation of the toxic sibling or even workplace rivalries that tear at the fabric of contemporary life. And in Abraham's ponderous response to the command to "Go forth," and Noah's unquestioning commitment to build the ark, you can revisit the question of your own life's path -- your calling.
In this vivid, original interpretation of Genesis, former Episcopal priest John R. Coats takes readers on a journey through the ancient text, inviting them to see its characters in a new light, not as religious icons, but as people whose day-to-day concerns, triumphs, and failures are like our own.
In Coats’s telling, the relationships of Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, Rachel and Leah, and Joseph and his brothers take on stunning contemporary relevance as these characters find themselves confronted with extraordinary situations and circumstances that they’d neither asked for nor had anything to say about. Using stories from his life as well as the lives of people he’s known, Coats creates a rubric you can use to examine your own life and to discover aspects of yourself in the characters whose lives unfold in these primordial stories. How has Eve’s story shaped yours? Is your life reflected in Jacob’s evolution to wisdom? In Joseph’s youthful arrogance? Coats explores the strengths and weaknesses of the men and women in Genesis, pulling back the wrappings that have hidden their humanity to reveal the vibrant drama of these foundational narratives. "Different clothing, yes, and language, and customs, yet at the human level," he writes, "they were just as greedy and generous as we are, as gullible and crafty, as moronic and brilliant, as cowardly and brave. They are us, their stories, our stories, mirrors in which to see our best and worst selves."
John R. Coats holds master’s degrees from Virginia Theological Seminary (Episcopal) and Bennington College Writing Seminars. A former parish priest, he was a principal speaker and seminar leader for the More to Life training program in the United States, Great Britain, and South Africa, and an independent management consultant. The More To Life/Kairos Foundation is a non-profit educational charity which aims to help people connect their daily lives with their highest values and sponsors personal development training programs on four continents. Coats was involved with the program from 1981 to 1995; as a senior trainer, he lead over 300 weekend intensives, working with about 30,000 people, and today remains well connected with the program as well as with people he worked in such places as California, London, South Africa, Knoxville, Atlanta and Houston. He lives with his wife, Pamela, in Houston, Texas.
An entertaining narrative voice, personal reflections from the authors life and insightful interpretations combine to produce this accessible and lively new addition to Genesis scholarship. Coats, a former parish priest and management consultant, cogently applies source theorythe hypothesis that four separate documents went into the first five books of the Bibleto familiar stories whose ethical and spiritual DNA seeps through Western culture. Through his approach, the author makes complex biblical scholarship comprehensible, while challenging the reader to examine the actual text. Asserting that biblical characters are rather relentless in their mirroring, Coats uses second-person hooks (Imagine yourself as the first human being) to invite readers to use their own perspective to interpret the text. Cheeky chapter headings entice and inform; First, about the ark, which is most definitely not a boat begins his analysis of Noah and the flood. While cultural references from Maimonides to Mae West spice up the narrative, Coatss exploration of how his own history and self-understanding inform his interpretations makes the most compelling reading. His reflections on his own aging and his analysis of the stories of Noah and Abraham prove compelling and thought provoking. (Nov. 17) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
"This engaging, well-written retelling of the Genesis story...uses conclusions of modern biblical criticism to emphasize the human story of the biblical narrative as myth from which nonreligious and religious alike can gain psychological insight and wisdom… His contemporary life comparisons [are] enlightening... Readers…will revel in his insights." --Library Journal