Discovering Genesis 1: The Polemic Language of Genesis
In his opening lecture, Professor Neiman examines the intriguing ways in which the author of the first chapter of Genesis uses loaded, polemic language to starkly contrast Israelite cosmology with the pervasive pagan cosmologies of the first millennium B.C.E. While the Canaanites, Greeks and Babylonians turned natural phenomena into a multitude of gods and goddesses whose struggles and conflicts played out on a mythological stage, the Israelite cosmology saw only one God who was responsible for all of creation. And while pagan traditions traced humanity’s descent from a host of gods and demigods, the writer of Genesis 1 insists that all humans are descended from two people, Adam and Eve, who made the choice to be intelligent, morally-aware beings.
Dr. David Neiman (1921–2004) was professor of Jewish theology at Boston College and specialized in a broad range of fields, including archaeology, Biblical studies, Jewish history and Catholic-Jewish relations. He also organized Boston College’s Institute of Biblical Archeology and participated in nearly a dozen archaeological excavations in Israel. He was the author of Domestic Relations in Antiquity (Little Acorns Press, 1994) as well as a commentary and selected translation of the Book of Job (Massada, 1972). He also wrote several important articles for the Encyclopedia Judaica. His lectures on the Book of Genesis were delivered in 2000 at the University of Judaism in Bel Air, CA.