Emory University
Spring 1993 
Max: 15; Writing requirement: Yes
Professor David R. Blumenthal
W 7:30 - 10:00
at professor's home


We will spend the entire semester examining the story of creation as related in Genesis, chapters one and two. We will pay special attention to the great medieval commentators -- Rashi, Ramban, and Ibn Ezra -- who raised the basic exegetical and theological questions that have made the creation narrative a centerpiece of western thought for milennia.


  • Bible
  • copies of the relevant commentaries will be provided


This is an in-depth course. We will read this central text very closely and consider the textual and philosophical problems carefully. Class participation is expected. One final paper.


Jan 13 Introduction and learning how to read the text

assn.: The first day with Rashi and Ibn Ezra

Jan 20 The first day

assn.: The second day with Rashi and Ibn Ezra

Jan. 27 The second day

assn.: The third day with Rashi and Ibn Ezra

Feb. 3 The third day

assn.: The fourth day with Rashi and Ibn Ezra

Feb. 10 The fourth day

assn.: The fifth day with Rashi and Ibn Ezra

Feb. 17 The fifth day

assn.: The sixth day with Rashi and Ibn Ezra

Feb. 24 The sixth day

assn.: The seventh day with Rashi and Ibn Ezra

Mar. 3 The seventh day

assn.: Genesis, chapter 2, with Rashi and Ibn Ezra

Mar. 10 (no class; spring recess)

Mar. 17 Genesis, chapter 2

assn.: The first and second days with Ramban

Mar. 24 The first and second days

Assn.: The third and fourth days with Ramban

Mar. 31 The third and fourth days

Assn.: The fifth and sixth days with Ramban

Apr. 7 (no class; Passover)

Apr. 14 The fifth and sixth days

Assn.: The seventh day and chapter two with Ramban

Apr. 21 The seventh day and chapter two

Final papers due:


Syllabus Supplement for Graduate Studnets

(1) Graduate students will be responsible for following up all cross-references to the Talmud and various midrashim. They will be responsible for the context of such quotations.

(2) Graduate students may select any additional medieval rabbinic commentary and will be responsible for presenting the views of that commentary to the class when called upon.

(3) Graduate students are expected to write full-length papers at the end of the semester analyzing all the relevant commentators on a passage not studied in class. Such exegetical work should be publishable in form and in content.

Religion 341: Medieval Jewish Exegesis, Genesis 1

Spring, 1993

Final Exam


This examination is in two parts; please do both.

Please have it typed. There is no special rule about length.

The exam is due in my office May 3rd, 5:00 p.m.; those who need until May 5th, 5:00 p.m. may take that time without special permission; SENIORS !!!

You may consult with any books your wish; you may not consult with one another. The Emory Honor Code is in effect for this exam.

Part One: Re-narrating Creation.

(1) Create three files entitled:

  • "The Traditional Narrative,"
  • "Rashi's Narrative," and
  • "Ibn Ezra's Narrative."

COPY (do not cut) and paste from whatever files you are now using into each of these three files material for all seven days of creation.

(2) Edit each file for the following:

  • Put in the verse numbers for each of the files.
  • Leave an extra space between each day.
  • Correct the English, e.g., comma, quotation marks, capital letter.
  • Make sure the text is consistent, e.g., "see / saw / perceived / finished"; the ending of each day.
  • Make quotations from God into quotations.

(3) Edit each file for the following too:

  • Make the narrative complete;
  • Make the English flow -- to do this, read your narratives out loud.

This is harder than it looks; effort counts.

Part Two: Using Our Skills

(1) Study Chapter 2, verses 7 and 8 with Rashi and Ibn Ezra.

(2) Copy out the two verses.

(3) Explain each of the comments, as best you can, identifying the question implied in the comment and the answer as given by Rashi.

(4) Do the same for Ibn Ezra.

(5) Follow references; check as many other sources as you wish; don't forget to consult your own work on the parallel section in chapter one.

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