CREATION: Chapters Two and Three


Emory University
Spring 2002
Max: 20
Professor David R. Blumenthal (
Teaching Assistant: Ms. Sally Chambers (
T, Th 1:00 -2:15


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




Introduction -- Jan 17

The Creation of the World -- Gen. 2: 4-7 with commentaries -- Jan 22, 24, 29

The Garden and the Trees -- Gen. 2: 8-17 with commentaries -- Jan. 31, Feb. 5, 7, 12

Open class -- Feb. 14

Creation of the Woman -- Gen. 2:18-25 with commentaries -- Feb. 19, 21, 28

Purim -- The Book of Esther -- Feb. 26

The Sin -- Gen. 3:1-7 with commentaries -- Mar. 5, 7, 19

Spring recess, no class -- Mar. 12, 14

The Confrontation with God -- Gen. 3: 8-21 with commentaries -- Mar. 21, 26, Apr. 2, 9

Passover, no class -- Mar. 28, Apr. 4

The Expulsion -- Gen. 3:22-24 with commentaries -- Apr. 11

Midrashic Echoes -- Apr. 16, 18, 23, 25

Final papers due:




(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.


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