8 points about the book of Genesis

  1. In a nutshell: God makes the universe, earth, animals and humans in seven days.
  2. Key quote, Genesis, chapter 1, verse 1 (AKJV): “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”
  3. Genesis contains the story of the Garden of Eden, which is one of the most famous stories ever told.
  4. The story in a few lines: God creates Adam, the first man, and then Eve, from Adam’s rib, as a mate for Adam. He allows Adam and Eve to roam freely in Eden — the paradise he has created — but forbids them to eat from the tree of knowledge. Eve is persuaded by the serpent (the devil or Satan) to eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge by saying that she will become as knowledgeable as God. Eve eats the apple and then persuades Adam to eat it too so that they are equal. God sees that they are covering up their nakedness and that they are ashamed. He knows that they’ve eaten from the tree. He punishes them by ordering that men will have to work very hard to have enough to eat, women will always suffer in childbirth and humans will die. He makes the serpent crawl on its belly.
  5. A patriarchal text? The text is seen by many critics as ‘patriarchal’ in that women are not represented in a positive light within in it. Key quote: Genesis, chapter 3, verse 16: “To the woman God said, ‘I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labour you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.’”
  6. The story has influenced countless writers. This is one of the most significant stories ever written and is constantly referenced in poetry, plays and novels.
  7. Original sin. St Augustine interpreted this story as meaning that everyone born after Adam and Eve is born into sin because their sin has been passed on to all their descendants. He called this “original sin”: this is a very important idea in Christianity and many Christians still believe in it as a concept. However, non-conformist Christian writers like William Blake (1757-1827) rejected the idea as being deeply oppressive. Look for references to “forbidden fruit”, paradise, original sin.
  8. Teaching ideas: get students to re-write the story in the modern day; to analyse what it is about (the loss of innocence/rule-breaking etc.); look for influences in other stories, the trope of loss of innocence is central to many stories, particularly ones about childhood.

 

garden-of-eden

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About @wonderfrancis

Francis Gilbert is a Lecturer in Education at Goldsmiths, University of London, teaching on the PGCE Secondary English programme. He also teaches the Creative Writing module on the MA in Children’s Literature, which is run by Maggie Pitfield and Professor Michael Rosen. Previously, he worked for a quarter of a century in various English state schools teaching English and Media Studies to 11-18 year olds. He has, at times, moonlighted as a journalist, novelist and social commentator. He is the author of ‘Teacher On The Run’, ‘Yob Nation’, ‘Parent Power’, ‘Working The System -- How To Get The Very Best State Education for Your Child’, and a novel about school, ‘The Last Day Of Term’. His first book, ‘I'm A Teacher, Get Me Out Of Here’ was a big hit, becoming a bestseller and being serialised on Radio 4. In his role as an English teacher, he has taught many classic texts over the years and has developed a great many resources to assist readers with understanding, appreciating and responding to them both analytically and creatively. This led him to set up his own small publishing company FGI Publishing (fgipublishing.com) which has published his study guides as well as a number of books by other authors, including Roger Titcombe’s ‘Learning Matters’ and anthology of creative writing 'The Gold Room'. He is the co-founder, with Melissa Benn and Fiona Millar, of The Local Schools Network, www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk, a blog that celebrates non-selective state schools, and has his own website, www.francisgilbert.co.uk. He has appeared numerous times on radio and TV, including Newsnight, the Today Programme, Woman’s Hour and the Russell Brand Show. In June 2015, he was awarded a PhD in Creative Writing and Education by Goldsmiths.
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