The Formation of Genesis 1-11: Biblical and Other Precursors
by David M Carr 2020
About the Author
David M. Carr is Professor of Old Testament at Union Theological Seminary in New York. His previous publications include Holy Resilience: The Bible’s Traumatic Origins (2014), The Formation of the Hebrew Bible: A New Reconstruction (Oxford University Press, 2011), An Introduction to the Old Testament: Sacred Texts and Imperial Contexts of the Hebrew Bible (2010); An Introduction to the Bible: Sacred Texts and Imperial Contexts (2010); Writing on the Tablet of the Heart: Origins of Scripture and Literature (Oxford 2005); The Erotic Word: Sexuality, Spirituality and the Bible (Oxford, 2003); Reading the Fractures of Genesis: Historical and Literary Approaches (1996); and From D to Q: A Study of Early Jewish Interpretations of Solomon’s Dream at Gibeon (1991).
About the Book
“All of the methodological precision, understanding of the ancient world, and exegetical incisiveness that we have come to expect from David Carr is on display in this comprehensive and thought-provoking exploration of Genesis 1-11. This is Carr at his best.” — Joel Baden, Professor of Hebrew Bible, Yale University
“The Primeval History in the book of Genesis is probably the most well-known text in world literature and has been the subject of many studies. Nevertheless, David Carr offers a fresh and innovative approach to the first eleven chapters of the Bible, reconstructing brilliantly their history of composition in a constant dialogue with international scholarship. The book offers the most up-to-date discussion of exegetical problems in Genesis 1-11 and is a must-read for anyone studying these biblical chapters.” — Konrad Schmid, Professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Judaism, University of Zurich
“At first glance, David Carr presents a series of highly interesting essays that offer an equally familiar and fresh approach to Gen 1-11. But the whole is more than the sum of its parts, it is a well-founded thesis on the formation of biblical primeval history. Here and there one may interpret the complexities of the biblical text in a different way, but one will not be able to avoid dealing with David Carr’s well-presented and balanced arguments.” — Jan Christian Gertz, Full Professor of Old Testament Studies / Hebrew Bible, Universität Heidelbergt the Book
There is general agreement in the field of Biblical studies that study of the formation of the Pentateuch is in disarray. David M. Carr turns to the Genesis Primeval History, Genesis 1-11, to offer models for the formation of Pentateuchal texts that may have traction within this fractious context. Building on two centuries of historical study of Genesis 1-11, this book provides new support for the older theory that the bulk of Genesis 1-11 was created out of a combination of two originally separate source strata: a Priestly source and an earlier non-Priestly source that was used to supplement the Priestly framework. Though this overall approach contradicts some recent attempts to replace such source models with theories of post-Priestly scribal expansion, Carr does find evidence of multiple layers of scribal revision in the non-P and P sources, from the expansion of an early independent non-Priestly primeval history with a flood narrative and related materials to a limited set of
identifiable layers of Priestly material that culminate in the P-like redaction of the whole. This book synthesizes prior scholarship to show how both the P and non-Priestly strata of Genesis also emerged out of a complex interaction by Judean scribes with non-biblical literary traditions, particularly with Mesopotamian textual traditions about primeval origins. The Formation of Genesis 1-11 makes a significant contribution to scholarship on one of the most important texts in the Hebrew Bible and will influence models for the formation of the Hebrew Bible as a whole.