Cover image for Genesis
Towner, W. Sibley (Wayne Sibley), 1933-
First edition.
Publication Information:
Louisville, Ky. : Westminster John Knox Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
x, 296 pages ; 23 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BS1235.3 .T69 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Not only does the book of Genesis begin our Bible, but it also can serve to begin the discussion of a variety of important topics as well: the question of origins, tensions between genders and between siblings, the reality of sin, the saga of human family, and the promise of God's covenant. In this perceptive and helpful commentary, W. Sibley Towner relates the theological issues in Genesis to faith issues in the church today.

Books in the Westminster Bible Companion series assist laity in their study of the Bible as a guide to Christian faith and practice. Each volume explains the biblical book in its original historical context and explores its significance for faithful living today. These books are ideal for individual study and for Bible study classes and groups.

Table of Contents

Series Forewordp. ix
Introductionp. 1
Ancient Near Eastern Myth and Genesisp. 3
The Process of Oral Transmission and Its Mediap. 4
Early Theologians of Israel and Their Literary Legaciesp. 7
How This Commentary Will Help Youp. 9
Part 1 The Beginnings
1. Creation by God's Word: Genesis 1:1-2:4ap. 13
Day One: Creation out of Something (1:1-5)p. 15
Creation from Nothingp. 18
Randomness and Orderp. 19
Relationshipsp. 21
Days Two through Five: Moving to Culmination (1:6-23)p. 21
Day Six: Beasts and Earth Creatures (1:24-31)p. 24
Day Seven: Sabbath (2:1-4a)p. 30
2. Creation from the Dust: Genesis 2:4b-25p. 33
The Human Vocation according to J (2:4b-9, 15-17)p. 34
The True Nature of Sexuality (2:18-25)p. 36
3. Humanity Goes Awry: Genesis 3:1-24p. 41
Temptation and "Fall" (3:1-7)p. 42
Confrontation and Curse (3:8-19)p. 45
Paradise Lost but Grace Regained (3:20-24)p. 48
Some Further Thoughts on "The Fall"p. 49
4. The Family Goes Awry: Genesis 4:1-26p. 55
Cain and Abel (4:1-16)p. 56
Cain's Family Tree (4:17-26)p. 65
5. The Human Family before the Flood: Genesis 5:1-32p. 72
Reflections on Biblical Chronologyp. 75
6. Genetics Goes Awry: Genesis 6:1-9:29p. 77
Two Causes for the Flood (6:1-8)p. 77
The Flood (6:9-8:19)p. 85
Never Again! God's First Covenant with Noah (8:20-22)p. 91
Will It Be Fire Next Time?p. 93
Over the Rainbow: God's Second Covenant with Noah (9:1-17)p. 94
Noah and His Sons (9:18-29)p. 98
Israel and Canaanp. 99
7. The Human Family after the Flood: Genesis 10:1-32p. 101
8. Human Solidarity Gone Awry: Genesis 11:1-9p. 107
Reflections on Human Alienationp. 113
9. From Human Family to One Family: Genesis 11:10-32p. 117
Part 2 The Fathers and Mothers: An Overview of the Saga of the Fathers and the Mothersp. 125
10. The Saga of Abraham and Sarah: Genesis 12:1-23:20p. 133
The Election of Abram (12:1-4a)p. 133
Covenant and Electionp. 137
The Lord's First Promise to Abram (12:4b-9)p. 138
The Ungainly Story of Abram and Sarai in Egypt (12:10-20)p. 140
The Lord's Second Promise to Abram (13:1-18)p. 143
Abram and the Kings (14:1-24)p. 145
The Lord's Third Promise to Abram (15:1-21)p. 148
Abraham and His Faith in the New Testamentp. 150
Reflections on Biblical Interpretationp. 156
The Rejected Mother and Son: Hagar and Ishmael (16:1-16)p. 157
Covenant, New Names, Promise of a Son (17:1-18:15)p. 162
The Rejection of Sodom and Gomorrah (18:16-19:29)p. 170
Incest Blots the Family Tree (19:30-38)p. 174
The Ungainly Story Twice Told (20:1-18)p. 175
Isaac Comes, Ishmael Goes (21:1-21)p. 177
Theological Reflections on Hagar and Ishmaelp. 179
Ishmael in Judaism and Islamp. 181
Abraham Makes Peace with His Neighbors (21:22-34)p. 183
Isaac under the Knife (22:1-19, 20-24)p. 184
The Akedah in the Artsp. 190
Sarah's Death and Burial at Hebron (23:1-20)p. 191
11. The Saga of Isaac and Rebekah: Genesis 24:1-28:9p. 193
Romancing Rebekah at the Well (24:1-67)p. 194
The End of Abraham and the Destiny of Ishmael (25:1-18)p. 198
Sibling Rivalry between the Twins Esau and Jacob (25:19-34)p. 199
The Ungainly Story Thrice Told and Other Miscellanies (26:1-35)p. 201
Isaac's Legacy (27:1-40)p. 203
Jacob's Flight and Esau's Marriage (27:41-28:9)p. 208
12. The Saga of Jacob and Rachel: Genesis 28:10-36:43p. 210
Jacob Returns to the Source, via Bethel (28:10-22)p. 213
Romancing Rachel at the Well (29:1-30)p. 216
Rachel and Leah, the Mothers of All Israel (29:31-30:24)p. 223
Rivalry between Jacob and Laban (30:25-32:2)p. 225
Preliminaries for Peace with Esau (32:3-21)p. 228
Jacob Wrestles with "A Man" (32:22-32)p. 229
Jacob and Esau Are Reconciled (33:1-20)p. 231
Rape and Revenge at Shechem (34:1-31)p. 232
Rachel Dies, and an Era Ends (35:1-29)p. 235
The Descendants of Esau (36:1-43)p. 237
13. The Story of Joseph and His Brothers: Genesis 37:1-50:26p. 241
Joseph Dreams of Glory and Pays for It (37:1-36)p. 245
A Digression: Judah and Tamar (38:1-30)p. 249
Joseph Turns Down Potiphar's Wife and Pays for It (39:1-23)p. 253
Strategies for Discerning the Theological Values in Genesis 39p. 257
Joseph and Potiphar's Wife in Artp. 258
Joseph Interprets Dreams and Gains by It (40:1-41:57)p. 259
Joseph Discloses Himself to His Brothers (42:1-45:28)p. 264
Jacob Moves to Egypt (46:1-47:28)p. 270
Jacob Prepares to Die (47:29-48:22)p. 274
Jacob's Last Words and His Death (49:1-33)p. 278
The Happy Ending of the Joseph Story (50:1-26)p. 285
Further Reflections on Genesis 50:20p. 290
Works Citedp. 293