“Genesis for Normal People” E-Book Released Monday

I mentioned a few weeks ago that Jared Byas & I had an e-book coming out soon through Patheos Press. Well, the time is nigh. It will be available on Monday through Amazon. It will only be $1.99 for the first few days so be sure to pick up a copy early next week. Here is a short excerpt from the first chapter:

“Genesis is an ancient story. This may sound like an obvious or even patronizing way to begin. Of course it’s an ancient story. But once we look at what this means, that short phrase might be the most important thing to remember about Genesis. It will guide the rest of this book, showing us how to approach Genesis and what we should expect from it.

Depending on our past exposure to the Bible, some of us might approach Genesis expecting to find a detailed account of history as though it’s a modern textbook. Of course, by calling Genesis a story, we are not saying anything about whether it is historical or fictional. Any book about the American Revolution or the Cuban Missile Crisis is just as much a story as Herman Melville’s classic Moby Dick or even the sitcom “Modern Family.” But Genesis is not a textbook—history, science, or otherwise. Let the teenager in us rejoice.

Instead of a textbook, some of us might approach Genesis as a book of principles to teach us how to live. But if we approach a story like a book of principles, it is likely we will find ourselves wanting to know what every passage “means for me.” Imagine trying to watch a riveting blockbuster or a moving drama while pausing it every five minutes to ponder how that scene might apply to your life. Stories do apply to our lives, perhaps more than any other form of literature, but not as abstract principles or proverbs. They apply when our personal story collides with them, when we get lost in the world they present to us.

So when we read Genesis as an ancient story, written at a particular time to a particular people, it opens up possibilities and worlds we don’t encounter in our limited existence. When we stop using Genesis as an argument, a textbook, or a code of conduct, and begin to see it as an ancient story—with memorable characters, twists and turns, ups and downs, accomplishments and mistakes—we find it fresh, deep, and more true and relevant than we might expect.”


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  • S Wu

    Dr Enns, I would be very interested in this book. Just finished reading your The Evolution of Adam. I really like it. I came from a non-Western culture, although I have now lived in the West for a long time. I had read the Bible many times before I did any theological training, and I think my pre-seminary reading of Scripture shaped my reading of the Bible immensely – and it still does. I would not have read Genesis in terms of modern science. But at the same time Genesis puzzled me in many ways. But when some years ago I heard about the ANE backgrounds of the text, it made a lot of sense to me. It is because I am familiar with temples and images in temples. With my cultural background and with my reading of Isaiah 66:1 and what Jesus about heaven being God’s throne and the earth being his footstool, Genesis makes a lot of sense when I read it with the ANE backgrounds. Therefore, your book makes a lot of sense to me. And I really think that I would have agreed with much of your book even if I have never done an Old Testament Introduction class.

    The question I have in mind regarding your book – and I think your eBook may well answer it – is whether someone without theological training from a non-Western culture would readily understand one particular interpretive method in your book. As I said, in my case I can get the ANE worldview. But I know I need theological training to understand why it helps to understand Genesis from the perspective of exilic Israel. (Sorry if I have misunderstood your book in any way here.) In my mind, this is not crucial. For even without theological training I would agree with most of what you say in your book. But I am not sure whether my elderly father would read the OT in the way you have suggested (ie. read Genesis from the perspective of Israel in/after exile).

    Anyhow, that’s my question. I look forward to reading your eBook for answers. (Again, thank you for your contribution to the current discussions on Genesis.)

  • Looking forward to it Pete!


    • peteenns

      Thanks, John. I’m looking forward to you buying it 🙂

  • Dr. Enns,

    I’m very interested in buying your ebook. I just finished reading “The Evolution of Adam” (loved it, by the way), so I was curious how this latest release differs from “Adam.” Thanks for your time!

    • peteenns

      It’s on the entire book and doesn’t discuss the evolution issue at all.

  • Actually, it’s available nowon amazon.com. Just bought it for a cool buck ninety-nine.

    • peteenns

      Yeah, I found that out too. The “official” release date is Monday, but Amazon always does it a few days early.

  • Bev Mitchell

    Picked it up yesterday. Looking forward to it. I can’t resist any book for 1.99

  • Well I just picked it up as well. Pete I would have paid at least another dollar so you and Jared could make anoter 4 bits apiece off of it.:-)
    I sure hope you sell tons of it to make it worth you effort.

    • peteenns

      Thanks. The price is going up soon enough.

  • Alex

    I don’t have an e-book reader. Will it be available in PDF or print format sometime later?

    • peteenns

      Alex, you can download for free a kindle reader for your computer. That’s how I read kindle books on my iPad.

  • Peter

    Was really enjoying the Erasmus Lecture last night when my computer crashed (it had crashed while watching something else on You Tube earlier last evening, too). Either way, here it is, up and running this morning and you’ve reminded me to buy “Genesis for Normal People.” Looking forward to it.

  • sarah

    thanks so much for using the word ‘story.’ i am so sick of ‘narrative’ everywhere, and applaud the use of plain language. i might actually read this!

    • peteenns

      A lot of plain language in this book, Sarah.

  • caro

    $4.59 allready? 🙂