By Hugh S. Pyper
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Additional info for The Unchained Bible: Cultural Appropriations of Biblical Texts
Indeed, the story of cosmic origins to be found in Genesis is, in Rashi’s view, something that the nations need, not Israel. It is the question of those outside Israel and the story is only necessary to counter the animosity of those who think that Israel’s claim to land is based on conquest rather than being part of the order set out by God. Israel is not interested in its origins in that sense. Indeed, Rashi goes further and denies that the story of Gen 1 is setting out some kind of systematic record of creation.
Two examples of wellknown canons illustrate this point. The Quran begins ¿rst with a prayer to Allah and then with the Sura entitled “The Cow”: 36 Unchained Bible [The Opening] In the name of Allah, the Bene¿cent, the Merciful. All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. The Bene¿cent, the Merciful. Master of the Day of Judgment. Thee do we serve and Thee do we beseech for help. Keep us on the right path. The path of those upon whom Thou hast bestowed favors. Not (the path) of those upon whom Thy wrath is brought down, nor of those who go astray.
Each biblical book, each chapter, begins in that it has a ¿rst word, but do they all begin in the same sense? Is the beginning of a prophetic book, of Lamentations, of Psalms, a beginning in the same sense as the beginning of Joshua or Ruth? In a broader sweep, the Bible seems to be full of new beginnings, or beginning again. The whole story told in the Torah and the Deuteronomistic history begins again in Chronicles, for instance. But if we have to begin again, did we ever really begin in the ¿rst place?