How to Read Genesis, By Tremper Longman III
How to Read Genesis
  • Length: 192 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5 × 8.25 in
  • Published: May 12, 2005
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: 0943
  • ISBN: 9780877849438

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Creation in six days

Woman from the side of man

"Sons of god" taking "daughters of men"

A massive disaster and an animal rescue boat of biblical proportions

Abraham, Sarah, Hagar and the ongoing saga of a dysfunctional family

These are just a few of the episodes that Genesis conjures up. But we miss the point if we focus on what seems strange to us. And we distort the message if we demand that this book answer questions that are strange to it. To read Genesis intelligently, we must consider the questions, the literature and the times in which Genesis was written.

In How to Read Genesis Tremper Longman III provides a welcome guide to reading and studying, understanding and savoring this panorama of beginnings--of both the world and of Israel. And importantly for Christian readers, we gain insight into how Genesis points to Christ and can be read in light of the gospel.

This book helped me think through some cirtical issues in new ways and helped me understand that many of the questions we want Genesis to answer aren't what the book is trying to address. More importantly, I felt that it gave me a handle on what Genesis was trying to communicate both to the original readers and me.

The Book Blog, (, October 6, 2008

. . .is written in a way that allows any minister or teacher of the Word as well as any educated layperson to enter the world of contemporary Old Testament scholarship.

Daniel R. Hyde, Calvin Theological Journal, April 2008

In a mere 175 pages, Longman considers the issues surrounding the reading of Genesis in an easily accessible manner. . . .good reading for any layman seeking to know more about this most pivotal text of the Bible.

Mutsugoro, January 23, 2008

Longman sheds fresh light on overly familiar stories in an interesting and readable manner. He presents competing theological understandings of Genesis fairly (in my opinion). Most importantly, he leads the reader into actually reading Genesis, after reading about it.

Dolores Klinsky Walker, Pioneer United Methodist Church, Walla Walla, WA, National Church Library Association, April 11, 2007,

Longman does a good job of addressing critical arguments about author and date in an accessible way . . . Longman deserves praise for giving laymen the tools to engage the Bible more thoughtfully.

Modern Reformation, March/April 2006



Part 1: Reading Genesis with a Strategy
1. Understanding the Book of "Beginnings"

Part II: Reading Genesis as Literature
2. Who Wrote Genesis?
3. The Shape of the Book of Genesis

Part III: Reading Genesis in Its Own World
4. Myth or History? Genesis and the Enuma Elish
5. Noah and Utnapishtim: Whose Flood Story Should We Trust?
6. Abraham and Nuzi: Patriarchal Customs in Their Cultural Context

Part IV: Reading Genesis as God's Story
7. The Primeval History: Genesis 1--11
8. The Patriarchal Narratives: Genesis 12--36
9. The Joseph Story: Genesis 37--50

Part V: Reading Genesis as Christians
10. The Christological Difference

Appendix: Commentaries on the Book of Genesis
Names Index
Subject Index
Scripture Index


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Tremper Longman III

Tremper Longman III (PhD, Yale University) is Distinguished Scholar and Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California. He is the author or coauthor of over thirty books, including How to Read Genesis, How to Read Proverbs, Literary Approaches to Biblical Interpretation, and Old Testament Essentials.