Original Sinners: Why Genesis Still Matters

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9781439102107: Original Sinners: Why Genesis Still Matters
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In this vivid, original interpretation of Genesis, former Episcopal priest John R. Coats takes readers on a journey through the ancient text, inviting them to see its characters in a new light, not as religious icons, but as people whose day-to-day concerns, triumphs, and failures are like our own.

In Coats’s telling, the relationships of Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, Rachel and Leah, and Joseph and his brothers take on stunning contemporary relevance as these characters find themselves confronted with extraordinary situations and circumstances that they’d neither asked for nor had anything to say about. Using stories from his life as well as the lives of people he’s known, Coats creates a rubric you can use to examine your own life and to discover aspects of yourself in the characters whose lives unfold in these primordial stories. How has Eve’s story shaped yours? Is your life reflected in Jacob’s evolution to wisdom? In Joseph’s youthful arrogance? Coats explores the strengths and weaknesses of the men and women in Genesis, pulling back the wrappings that have hidden their humanity to reveal the vibrant drama of these foundational narratives. "Different clothing, yes, and language, and customs, yet at the human level," he writes, "they were just as greedy and generous as we are, as gullible and crafty, as moronic and brilliant, as cowardly and brave. They are us, their stories, our stories, mirrors in which to see our best and worst selves."

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In this vivid new interpretation of Genesis, former Episcopal priest John R. Coats looks at the ancient text and its characters in a new light, as stories about people whose day-to-day concerns, triumphs, and failures are not unlike our own. In fact, understanding the people and stories of Genesis can help you understand your own life, family, and colleagues. In the relationships between Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, Rachel and Leah, and Joseph and his brothers, for instance, you can see an all-too-familiar escalation of the toxic sibling or even workplace rivalries that tear at the fabric of contemporary life. And in Abraham's ponderous response to the command to Go forth and Noah's unquestioning commitment to build the ark, you can revisit the question of your own life's path---your calling. In Original Sinners, these characters take on stunning contemporary relevance as they find themselves confronted with extraordinary situations and circumstances that they'd neither asked for nor had anything to say about. Using stories from his life as well as the lives of people he's known, Coats creates a model that can be used to examine your own life and discover aspects of yourself in the characters whose lives unfold in these primordial stories. Weaving together biblical scholarship from many traditions with his own reflections on modern life experiences, Coats explores the character strengths and weaknesses of the men and women in Genesis (and of his own character), revealed through their handling of ordinary matters of life and death as well as in their encounters with the divine. Was Jacob a heartless grifter or simply clever? Was Eve the original sinner or an innocent? Was Joseph a self-absorbed brat or a forward-thinking leader? In Original Sinners, Coats pulls back the wrappings that have hidden the humanity of biblical figures and reveals the vibrant drama of these foundational narratives. Different clothing, yes, and language, and customs, yet at the human level, he writes, they were just as greedy and generous as we are, as gullible and crafty, as moronic and brilliant, as cowardly and brave. They are us, their stories, our stories, mirrors in which to see our best and worst selves.

About the Author:

John R. Coats holds master’s degrees from Virginia Theological Seminary (Episcopal) and Bennington College Writing Seminars.  A former parish priest, he was a principal speaker and seminar leader for the More to Life training program in the United States, Great Britain, and South Africa, and an independent management consultant.  The More To Life/Kairos Foundation is a non-profit educational charity which aims to help people connect their daily lives with their highest values and sponsors personal development training programs on four continents.  Coats was involved with the program from 1981 to 1995; as a senior trainer, he lead over 300 weekend intensives, working with about 30,000 people, and today remains well connected with the program as well as with people he worked in such places as California, London, South Africa, Knoxville, Atlanta and Houston. He lives with his wife, Pamela, in Houston, Texas.

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9781439102091: Original Sinners: A New Interpretation of Genesis

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