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Friday November 26, 12-1
Our group will NOT meet on 11/26
When our group met on November 19, we considered multiple interpretations of Genesis 12:10-20, an episode wherein Abram tells his Sarai to pretend to be his sister (so that the Pharoah will not kill him and then take Sarai as his wife/so that Abram will find favor in Pharaoh’s eyes). The result of this deception is that Sarai, thought to be Abram’s sister, is taken into Pharaoh’s palace. The commentators we considered included Rashi, an 11th-century French Jew, a 21st-century Jewish professor, a 21st-century Christian Evangelical physician, a 21st-century female Lubavitcher author who draws upon the work of a 13th-century mystic, a Jewish high school senior, and a 21st-century Baptist pastor. Their interpretations were wide ranging–as were those of members of the study group: Abram “exploited his wife’s beauty and sexuality for economic gain’; despite his many heroic actions, Abram was a “flawed human being” with whom readers of the Torah could more easily relate; recognizing that Sarai had a guardian angel who would thwart any advances by the Egyptians, Abram knew that no harm would result from the deception (everything proceeds according to God’s divine plan); Abram and Sarai were ultimately paragons of virtue whom “God had promised to make into a great nation through whom the Savior would come to bless the whole world.”
Our group spent some time discussing the various motives/ agendas behind these interpretations and the midrashim that engendered them, as well as how some of these explanations nearly rose to the level of holy scripture (Midrash with a capital “M,” based on exegesis–traditionally carried out methods of interpretation) and how some explanations were simply off-the-cuff speculations (midrash with a lower case “m,” based on eisegesis–personal opinions).
In addition to Genesis 12:10-20, we discussed Chapters 13-15 which covered differences between Abram and his nephew, Lot, and how these figures functioned inthe narrative as binary opposites; Abram as a warrior hero; and God’s deepening covenant with Abram.
When we resume our discussions on December 3, the group will look at Genesis 16-18: Sarai’s barrenness and Hagar’s role as a surrogate mother; angelic annunciations; and more covenants and circumcision.
Our informal group meets via Zoom every Friday from 12-1. Check the CBI web page for a link. All are welcome to join us, regardless of their level of expertise. Please bring whatever copy of the Bible you might have (the more different translations the livelier the discussion). If you have questions, please contact Jay Jacoby at email@example.com.
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