Genesis Questions

Interpretation, Significance, Application

Questions raised on the reading of sections of Wenham's and Fretheim's

Genesis Commentaries


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Ch.  1,     2,     3,     4,     5,     6,     7,     8,     9,    10,    

11,   12,   13,   14,   15,   16,   17,   18,   19,   20,

21,   22,   23,   24,   25,   26,   27,   28,   29,   30,

31,   32,   33,   34,   35,   36,   37,   38,   39,   40,

41,   42,   43,   44,   45,   46,   47,   48,   49,   50


Genesis 1                                                                                Back to Top

1.  If Genesis opens the Torah ("law"), what does that tell us about the nature

of the Torah based on the contents of Genesis?  Is the law to be

understood as all commandments?  What other elements are important

to the Torah?  (Wenham, 1:5)

2.  How are Genesis 1:1-2 and Genesis 2:1-3 connected?  (Wenham, 1:5)

3.  Wenham notes the number 7 seems to be significant in Genesis 1-2:3 not

only in the day count but also "God" is mentioned 35 times, "earth"

-21 times, "and it was so" seven times, etc.  How significant are these

statistics and what is their significance?  (Wenham, 1:6)

4.  Does the phrase "This is the story of" or "This is the account of" usually

begin or end a storyline (Gen. 2:4)?  Where elsewhere is that phrase

found in Genesis and what is its significance as a literary feature?

(Wenham, 1:6)

5.  What elements of structure do each of the days have in common? 

What is the significance of that structure?  [For example each day

begins with a divine announcement:  "And God said"]  (Wenham, 1:6)

6.  Which days have a doubled divine announcement and a double approval

formula?  What is the possible significance of that? (Wenham, 1:6)

(Gen. 1)

7.  What correspondences do you see between days 1 and 3; 2 and 4; and 3

and 6?  How could you diagram these correspondences?  What sense

do these correspondences leave with the reader (Gen. 1)?

(Wenham, 1:7)

8.  How do the days of Genesis move between the "two poles" of the heaven

and earth?  Where does the crossover take place?  (Wenham, 1:7)

(Gen. 1)

9.  How is the seventh day set off from the other six days?  How is it bonded

to the beginning 1:1-2?  What is an inclusio and how is it used in

literature? (Wenham, 1:7)

10.  What are the similarities and differences between the cosmology and

creation account in Genesis 1 and the Enuma Elish (Babylonian ca.

1100 BC) and the Epic of Atrahasis  (Mesopotamia, ca. 1600 BC)? 

What are the similarities and differences with the Egyptian "Teaching

of King Merikare" (ca. 2200 B.C.)? (Wenham, 1:8f) (Gen. 1)

11.  In what ways is Genesis 1 a polemic against the myths about the gods of

the Ancient Near East? For example:  in ANE man is an afterthought

created to work and provide food for the gods;  in Genesis 1 man is

the goal and God provides him food.  (cf. Hasel; Wenham, 1:9)

12.  How is the creation described and utilized elsewhere in Scripture (cf. Ps.

8, 136, 148; Prov. 8:22-3; Isa. 45:18; and Job 38)?  How do the

accounts compare and contrast?  How are the shaped by their

difference contexts?  (Wenham, 1:10)

13.  What is the relationship of Gen. 1:1, 1:2 and 1:3?  Is 1:1 a subordinate

clause to the main clause in 1:2 or 1:3?  Is 1:1 a title for 1:2-30?  Is

1:1 the main clause describing the first action which is elaborated on

in 1:2-30?  How do the different translations indicate how they

interpret the connection between 1:1 and 1:2 (cf. NIV/NASB/NLT

and the NEB/NRSV/TEV)? What difference do these different

approaches have on how the text is describing the creation of the

world? (Wenham, 1:11f)

14.  Who is the only subject of the verb "create" (bara) in the Old

Testament?  Does the fact that the word for create (bara) does not ever

state the material God made things out of prove creation ex nihilo (out

of nothing)?  Cf. Ps 148:5; Prov. 8:22ff; Ps. 33:6. (Wenham, 1:14)

(Gen. 1:1)

15.  Why is the title Elohim for God used in Genesis 1 and not Yahweh

(LORD)?  (Wenham, 1:15)

16.  How does the God of Genesis 1 who acts and speaks differ from a more

abstract philosophically conceived God? (Wenham, 1:15)

17.  How is God's relationship to the world founded and described in

Genesis 1?  How is God's sovereignty demonstrated? 

18.  What major attribute of God is manifested in Genesis 1? 

19.  "Heaven and earth" is a merismus using two words to describe a totality.

          What are some merismus phrases we use in English? (Wenham, 1:15)

          (Gen. 1:1)

20.  Should Genesis 1:2 be taken as "The Spirit of God,"  "the breath of

God," "a divine wind" or "a mighty wind"?  Compare which

translations support which reading (NIV/NRSV/New English

Bible/New American Bible/New Jerusalem Bible).  What difference

does it make?  (Wenham, 1:16f)

21.  How often does the phrase "And God said" occur in Genesis 1? 

          What is the significance of the phrase in relation to the creation

account?  How is the speaking of things into being developed

elsewhere in Scripture (Ps. 33:6; Jn. 1:1ff) (Wenham 1:17f)

22.  What does the approval formula "and God saw it was good" imply

          about the person and character of God? (Wenham, 1:18) (Gen. 1)

23.  What kinds of things did God "separate" in Genesis 1?  What does

          that process have to do with the ordering of the cosmos?

          (Wenham, 1:18f)

24.  In God's subsequent word after creating, he either names something

          or blesses it.  What does that tell us about the character and work

          of God in relation to what has already been created (Gen. 1)?

(Wenham, 1:19)

25.   How long are the days of Genesis 1?  How does what is described in

          Genesis 1 fit with scientific discoveries on the origin and evolution of

the universe?  Is the point of the author to give us a scientific

description of creation?  What is the emphasis and direction the

original author is wanting to take his reader?  What indications are

there in Gen. 1 itself as to the length of the days beyond the diverse

meanings of the word "day [yom]" itself?

26.  Wenham says "The Bible-versus-science debate has, most regrettably,

          sidetracked readers of Gen. 1.  Instead of reading the chapter as the

triumphant affirmation of the power and wisdom of God and the

wonder of his creation, we have been too often bogged down in

attempting to squeeze Scripture into the mold of the latest scientific

hypothesis or distorting scientific facts to fit a particular

interpretation."  Do you agree or disagree and why?  (Wenham, 1:40)

26.  How are the words used for the divine commands paralleled with the

fulfillments (Gen. 1)?  What does that reinforce?  (Wenham, 1:20)

27.  The third day of creation was different in what way?  Creative activity

often needs to be followed by what kind of activity?  (Wenham, 1:20) 

Chaos to cosmos involves what two types of activities (Gen. 1:14ff)?

28.  How did the Hebrews view the watery depths and oceans (Gen. 1:20ff)?

(Wenham, 1:20)

29.  What are the implications of God making things each after their kind

(Gen. 1)?  What roles do ordering and separating play in the creation

account?  What are the moral implications of things being made after

their own kind for modern biotech research on cloning and stem cell

          research (cf. Lev. 19:19;  Deut 22:9-11).  How is the question a

complex one?  (Wenham, 1:21)

30.  Why was day four described in so much more detail that any of the

other days but day six (cf. ANE [Ancient Near East]) (Gen. 1:14ff)?

(Wenham, 1:21)

31.  How do the functions of "divide", "rule" and "give light" pattern

themselves in Genesis 1:14-18? (Wenham, 1:22)

32. From a Canaanite mythology perspective, why would the creation of the

great sea creatures be mentioned using the word "create" (bara) for the

first time since 1:1 (cf. also Jer 51:34; Isa. 27:1; 51:9; Ps 74:13; Job

7:12)?  (Wenham, 1:24)

33.  Besides creating and ordering, God also blesses in Gen. 1.  Where

          does the notion of divine blessing show up in Genesis 1-12?  In the

          patriarchal narratives (Gen. 12-50) who are the primary blessers

there? (Wenham, 1:24)  What role does the blessing of a father play

in modern culture?  Who blesses today?

34.  Why does God say "Let us" make man in the plural instead of "let me"

(Gen. 1:26)?  [divine assembly, majesty, trinity, self-deliberation]

(Wenham, 1:27)  (cf. Job 38:4,7; Lk 2:13f)

35.  What is meant by the terms "image" and "likeness"?  How are they

          used elsewhere (Gen. 1:26)?  (Wenham, 1:27) [distinct[natural/

supernatural faculties]; mental/spiritual qualities; physical

resemblance; representative; capacity to relate].  How does man being

made in God's image impact in our understanding of humankind in

post-modern culture in such realms as human rights, euthanasia,

cloning, the death penalty, love and war?  What does this imply about

our interfacing with animals and with intelligent machines?  What

implication does the image have in our relationship to God?  Where

else in Scripture is the importance of God's image in humankind


36.  When is the actual name "Adam" introduced in the different translations

          (cf. KJV, NRSV, TEV and NEB)?  Why is there a problem

determining when his name is first used? (Wenham, 1:32)

37.  How is fruitfulness seen as a blessing throughout Genesis?  How do

          the genealogies and patriarchal blessing fit into that?  How does the

idea of multiplying and being fruitful fit with the global population

explosion?  Are we to be multiplying beyond our resources to

sustain life?  At what point does the blessing become a curse?

(Wenham, 1:33)

38.  What was Adam and Eve's initial relationship to the plant and animal

          kingdoms (Gen. 1)?  How does that change after the fall?  How does

Noah's building a boat to preserve all the animals fit with modern

environmental concerns and human responsibilities?  (Wenham, 1:33)

39.  In the Mesopotamian myths, man was created to get food for the gods,

          who supplies whom with food in Genesis 1? (Wenham, 1:33)

40.  Why is Gen. 1:31 a bad place to break the chapter?  Who originally

          broke the text there?  How do 1:1 and 2:2-3 fit together?

          (Wenham, 1:34f)

41.  While the term "Sabbath" is not used in Gen. 1-2 where else does this

          notion come up in the Pentateuchal materials? (Wenham, 1:36)

          What does the Sabbath have to teach post-modern culture?  How

should it be understood today?  Does the New Testament negate

or diminish its relevance?  What does it mean to declare something

"holy" in Scripture?

42.  How is Genesis 1 a polemic against the polytheistic mythico-religious

worldview of the ancient Near East?  What are the points of contact

and contrast? (Wenham, 1:37)

43.  What does Genesis 1 tell us about the essential nature of God?  How

          is God's relationship with humankind initiated already in Genesis 1?

          (Wenham, 1:37f)

44.  How does Genesis 1 appear in the apostles creed? (Wenham, 1:39)

45.  How is Genesis 1-3 foundational to the construction of biblical world

views?  Is the construction of biblical world views impacted as much

by Genesis 12-50


Genesis 2                                                                               Back to Top


46.  What role does Gen. 2:4 play in the over all structure of the

          book of Genesis (cf. 6:9; 10:1; 11:27; 37:2; 5:1; 25:12)? 

How is that phrase translated by the different translations

and commentators?

47.  Genesis 2-3 may be broken into the following seven subunits: 

1) 2:5-17; 2) 2:18-25; 3) 3:1-5; 4) 3:6-8; 5) 3:9-13; 6) 3:14-21;

7) 3:22-24.   Wenham suggests a palistrophic or mirror-image

style (1:51).  How are units 1 & 7; 2 & 6; 3 & 5 connected?

How does unit 4 stand as the center?  How would you diagram

that out? What does such a literary construction say about the unity

of the biblical text in contrast to a more fragmentary stitched together

"sources" view?

48.  What are the similarities and differences between the Genesis 2

          account and the Sumerian flood story, Gilgamesh and Atrahasis epics?

          Compare and contrast the Adapa myth.  (Wenham, 1:52)  What

          symbols are shared between Genesis and the myths of the

          ancient Near East?

49.  How does Gen. 2-3 impact how one looks at culture and the roots

          of the history of humankind?  What roots are seen in those

          chapters that flower in the records of history?  How does Gen. 2-3

          contrast with the world view of post-modernism or secular


50.  How does Genesis 2-3 describe the human's connection to the land? 

What does Adam's name mean and how does that play into a

paronomasia?  Did God/Adam speak Hebrew in the naming of Adam

in Gen. 2?  When did Hebrew as a language come into existence?

What role does dust/clay play in the rest of the Bible?  How will that

land theme be developed in the rest of Genesis?  Does this land theme

connect with modern environmental concerns? (Wenham, 1:58f)

51.  What modern philosophical schools emphasize that man is mere

          dust (Gen. 2)?  (Wenham, 1:60)  Which schools of thought emphasize

          humans has having the divine breath?

52.  What role does Eden play elsewhere in Scripture (Gen. 2)?  What is

Eden's connection with "the east"?  What is its etymology and

symbolism? Where was Eden? (Wenham, 1:61, 66)

53.  What symbolic role do trees play in the ancient Near East and in

          the rest of Genesis and Bible (cf. Gen. 2, Proverbs)? (Wenham, 1:62)

54.  What is meant in Gen. 2 by "knowledge of good and evil"

[consequences of obeying/disobeying, moral discernment, sexual

knowledge, omniscience, human wisdom].  How does Ezek. 28 help

with a solution?  (Wenham, 1:63f)

55.  What symbolic role do rivers play in Scripture (cf. Gen. 2; Ezek. 47;

          Rev. 22; Ps. 46:5)?  What are the options for the Pishon and Gihon

rivers?  How are the geographical descriptions of the rivers like a

genealogy?  How does the reference to Ashur by the Tigris support

the antiquity of the biblical account (pre-1400 BC)? (Wenham, 1:65f)

56.  In Gen. 2:18, God says man needs a "helper".  How is that term used

          elsewhere in Scripture?  Is God himself ever called or viewed as

a helper? What does that statement show about God's concern about

human needs?  Does the notion of "helper" mean woman was

under the authority of the man? 

57.  In Gen. 2:19 Adam names the animals?  What role do names and

naming play in the stories in Genesis?  (Wenham, 1:68)

58.  What is learned about male/female relationships from the description of

          Eve's being "built" in Gen. 2:21-25?  How is repetition, poetic

parallelism and word play used in Adam's enthusiasm for his partner? 

What other births have name word plays in Genesis?  Why is poetry

used instead of straight narrative?  How does the marriage relationship

restructure other closest of relationships?  In what aspects does

"oneness" play itself out in the marriage relationship (physical,

mental, spiritual, emotional, kinship and economic, etc.)? 

(Wenham, 1:70)


Genesis 3                                                                                Back to top


59.  In Gen. 3:1 the serpent is said to be crafty or shrewd.  How is this

          term ambiguous?  Is the serpent identified with Satan in Genesis 3? 

What ancient Near Eastern imagery was brought up by snake

imagery?  What role does a snake play in the Gilgamesh epic?  In

Levitical terms was the snake viewed as an unclean or clean

animal (Lev. 11)?  Does it initially contain any of the anti-God

imagery of Job 26:13 or Isa. 27:1?  (Wenham, 1:72)

60.  How were the serpent's words in Gen. 3:4f vindicated?  What does that

          tell us about the insidious nature of how evil moves?  Does the

serpent/Satan speak the truth?  What does the serpent's approach tell

us about the art of seduction?  (Wenham, 73f)

61.  How did Adam and Eve understand the notion of death in Gen. 3? 

          Was there plant and animal death while Adam and Eve were still in

the garden?  Is it possible as Wright suggests that Adam/Eve would

have experienced death even if they had not eaten of the tree?  What

do you think of that (Biblica 1996)?  What are the different aspects of

death and how do they play out in the stories in Gen. 3-6 and

following? (Wenham, 1:74f)

62.  What literary palistrophic (ABCDCBA) pattern is seen in description

          of the seduction of Eve (Gen. 3:6-7)?  How does 3:8-10 link back to

chapter 2?   How are guilt and nakedness related in the story?

(Wenham, 1:75f)

63.  God in Gen. 3:8 is portrayed as walking in the garden.  When elsewhere

is Scripture does God "walk"?   How do walking, presence and

relationship intertwine?  "Walking" is used for portraying what

types of activities?   (Wenham, 1:76)

64.  What role does God's question "Where are you?" play in the Gen. 3:9

narrative and elsewhere (cf. Gen. 4:9; Isa 33:18; 36:19; Ps 42:4, 11)? 

How does it function with God's omniscience?  What are different

ways rhetorical questions are used?  (Wenham, 1:77)  How is this

discovery motif continued in God's questioning of Adam (Gen. 3:11)?

65.  How do Adam and Eve readily confess their sinful actions but try to

deny their culpability (Gen. 3:12ff)?  How is that similar move made

in modern times?  (Wenham, 1:89)

66.  What role did cursing play in the ancient Near East and in the rest

          of Scripture (Num. 22:6; Deut. 27:15ff) and in Genesis (cf. 3:14)?

          (Wenham, 1:78)  What was eating dust a symbol of (cf. Mic. 7:17;

          Isa. 49:23)?

67.  Is the curse on the serpent (Gen. 3:15) an etiology on why women hate

          snakes?  Does the serpent stand for sin, death and the power of evil

          so that the curse here is broader than a mere etiology referring to

          the continual struggle between good and evil and humankind's

          ultimate triumph?  Does the serpent stand for Satan?  How early

          did that identification happen?  How is this passage interpreted

          in the New Testament (Rom. 16:20; Heb. 2:14; Rev. 12)? 

          Is there a fuller sense that develops later in the history of redemption?

          Were Justin (ca. A.D. 160) and the early church fathers right in taking

          this passage as the "Protoevangelium" (first gospel) in applying it

          to Christ and Satan?  (Wenham, 1:80f)

68.  What is the "woman's desire for her husband" (Gen. 3:16)?  Is female

subordination a part of the curse?  Is her desire what subjects her

to exploitation?  Is her desire a desire to dominate her husband? Is

the rule of the man part of the curse?  Should the curse be accepted

or resisted?  Does the verbal parallel with Gen. 4:7 help us understand

Gen. 3:16?  What role does this verse play in the dialogue with

modern feminism?  Does this verse tell us what roles of women were

effected by the curse?  Is Vogels right when he says what kills the

relationship is the desire to possess, to keep, to hold, to dominate, or

to crush the other?  How do each of these play out in male/female

relationships?  (Biblica, 1996) (Wenham, 1:80f)

69.   What play is made with "eating" in the curse of Adam (Gen. 3)?  What

          roles of the man were effected by the curse (food-producer)?  Was

          work a curse because of the fall (cf. 2:15)?  How is the futility

          of work a curse?  How is such futility seen in our post-modern

          culture?  Was death part of the curse?  Was there death before

          the fall?  How does Gen. 3:19 relate to Gen. 2:7?  Where

          elsewhere in Scripture is man's going to the dust seen?  How

          does the notion of death impact individuals and society (fear, grief,

hope, alientation, futility, etc.)?  (Wenham, 1:83)

70.  What play is seen in the naming of Eve right after Adam was cursed

(Gen. 3:22)?  What does that reveal about how Adam looked at Eve

after the fall? (Wenham, 1:84)

71.  How is God's provision of clothes another indication of God's tender

          provision for human need (Gen. 3:21)?  How does the idea of needing

clothing when approaching God come up in the tabernacle

descriptions both in the use of tunics and in covering one's

nakedness (vid. Exodus)?  (Wenham, 1:84)

72.  Could and did humans eat of the tree of life prior to being expelled from

the garden (Gen. 3:22ff)?  Did the tree of life magically give life?

Cherubim guard the way to the tree of life.  Where elsewhere in

Scripture are cherubim seen and what roles do they play in those

contexts (cf. Ex. 25:18ff; 26:31; 1 Kgs 6:29)?  Was the flaming sword

the first laser sword?  In what way did they die on the day they ate the

fruit?  (Wenham, 1:85f)

73.  How is that connection between sin and consequence seen elsewhere in

Scripture (esp. wisdom lit., covenants, Deut 28. and prophets)?   How

is that connection denied and marginalized in post-modern culture on

an individual, societal and even political spheres?  How did

Adam/Eve's sin impact the whole human race (Rom 5:12)?  Where

does the Bible place the blame for pain, suffering and alienation and

how and in what directions do we try to shift that blame?

(Wenham, 1:90)


Genesis 4                                                                                Back to Top


74.  What struggles are seen in Genesis between an older and young

          brother in relation to divine favor or blessing (Gen. 4:3ff)?  What

other battles of favored and unfavored sons takes place in Genesis

and elsewhere in the Old Testament? Where else in Genesis is the

"hostile brother" motif?  (Wenham, 1:97f)

75.  How does God use rhetorical questions with Cain (Gen. 4:9ff) and how

does that compare with how he used them in Gen. 3:9ff?  What other

parallels are there between Gen. 3 with Adam and Eve and Gen. 4 the

Cain and Able story?  What contrasts are seen in Gen. 3 and 4?  What

is fratricide?  (Wenham, 1:99f)

76.  What euphemism occurs in Gen. 4:1?  What other topics does the Bible

use euphemisms to talk about?  How do we use them today?

(Wenham, 1:100)

77.  How does Gen. 4:1-2 parallel Gen. 25:15-27? (Wenham, 1:102)

78.  How does the meaning of Abel's name foreshadow what will

          happen (Gen. 4:1; cf. Eccl. 1:2)? (Wenham, 1:102)

79.  Why was Cain's offering rejected and Abel's accepted (Gen. 4:5)?

          [shepherds/gardeners; animal/gain; inscrutable; faith [Heb 11:4]; 

choicest firstlings versus normal 2 Sam 24:24) (Wenham, 1:104)

80.  What is God's relationship to blood in Gen. 4:10 and elsewhere in

          Scripture (cf. Lev. 17:11)?  Why do people cry out to God? 

          Who are some biblical examples of people that cried out to God

          when facing death or the shedding of their blood?  In what other

passages is there a personalization of blood in Scripture (Rev. 6:9f;

Lk. 18:7f; Isa. 5:7; Exod. 20:13; 1 Kgs. 21; Num. 35, etc.)  (Wenham,

1:107, 117)

81.  When it says the one hurting Cain would be punished sevenfold is

          that a hyperbole?  How and when are hyperbole's used?  What

          might the number seven mean in this text (Gen. 4:15)? 

          (Wenham, 1:109)

82.  Who founded the first cities in the biblical text (Gen. 4:14, 17) and how

          do cities arise in the ancient Near Eastern materials (cf. Adapa,

          Eridu and the seven apkallus)?  What is the point of Genesis linking

nomadism and urbanization, music and metalworking to Cain's

genealogy?   How is Cain condemned to wander yet he is the first city

builder?  How are cities viewed in the biblical narrative?  How do

cities function in post-modern times?  (Wenham, 1:110f)

83.  How is Lamech like his father Cain?  What father-son parallels in

          character and activity are seen in Genesis?  Does that fit modern

          phenomena?  Why/why not?  (Wenham, 1:112)

84.  In the song of Lamech how is Hebrew poetic parallelism seen between

the lines (Gen. 4)?  Did Lamech know Hebrew and did he understand

Hebrew poetry?  How was this poem written? What progression is seen

in the narrative between Adam, Cain and Lamech as sinners?  How does

Cain's evil play out elsewhere in Scripture (Jude 11; 1 Jn 3:11ff)? 

(Wenham, 1:114, 117)

85.  Seth is born and named as a simple paronomasia (Gen. 4)?  What is that

and how often does it occur in the naming of people and places in

          Genesis and elsewhere?  What do people's names mean today? Are

nick-names more accurate?  (Wenham, 1:115)

86.  How does the Sumerian flood story parallel the genealogies of

          Cain (nomadism, city-building and institution of public worship; Gen.

4)?  How does the Sumerian flood story parallel the long lives of the

          people of Gen. 5?   The last person in the Sumerian flood story

          list as in Genesis is a survivor of the flood (Ziusudra/Noah).

          What differences are there between the king lists and the genealogies

of Genesis (length of life [Sumerian 50x longer])?  How does cultural

"progress" impact religious and moral categories?  (Wenham, 1:124)


Genesis 5                                                                                Back to Top


87.  Gen. 5:1 is the first mention of written sources standing behind the

          Genesis account.  Where else in Scripture does it talk about books

          outside of the Scripture but yet existent during those times (Josh.

10:13; 2 Sam. 1:18 etc.)?  How do such works fit with the notion of

Scripture being divinely inspired?  (Wenham, 1:126)

88.  How was Enoch special?  How does Enoch relate to the extra-canonical

book of Enoch?  How does Enoch fit with the ancient sage Utuabzu

"who ascended to heaven" (Cf. also Adapa, Aeneas, Heracles) (Wenham, 1:128)

89.  Which other fathers besides Noah father 3 sons in Genesis?

(Wenham, 1:129)

90.  How are the long life spans of the Genesis 5 genealogy explained?

          How do the ages different between the Hebrew Masoretic text, the

Greek Septuagint and the Samaritan Pentateuch?  For example, the

MT has the flood coming in 1656 after Adam, the Samaritan Pent.

1307 and the LXX in 2242.  Which text tradition is right? (Wenham, 

1:130-33; see Wenham's chart on p. 131 for the differences)  How

does this all fit with the Sumerian king list which totals 241,200 years

instead of the 4004 BC of the biblical text?  No matter how long they

lived what is the point?


Genesis 6                                                                                Back to Top


91.  Who were the sons of the God that married the daughters of men (Gen.

6)?  (Wenham, 1:137ff).  See difficult questions.  How does Scripture

          view crossbreeding of kinds? (Wenham, 1:146f) (cf. Sir. 16:7; Wis.

14:6;  Bar. 3:26ff;  2 Pet 2:4 to see how the ancients looked at this


92.  How does the story of Noah compare and contrast to the Gilgamesh

          and Atrahasis epic (Gen. 6)?  (Wenham, 1:138)

93.  Who were the Nephilim in Genesis 6:4 (cf. Num 13:33; Ezek.

32:20-28)?   (Wenham, 1:143) 

94.  What kind of commentary is Gen. 6:5 on the character and nature

          of humankind?  What are the religious, political, sociological,

          psychological and ethical implications of this verse?  How does

          this verse fit with Romans 1-3; Ps. 51; Jer. 17:9f?  Is total depravity

an appropriate way to look at humankind?  Is it the only way

important theological aspect of humanity?  Is "total" a theologically

accurate modifier given that man was and is made in the image of

God (cf. Ps. 8)?  What role does a healthy tension play in this

discussion?  How does one balance these two important aspects or

ways of describing humankind found in Genesis?  (Wenham, 1:144)

95.   Gen. 6:6 says God repented or was sorry?  Is it possible for God to

          change his mind (cf. 1 Sam. 15:11; Jer. 18:10; Ex. 32:12, 14; 2 Sam

24:16; Amos 7:3, 6) without being capricious (Num. 23:19; 1 Sam.

15:29)?  If God can't change his mind what does that imply about

prayer?  Is God's thinking fossilized and static or dynamic and

creative? Is Gen. 6:6 a mere anthropomorphism?  Is this theological

point the point of the Gen. 6:6 passage? Why do certain theological

systems have trouble with this verse and dismiss it or explain it away? 

What is the significance of saying that God had regrets and sorrow?

How does God experience sorrow and what is its connection/

disconnection with human sorrow?  Are there tears in heaven?

(Wenham, 1:144; Fretheim, 395)

96.  Does the following structure of B. W. Anderson for the flood story


          Transitional intro (6:9-10)

             1) Violence in creation (6:11-12)

                2) First divine speech:  resolve to destroy (6:13-22)

                   3) Second divine speech:  "enter ark" (7:1-10)

                     4)  Beginning the flood (7:11-16)

                        5) The rising flood (7:17-24)

                             6) God remembers Noah

                   How would you finish the structure coming back out?

                   Use a palistrophic method (ABCBA) (Wenham, 1:156)

97.  Is there any historical or scientific evidence to corroborate the flood

story (Gen. 6)?

98.  How is Noah's relationship with God described (Gen. 6:9f)?

          What does the phrase "walk with God" mean and where have we

          seen that before?  (Fretheim, 390)

99.  In Genesis 6:11-22, how is the corruption of the land described? 

          What is the connection between human morality and the inanimate

          physical world?  Does human evil transcend the boundaries of

humankind (e.g. animals)? (Fretheim, 390)

100.   How has the word "hamas" which is used to describe the violence on

the earth (Gen. 6:11) come into modern parlance?  What was the

extent of violence and how does that impact the extent of the flood?

(Fretheim, 390)

101.   How do the dimensions of the biblical ark compare to the dimensions

of the ark in the Gilgamesh epic (Gen. 6:15f)?  How were the

constructions of the ark similar or dissimilar? (Fretheim, 391)

102.   How does the promise of the covenant in Gen. 6:18 help Noah in the

face of the pending situation?  (Fretheim, 391)

103.  When God announces the destruction of the Israelites to Moses,

          how does he regularly respond?  How does that differ with Noah's

          response (Gen. 6)?  How do both of their responses embrace

obedience? (Fretheim, 391)

104.  How do you harmonize the description of taking animals two by two in

          Gen. 6:19f and the taking of seven of clean animals in Gen. 7:2f? 

          How would Noah have known which animals were clean and unclean

          without the book of Leviticus which specifies these categories?  Does

          clean/unclean refer to the sacrificial or dietary laws?  (Fretheim, 391)


Genesis 7                                                                                Back to Top


105.  How do Gen. 7:4 and 10 work together?  What point does that make

          about God's word and promise?

106.  In the chronology of the flood, how does the following pattern play

          out in the narrative of Genesis 7:4-8:12:  7, 40, 150, 40, 7?  What

          does such a pattern imply about God's control of the flood chaos? 

          How does the time limit of the flood contrast with the lack of spatial

limit of the flood highlighting God's grace?  (Fretheim, 392)


Genesis 8                                                                                Back to Top


107.   How is God's remembering the turning point in the flood narrative

          (Gen. 8:1)?  How is his remembering connected to the anticipated

          covenant?  What does it mean for God to remember?  (Fretheim, 392)

108.  The divine wind reverses the chaotic flood (Gen. 8:1) which is

          reminiscent of the divine wind in what part of Gen. 1? 

(Fretheim, 392)

109.  How does the order in which the birds are sent out of the ark compare

with the other ancient Near Eastern sources (Gilgamesh et al.)? 

(Fretheim, 392)

110.  How is God's reception of Noah's sacrifice in Genesis 8:21 different

than the gods reception of the post-flood sacrifice in the Gilgamesh

epic?  (Fretheim, 393).  What does that say about the differences

between the nature of sacrifice in Israel and elsewhere? 

111.  How is one to view the relationship of Genesis 1-9 to the ancient

Near Eastern epics?  Is it appropriate to see Genesis as a polemic

against other religions or is it better to appreciate that Israel took

significant historical and even theological understandings from

cultures outside of Israel as Fretheim suggests?  Fretheim says Israel

borrowed much of its thinking about beginnings.  To what extent is

this true and not true? (Fretheim, 395)

112.  When in Gen. 8:21 God reverses the curse does this apply just to

          no more floods, no additional curses on the ground or does it

          reflect back on the Gen. 3 curse on the ground saying that that curse

          would be mitigated?  How is Noah's relationship with God mediated

through God's new relationship with creation?  (Freitheim, 393) 

113.  How are the words of Gen. 6:5 and 8:21 similar?  How do these two

similar passages play a totally different role in the narrative?  Did the

flood change the interior nature of humankind?  What did change? 

How is the evil inclination of humankind seen on an individual and

societal level today?  What attempts are made to downplay, igrnore or

escape this type of evaluation on a personal and societal level? 

(Fretheim, 393)

114.  What does 8:22 mean in relation to the cosmos/chaos struggle? 

          The embracing of chaos functioned in at least two ways in the

          story so far, now the bounds of chaos are being limited which may

          allow what to flourish given the context of Gen. 8:21ff? Was the

water of the flood a punishing agent or a cleansing agent?  How did

the water uncreate the creation?  How does the "recreation" post-flood

differ from the original creation thereby avoiding a future Gen. 6:6f

type re-evaluation? What elements of continuity are there between the

original creation and the post-flood re-creation?  How is it [are we]

the same yet different?  (Fretheim, 394)


Genesis 9                                                                                Back to Top


115.  How does the notion of the remnant play a role in God's dealing with

          humankind in the flood?  How does the flood balance judgment and

          grace?  What role does the flood story and flood imagery play in the

descriptions of future judgments of God following periods of human

moral chaos (Mat 24:37ff; Isa. 24:27)?  How does the flood fit into

apocalyptic modes of thinking (2 Pet 3:6f)? 

116.   Fretheim says the "flood should never be used as a type or illustration

of divine judgment.  The flood has a unique character, frozen in place

by the divine promise never to do this again."  Is this an adequate way

of looking at the flood's message to later generations or politically

corrected to suit the modern palate?  What nuances is Fretheim

overlooking?  How does Fretheim's approach fit with a post-modern

view of God and contrast with the biblical descriptions of God?

(Fretheim, 394f)

117.  How are the images of God developed in the flood story (Gen. 6-9)? 

(God of sorrow/regret, judge but doesn't want to, destroyer/savior,

justice/mercy, fixed character/open to new ways of doing things;

setting up moral paradigms/promises never to do it again, beginning/

beginning again ... etc.)   How does the flood story recharacterize

God's relationship with the world?  The "tortured relation between a

grieved God and a resistant world" results ultimately in real changes

in which side(s) of the relationship?  Does human evil cause God to

limit himself and his responses (cf. Philp. 2)?  What does such a

response say about the essential nature of God?  (Fretheim, 396)

118.  God says no more floods to restrain evil?  What means will he employ

to restrain evil and guide the way back to Eden?  How will societies

be responsible for the restraining of evil?  (Fretheim, 396)

119.  What are the ecological implications of the flood (Gen. 9)?  How are

human and animal lives and destinies connected?  (Fretheim, 396)?

120.  Where elsewhere in Scripture is God's deliverance through watery

          dangers seen (Gen. 9)?  (cf. Ex. 14f; Jonah, Mk 4:35ff; Rev. 12:15,

etc.)  (Fretheim, 397)

121.  In Genesis 9, how do the roles of God as blesser and God as promiser

          merge?  Is Noah a new Adam?  How are things very different post-

flood?  How was the relationship between man and animals changed? 

Does Gen. 9 support the death penalty?  How does the promissory

nature of the covenant engender hope, expectation, assurance and

comfort?  (Fretheim, 398f). 

122.  Does the bow come into existence in Gen. 9 or is it that its significance

and meaning change?  How is this sign of the covenant different than

most that would follow (cf. Ex. 12:13; Jer. 31:35f)?  Who does this

sign remind?  If God gives himself such "reminders" what does that

say about our need for concrete signs that enrich our existence tying

us to the past, present and future?  How was the bow viewed in the

ancient Near East (Ps. 7:12f; 18:14; 144:6; Hab. 3:9ff)?  How does

God transform that meaning from war to peace, hope and restraint in

the midst of judgment?  Is God's remembering a merely mental

activity?   How does God permanently restrain his power in light of

human evil at this point?  (Fretheim, 399f, 402)

123.  Fretheim objects to the saying "God gave Noah the rainbow sign --no

more water--the fire next time" (Gen. 9; cf. 2 Pet. 3:17) saying such a

perspective violates the text.  Is his perspective valid given the

statement in 2 Peter?  How is one to think about the possibility of

future judgments of this magnitude and God's promise given here?

(Fretheim, 401)

124.  What are the ecological implications of the promise of Gen. 9 and

          the bow?  What are God's promises to the non-human part of his

creation?  (Fretheim, 401)

125.  What was Ham's illicit act in Gen. 9:18ff?  Why is Canaan, Ham's son,

cursed?  Why does Noah call Ham his youngest when apparently he is

the second born son?  Is there a connection between the curse on

          Canaan and the Canaanite conflict that develops in the book of

Joshua?  (Fretheim, 404)

126.  Does the slavery curse of Noah have anything to do with the

enslavement of Africans (Gen. 9)?  Why is that totally illegitimate? 

How does the OT and NT relate to the institution of slavery?  How

does the terminology of slavery come to play as part of the religion of

Scripture?  (Fretheim, 405)

127.  How does Noah's nakedness tie back to Gen. 3?  What is one of the

          roles and responsibilities in relation to covering his father's

nakedness (Gen. 9)?  How was nakedness viewed elsewhere in

Scripture?  (Fretheim, 405)

128.  How are the sons and the resultant curse/blessings from Noah

typological, ethnological and etiological to what follows

(Gen. 9:18ff)?  What is the connection between an individual and his

family or group?  How is this corporate way of looking at things

outside the orbit of our American individual-centric worldview? 

(Fretheim, 403)

129.  How does Noah's taking of the divine blessing (grapes) actually be

used to become an evil (Gen. 9)?  How are God's blessings and

promises used in evil ways?  (Fretheim, 403) 


Genesis 10                                                                              Back to Top


130.  The Genesis 10 genealogy is the fourth toledot "this is the account of"

          section which gives eponymous information where the father of a

          nation is sited.  Which of these father-nations connections are

significant in Israel's later history?  Can these father-nation links be

corroborated historically?  Can ch. 10 be seen as a gradual fulfillment

of the "be fruitful and multiply" commission (Gen. 1:28; 9:1,7)?  (Fretheim, 408)


Genesis 11                                                                              Back to Top


131.  How is the relationship of ch. 11 (Babel) related to the earlier chapters

          which already mention the division of languages (10:5, 20, 31) and

          the spreading out (10:5, 32) and scattering (9:19; 10:18) as well as

          Babel itself (10:10)?   Is the relationship between the chapters

chronological, interwoven or is ch. 11 a flashback?  (Fretheim, 410)

132.  What other times of history does the centralization, building and

          scattering motifs of Gen. 11's Tower of Babel occur in history? 

          Are there apocalyptic parallels?  How does centralization and

unification of humankind interface with the worship of God? 

In what ways does evil manifest itself beyond the individual level

when such centralization and homogenization occurs culturally?

How does corporate, national or social sin function?  Can such

centralization and homogenization also effect the worlds of

philosophical and theological systems?  Is there one

monolithic/monobrick-ic Christian worldview? 

133.  How is such centralization and unity synched with John Lenon's song

"Imagine"?  What is the dark sides to unity or for that matter

diversity?  What are their ideal aspects?  What happens when one

looses the tension and dialogue between them?  How is unity a

complex reality as Brueggeman says?  (Fretheim, 413). 

134.  Why was the tower built with bricks instead of stones?  Why did

          Mesopotamian ziggurats not use stone (cf. Egypt, Canaan)?  Can the

tower of Babel be related to Mesopotamian ziggurats in terms of

construction and religious function?  What contrasts are there? 

What is the connection between building a building and making a

name for oneself?  What divine plans does the centralization stand in

opposition to?  (Fretheim,  411f)

135.  How do the words and fears of the inhabitants of Babel become their

          judgment (Gen. 11:4, 9)?  (Fretheim, 412)

136.  Gen. 11:5 says God "came down" to see what they were doing with the

          tower.  What is the significance of that?  What does that imply about

          where heaven is?  What does "coming down" symbolize?  What do

you think of Fretheim's definition "Heaven is that place within the

created world where God's presence remains uncontested."  Is it

possible heaven is in the "here" similar to what is seen in the movie

the Matrix where two realities exist side by side and intertwined? 

          What are the implications?  What does "Babel" mean? 

(Fretheim, 412f)

137.  Gen. 11 has the story and family of Abraham, the chosen, embedded in

the community of the world and not in isolation.  What does that

imply?  (Fretheim, 416)


Genesis 12                                                                              Back to Top


138.  Genesis may be broken into two histories:  primeval and patriarchal at

          Genesis 12.  How are these two sections connected?  How does

          Abraham's family play a role in reclaiming creation from chaos (God's

promissory relationship, partial fulfillments, blessings/curses, faith,

obedience and hope responses to the promise;  the significance of

hang time between the promise and fulfillment;  roles of sons,

brothers, and land?  (Fretheim, 417ff).

139.  What role do the doublings play in bonding and developing the

          Abraham narrative (Genealogies: 12/25; Endangering of Sarah

12/20;  Lot stories 13f/18f;  Covenant 15/17;  Hagar and Ishmael

16/21; Birth of Isaac 18/21;  Abimelech 20/21;  Test stories 12/22; 

Land stories 13/23)?  (Fretheim, 420)  Does doubling imply what

critics suggest the JEPD theory which uses doubling as evidence of

multiple authorship sources with bad editorial seaming? 

140.  What disruptions in Abraham's family precede the divine call in

          Gen. 12:1?  (Fretheim, 422)

141.  Is Abram's call exclusive election restricting God's focus to one family

          rather than the world or as Fretheim says "initially exculsive move for

the sake of a maximally inclusive end" i.e. "Election serves mission"?

(Fretheim, 424)

142.  What role do altars, trees and stones play in the patriarchal narratives

          in terms of worship and marking special points of contact between

God and the patriarchs (Gen. 12)?  (Fretheim, 424)

143.  How is the theme of blessing developed in the patriarchal narratives

(Gen. 12)? How are the patriarchs mediators of God's blessings on all

the families of the world?  How does the notion of blessing work with

the promise as central ideas spun through the Abrahamic narrative? 

How does the "already" but "not yet" aspect of promise/fulfillment

play itself out in the patriarchal narratives?  What roles will "blocks"

and "waits" [not yets] to the promise have in the narrative? 

(Fretheim, 425) 

144.  How does Abraham's pilgrimage and journey become a paradigm for

          the pilgrimage and journey of all believers (Gen. 12)?  How is the

Christian life seen as journey different from the Christian life

reckoned as states or levels of theological knowing? (Fretheim, 426)

145.  How is the Abrahamic story universalized and transformed by the

New Testament writers (Gen. 12)?  (vid. Dr. Wilson's, Our Father

Abraham) (Cf. Rom 4, Gal. 3-4; Heb. 11).  (Fretheim, 420)

146.   How are the three stories of wife-as-sister similar and different

          (Gen. 12, 20; 26)? 

147.  Whenever there was a famine in Canaan where did people

          naturally go?  Besides Abraham in Gen. 12:10, where are some

          other examples of this "flight to Egypt" motif?  (Fretheim, 427)

148.  Does pharaoh consummate the marriage with Sarah (Fretheim says:

yes) (Gen. 12)?  How does this story contrast with the same story with

Abimelech?  Where else in Scripture do we see a murder is arranged

so the wife can be taken?  Does that ever happen today?  Abraham

becomes rich at the expense of his family?  How does this move

function in our culture?   How does God deliver Sarah?  When will we

see other plagues on Egypt?  Is Abram in this narrative to be seen as

cowardly, lacking integrity and self-serving?  Is he to be

sympathized with as valuing life above honor and trapped in a bad

situation rescued by God?  Does gender effect one's interpretation

here?  What is the overall point of the story?  Is everything the

patriarch did to be seen as prescriptive or is it often descriptive--just

telling what he did without moralizing whether it was right or wrong? 

How does one tell what is morally normative and what is merely

historical fact? 

149.  What parallels may be seen between Abraham's trip to Egypt (Gen. 12)

and the Exodus account of the nation [famine, ruse, riches, conflict

with Pharaoh, plagues, etc.] How are the story patterns different?

What is the link between the person and prefiguring the nation?  Why

is Sarah voiceless?  Who does Pharaoh blame?  (Fretheim, 429)

150.  What roles do famines play in the biblical narratives (Gen. 12)?  What

are their causes, solutions and transforming impact on the people

within their orbit?   How is it Abram is in the promised land and there

is a famine?  When there are famines in the promised land how does

Abraham scramble?  How do we? What types of things today function

as famines did back then?  (Fretheim, 430)


Genesis 13                                                                              Back to Top


151.  How is the story of Gen. 13 bracketed by itinerary accounts (13:1,18)?

          How is 13:1 a hinge verse?  (Fretheim, 432) 

152.  How does the quarrel in and over the promised land give way to

promise development in Gen. 13?  What implications does this

narrative provide for the land and Abram's prosperity?  Where else are

quarreling over land and wells seen in the Genesis narrative?  How

does this story fit with the "strife among brothers" motif that is found

in Genesis?  By offering Lot the choice of land does Abraham put the

promise into jeopardy?  (Fretheim, 432f, 435)

153.  How do God's blessings create difficulties sometimes? (Gen. 13

Abram's prosperity and Lot conflict) (Fretheim, 435)

154.  How does Lot fit into the lack of a son and the leaving of family

sequences?  What factors effect Lots choice of the land by Sodom? 

Why is the land of Sodom likened to Eden and Egypt (13:10)?  Is

there any going back to Eden at this point?  Was Eden still known at

this time?  How is Sodom not like Eden?  How will this new

environment shape Lot's life?  Does place and location shape life,

choices and destinies?  (Fretheim, 434)

155.  How is ecological disaster related to wickedness linking the creation

          accounts (Gen. 3, 6) with this theme about Lot and Sodom (13:13)?

          (Fretheim, 435)


Genesis 14                                                                     Back to Top


156.  How does the story of Abram's rescue of Lot link him to the later

history of Israel as a victorious leader delivering the people almost

like the judges would later (Gen. 14)?   How does this military story

not fit with many of the other stories about Abraham?  How is

Abraham's military alliance with the inhabitants of the land very

different that the conquest relationship to the Canaanites with Joshua? 

How does ch. 14 link Abraham to a more universal context of being a

blessing to the nations?  Abram as deliverer a new role for him? 

(Fretheim, 438)

157.  Abraham is identified as a Hebrew in Gen. 14:13.  What did that

          designation mean at this time?  If Abram had 318 servants born in his

house, how large was his household at this time?  How is Dan

mentioned here when the city of Dan was not so named until the book

of Judges (18:29 before that called Laish) over at least 500 years

later?  (Fretheim, 438; Wenham, 1:314)

158.  How does Abram's response to the King of Sodom (Gen. 14) contrast

with his response to Melchizedek?  How are these two king's agendas

different?  Should a deliverer enrich himself from those who have

been delivered? What characteristics in Abram does this show?

(Fretheim, 442)

159.  Where is Melchizedek found elsewhere in Scripture (Ps. 110:4 and

Hebrews 5-7)?  Where is Melchizedek from?  Is that significant? 

What do priests do that Melchizedek does here Abram?  Does Abram

recognize Melchizedek as serving the same God?  How does

Melchizedek's blessing tie into Abram's being blessed in the

covenantal sense?  (Fretheim, 439, 442)

160.  How would Gen. 14 fit with David's later making Jerusalem his

capital and centering Israel's priesthood there?  What was the name of

the line of priests in the davidic dynasty (2 Sam. 8:17)?  It is derived

from the same root as Melchizedek.  Does the Abram story prefigure

and echo later Israelite history?  (Fretheim, 439)


Genesis 15                                                                              Back to Top


161.  What similar pattern is seen in Gen. 15:1-6 and 7-21?  (Fretheim, 444)

162.  The word of the LORD comes to Abram in a vision.  How is that like

          what happens with the prophets (Gen. 15:1f)?  What elements are

common in a theophany?  (Fretheim, 444)

163.  How did people come to know God in the Old Testament?  What role

did faith play (Gen. 15:6f)?  What is the nature and object of Abram's

faith at this point in the narrative?  How does God's promise enable

Abram's faith?  Were people saved by works in the OT?  In what

context is Abraham's faith manifest?  What role do his questions play

in relation to his faith?  How do our questions and faith interplay?

(Fretheim, 448)

164.  God identifies himself as the God that brought Abram out of Ur (Gen.

15).  How is that similar to how he will identify himself later to the

Israelites?  How does this fit God as "God of the journey" as opposed

"God of the fixed state"?  How does the role of exile and sojournering fit believers

of all ages?  (Fretheim, 445)

165.  In what ways does God use rite and ritual in Gen. 15?  Is Abraham

          familiar with those forms?  What is the meaning of the rite of

          the divided animal in terms of the promise/covenant?  How does God

use cultrual patterns to communicate and establish religious meaning? 

Does this rite fit the pattern of Jer 34:18ff of self-imprecation?  Can

God self-imprecate? (Fretheim, 446, 449)

166.  How does the reference to the sins of the Amorites help explain the

          delay between the promise and the fulfillment (Gen. 15:13ff)?

          What does that 400 delay say about the connection of sin and

judgment or act and consequence?  (Fretheim,  449)

167.  Does Israel ever occupy the full boundaries promised in Gen. 15:18?

          (Fretheim, 447)

168.  Fretheim sees Gen. 12-15 as paralleling Israel's history going

          down into Egypt to David's kingship and the covenant with

          Abraham paralleling the covenant with David?  Is that parallel

          legitimate?  Where does it fit and where does it break down?

          (Fretheim, 447)

169.  Does God give rewards based on behavior?  Is God impacted and

          responsive to human activity?  Does what Abram does matter?

          (Fretheim, 448)

Genesis 16                                                                              Back to Top


170.  With God's promise of a seed and Sarai being barren, how does Sarai

move to a solution to resolve the difficulty (Gen. 16)?  How does

Sarai interpret her barrenness theologically (Gen. 16:2) and how is

that dangerous?  Does she really know what God is doing in regard

to her barrenness?  When do we interpret our history theologically in

ways that may lead into bigger difficulties?  Is Sarah right in trying to

help fulfill the divine promise or should she just have waited with no

effort?   How do you interpret God's involvement in your life?  Have

you ever participated with God in an activity resolving a crisis?

(Fretheim, 454)

171.  Since the practice of having a child from a handmaid was common

          practice in the ancient Near East, is Fretheim correct what he assesses

          Abram's family as "a highly dysfunctional family system"?  How and

          on what basis is such a judgment made?  Does the dysfunction come

afterwards with the jealousy and harsh reaction of Sarah toward Hagar

(Gen. 16)?  Is it possible even that might be a healthy response?  Is

jealousy always bad?  Does a particular problem allow one to imply a

whole system is dysfunctional?  Can one quickly render judgment on

a whole family system based on the record of a few incidents?  Is it

not arrogant to apply modern standards without allowing for cultural

differences?  (Fretheim, 451f)

172.  How does God's focus stay on Hagar after the birth of Ishmael

(Gen. 16)?  Does God try to right Abram's wrongs?  Why would he do

that?  How does Hagar manifest her faith in God in the name of

her son and place name Lahai-Roi?  Where does Hagar the Egyptian

encounter God?  Does Hagar receive God's promise too?  Where will

Israel after leaving Egypt encounter God?  Where do you encounter

God?  (Fretheim, 452, 454)

173.  How do oppressed people identify with Hagar?  (Fretheim, 452, 454)

174.  Does Israel ever have conflict with the Ishmaelites (Gen. 16)?

Fretheim says no, is that correct?  How does this discussion play into

the Arab-Israeli conflict?  (Fretheim, 455)

175.  While the Protestant tradition emphasizes listening to a speaking God,

Hagar and Israel talk of a seeing God (Gen. 16:13; Ex. 2:25; 3:7) to

whom they respond.  How are these two traditions to be balanced? 

What are the legitimate and illegitimate factors of each?  How does

word and sight different in the Protestant and Catholic traditions? 

(Fretheim, 455)

Genesis 17                                                                              Back to Top


176.  How is the covenant as described in Gen. 17 similar and different

          from chapter 15?  What development is seen?  (Fretheim, 457)

177.  How does Gen. 17 fit a theophanic narrative style (divine appearance,

self-identification, word to the recipient, response of the recipient)?

(Fretheim, 458)

178.  What is the significance of Abram's name change to Abraham

(Gen. 17)?  What is the significance of Sarai's name change to Sarah?

What role does name changing or naming play in the biblical

narrative of places, divine names and human names?  What new name

of his own does God reveal in Gen. 17?   Should God's name "God

Almighty" better be understood as "God of the mountains" as

Fretheim suggests?  (Fretheim, 459)

179.  How is circumcision (Gen. 17) as a sign of the covenant, different

          from the rainbow as a sign of the covenant (Gen. 9)?  Was

circumcision practised outside of Israel in the ancient Near East? 

If it was practiced in other contexts what is God doing with it here?

What signs bond communities together?  What does circumcision of

the heart come to mean (Jer. 4:4; 9:25)? What are the links between

circumcision and baptism (Col. 2:11ff)?  Does circumcision allow for

outsider participation in the community?  (Fretheim, 459f) 

180.  What is the meaning of Abraham's laughter (Gen. 17)?  How does

          laughter fit with the birth of Isaac?  (Fretheim, 459)

181.  Does the word "everlasting" mean that the covenant is unconditional

          (Gen. 17) or is conditionality a pre-understanding built into the

          covenant structure?  (Fretheim, 460f)



Genesis 18                                                                              Back to Top


182.  Where else in Scripture are the themes of hospitality to a divine

stranger messengers and birth announcement seen (Gen. 18; cf. 2 Kgs

4)?  What are the components that demonstrate  Abraham's

hospitality?   What does the reader know about the identity of the

visitors that Abraham does not (cf. Heb. 13:2; Mat 25:43)? 

How does that further heighten Abraham's response to them?  How

will Abraham's hospitality be contrasted with the reception the divine

messengers get at Sodom?  What role does hospitality play in

American culture with its isolation between individuals and even

having to warn children about strangers?  (Fretheim, 462f)

183.  How is the question in Gen. 18:13 to be understood (rebuke, critical

          exploratory, focusing, opening the conversation)?  Sarah's

incredulousness at the divine announcement of a child is paralleled by

the response of what other women when a similar announcement was

made?  How do women struggle for children in their relationship with

God in Scripture?  (Fretheim, 463f)

184.  How is Sarah's laughter to be understood (Gen. 18)?  What role does

questioning the divine play in faith development?  Is it ever wrong? 

Is it ever right?  Do Abraham, Moses, David, and Jeremiah ever

question God?  Was Sarah's response improper?  What about when

Abraham laughed?  Is it possible the two laughters were different in

terms of their motivation and meaning?  (Fretheim, 465)

185.  How does the response "Is there anything to hard for the LORD?"

(Gen. 18:14) fit here and in your life?  How does one's response to

this question shape one's worldview and how one journeys?  What

does this question state about God?  In what ways do questions

function beyond a simple request for information?  How does God

and his promise function as an agent of hope to those beyond hope? 

(Fretheim, 464f)

186.  How does Gen. 18:16ff narrate the inside of the mind of God?  What

does it say about Abraham's relationship with God?  What reasons

does God give for letting Abraham into the discussion?  Does Abraham,

the father of nations, need to be aware of the national handling of issues

of justice and injustice?  (Fretheim, 468)

187.  When does the issue of the righteous being destroyed with the wicked

          come up in Israel's history and literature (Gen. 18)?  (Fretheim, 467)

188.  Does Gen. 18:19 indicate that the promises are conditional?  How are

the promises and righteousness are transmitted?

          (Fretheim, 468)

189.  God describes the situation to Abraham as a judicial inquiry into

          the state of Sodom.  Is this just a rhetorical device or does divine

          knowing actually depend on the inquiry to find out as the text

          says?  What types of theologies have trouble with or down play

such human-like statements by the divine?  How does one tell when

the biblical text actually is telling us something about how the divine

mind works or not?  In what ways is this dialogue with the divine

almost like two friends discussing an important decision?  Do both

sides contribute or is it predetermined and one sided?  How do

Abraham's questions reveal the nature of the relationship?  If God is

just playing with Abraham, does the story and relationship have any

integrity?  Is there a pedagogical situation behind this (cf. 18:19)? 

(Fretheim, 468)

190.  Abraham seems to be bartering for 50 righteous in the city.  But if

there are none righteous (Rom. 3) then what is the sense of this

dialogue?  Are there indeed some righteous in the city?  What is

meant here by the term "righteous"?  Are there many facets of

righteousness or is it that simply there are none righteous and that's it? 

(Fretheim, 469)

191.  What is the nature and function of Abraham's question "Will not the

          judge of all the earth do right (mishpat)?"  Isn't that a good question

          seeing God said Abraham would have to teach his own family

          what was right and just (18:19)?  (Fretheim, 469)

192.  The reward-punishment, act-consequence or simple retribution

formulas are shown not to be adequate for accounting for reality since

their judgment may not come because of the presence of the righteous. 

When are such delays seen in history and how do the godly respond

(cf. wisdom literature and lament Psalms; prophets)?  In this world

how are the destiny of the righteous and wicked often tied together

(Gen. 18)?  Does this passage show the need for a "critical mass" of

righteous people as Fretheim suggests?  (Fretheim, 469f)


Genesis 19                                                                              Back to Top


193.  How are the stories of Abraham's meeting of the divine visitors in Gen.

18 similar and different with Lot's meeting of the divine visitors in

Gen. 19?

194.  Is inhospitality the real issue of why Sodom was destroyed as the

          certain post-modern communities are pushing (Gen. 19)?  If

inhospitality is the  issue of righteousness/unrighteousness here then

why is Lot spared when his hospitality to his own daughters is so

brutally and abusively lacking?  Why are modern interpreters so

hesitant and apologetic of linking Gen. 19 with the issue of

homosexuality?  How has politically correct talk impacted and

restricted proper biblical interpretation and limited free speech and

free inquiry?  How is homosexuality viewed in both the OT and NT? 

Is it just a cultural thing or a significant transcendent moral issues

involved?  Are there other sins that are also attached to the men of

Sodom elsewhere in Scripture (Ezk. 38; Mat. 10:14f, esp. Jude 7)?  

(Fretheim, 474)

195.  How do ecological disasters mediate God's judgment at Sodom

(Gen. 19)?  How are human behavior and ecological results linked?

Does human sin impact the cosmos?   Is this issue ever raised in

environmental discussions?  Does God cause environmental damage

in his judgments?  What does that tell us?  (Fretheim, 475, 477)

196.  In Gen. 19:27ff, what did Abraham find out about the nature of

intercession?  Is a person always able to successfully intercede with

God?  Did God not, in fact, spare Lot as Abraham was hoping

although he did not say it directly?  (Fretheim, 475)

197.  How is there irony in the story of Lot with his daughters?  (Gen.

19:30ff)?  How does it illustrate the old proverb "you reap what you

sow"?  Is what the daughters of Lot did viewed as negative in the text

(cf. Gen. 38:26)?  What ethnological features does the story have

(Moab, Ammon)?  The Moabite line will play into what book of the

OT and ultimately into whose genealogy?  How does that give hope

that even out of abuse good may come without excusing what

was done?  (Fretheim, 475f)

198.  What is the issue of theodicy and how does it play into Abraham's

discussion with God over the fate of Sodom (Gen. 18f)?  Where else

do we see this theme in Scripture?  Is the solution a simple pietistic

leap of faith?  (Fretheim, 477)

199.  How does the corporate nature of sin and punishment come into play in

the story of Sodom (Gen. 19)?  How does this corporate nature of sin

play into recent discussions about terrorism and nations that support

terrorism?  Children are killed in wars how does this factor into

things? Do innocents ever suffer because of the wickedness of others? 

When has that happened personally/nationally?  Why are ten

righteous in the city enough to spare it but one not?  How does one

recognize the situation when there are too few righteous to turn the

situation?  (Fretheim, 478)


Genesis 20                                                                              Back to Top


200.  What are the similarities and differences between the three wife-as-

sister narratives (Gen. 12, 20, 26)?   Is it true that Abraham has

learned nothing in Gen. 20 as Fretheim says or, is the story to looked

at in a different way indicating that we as interpreters have learned

nothing from Gen. 12 and are perhaps missing something? 

How are wives and sisters categorized separately in most cultures?

(Kunin, Journ of Prog Judaism, 1994) (Fretheim, 481)

201.  How is Abimelech's question in 20:4 similar to Abraham's in Gen.

18:25?  How have the roles been turned? (Fretheim, 482)

202.  Why if Abimelech's intentions were not evil do consequences flow

into his kingdom (Gen. 20:17)?  Do consequences follow from evil

          acts regardless of intentions or are intentions always determinative?

          (Fretheim, 482)

203.  In Gen. 20:7, God calls Abraham a prophet, how does Abraham's role

as intercessor fit into the role of the prophet?  How effectual are

Abraham's prayers?  Does God act according to the prayers of his

people or only according to his own plans and purposes? 

(Fretheim, 484)

204.  How does this outsider, Abimelech, lead Abraham to a confession of

his own faults (Gen. 20)?  How is Abraham's confession mixed with

bogus justifications?  Have you ever seen confession and justification

mixed?  How are some of Abraham's lines of justification ironic? 

(Fretheim, 484)

205.  How is Abraham failing to be a blessing to the nations?  Is he not

the catalyst for a curse to Abimelech?  (Fretheim, 482f)

206.  In the Abimelech story how is God seen as interacting with those

          outside the orbit of Abraham and Israel (Gen. 20; cf. Mat. 8;10)? 

          Should people of faith listen to outsiders?  (Fretheim, 483)

207.  Does God hold people back from sinning (Gen. 20)?  If he does, why

not everyone?  Who is responsible for sinning then?  Does Abimlech's

response play into the equation in any way?  When a sin is forgiven

does that wipe out all consequences for that sin?  Do consequences

have a life of their own sometimes beyond the reach of forgiveness? 

A drunk kills someone and if forgiven, is the person (consequences of

the sin) brought back?  What does that say about the nature and

relationship of forgiveness and consequences?  (Fretheim, 484)


Genesis 21                                                                              Back to Top


208.  How is Isaac's name transformed in Gen. 21 as compared to the

          initial situation (Gen. 17:21)?  What are the different types and

meanings of laughter?  In what sense is Gen. 21 and the birth of Isaac,

the climax of the Abraham story and the fulfillment of God's promise? 

(Fretheim, 485f)

209.  In what sense do we see God's involvement in the birth of children

          today (Gen. 21)?  (Fretheim, 486)  Do parents also impact that process

          (genetics, aids babies, etc.)? 

210.  How is the Hagar story in Gen. 21:8ff similar and dissimilar to Gen.

16?  Ishmael mocks/laughs at Isaac which upsets Sarah.  How is

that a play on words?  Why does God side with Sarah who seems

overly harsh and oppressive against Abraham who is more moderate? 

Does God always side with the oppressed?  (Fretheim, 488)

211.  How does Hagar and Ishmael's wandering in the wilderness parallel

          Israel's journey in Exodus (Gen. 21)?  Where do Isaac and Ishmael

meet up again in the narrative (vid. Gen. 25)?  (Fretheim, 489)

212.  How does Gen. 21 with the loss of Ishmael set up Abraham's

experience of the sacrifice of Isaac in Gen. 22? 

213.  Fretheim quotes Phyllis Trible in regard to Hagar:  "Most especially,

all sorts of rejected women find their stories in her.  She is the faithful

maid exploited, the black woman used by the male and abused by the

female of the ruling class, the surrogate mother, the resident alien

without legal recourse, the other woman, ... the pregnant young

woman alone, the expelled wife, the divorced mother with child, the

shopping bag lady carrying bread and water, the homeless woman, ...

the welfare mother, and the self-effacing female whose own identity

shrinks in service to others."  Fretheim asks:  How does the Christian

community respond to these Hagars of our world? Why is this an

important reader response to the text of Gen. 21?  Are such readings

valid?  (Fretheim, 490)

214.  How does Paul pick up on the Hagar/Sarah story (Gen. 21; Gal.

4:21ff)?  (Fretheim, 490)

215.  How does the Abimelech story bind the stories of Abraham and Isaac

          together (Gen. 21:22ff; 26:33)?   Why is the site of Beersheba

          significant and what is its meaning?  How do Abraham and Isaac

relate to inhabitants of the land?  How are they a blessing to them?

Does Abraham make covenants with the inhabitants of the land?

How will that means of operation work or not work in the time when

Joshua enters the land?  Is Abraham a peacemaker? (Frethiem, 492)

216.  How can Abimelech be a Philistine when the Philistines were to have

settled in Palestine around 1200 BC?  Is it an anachronism or what are

other ways of solving this difficulty?  (Fretheim, 492)


Genesis 22                                                                              Back to Top


217.  How is the Akedah, story of Abraham offering Isaac (Gen. 22), similar

to the requirement God would have on the firstborn of Israel (Ex.

22:29) and his providing a redemption for the firstborn (Ex. 13:13;

34:20)  (Fretheim, 494)

218.  How is the testing of Abraham in Gen. 22 heightened by its

juxtaposition with Gen. 21 and the loss of Ishmael? 

(Fretheim, 495)

219.  What connections may be drawn between the call of Abram in Gen.

12:1-4 and his test in Genesis 22?  (Fretheim, 495)

220.  What is Abraham's response when God tells him to offer up Isaac

          (Gen. 22)?  Why are there no objections as in the Sodom story

          (Gen. 18:23ff) or any emotional response as there were for Ishmael

(21:11)?  (Fretheim, 495)

221. How does the Gen. 22 testing of Abraham structure itself around the

          statements "your son, your only son" and "Here am I"? 

(Fretheim, 495)

222.  What is significant about Abraham's offering Isaac on the mountain

          called Moriah?  How does the narrative highlight that place?

          (Fretheim, 496)

223.  How is Abraham's faith manifested in the story of the sacrifice of

          Isaac (Gen. 22)?  How is it seen elsewhere in Scripture (Heb.

11:17ff)?   How are faith and trust linked here?  How does Isaac's

relationship with his father mirror Abraham's trust of God?  What

does Isaac's question illicit in the story?  Promise/fulfillment is a

big motif in the Abrahamic narrative.  How does Abraham handle

the fulfillment in relationship to his trust of God?  Can divine

fulfillments be problems for faith as the tendency will be to grab

the fulfillment rather than continue to trust God?  When have you

wrestled with that?  (Fretheim, 495f)

224.  Is the test of Abraham a game for God?  In what senses is the powerful

statement "Now I know that you fear God..." (Gen. 22:12) challenging

to our static or flat view of God's omniscience?  Fretheim says the

story was not to teach Abraham not to be attached to Isaac or to trust

God more or learn some lesson but to confirm a fact that Abraham

does fear God.  How does shifting the focus away from the test being

pedagogical make it more difficult on our preconceived notions of

God?  Who actually learns in the story?  What does the text itself say? 

(Fretheim, 497)

225.  Is God a detached observer of the story of the sacrifice of Isaac (Gen.

22)?  How would this story bond God and Abraham together as

friends--Abraham being called the friend of God?  When would God

himself see such a sacrifice of an only son on Moriah?  Is God

showing Abraham his own greatest struggle?  (Fretheim, 497)

226.  How does the sacrifice of Isaac shake Abraham's view of God as

          promiser and fulfiller?  How does it break the notions of God being

          predictable, comfortable and fitting into certain norms of expected

          behavior and logically prescribed theological boxes?  (Fretheim, 498)

227.  While Fretheim sees the story of the sacrifice of Isaac as a metaphor

          of Israel's experience as God's firstborn (vid. Egypt; Isa. 53) in not

taking it further does he miss a major insight?  How is this story a

metaphor of something even greater than Israel's history?

(Fretheim, 498f)

228.  Abraham concludes the narrative of the sacrificing of Isaac by

          announcing the place name "The LORD will provide."  What is it

          that Abraham was seeing as being provided by God (Gen. 22:14)?

229.  What do you think of Alice Miller's statements that the Gen. 22

sacrifice of Isaac may have contributed to an atmosphere of child

abuse?  Is this valid?  Is Isaac dehumanized and made into an object?

What do you think of her approach to this story from a post-modern

perspective where victimization, abuse and oppression seem to be the

only lenses life and story can be viewed through?  Do such

perspectives help enlighten the text or violate it at points?  Are all

interpretative perspectives valid?  What criterion can be used to sort

out which ones are valid and which are not?  (Fretheim, 499)

230.  Does the unconditionality of the covenant make faith irrelevant (cf.

          Gen. 22)?  What happens to faith when the promise is fulfilled (a son

is born)?  How does the testing of Abraham answer this question?

(Fretheim, 500)


Genesis 23                                                                              Back to Top


231.  An inclusio is a way of binding a story together by having the start and

finish be similar.  How does Gen. 23 use an inclusio to bond this story

into an unit?  (Fretheim, 503)

232.  Abraham buys the cave of Macpelah off the Hittites but the Hittite

          empire centering in Turkey did not extend into Canaan.  How do

          we work with that difficulty historically? (Cf. Gen. 10:15; 28:1; Jdg

1:10 etc.)  (Fretheim, 503)

233. How is the bartering for the cave in Gen. 23 different than what we

          would have expected?  Is Ephron's effort to "give" the cave and field

to Abraham an act of generosity?  How is the purchase of the cave of

Machpelah to be seen in light of the promise of the land?  Is it a

fulfillment?  How does the cave play itself out in the burials of later

patriarchs?  (Fretheim, 504)


Genesis 24                                                                     Back to Top


234.  How does the story about Isaac and Rebekah fit the traditional:  man

          meets woman at well and marries her motif (Gen. 24)?  Where

elsewhere in Scripture is such a story seen?  What twists does this

story add?  Is it possible the test (watering the camels) was not for

divination or a character-test but as Schein suggests a fabrication

divine omen of approval so that the marriage proposal would be

accepted?  (Tradition, 1997) (Fretheim, 509)

235.  In the story of Isaac meeting Rebekah why does the text twice mention

          Isaac is not to return to Haran (Gen. 24)? (Fretheim, 510)

236.  How does the story of Rebekah guard her right of refusal?  How does

that show that human response counts in Genesis not just the angel

going before the servant?  Does what humans do matter in the biblical

account?  Do they have actual choices?  Do those choices actually

shape the future?  How do human choices participate with divine

purposes?  Does the notion of divine providence necessitate a

determined future?  How does the story of the finding of Rebekah

highlight divine providence?  Have you ever experienced the

movements of divine providence in recognizable ways?  How does

God work in the ordinary events of everyday life?  (Fretheim, 510).  

237.  In Gen. 24, what role does the servant's rehearsals play in furthering

the story?   How is the retelling of the same story re-shaped by the

context in which it is told?  Does this provide us a pattern with how

the biblical story should be retold in a post-modern context?  How is

the term "master" used and then shifted toward the end of the story? 

(Fretheim, 512)

238.  What was the servant's prayer life like in Gen. 24 as he seeks a wife

          for Isaac?  (Fretheim, 513)

239.  From the story of Isaac marrying Rebekah, what is learned about the

          nature of conjugal love (Gen. 24)?  (Fretheim, 513)


Genesis 25                                                                              Back to Top


240.  How is the situation with Keturah and Abraham somewhat of a

surprise in the narrative (Gen. 25)?  Who will the Midianites become

in the Exodus account (cf. Ex. 2-3)?  (Gen. 25) (Fretheim, 515)

241.  What does "being gathered to his people" (Gen. 25) refer to (grave,

post-burial practices, view of the afterlife, etc.)?  How do the

genealogies in Gen. 25 function to show Abraham as the father of

many nations?  Does the promise extend beyond the boundaries of

Israel via this genealogical list?  (Fretheim, 515)

242.  How is the story of Jacob/Israel the story of every contemporary

          Israelite (Gen. 25-36)?  As a founding father of the nation how does

the narrative not white-wash personal and familial problems?  How

does that argue for the document's historicity?  (Fretheim, 516)

243.  How does the divine blessing make its way into and out of the episodes

          of Jacob's life (parents, brothers, in fields, animals, children, and even

those he works for)?  (Fretheim, 517)

244.  How does God speak in the stories of Jacob (Gen. 25-36;  command,

promise, name, advise, etc.)?  How do these speeches shape and direct

the flow of the Jacob stories?  (Fretheim, 517)

245.  How does the region of conflict shift from the Abrahamic conflict

between parents over barrenness and childbearing and the Jacob

stories where the conflict centers on sibling rivalry?  (Gen. 25-36)

(Fretheim, 517)

246.  Fretheim labels Jacob's family conflict as indicative of a dysfunctional

family, do you agree?  Fretheim and post-modern interpreters seem

quick to judge using psycho/sociological labels are they as quick to

evaluate based on moral categories especially when applied to modern

situations?  Why is that ironic?  (Gen. 25-36) (Fretheim, 518)

247.  Fretheim thinks the Jacob stories "should not be seen as the

actualization of a predetermined fate.'"  Do you agree or disagree with

that statement and why?  Is the choice and either/or choice or could it

be a both/and?  What problems arise when one side or the other of this

tension is dismissed?  (Fretheim, 518)

248.  How does the Jacob-Esau birth narrative set the stage for later familial

          conflicts?  (Gen. 25:19ff) (Fretheim, 520)

249.  How does prayer impact the birth of Jacob-Esau (Gen. 25)?  How does

God react differently to the prayer of Isaac and the prayer of

Rebekah?  How is the story of Rebekah's barrenness similar and

different than Sarah's?  (Fretheim, 520f)

250.  How are the rights of the primogeniture shuffled in the birth of Jacob

          and Esau?  How are the names of Jacob and Esau/Seir/Edom plays on

          word meanings?  (Fretheim, 521)

251.  How does the conflict at the birth of Jacob and Esau foreshadow the

          conflict between the two nations Israel/Edom?  How is the conflict

          between Israel and Edom seen throughout Israel's history?  How is the

characterization of the differences in demeanor and interests typical of

parents observations of their children (Gen. 25:27f)?  What other birth

narratives in Scripture hint of an individual's future destiny?  (Fretheim, 521)

252.  What is the birthright (Gen. 25:29ff)?  How do Jacob and Esau value

the birthright differently?  How do those values shape the future?

How do Jacob and Esau look at the present and the future differently?

(Fretheim, 522)

253.  Does the divine word concerning Jacob and Esau's destinies determine

everything in the story and negate human involvement and choices? 

Does Rebekah think so?  Is it wrong to help participate in fulfilling

the divine promises or is it better to stand back and just let God do it? 

Is this second method docetic (Gen. 25:19ff)?  Did the divine

announcement of blessing on Jacob predispose Rebekah in his favor? 

What about Isaac?   Are God's choices grounded in human character

and behavior?  (Fretheim, 523)

254.  Was Jacob right to force Esau to sell his birthright because he lacked

          food?  Is it right to say Esau valued food while Jacob valued spiritual

          things like the birthright?  Must one be careful not to use election as a

means of exclusion and for exalting oneself over others? 

(Fretheim, 524) 


Genesis 26                                                                     Back to Top


255.  Why does God not allow Isaac to go to Egypt during a famine as

          Abraham had (Gen. 26)?  What does that say about divine direction

for each individual situations versus universal rules that blanket and

generalize to fit all similar situations?   How does one discern the

normative and universal with the historically unique and particular? 

(Fretheim, 527)

256.  In the three incidents of wife-she's-my-sister stories (Gen. 12, 20; 26)

          what kinds of concerns follow those stories?  (Fretheim, 527)

257.  How is Isaac's return to Beersheba a "typical theophanic narrative" as

          Fretheim says?  What are its major elements that are found in other

          divine encounter stories (Gen. 26)?  How will Beersheba be a cultic

          center of worship later in Israel's history?  (Fretheim, 528)

258.   What is the relationship of obedience to the promise (Gen. 26)?  Does

Isaac receive the promise because he is obedient or because his father

was obedient?  Did Abraham originally receive the promise because

of his obedience?  Is it possible for a community to receive the

benefits of a promise based on the obedience of a former generation? 

How is the promise transmitted intergenerationally?  Have you ever

seen something like that happen in our times?  (Fretheim, 529)

259.  What does God's statement regarding Abraham's keeping of "my

          commands, my decrees and my laws" mean (Gen. 26:5)?  How does

that relate to the laws given at Sinai?  Does the law actually not begin

at Sinai but begin development at the moment of creation, flood and

onwards as Fretheim has suggested?  (Fretheim, 529f)

260.  How do Abimelech and outsiders announce the fulfillment of divine

          promises in Gen. 26? 


Genesis 27                                                                     Back to Top


261.  What roles do the senses play in the story of the deception of Isaac in

          Gen. 27  (seeing, touching, smelling, tasting, hearing)?  How does

          Isaac use his available senses to test his suspicions and confirm

          truth?  Which senses does he trust the most?  Does Isaac ever address

the deceptive Jacob as "Esau"?  (Fretheim, 535f)

262.  How do the  birthright and blessing differ (Gen. 27)?  How is the father

as "blesser" one role of the father that is needed in modern times? 

How may fathers shape the future of their children?  Did a father have

more than one blessing?  Could he bless multiple children?  Where is

the blessing of each child seen in Genesis?  (Fretheim, 534)

263.  How does the blessing in Gen. 28:1ff function with the blessing Isaac

gives Jacob in 27:27ff?  (Fretheim, 537)

264.  Is the story of Jacob's deception of Isaac (Gen. 27) to be understood as

a cheating deceiver chosen by God in spite of his character which

gives hope to all, that God's election is not based on character?  Is

such a negative view of Jacob and large theological implications

warranted?  How should Jacob's and Rebekah's actions be evaluated 

(concern for the divine promise, dislike of Esau, self-interest)? 

Does Isaac's vulnerability count for anything?  Why does one never

hear of the victimization and abuse of fathers?  Does the divine

promise make it okay?  How do the consequences tell on Jacob? 

(Fretheim, 537f)

265.  Is a blessing able to be retracted?  Does the blessing, like a curse, once

spoken have a life of its own as the power of the word takes over? 

Does the communal meal ritual lock the blessing in?  How does

blessing shape history in Genesis and today? (Gen. 27)

(Fretheim, 539)

266.  Does Jacob's being blessed result in a trouble-free life (Gen. 27)?

          (Fretheim, 539)


Genesis 28                                                                     Back to Top


267.  How do the two Bethel stories parallel each other (Gen. 28; 35)?

(Fretheim, 519)

268.  As Jacob leaves his family fleeing from Esau how and when does

          God meet him (Gen. 28)?  Does God often meet people at their

          moments of vulnerability?  (Fretheim, 541)

269.   How does Jacob's meeting of God at this place change the meaning

          of the place, Bethel (Gen. 28)?  How does God change even the stones

          of that place?  How does the divine encounter transform the normal

          into the religious?  How will Bethel function later in Israel's religious

history?  Have you been to Bethel?  Can Bethel be used to describe an

adolescent encounter with God for themselves rather than tacitly

acquiescing to the religion of their family?  How is religion

communicated transgenerationally today?  (Fretheim, 541)

270.  Is it Jacob's ladder or a stairway or ramp connecting heaven

          and earth that Jacob sees (Gen. 28)?  How is the structure similar

          to the ziggurats of Mesopotamia which had the dwelling of the

          gods at the top and the structure which was considered a microcosm

of the world with the priests approaching the gods at the top?  How is

the biblical story different?  Do the angels communicate with Jacob or

does God speak directly?  Does the stairway indicate the connection

          of heaven and earth as not remote and distant or open and present? 

(Fretheim, 541)

271.  How does the situation at Bethel confirm Jacob's blessing and

birthright (Gen. 28)?  What concrete and external markers does

Jacob use to establish his divine encounter at Bethel?  How does the

visual and tactile play in the religious experience here?  After an

intense religious experience is it appropriate to mark that experience

with public external markers or rituals?  How important is place in

worship?  Does John 4:21 negate the significance of place?

(Fretheim, 542)

272.  How does Jacob own his religion at Bethel (Gen. 28)?  How do you

understand Bruggemann's statement "the world is a place

of such meetings"?  How would such dreams be viewed today?  What

kinds of shapes does that experience take today?  (Fretheim, 543)

273.  How do the themes of transcendence, presence and access converge

          in the story of Jacob at Bethel (Gen. 28)?  (Fretheim, 543)

274.  How does Jacob's vow function in relation to God's promises (Gen.

28)?  Is Jacob himself now making a promise and will have to

become a promise keeper?  How does that smack against his normal

character as seen in Genesis so far?  (Fretheim, 544)


Genesis 29                                                                     Back to Top


275.  In the novella or short story of Gen. 29-31 how can the episodes of

          this narrative be seen as an ABCBC chiastic structure?  What lies

          at the heart of this narrative (births)?  (Fretheim, 552)

276.  How is Jacob's meeting of Rachel at the well resulting in marriage

similar to other such well/meeting/marriage stories (Gen. 29)?  What

role do stones play in the Jacob narrative?  What is the significance of

Jacob rolling the stone away from the mouth of the well?  (Fretheim,


277.  What role does love play in the story of Jacob and Rachel?  How do

          the complications further highlight the love between them (Gen. 29)? 

(Fretheim, 553)

278.  How does irony play into the situation with Jacob, Laban and

          Leah?  How does the right of the firstborn haunt Jacob in his

marriage?  How does the trickster being tricked illustrate the 

lex talionis (eye for eye) principle (Gen. 29)?  (Fretheim, 553)


Genesis 30                                                                     Back to Top


279.  How does Leah's story make itself known in the narrative?  Who does

          God side with in the Rachel/Leah competition?  How does God side

with the oppressed?  Does the story of Jacob with two/four wives

provide an argument in favor of polygamy?  How does one move

from descriptive narrative to normative and prescriptive types of

principles (Gen. 30)?  (Fretheim, 553)

280.  How do the meanings of the names of Jacob's sons and daughter play

          into and further develop the storyline of the narrative (Gen. 30)? 

How is the role of God recognized in the birth of the children?  How

is God a responder to human need in these birth announcements? 

How does the conflict between Rachel/Leah parallel other familiar

conflicts (Sarah/Hagar, Jacob/Esau) and prefigure others

(Joseph/brothers)?   (Fretheim, 554f)

281.  How does the story of the mandrakes highlight the conflictedness of

          Jacob's family life (Gen. 30)?  How does the bartering for a night with

Jacob reveal how Jacob's wives view him?  (Fretheim, 555) 

282.  What ancient belief does Jacob's breeding sheep with striped rods

          in front of them reveal?  How is Jacob's plan of breeding the strong

ones similar to genetic engineering (Gen. 30)?  (Fretheim, 556)


Genesis 31                                                                     Back to Top


283.  How do Rachel and Leah see their leaving of their father Laban?

          (Gen. 31)  How are dreams used by God to protect his chosen from

those who are outside?  Where else does a similar protective dream

happen in Genesis?  (Fretheim, 557)

284.  How does Rachel's stealing and hiding the family gods show her

          victory over her father's abuse (Gen. 31)?  What does the "Fear of

Isaac" divine epithet mean in this context?  How does the Mizpah

benediction play into Laban's overstated role as father?  (Fretheim, 557)

285.  How was the covenant between Jacob and Laban made?   What

          symbols and rituals occur (Gen. 31)?  (Fretheim, 558)

286.  How did the family marriages change after Jacob's return from

          Haran?  Is there ever a return to Haran as a place of marriage

          and home (Gen. 31)?  (Fretheim, 558)

287.  What does the depth of intrafamily conflict and deception suggest

          about the historicity and preservation of the biblical text (Gen. 31)? 

How are the patriarchs portrayed? (Fretheim, 558)

288.  What role does humor play in the Genesis narrative (cf. Gen. 31:33ff)?

          (Fretheim, 559)

289.  How do the main characters in the Laban/Jacob cycle respond to the

          voice of God (Gen. 30f)?  (Fretheim, 559)

290.  How do women play the role as mediators of divine blessing in the

          Jacob stories?  How do the women voice their dissent to the men

          that had dominated their lives (Gen. 29ff)?  How is their faith     

voiced in the birth of their children? (Fretheim, 559)

291.  How does the family conflict and deception in the Jacob stories

provide encouragement on how God works in conflicted situations

today (Gen. 29ff)?  Does God only use perfect people?  How does

blessing function with failure?  (Fretheim, 559)

292.  How can the stories of Jacob leaving Laban be paralleled with Moses

          leading the people out of Egypt (Gen. 31)?  Are the parallels very

          striking?  How are the two events different? (Fretheim, 560)

293.  How do the roles of oppressor and oppressed oscillate throughout

          the Jacob cycles (Gen. 29ff)?  (Fretheim, 560)


Genesis 32                                                                              Back to Top


294.  What two facings or encounters dominate Gen. 32-33?  How is the

word "face" significant in a couple contexts in Gen. 32?  Do God's

commands and promises lessen the need for divine encounter? 

(Fretheim, 562)

295.  How does Jacob use master/servant language in his encountering of

          Esau (Gen. 32-33)?  Does that indicate Jacob is reversing his

reception of the blessing earlier? (Fretheim, 563)

296.  How is Jacob's prayer (Gen. 32:9-12) like a Psalm of lament (1)

invocation; 2) recollection of God's command, 3) confession of

unworthiness, 4) request for deliverance and 5) claiming of divine

promises? (Fretheim, 563)

297.  How does Jacob's divine encounter interrupt the flow of Gen. 32-33?

          How do divine encounters mark the beginning, middle and end of

Jacob's journey?  How are the divine encounters similar and unique? 

How is Jacob changed by each encounter?  (Fretheim, 563, 565)

298.  How is Jacob's encounter with God at Peniel in Gen. 32 mirrored by

          his encounter with Esau in Gen. 33 (face, struggling, etc)?  What

echoes between the two texts can be heard?  How does God use the

nature of anticipated difficulty itself in the process of answering

Jacob's prayer?  (Fretheim, 565, 573f  exc!)

299.  What did Jacob's wrestling with God indicate  about the human side

          of the encounter?  Does Jacob have power with God?  How can Jacob

see God's face and live (cf. Ex. 33:20; Num. 12:8; Jud. 13:22)?  What

is the significance of Jacob's name change in this divine wrestling

narrative?  What does Jacob's name change imply about God?  How is

Jacob's encounter with God precisely at the point of vulnerability? 

How does God bind himself to Jacob at that point?  How is an

embodied God identified with man in the Gen. 32 encounter? 

(Fretheim, 565ff)

300.  What is behind Jacob's request for God's name?  How is that similar to

Moses' request in Exod. 3?  How does God respond to Jacob's

question?  What does that say of God's name/character?  How does

one hang onto God?  (Fretheim, 566)

301.  How does the dietary rule reinforce and transmit the encounter to

          succeeding generations?  How is religious memory inculcated into

          the Israelite religion?  Was Jacob's struggle only internal?  Was God

just playing games with Jacob or was there an actual struggle (what

does the text say?)?  (Fretheim, 567)

302.  How are the stories of Abraham's testing (Gen. 22) and Jacob's

wrestling (Gen. 32) similar?  How do such stories show the means

spiritual formation?  Was Jacob profoundly changed in his character

after the wrestling?  What does this say about God's active

engagement with us?  How does God engage our struggles? 

(Fretheim, 568)


Genesis 33                                                                              Back to Top


303.  What verbal and non-verbal indications are there that when Jacob

          meets Esau he takes the servant role (Gen. 33)?  What does Esau's

response reveal about Esau's reception of Jacob?  (Fretheim, 572)

304.  How is one to view Jacob's saying he cannot travel back to Seir

          with Esau?  Does Jacob revert to deception with his reconciled

          brother once again or is something else going on?  Are Jacob and

Esau truly reconciled after their meeting?  (Fretheim, 573)

305.  How will relationship between Israel and Esau's descendants, the

Edomites, fare over the years (cf. Obadiah, Ps. 137; etc.)?  How is

the reconciliation of brothers possible?  (Fretheim, 573)


Genesis 34                                                                     Back to Top


306.  How does the story of the rape of Dinah connect with the themes

          of Genesis (family conflict, marriage to outsiders, circumcision,

          deception, etc. Gen. 34)?  How are the Canaanites presented in this

story? What other stories focus on Shechem?  In the NT what

happpens near Shechem (Jn. 4)?  (Fretheim, 576)

307.  How does the narrative portray Shechem in a positive light in the

          midst of the violent story (Gen. 34)?  How are outsiders portrayed?

          How did Shechem's offer have Dinah's best interest at heart?  How

          do the relationships between fathers fit with the roles between

          sons?  How does Shechem's offer go beyond the situation with

          Dinah?  Had Shechem's offer been taken would that have changed

          things in redemptive history later on?  Does Shechem's behavior

fit the scientifically documented behavior of a rapist (not lust but

anger and power) is it possible this narrative is not about rape but

about pre-marital sex as Gruber has suggested? (Beth Mikra, 1999)

(Fretheim, 576f)

308.  How do Jacob's sons use deception and religion to take vengeance

(Gen. 34)?  How is the meaning of circumcision distorted?  How is

religion used today to destroy outsiders?  (Fretheim, 577)

309.   When and how does "overkill" vengeance take place in societies and

how does lex talionis (eye for eye) mitigate that (Gen. 34)?  If

someone you loved was raped how would you respond?  How does

violence beget violence in modern times?  Is violence ever a justified

response?  (Fretheim, 578f)

310.  How does Dinah suffer both rape from an outsider and violation from

          her own brothers (Gen. 34)?  How has she, as a victim, been silenced? 

(Fretheim, 580)

311.  How does the story of the rape of Dinah fit with the promise to be

          a blessing to the nations (Gen. 34)?  Is this another failure of the

chosen family?  (Fretheim, 580)


Genesis 35                                                                              Back to Top


312.  How are the stories of Jacob's return journey and Abraham's journey

          from Haran to the Negev similar (Gen. 35)?  (Fretheim, 584)

313.  How is Jacob's return to Bethel a paradigm for true worship in Israel

          (Gen. 35)?  Why do they give him the rings in their ears?  What does

          Jacob's family putting away their gods imply about the content of

          their religion and commitment to God?  How does Brueggeman's

statement "The new community is found by renunciation, renaming,

reclothing, and finally, receiving a promise" manifest itself in Gen. 35

and Jacob's return to Bethel?  (Fretheim, 584f; Brueggeman, 283)

314.  How do all the previous theophanies converge in Jacob's return to

          Bethel (Gen. 35)?  What echoes from the other encounters reoccur

          in Jacob's encounter at Bethel?  (Fretheim, 585)

315.  Reuben sleeps with his father's concubine (Gen. 35).  How is that a

          political move that is seen elsewhere in Scripture (2 Sam. 3, 12, 16)?

          How does that effect Reuben's firstborn status later (Gen. 49)?

          (Fretheim, 585)


Genesis 36                                                                     Back to Top


316.  How does the Edomite king list fit with the time of Moses (Gen. 36)?

          Does it go beyond that time?  How does the Edomite genealogy

foreshadow Israel's own development from individual to family to

tribe to nation?  Why is it significant in the historiography of Israel

that it contains such a large section narrating the history of non-

chosen peoples?  What is the connection of the Horites to Seir and

to Edom?  How will Edom's later history intersect with Israel's

later history?  (Fretheim, 590)


Genesis 37                                                                              Back to Top


317.  How does the narrative of Gen. 37-50 differ from the stories of Gen.

12-36?   What elements from a "wisdom literature" perspective may

be seen in the Joseph stories?  How are the earlier stories more

focused on geographical movements and the Joseph stories more

around personal and royal settings?  How does Gen. 37-50 move from

the individual to the nation of Israel?  How does family history merge

into national history?  (Fretheim, 592f) 

318.  How does Gen. 37-50 provide the setting for the book of Exodus? 

How is Pharaoh portrayed in Gen. 37-50 in contrast to Exodus 1-

15)?  (Fretheim, 592f) 

319.  How does God work out his purposes in Gen. 37-50 behind the scenes

How is that different than how God was portrayed in Gen. 12-36? 

How do God's communicational methods shift from Gen. 12-36 to

37-50?  (Fretheim, 594)

320.   How is the beginning of the Joseph story similar to the beginning of

          the Jacob story (inept father, parental deception, chosen/not chosen,

sibling rivalry) (Gen. 37)?  (Fretheim, 598)

321.  Where did Joseph's coat of many colors go to in the KJV/NIV (Gen.

37)?  How do the following play out in Jacob's family system:

young/old;  concealed realms of discourse, rivalry, betrayal, selected

gifts, shunning, conflict, violence, social hierarchy? (Fretheim, 598)

322.  How does the scene change to Shechem/Dothan allow the brothers

          to operate outside the father's realm of control and protection

          (Gen. 37)?  (Fretheim, 599)

323.  Does the brothers selling Joseph to the Midianites and then the

          mention of the Ishmaelites mean there were two traditions seamed

          together into a single narrative by a later editor (Gen. 37)?  What other

explanations can be given?  (Fretheim, 599)

324.  How does Jacob grieve for Joseph?  What is the function of these

          externalized symbols of grief?  How do people grieve today

          (Gen. 37)?  Why do Christians feel so uncomfortable with grieving?

(Fretheim, 600)

325.  How does our psychoanalytic view of dreams today differ from the

way they understood dreams in those days?  What role does dreams

play in the Joseph narrative?  What function did dreams play in that

society?  Why would God use dreams to communicate? (Fretheim,


326.  How does the Joseph narrative balance divine providence and human

actions?  How does the narrative stay out of a one-sided divine

determinism and also a purely humanistic perspective?  (Fretheim,



Genesis 38                                                                              Back to Top


327.  How does the Judah/Tamar story (Gen. 38) break into the Joseph

narrative?  How do the common themes of non-recognition

of someone known, deception, reversal, and Judah as foil for Joseph

play out in the two stories?  (Fretheim, 604)

328.  Why did Onan refuse to have children for his brother?  What Genesis

motif does that refusal continue?  What role does the outsider

Canaanite play in the story? (Gen. 38)  How are Onan's and Judah's

responses to Tamar similar?  What is heroic about Tamar's plan to

fulfill the law outside the law?  Why did Tamar take such risks?

(Fretheim, 604f)

329.  What would Judah's staff, signet and cord be like in today's culture

(Gen. 38)?  How do people get someone's identity today (vid. movie

The Net)?  How is Judah's reaction to Tamar's pregnancy ironic? 

(Fretheim, 605)

330.  How does the birth of Perez and Zerah echo another birth in

          Genesis (Gen. 38)?  How does this story focus on the plight of women

in the Ancient Near East?  How did women respond in such

situations?  (Fretheim, 606)

331.  What role does Tamar play in the birth of Christ (Mat. 1)?  Why

          is this divine irony?  How does God use "outsiders" to accomplish his

purposes of election?  (Fretheim, 606)


Genesis 39                                                                     Back to Top


332.  How does Joseph see his relationship to Potiphar's wife?  How do

          power and sexuality interface in the conflict (Gen. 39)?  How does

          Joseph see the relationship between this sexual act and his relationship

          with Potiphar and moreover his relationship to God?  How does this

situation with Potiphar's wife fit with the admonitions of wisdom in

Prov. 5 and 7?  How is Joseph a model of handling one's conflicted

sexuality today?  (Fretheim, 610f)

333.  How does God appear in this narrative (Gen. 39)? How do the

Egyptians perceive God's presence with Joseph?  On what basis do the

Egyptians make theological statements? How does God's presence

assert itself in situations of human abandonment?  How is Joseph

fulfilling the promise of being a blessing to the nations?  (Fretheim,


334.  What other modern stories and movies have the innocent victim,

outcast without power or prestige through great struggle becoming a

person of position and power (Gen. 39;  hint:  Cinderella)?  Why do

such stories intrigue us?  How does the story of Joseph fit with many

of the situations and themes of David's life?  Why does Fretheim

relate many of the Genesis stories as echoed in David's life? 

(Fretheim, 612)


Genesis 40                                                                     Back to Top


335.  How does Joseph bring God into the picture when in prison with

          the two officials of Pharaoh (Gen. 40)?  How did God use these two

Egyptian officials to help resolve the problem Joseph, his chosen one,

          was facing? 

336.  How do the 3 dual dream sequences tie the Joseph narrative together? 

How are dreams connected to the future?  Does that still happen? 

Does this similar and dissimilar to psychoanalytic dream

interpretation techniques in any way [future/history, etc.]?  Besides

God, what are other sources of dreams cited in the Bible (Eccl. 5:7;

Deut. 13; Jer. 23)?(Fretheim, 614f)

337.  How does the description of "having one's head lifted" play in the

          two dreams of the Pharaoh's officials and also in the normal role

          in those coming into Pharaoh's court (Gen. 40)? 

338.  How does the time element play in the dreams of the officials and then

later with Joseph having to wait of two years to be remembered? 

What does waiting do when a person is in an oppressed situation? 

What impact can such waiting have on one's faith development? 

(Fretheim, 615)

339.  How does Joseph verbalize his own perception of his situation for the

          cupbearer in prison (Gen. 40)?  While God is with Joseph does Joseph

          still need and seek human help?  How is Joseph's lament like the latter

lament of Israel enslaved in Egypt and the lament psalms?  (Fretheim,



Genesis 41                                                                     Back to Top


340.  How does the change of scene in Gen. 41 foreshadow Joseph's own

          shift of situation?  What other stories follow the pattern of a person

          of low status solving a difficult problem and being moved to high

          status?  Why is the prison to palace motif so strong?  How does the

human act of remembering turn the story? (Fretheim, 620)

341.  How does Pharaoh perceive dreams that he is troubled by them (Gen.

41)?  How do the literal and allegorical elements of Pharaoh's dream

blend into the interpretation?  How does Joseph go beyond a mere

interpretation of the dream to a solution?  How does that help his

situation?  While the dreams reveal God's future plans how does

Joseph's plan show the impact of human response?  How do humans

help shape the given future (7 years famine, etc.)?  What is God's

connection to Pharaoh in the narrative?  (Fretheim, 621)

342.  What role does the changing of clothes play in Gen. 41?  What were

          the symbols of status in Egypt?  (Fretheim, 622).  Is Joseph's marrying

an Egyptian wife viewed negatively in the text?  How is Joseph's

marrying an Egyptian to be contrasted with conquest commands not to

marry foreigners?  How is the openness and tolerance here contrasted

with conquest intolerance of the inhabitants of the land?  Why the


343.  How do the names of Joseph's children reflect his life story (Gen. 41)?

          How is forgetfulness of the past a freeing gift from God sometimes? 

(Fretheim, 622)

344.  How are prophetic and wisdom traditions blended into the Joseph

          story (Gen. 41)?   What characteristics does Joseph manifest? 

(Fretheim, 622f)

345.  How is God shown to work in economic and governmental spheres

          outside of Israel in Joseph's move from prison to palace (Gen. 41)?

How does Joseph, the chosen one, become a blessing to other nations? 

What attracts the "outsiders" to contact with God's chosen (cf. Deut.

4:6)?  (Fretheim, 623)

346.  Is Joseph's use of power seen as his brothers come to Egypt for food

in Gen. 41 to be viewed positively or negatively?  (Fretheim, 627)


Genesis 42                                                                              Back to Top


347.  Where have we seen the meeting of estranged brothers before (Gen.

42)?  How is Joseph meeting very different than previous "meetings"? 

How does Joseph's brothers' language and non-verbal responses to

him fulfill Joseph's earlier dreams?  (Fretheim, 628)

348.  How does Joseph tease their common story out of his brothers so

healing can begin (Gen. 42)?  Why would they claim in their

defense of not being spies that they are the sons of one man?   How

does that defense open up the story?  (Fretheim, 628)

349.  What does Joseph's harassment bring out in his brothers (Gen.

42)?   How does their confession of guilt connect several stories

together?  Why would Joseph's brothers connect their present

plight with what they did to Joseph (sowing/reaping)? 

How does Reuben's "I told you so" speech further the narrative? 

How does Joseph's response manifest his heart toward his guilt-

laden brothers?  (Fretheim, 628)

350.  What things in the brothers' trip to Egypt create a feeling of

          helplessness in them (Gen. 42)?  (Fretheim, 629)

351.  Why did Joseph test his brothers (revenge, facade for the Egyptians,

determine if they had changed, preserve his family alive, or desire to

see Benjamin, etc.)(Gen. 42)?  What does Joseph's weeping indicate

about his motives?  (Fretheim, 630)

352.  The second journey of Joseph's brothers to Egypt is looked on by some

          as a "doubling journey" which suggests to them multiple sources

          poorly seamed together by an editor (Gen. 42).  What do you think

about such doubling in Genesis?  (Fretheim, 633)

353.  When there is a famine in Canaan where do the people traditionally

          go to get food and help (Gen. 42)?  Why?  (Fretheim, 633)


Genesis 43                                                                              Back to Top


354.  When Judah argues with Jacob about the need to return to Egypt he

          raises the issue of them being viewed as "honest men" (Gen. 43). 

How does that play into the greater storyline? (Fretheim, 633f)

355.  Why is so much of the story in Gen. 43 mediated through the steward

          rather than Joseph facing his brothers directly after Benjamin is

          brought?  What theological statements does the steward make? 

(Fretheim, 634)

356.  How does Joseph work the revelation of his identity in peek-a-boo

fashion (Gen. 43)?  Why does he not reveal himself sooner? 


Genesis 44                                                                              Back to Top


357.  Joseph's silver cup was said to be used for divination.  Does Joseph

          practice divination or is this a ruse (Gen. 44)?  (Fretheim, 639)

358.  How do the brothers' cries of innocence parallel Joseph's own?

          How do the brothers defend Benjamin in a way they had not with

          Joseph (Gen. 44)?  How does Judah's self-sacrificial attitude toward

Benjamin show the brothers have moved to a different level of

relationship with younger, favored brothers?  Is the brothers' concern

at this point for Benjamin or for the suffering of their father (or their

own culpability before their father)?

359.  How do good and evil play between Gen. 44:5f and Gen. 50:20? 

          What is God's role in uncovering guilt (44:16)?  How does Joseph

participate in that unmasking?  (Fretheim, 640)


Genesis 45                                                                              Back to Top


360.  Gen. 45 is parallel to Gen. 50:15-21.  How does that later passage

          show that the reconciliation with Joseph's brothers was not completed

          in Gen. 45?  How does the "father" (Jacob) play differently in these

          two passages?  Is the issue of accountability and penalty ever

addressed earlier?  How does the guilt/penalty issue pop up in Gen.

50?  In Gen. 45 whenever Joseph refers to God as subject/actor who is

the object?  How does the master/servant language still show itself in

Gen. 45?  (Fretheim, 643)

361.  How does Joseph identify himself to his brothers (Gen. 45)?

(Fretheim, 644)

362.  In Gen. 45:3ff, how is the past reinterpreted in light of the present?

          How does that work in your developing understanding of your own

          journey from then to now?  How are past pains and crises given new

light with the new contexts that come over time?  How does God

work in famines?  By giving a divine perspective how does that free

his brothers from expressing sorrow, regret, guilt, shame and

confession of what they did?  Is the reconciliation full without those

components of repentance?  If the selling of Joseph was God's plan

are the brothers culpable?  What is the relation of the divine and

human intentions in these stories (cf. 50:20)?  How do the divine

and human participate together to form one story?  (Fretheim, 644)


Genesis 46                                                                              Back to Top


363.  What is Pharaoh's response to Joseph's family (Gen. 45)?           What good

          qualities does Pharaoh manifest as a ruler?  (Fretheim, 645)

364.  How is Gen. 46:1ff a return to a format more similar to Gen. 12-35

than the chs. 37-45?  What does it mean to say Gen. 46 is more

episodic and itinerary driven?  What role does Beersheba play in the

development of Israel's religious history?  (Fretheim, 652)

365.  How does Joseph shed his official role when he greets his father (Gen.

46)?  Jacob reunites with Joseph alive and Jacob now says he can die. 

What things prepare a person for the acceptance of the coming of

death?  (Fretheim, 653)


Genesis 47                                                                              Back to Top


366.  How does Jacob's life illustrate Fretheim's point that being a recipient

of God's blessing does not mean a trouble-free life (Gen. 47)?  How

does that play out today?  How does the shape of Jacob's journey

converge with the goals of God's promises?  (Fretheim, 653)

367.  How does Joseph become a means of blessing for Pharaoh (Gen. 47)?

          How does Jacob's blessing of Pharaoh fit into the promise of Israel

          being a blessing to the nations?  How is the shift from family to

nation/people beginning to take shape?  (Fretheim, 654)

368.  How does Joseph's enslaving of the Egyptian people foreshadow the

          enslaving of Israel (Gen. 47)? (Fretheim,  655)

369.  How do the stories of exclusion in Gen. 37-38 find their reversal in

          the uniting of the family in Gen. 48-50?  How are Judah (major tribe

in the south) and Joseph's sons (Ephraim/Manasseh--major tribes in

the north) highlighted?  What are the indicators of the movement from

family to tribe (Fretheim, 656)

370.  Why did Jacob make such a big deal over being buried in Canaan

(Gen. 47)?  How is the oath/covenant procedure used in Jacob's

getting his sons to promise to return his body to Machpelah? 

(Fretheim, 659)


Genesis 48                                                                              Back to Top


371.  What is going on with Ephraim and Manasseh, Joseph's two sons and

          Jacob (Gen. 48)?  How were adoptions done in the Ancient Near

East?  Why would Jacob want to adopt Joseph's sons? 

(Fretheim, 659)

372.  What is ironic about Jacob's crossing his hands and blessing Ephraim

          as the firstborn (Gen. 48)?   How does the history of Ephraim show its

becoming a dominant tribe in the northern kingdom of Israel? 

Functionally with Levi receiving no land inheritance the inclusion of

Ephraim and Manasseh returns the tribal number to what?  Who

gets a double portion in the inheritance rituals?  (Fretheim, 660)

373.  What is the father's role of being a blesser (Gen. 48)?  Does it still

function that way today?  How does Jacob's blessing converge with

God's          blessing?  Are deathbed statements from a father valued today? 

(Fretheim, 660)

374.  The phrase translated "ridge of land" (Gen. 48:22) plays on the term

          "shekem" which also plays on the place "Shechem".  How does this

          play make its way from the history of the patriarchs into the future

          of Ephraim (Gen. 33:18ff; Josh. 24:32, etc.)?  (Fretheim, 660)

375.  How does this description of blessing show a way of thinking of

          the movements of history in terms of "underlying family structures"

          rather than as simple events (Gen. 48)?  (Fretheim, 661; cf.


376.  What images does Jacob use for describing the God-human interaction

          in Gen. 48:15f?  How does this blessing draw together the themes

          of the book of Genesis?  (Fretheim, 661)


Genesis 49                                                                              Back to Top


377.  What parallels can be drawn between Gen. 49 and Deut. 33?  

          (Fretheim, 664)

378.  Gen. 49 is an ancient poem.  What poetic elements are seen in it? 

          How is imagery used, poetic features of parallelism, aphorisms and

oracular pronouncements?  (Fretheim, 664)

379.  An inclusio caps the beginning and end of a literary unit.  What

inclusio is used to draw Gen. 48-49 as a unit (Cf. Gedn. 47:28;

49:33)?  (Fretheim, 664)

380.  How do the future and history interact in the poem of Jacob's last

words?  How does Gen. 49 show Israel's non-spin or politically

corrected telling of history in a "warts and all" approach?  How does

Jacob move from an understanding of his son's character to a

determination of their future?  How do character and future connect? 

How is this description of the future not apocalyptic? 

(Fretheim, 665, 667)

381.  How does the future of Levi and Simeon differ (Gen. 49:5ff; Cf. Deut.

33)?  (Fretheim, 665)

382.  Who has the longest sections in the Jacob last words poem? How is

Judah portrayed and what is meant by in 49:10 "until Shiloh

comes"?  When will Judah become royal in Israel's history?

Do the statements made to Judah have messianic overtones or are

they merely a reference to a monarchy situation?  (Fretheim, 665)

383.  How do many of Jacob's last words fit with the tribal settlement of

each tribe (vid. Joshua/Judges)?   How are the blessings on Joseph

linked to the patriarchal blessings?  (Fretheim, 665)

384.  How do the last words of Jacob pull much of the book of Genesis

          together?  (Fretheim, 667)

385.  What metaphors of plants and animals are used (Gen. 49)?  How are

the connections between animals and human character manifest (cf.

Prov. 6:6; 30:18ff)? (Fretheim, 667)


Genesis 50                                                                              Back to Top


386.  How does Jacob's mummification fit an Egyptian setting?  What do we

learn about ancient burial practices from Gen. 50?  How are the

Egyptians portrayed in this burial scene?  Will this relationship with

the Egyptians dramatically change in Exodus?  Which is to be the

norm for how outside nations are to be treated by the Israelites

Genesis or Exodus?  (Fretheim, 669f)

387.  After a parent die how do the relationships between siblings have to be

renegotiated (Gen. 50; vid. Ted Williams' death)?  How do the

brothers play off their father's request?  How does the brothers'

"servant" language reflect their fears?  How does guilt linger even

after forgiveness?  How is reconciliation shaped?  How does Joseph

allay their fears?  How does Joseph's speech transcend their guilt and

give them a new perspective on their own personal and shared

histories?  (Fretheim, 671) 

388.  What does Gen. 50 show us about how God works in a world full of

          evil?  How does God's goodness link Gen. 50 and Gen. 1 and show

God's overarching creational purposes? 

389.  Does Gen. 50:20 indicate a plan of God that is worked solely by itself

or does it participate and interact with the plans of humans?  Are

humans automatons or active agents involved in shaping the future? 

How does Gen. 50:20 parallel Rom. 8:28f?  (Fretheim, 672)

390.  How does the story of Joseph show the moral order of things?  How

          do time and events stream that order in the direction of God's

persistent purposes?  (Fretheim, 673)

391.  How does the epilogue (Gen. 50:22ff) link to the next book and stage

          of Israel's development?  (Fretheim, 674)



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