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Paper should be 1100 – 1400 words long, 4-6 pages, double-spaced with one-inch margins. Be sure to include page numbers.
For topics two and three, make sure that you notice the difference between passages of interpretation in Genesis Rabbah and actual quotations of Genesis itself in the text–most of these are written in UPPER CASE.
1) What are Nahum Sarna’s modern “assumptions” or postulates of biblical interpretation? They are certainly different from the ancient ones described by Kugel, but is there any overlap? Which of them does he state explicitly and which can one discover reading between the lines?
Put each assumption in your own words, and prove and illustrate them with specific examples and short quotations from his general statements and analysis of Genesis. Optionally, discuss which you agree or disagree with and why.
2) Take any two of the first three of Kugel’s “Four Assumptions” held by ancient interpreters, and explain them in your own words and with further paraphrase and perhaps quotations from Kugel. You can used this for convenience, The four assumptions.doc but also re-read Kugel himself.
Illustrate each assumption with examples from our reading of Genesis Rabbah. If you need to write more, pick the third of the first three assumptions: whichever one you haven’t discussed yet.
—- The main purpose of the paper is not to agree or disagree with Kugel’s “four assumptions,” but to explain and illustrate two or three of them.
The assumptions are not necessarily Kugel’s own—in fact they may not reflect his 20th century Jewish view. Rather they are his understanding of how ancient interpreters understood the Bible.
—- I want you to explain each of the assumptions that you are describing in your own words (you’ll need at least a paragraph on each, based on your careful reading of Kugel and maybe my notes) and illustrate how Genesis Rabbah provides several examples of interpretations that are based on these assumptions. You may find the “Interpretation Chart” handout useful as well.
I welcome a summing-up at the end, or a statement about what you learned at the start (I advise you to write that last and put it first if you choose to) but I do not require it.
3) Work thematically to analyze in detail several of the sections of Genesis Rabbah that describe human nature and/or the relationship between human beings and God.
Read word by word, as you would when analyzing a poem, a historical document, or a scientific paper. Consider both what is said directly and what is implied.
Note common themes and also differences between passages, and end with a summary of the most important message(s) of the text.
Optionally, describe in short how these passages relate to your own religious understanding.
Use any class readings up to this week, as well as handouts and class notes.
Look at both selections of Genesis Rabbah Genesis Rabbah ch 8 – on Gen. ch 1.docx and
Genesis Rabbah Gen ch 2&3.doc,
Nahum Sarna Understanding Genesis in our Course Pack (or the book)
There is no requirement to cite ideas from any source already assigned for this class. Especially when writing on Sarna it will help to give pages numbers if you are discussing a particular passage — think about the needs of the reader.
If you have a direct quotation, cite in parentheses, for example: (Kugel, The Bible as It Was 17), (Lindbeck 1/19 lecture). Cite handouts by class date.
Cite Genesis Rabbah by chapter and section. Our first reading from Genesis Rabbah is taken from chapter 8, and our second from chapters 17-19. For example, you would write: “From this you learn that the Torah was given in the holy tongue” (Gen. Rab. 18.4).
Cite the Bible by chapter and verse, like so (Genesis 1:12). The first time that you cite the Bible, tell me what translation you are using: “Fox” is the translator of the text on-line, or you may have a JPS (Jewish Publication Society) Bible, or a KJB (King James), or an NIV (New International version), NRSV (New Revised Standard Version).
If you use a source you have found yourself – which I allow but do not encourage you to do for this paper, cite both ideas and direct quotations. Use MLA, APA, or Chicago Style, being sure to include all the publication information, starting with author and title. If you are citing an internet source (one from the open web as opposed to a journal from our library databases) follow the following instructions.
You can include the exact URL (http:// and so on) at the end – but this is now optional if the URL is long and complicated and the site is easy to find from its name and description (for example, a web-based journal). Regardless of whether you include the URL, I need to see more. You must also include:
The sponsoring organization (university, religious organization, magazine, journal or web-journal) and/or sponsoring individual for the web site.
Whenever possible the title and author of the particular piece you are quoting
Whenever possible the date the specific page/essay/material was posted, or at least the date that the website was last updated
Note: if you cannot find at least two of 1, 2, and 3, the website should probably not be quoted in a paper. If you have any doubts about whether it is appropriate to use the site, email the link to me, and I will tell you.
Tips on re-writing:
These apply even more to longer papers, but will certainly get you a better short paper as well. To increase your chances of an “A” or “A-” paper, plan to leave at least an hour for revision and editing, unless you are someone who writes very cleanly and clearly.
Look particularly at structure and at how you present your argument, or main point(s).
Is it convincing?
Does each paragraph follow the next clearly and logically?
For each paragraph, you should be able to answer these questions:
Why is it in my paper?
Does it advance my thesis or my presentation of my major points?
Does it belong where it is?
Does it make one clear point, and/or have one clear topic?
Is there a clear transition between it and the paragraphs before and after?
Editing and Proofreading

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