Original Sinners - A New Interpretation of Genesis
When I began writing Original Sinners, I wanted to create something different, a study of Genesis that would not be doctrinal, that would be light but not lightweight, and relevant to modern life, whether the reader was religious or not. So, rather than following the usual path of focusing on the significance of the stories, I decided to employ the method of scriptural interpretation I learned almost forty years ago when a mentor taught me to focus on the characters in the stories, to look deeper, beneath the overlays of doctrine and history, and find their humanity...
Genesis, the soap opera
John Coats reclaims the first book of the Bible for the nonreligious
By Michael Fitzgerald | January 17, 2010
The book of Genesis forms a cultural cornerstone for a large mass of humanity. Even people who have never opened a Bible know its stories - Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, Noah’s ark, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. It is Genesis that introduces Abraham, the patriarch of Christians, Jews, and Muslims alike. It contains the creation story that fundamentalists use to deny evolution; it also tells the story of Joseph, which became an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical.
For all of its familiarity, and its sacred aura, Genesis is a quirky work of literature, less a well-organized narrative than an outline for an epic that leaves out heaps of important details. Along to fill them in for the 21st century comes John Coats. In his book “Original Sinners,” he unpacks the first book of the Bible, story by story, mining it for very modern psychological insights. We see Noah’s family, post-Flood, slipping into a kind of madness straight out of “Apocalypse Now”; we see Joseph’s bedazzling coat hiding the fact that he was a snot-nosed brat we’d all love to hate. God pops up here and there, an omnipotent Jehovah-in-the-box who twists the plot in some impossible direction while the characters try to wrestle him back down.