Thursday August 24 , 2017
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Other Reviews


Library Journal

"In this engaging, well-written retelling of the Genesis story, Coats, a former parish priest and management consultant, uses conclusions of modern biblical criticism to emphasize the human story of the biblical narrative as myth from which nonreligious and religious alike can gain psychological insight and wisdom. His corrections to misogynist interpretations will resonate with certain readers, while some will appreciate his willingness to challenge received dogmas. Most people will find his contemporary life comparisons enlightening, e.g., Jacob's machinations to gain Esau's birthright compared with his own manipulations to elect the first woman to an Episcopal vestry in Texas. Biblical literalists may dispute Coats's interpretations, but readers more concerned with finding their own truths than with orthodoxy will revel in his insights. VERDICT Recommended for thoughtful readers ready to question their values and traditions through encounters with creative mythic stories."

—Carolyn M. Craft, Longwood Univ., Farmville, VA


Sven Birkerts

“John Coats writes with insight, passion, humor and wisdom about the core human narratives. ORIGINAL SINNERS reminds us that the archetypes of Genesis are alive in each of us, and artfully braids in key episodes from his own life to make the point. There is a verifying resonance in these pages—a sense that one’s deepest questions have been anticipated and addressed.”

— Sven Birkerts, The Gutenberg Elegies, My Sky Blue Trades, The Art of Time in Memoir, An Artificial Wilderness, Briggs Copeland Lecturer on English and American Literature and Language, Harvard University; Director of The Bennington Writing Seminars; editor of Agni, published at Boston University, and National Book Critics Circle Award winner.


Phillip Lopate

“This immensely readable book blends biblical exegesis and personal memoir in a wonderfully engaging synthesis. The spiritual quest is humanized by a taste for nitty-gritty honesty and humor. Coats' casual conversational style becomes the perfect vehicle for his impressive erudition, psychological insight and wisdom.”

—Phillip Lopate, Against Joie de Vivre, Waterfront: A Walk Around Manhattan, Notes on Sontag, Two Marriages, Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, John Cranford Adams Chair in the Humanities at Hofstra University, and teaches in the MFA graduate programs at Columbia, the New School, and The Bennington Writing Seminars.


Bob Schacohis

“For far too long (forever, in fact), western civilization has been rolling atop a wave-tossed sea of Biblical assumptions about who we are, where we came from, and what on earth we're doing here. Anyone with a fresh desire to stand steady on the deck of Judeo-Christian theology could not hope for a better navigator than John Coats, the most perfect guide through these troubled waters, an eloquent and generous writer who casts illumination in all directions. Plus, there's a secret pleasure to Original Sinners: it's enormously fun to read.”

—Bob Shacochis, Easy in the Islands, The Immaculate Invasion, The Next New World, awarded the Prix di Rome in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and National Book Award winner, writer-in-residence, The Bennington Writing Seminars, and teaches creative writing at the University of Florida.


Priscilla Warner

“A unique, powerful way of looking at Genesis, “Original Sinners” is actually a book of revelations – about John Coats’ riveting life and all of the characters we thought we knew from the book of Genesis. From the moment Adam finds ‘a new creature in the garden who makes him feel all funny,’ Coats makes Genesis come alive in a sparkling, imaginative, gutsy new way, pulling powerful new lessons out of ancient texts.”

—Priscilla Warner, Coauthor, The Faith Club: A Muslim, A Christian, A Jew – Three Women Search for Understanding


Michael Goins

"John Coats is a damn good storyteller, and Original Sinners will help you examine what you know or think you know about both religion and the world. It matters not if you are versed in religion or just discovering how it fits your life -- an entirely new understanding of these people, places, and times unfolds beautifully."

—Michael Goins, professor of writing, University of Texas at San Antonio


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Original Sinners - John R. Coats

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