eNotator: Maura O'Neill


The eNotated Book of Genesis

According to eNotator Maura O'Neill, "The Book of Genesis was redacted from oral traditions and written down over centuries by writers whom many believe were divinely inspired."

"Inherent in our human nature is the desire to know our origins, and all peoples and cultures have a story to explain how their life began. One such explanation is found in the first book of the Bible, Genesis, a word meaning “origin.” Not only does this work provide the basis for Jewish and Christian faith, but it also has had a great influence on contemporary Western culture as is evidenced by its adaptations in movies, art, children's literature, and politics.

"Because it was written between 3000 and 2400 years ago, it is important to look at the history, literature and culture of the ancient world in order to understand the context and significance of the book. The more we study the text, the easier it will be to discover its influence throughout history and to make our own decisions regarding its interpretation.

"The eNotations made here take into account advances in the fields of history, archeology, paleontology, linguistics and sociology. Through extensive research, scholars in these disciplines have discovered how the ancient world viewed its surroundings and communicated its meaning in oral and written stories.

"All scholars agree ... on the purpose of the Book, that is, to explain God's work in the world and to demonstrate Israel's special place in the fulfillment of God's plan. This main purpose must be kept in mind as we weave our way through the colorful, confusing and sometimes shocking paths through which the narratives of the Book of Genesis lead us. In summary, whether one's interest in the Bible is religious or simply literary, the information regarding its formation can only enhance the interpretation and increase one's appreciation for this fascinating work" (From the eIntroduction).

This edition of Genesis includes an introduction, an essay describing the four major sections of Genesis, a bibliography, and more than 260 eNotations that extend the text by providing a new layer of information the reader can access before, during, and after each chapter.

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About eNotator Maura O'Neill

Maura O’Neill received a BS in Education from Brentwood College in New York, an MA in Theology from St. Michael’s College in Vermont and her Ph.D. in Philosophy of Religion from Claremont Graduate University in California. Her teaching career spanned all levels of education from elementary school, to high school to adult education. The last 21 years of her career were spent teaching classes in philosophy, religious studies and ethics at Chaffey College, a large community college in Southern California. She is the author of two books on women in world religions, "Women Speaking, Women Listening" and "Mending a Torn World."

Since her retirement in 2007, Maura continues to research and write in areas of her main interests, which include interreligious dialogue, women’s role in religions, and the intersection of conservative and progressive interpretations of beliefs. Her passion throughout her career has been to make the complex ideas of belief systems accessible to all who are curious.


Reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars
(from Amazon.com)
Alice Logan October 12, 2013

Maura O'Neill's The eNotated Book of Genesis is a very well written, easy to use commentary that allows the reader quick access to information that helps make the often confusing text understandable. Written for the non-scholar in concise, non technical language, I recommend it to anyone wishing to read Genesis for the first time or check/recheck the meaning of a verse, story or section. I hope Maura will be writing similar eBooks on other Books of the Bible soon. 

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5.0 out of 5 stars
(From Amazon.com)
An Excellent Commentary on the Book of Genesis October 9, 2013
By Ryan Falcioni

Dr. O'Neill offers a lucid, informed and accessible guide to the book of Genesis. Utilizing insights from contemporary biblical studies, anthropology, history, linguistics and philosophy, she carefully works through some of the most interesting and often controversial passages in the text. In her analysis of the passage dealing with the so-called `Curse of Eve' in Genesis 3:16, Dr. O'Neill states, "Commentators understand this verse as the narrator's explanation of women's plight in his day, that is, she suffers in childbirth and is subjected to her husband. The text here is saying that this situation of antiquity is a result of human sin and is not God's original intention as many believed. Gen. 3 explains how things are, not how they should be."

This analysis is very clear, accurate and cuts right to the point. It is apparent that Dr. O'Neill has a keen eye for doing justice to the text and for bringing out the often implicit meanings therein. And, unlike many other biblical commentators, she is not an apologist for either conservative or liberal interpretations of the text. She carefully and patiently explores the biblical passages with the goal of enhancing the reader's overall understanding of the intended authorial meaning, balanced with the most relevant and contemporary insights from the academic study of the text.

It is in this way, that Dr. O'Neill's contribution to biblical studies is most valuable and unique. It is fair, balanced and informed and should be of use to both the religious believer who is merely wanting to enhance their comprehension of the Bible as well as to the budding scholar of biblical studies who wants to delve deeper into the complexities and paradoxes of the text. All things considered, this is an excellent contribution to the discipline of biblical studies and to the eNotated Classics series. I highly recommend this to all interested parties.