Human Agency and Divine Will: The Book of Genesis, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Human Agency and Divine Will

The Book of Genesis, 1st Edition

By Charlotte Katzoff


240 pages

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Hardback: 9781848935907
pub: 2020-06-15
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This book explores the conjuncture of human agency and divine volition in the biblical narrative – sometimes referred to as "double causality." A commonly held view has it that the biblical narrative shows human action to be determined by divine will. Yet, when reading the biblical narrative we are inclined to hold the actors accountable for their deeds.

The book, then, challenges the common assumptions about the sweeping nature of divine causality in the biblical narrative and seeks to do justice to the roles played by the human actors in the drama. God's causing a person to act in a particular way, as He does when He hardens Pharaoh's heart, is the exception rather than the rule. On the whole, the biblical heroes act on their own; their personal initiatives and strivings are what move the story forward. How does it happen, then, that events, remarkably, conspire to realize God’s plan?

The study enlists concepts and theories developed within the framework of contemporary analytic philosophy, featured against the background of classical and contemporary bible commentary. In addressing the biblical narrative through these perspectives, this book holds appeal for scholars of a variety of disciplines – bible studies, philosophy, religion and philosophical theology — as well as for those who simply delight in reading the Bible.

Table of Contents


1 Temptation in the Garden

2 Matriarchal Knowledge

3 Abraham: A God-Fearing Man

4 Isaac: A Tale of Deception and Self-Deception

5 Jacob Seeks Atonement

6 Who Sold Joseph into Egypt?

7 Changes of Heart

About the Author

Charlotte Katzoff is Senior Lecturer (Retired), Department of Philosophy, and Adjunct (Ret.) in the Gender Studies Program, Bar Ilan University, Israel.

About the Series

Routledge Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Biblical Criticism

The Routledge Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Biblical Criticism (RIPBC) series features volumes that engage substantially with Biblical literature from perspectives not traditionally associated with Biblical studies. This series aims at employing the best tools, theories, and insights from the sciences, philosophy, and beyond to yield fresh and demonstrable insights from the Biblical texts and from Biblical criticism itself.

Volumes in this series will typically have a dual emphasis between a field of study and Biblical scholarship, and accomplish at least one of the following:

  • Demonstrate why a particular field of study enables new insights in reading select biblical passages, texts, or corpora
  • Show how Biblical texts have anticipated themes and issues later approached in other disciplines, and can serve as an ancient conversation partner, or prescient critique, of those areas of study
  • Explain how a field of study offers a parallel insight into the methods or findings of Biblical criticism  

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PHILOSOPHY / Religious
RELIGION / General