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James Jordan reveals the fascinating weave of lives that bind together the heroes and villains of Genesis. Progressively, these lives image and reverse one another in an ascending narrative of action, a narrative all too commonly broken apart and missed. These heroes of the city of God - Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and others - come to flesh and blood in wa James Jordan reveals the fascinating weave of lives that bind together the heroes and villains of Genesis. Progressively, these lives image and reverse one another in an ascending narrative of action, a narrative all too commonly broken apart and missed. These heroes of the city of God - Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and others - come to flesh and blood in ways that undo our normal assumptions. In stark contrast to the selfish heroism of pagan literature, the heroism of Genesis triumphs by breaking all the standard rules. Jordan inverts so many of the traditional negative judgments against these patriarchs' alleged weaknesses and "sins" of deception, struggle, and tyranny that they stand forth as heroes rather than scoundrels. And yet this book is not just about the heroes of Genesis. Throughout, Jordan draws a picture of how Christian culture should be imagined and lived in our own day, from creativity and work to tyranny and freedom. You will never be able to read Genesis the same way again.


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James Jordan reveals the fascinating weave of lives that bind together the heroes and villains of Genesis. Progressively, these lives image and reverse one another in an ascending narrative of action, a narrative all too commonly broken apart and missed. These heroes of the city of God - Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and others - come to flesh and blood in wa James Jordan reveals the fascinating weave of lives that bind together the heroes and villains of Genesis. Progressively, these lives image and reverse one another in an ascending narrative of action, a narrative all too commonly broken apart and missed. These heroes of the city of God - Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and others - come to flesh and blood in ways that undo our normal assumptions. In stark contrast to the selfish heroism of pagan literature, the heroism of Genesis triumphs by breaking all the standard rules. Jordan inverts so many of the traditional negative judgments against these patriarchs' alleged weaknesses and "sins" of deception, struggle, and tyranny that they stand forth as heroes rather than scoundrels. And yet this book is not just about the heroes of Genesis. Throughout, Jordan draws a picture of how Christian culture should be imagined and lived in our own day, from creativity and work to tyranny and freedom. You will never be able to read Genesis the same way again.

30 review for Primeval Saints: Studies in the Patriarchs of Genesis

  1. 5 out of 5

    Becky Pliego

    The author has some very interesting points of view that made me think and go back to the Bible to re-read the passages he was discussing.

  2. 5 out of 5

    John

    James Jordan is one of the very best teachers on how to read the Bible. He studies the Bible like an English Literature professor studies Shakespeare. He digs in and looks for clues for what the text is saying in ways that I've not seen done by anyone else. "Primeval Saints" is a study of the patriarchs in Genesis. Here is a simple example of what I mean. Did you know that the "keeper of the prison", where Joseph was held, after being accused of attempted rape, in Genesis 39-40, was Potiphar, the James Jordan is one of the very best teachers on how to read the Bible. He studies the Bible like an English Literature professor studies Shakespeare. He digs in and looks for clues for what the text is saying in ways that I've not seen done by anyone else. "Primeval Saints" is a study of the patriarchs in Genesis. Here is a simple example of what I mean. Did you know that the "keeper of the prison", where Joseph was held, after being accused of attempted rape, in Genesis 39-40, was Potiphar, the very same man who was the man whom he had served as a slave? The text says it, if you read closely, but I never saw that myself, nor have I ever heard it said before. Or, have you ever read or heard a positive explanation of why Joseph tested his brothers in the way he did? Jordan argues that he was testing them, "Joseph acted to redeem them from bondage and enthrone them with him as lords of the world." I won't get into all the details of the argument, but again, it is there for those who take the time to actually study the text closely, and it is quite a lesson. The book is full of a wide range of insights including a thorough defense of Jacob, who is widely criticized as a fraud and cheat, who stole his birthright from his brother. But this is not at all what the Bible actually teaches. From the beginning, Jacob was chosen to be the heir of Isaac. He's described as being the same kind of man as Noah, Abram, and Job: "perfect, complete; sound, wholesome; complete, morally innocent". Yet nearly all translations offer "plain" or "quiet"--as their translation of the Hebrew root. Jacob was loved by Rebekah because he was the same sort of man as Abram. Isaac preferred Esau against the prophetic word that God has said, saying "the older will serve the younger." But not only that, Esau had married outside of the covenant, and had already despised his birthright. For Isaac to give him the covenant blessing and inheritance would have been to spurn the covenant of his father, Abraham. So for Rebekah to work to ensure the inheritance and blessing went to Jacob was not only to benefit Jacob, but "to shock and restore Isaac." At the same time, it was an act of prayer, by sending Jacob in the guise of his brother, Esau, she prayed that Esau too would receive a blessing. Jordan writes, "We can see this in the way she ritually combined both her sons together when she sent Jacob in to deceive Isaac." Suffice it to say, this is a wonderful book that is a model for engaging, insightful study of God's Word. If more theologians would engage the Bible this way, I expect more people would glean far more from the Bible than they do.

  3. 5 out of 5

    G.M. Burrow

    Jordan doesn't waste any words here. That was fine with me (most of the time), but it might work against him if he's hoping to make sense to people who haven't read his other stuff or made friends with a few of his key premises--premises like, everything in Scripture is a picture of something else, and every picture is connected to at least seven other pictures. The book would work well delivered as a series of lectures so that we could get Jordan's Jedi hand wave at the same time: "These are th Jordan doesn't waste any words here. That was fine with me (most of the time), but it might work against him if he's hoping to make sense to people who haven't read his other stuff or made friends with a few of his key premises--premises like, everything in Scripture is a picture of something else, and every picture is connected to at least seven other pictures. The book would work well delivered as a series of lectures so that we could get Jordan's Jedi hand wave at the same time: "These are the truths you were looking for."

  4. 5 out of 5

    Gary

    The strengths and weaknesses of this book are the same. Jordan has an eye for detail and a quite brilliant eye for patterns (especially literary patterns). This is all to the good and makes this book a gem. But I fear he also sees patterns that are not there, or rather, he sees things that are not there so as to fit patterns (whether there or not). He is just way too confident in stating things when he hasn't proved them (he seems to pull a good deal of it straight out of his ass, in other words The strengths and weaknesses of this book are the same. Jordan has an eye for detail and a quite brilliant eye for patterns (especially literary patterns). This is all to the good and makes this book a gem. But I fear he also sees patterns that are not there, or rather, he sees things that are not there so as to fit patterns (whether there or not). He is just way too confident in stating things when he hasn't proved them (he seems to pull a good deal of it straight out of his ass, in other words). But much of it is convincing and beautiful and edifying. With more caution or argument from the author I would have given this book a five. Loved it.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nina

    My third Jordan book. He makes the Bible come alive. Simply explained, he ties together symbols, history, people and theology, creating a unified perspective unlike any other. He changes your view.

  6. 4 out of 5

    wpschrec

    I really enjoyed this book. He offers a different perspective on the various people in Genesis. He challenges you to look at these men in a different light and to consider different, often overlooked, details in their stories. While I didn't agree with all his thoughts, I liked being challenged on my own thoughts. Of his chapters, I especially liked the ones on Ham and Nimrod & Lot. One thing I really didn't like was the way he'd occasionally go into " story mode" where he starts telling the sto I really enjoyed this book. He offers a different perspective on the various people in Genesis. He challenges you to look at these men in a different light and to consider different, often overlooked, details in their stories. While I didn't agree with all his thoughts, I liked being challenged on my own thoughts. Of his chapters, I especially liked the ones on Ham and Nimrod & Lot. One thing I really didn't like was the way he'd occasionally go into " story mode" where he starts telling the story of the individuals in his own words.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Steve Hemmeke

    A brief review of the highlights of Genesis. I didn't agree with his take on every story, but many essays offer a worthy challenge to traditional interpretations. Jordan tends to be either way off base or really insightful. Jordan sees things in the Bible that others don't. A good example is Genesis 15:1. God comforts Abraham by saying that God is His shield. I always wondered where this came from, but the passage just before it is the rescue of Lot. Abraham is afraid of Chedorlaomer's return. A A brief review of the highlights of Genesis. I didn't agree with his take on every story, but many essays offer a worthy challenge to traditional interpretations. Jordan tends to be either way off base or really insightful. Jordan sees things in the Bible that others don't. A good example is Genesis 15:1. God comforts Abraham by saying that God is His shield. I always wondered where this came from, but the passage just before it is the rescue of Lot. Abraham is afraid of Chedorlaomer's return. Abraham's survival and hold on the land is in danger. This new (to me at least) insight fits perfectly with the bigger redemptive-historical theme in Scripture: the promised line in danger. Another example is the unleavened bread and Passover connection to the story of Lot leaving Sodom (Gen 19:3). Jordan offers intriguing insights about culture, church and state. Sometimes it feels like those views are driving his reading of the text. But usually I got to the end and thought, no, that really fits with what the Bible itself says. Each of the 12 essays is only 10-15 pages long. I read it in conjunction with my devotions through Genesis. This book is a helpful thought provoker as you read about Isaac, Rebekah, Esau and Jacob, for instance, and wonder who was in the right and who in the wrong.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jake McAtee

    I want to read the bible like James Jordan. Really refreshing perspectives on passages that had grown familiar.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Jordan's insights are always enlightening. His commitment to seeing the Bible as the primary interpreter of the Bible forces the reader to see the ways in which much of today's Biblical interpretation is forced through modern systems. Whether or not one agrees with Jordan's specific conclusion about a portion of scripture, one is always forced to go back to scripture which is what one should be doing anyway! For Primeval Saints in particular, Jordan makes some conclusions that oppose common moder Jordan's insights are always enlightening. His commitment to seeing the Bible as the primary interpreter of the Bible forces the reader to see the ways in which much of today's Biblical interpretation is forced through modern systems. Whether or not one agrees with Jordan's specific conclusion about a portion of scripture, one is always forced to go back to scripture which is what one should be doing anyway! For Primeval Saints in particular, Jordan makes some conclusions that oppose common modern interpretations of the patriarchs of Genesis. Perhaps the most helpful and contradictory stance that Jordan takes is his much LESS critical stance toward the patriarchs. If one reads, for example, Tim Keller's "Counterfeit God's", you will find Keller taking a very critical stance towards the patriarchs. According to Keller, Abraham, Issac, Jacob, and Joseph all were sinners falling short of God's mark throughout their stories until some sort of turning point in the end. This approach tends to run the text through a modern psychological lens that, on further review, doesn't really chime with much of the rest of scripture. (particularly those divinely inspired parts that commend the lives of the patriarchs rather than condemn them for the most part.) Jordan, on the other hand, slows down and begins to see if another approach isn't more Biblical and more helpful to understanding the lives of the patriarchs. His approach seems to hit the mark upon reading by showing that, though flawed, many of the things that modern interpreters condemn the patriarchs for should be seen in a different light that is not condemnatory at all. By slowing down, Jordan gives layering to the ways that these characters ultimately point to Jesus instead of the hasty approach of many modern evangelicals. The hasty approach gives lip service to the truth that "all scripture is about Jesus" while in reality it often psychologizes the "sins" of the characters in the OT (apart from what the whole of Scripture actually states) and quickly jumps to a logical-conversionistic lens of interpretation and drags the story unwillingly to relate to Jesus in some way. Jordan does not do this. Jordan rather lets the story run its course. This course often flows through many different parts of the OT until it points to Jesus in a fuller, richer way that brings a greater understanding and comfort to the Christian this side of Christ. If you are interested in a short book that will take you through Genesis in a way that is engaging and enlightening, I highly recommend this book to you.

  10. 4 out of 5

    mpsiple

    Good (I had high expectations). Jordan makes a lot of connections I wouldn't be able to see on my own. But he makes just as many unsupported assertions (i.e. I still can't see the connection even after he tries to make it). You have to do a bit of sifting, but overall it's worth it just to learn how he thinks about the Bible. Good (I had high expectations). Jordan makes a lot of connections I wouldn't be able to see on my own. But he makes just as many unsupported assertions (i.e. I still can't see the connection even after he tries to make it). You have to do a bit of sifting, but overall it's worth it just to learn how he thinks about the Bible.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Piper

    Jordan is interesting. While I constantly wondered, “Where did he get THAT from scripture?”, I found myself nodding my head and agreeing with him. Jordan has a way of making you see things. When I finish his books, a true sense of joy bubbles up within me.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jon

    This book has it's advantages. First, it's one if the best edited books I've read by Jordan. Jordan's books and articles tend to appear disorganized, which potentially ends up being a disservice to one's audience. Second, It's a quick read with many helpful insights. Third, It's just an overview, so the book is very accessible to the average joe-shmoe christian. Jordan doesn't pretend to cover every detail surrounding the patriarchs of genesis. The only significant disappointment I had was his o This book has it's advantages. First, it's one if the best edited books I've read by Jordan. Jordan's books and articles tend to appear disorganized, which potentially ends up being a disservice to one's audience. Second, It's a quick read with many helpful insights. Third, It's just an overview, so the book is very accessible to the average joe-shmoe christian. Jordan doesn't pretend to cover every detail surrounding the patriarchs of genesis. The only significant disappointment I had was his overview of the first few patriarchs, which really wasn't much about them in particular, and instead seemed to be tertiary pastoral "filler" material. His typological interpretations seem to be unnecessarily strained at times too, even though, in light of his many supplemental articles and essays available from Biblical Horizons, they often end up being well thought through.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Joe Hyink

    Even if one does not agree with everything Jordan says (who does? I wonder if he always does.), the strength of this book (and all his work) is that it forces the reader to look at the details of the text, take every fact into account, and meditate on their meaning. The reader has no option just to sit back and criticize but is forced to mount a reasonable alternative explanation for the cumulative details. Jordan's analysis is good, and his synthesis in great. That's why his typological observa Even if one does not agree with everything Jordan says (who does? I wonder if he always does.), the strength of this book (and all his work) is that it forces the reader to look at the details of the text, take every fact into account, and meditate on their meaning. The reader has no option just to sit back and criticize but is forced to mount a reasonable alternative explanation for the cumulative details. Jordan's analysis is good, and his synthesis in great. That's why his typological observations are so great.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ben Copeland

    Good collection of essays in Genesis. Some chapters are better than others, but Jordan really sheds light onto some of the finer, overlooked details of the stories of the patriarchs. More time could have been given to explaining why certain conclusions were reached, but I think they are pretty solid nonetheless. Some people don't seem to like the chapters on Pharaoh and the Egyptians, but I think the evidence he presents is convincing. Good collection of essays in Genesis. Some chapters are better than others, but Jordan really sheds light onto some of the finer, overlooked details of the stories of the patriarchs. More time could have been given to explaining why certain conclusions were reached, but I think they are pretty solid nonetheless. Some people don't seem to like the chapters on Pharaoh and the Egyptians, but I think the evidence he presents is convincing.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Chris Comis

    Very good remonstrance against the "popular" evangelical understanding of the patriarchs. For example, if you though Isaac was in the right and Jacob was in the wrong, this book should change your view on that. Very good remonstrance against the "popular" evangelical understanding of the patriarchs. For example, if you though Isaac was in the right and Jacob was in the wrong, this book should change your view on that.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Peter Jones

    This is my favorite Jordan book outside of Through New Eyes. A great, simple reading of Genesis that draws on biblical themes. Sometimes Jordan can be hard to read, but here he is at his best. Challenging on several levels and will force you to read Genesis differently.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    Read James Jordan's "Through New Eyes" and then read this. Jordan expands his discussion of symbology in the Old Testament with this book. I especially recommend his chapter on Noah. You will never see things the same again. Excellent book! Read James Jordan's "Through New Eyes" and then read this. Jordan expands his discussion of symbology in the Old Testament with this book. I especially recommend his chapter on Noah. You will never see things the same again. Excellent book!

  18. 5 out of 5

    D. Ryan

    Especially good to read about Jacob and Rebekah's faithfulness. Especially good to read about Jacob and Rebekah's faithfulness.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin Alexander

    One of the best short commentaries on Genesis wrapped around the Patriarchs

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tirzah

    I picked a good time to read this, because I recently went through the book of Genesis. This time around, I read some Matthew Henry commentary on some of the chapters I always kind of wondered about (i.e., Lot & his daughters, Dinah's defilement, Rebekah & Jacob's deception). Well, Jordan addresses much of the characters and stories from Genesis that I researched. I have read another book by Jordan (Creation in Six Days) and appreciate his concise writing for the lay Christian. His writing is su I picked a good time to read this, because I recently went through the book of Genesis. This time around, I read some Matthew Henry commentary on some of the chapters I always kind of wondered about (i.e., Lot & his daughters, Dinah's defilement, Rebekah & Jacob's deception). Well, Jordan addresses much of the characters and stories from Genesis that I researched. I have read another book by Jordan (Creation in Six Days) and appreciate his concise writing for the lay Christian. His writing is supported with Scripture and fellow theologians' works, all of which is footnoted and explained in a user-friendly way. This book challenged my mind to think outside my preconceived ideas about many Genesis stories, especially Esau, Rebekah, and Jacob. It is interesting to note that Matthew Henry and Jordan have different interpretations on the deception bit regarding Rebekah and Jacob. Is anyone else blown away that Caleb and Job were descendants of Esau?! There is plenty more "who knew" and "I never looked at it that way" moments when reading this book. I recommend for all who desire a better understanding of Genesis, a book that contains many confusing stories when just read without any further Biblical or historical context, which Jordan does a great job providing the reader.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tyson Guthrie

    Jordan's insights are interesting, but, I fear, idiosyncratic. I found myself constantly wanting some sources cited. Even a bibliography would have helped. Especially in a book that seeks to re-orient a common perception of the text, we need more than the author's hunch. I was intrigued, and sincerely want to research the Patriarchs more. To that end Jordan was successful. However, my curiosity was deflated by the lack of source material. I suspect there is something out there by way of preceden Jordan's insights are interesting, but, I fear, idiosyncratic. I found myself constantly wanting some sources cited. Even a bibliography would have helped. Especially in a book that seeks to re-orient a common perception of the text, we need more than the author's hunch. I was intrigued, and sincerely want to research the Patriarchs more. To that end Jordan was successful. However, my curiosity was deflated by the lack of source material. I suspect there is something out there by way of precedent for Jordan's readings, but he certainly didn't point me to it. As a result he looks a bit like a kid in a Biblical sandbox having fun with the text, weaving, as Irenaeus would say, "ropes of sand." (Man, that sounds harsher than I actually feel about the book. Quick caveat: the Irenaeus quote is by no means an association of Jordan with Irenaeus's opponents. In fact, I could see Irenaeus perfectly at home in Jordan's hermeneutic given there was an ecclesiastical precedent for it. In lieu of precedent, I can't bring myself to add a third star.)

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jlnpeacock Peacock

    What an encouragement this book is! The world of Genesis is opened up in a manner to me that had never before been. Too often the book of Genesis is read hurriedly and carelessly because we have grown up with the stories. The difficulty is that we have not usually thought about what we are reading. Here we see the depths of God's grace and the weaving of His salvation throughout all of history. What hope this can give all believers as we witness His great love to us in all His dealings to His pe What an encouragement this book is! The world of Genesis is opened up in a manner to me that had never before been. Too often the book of Genesis is read hurriedly and carelessly because we have grown up with the stories. The difficulty is that we have not usually thought about what we are reading. Here we see the depths of God's grace and the weaving of His salvation throughout all of history. What hope this can give all believers as we witness His great love to us in all His dealings to His people. It gives 'feet' to the principle of trusting in our Lord as we read of His workings in times past. Why should we fear that He would change?

  23. 5 out of 5

    Aurora Grace

    Jordan has an eye for detail, the question is whether he's reading too much into things. In any case, this is an interesting work on the book of Genesis. Nevertheless, he advocates that Christians can lie to unbelievers without sin and in the final chapter on Joseph and the enslavement of the Egyptians, supports the idea of benevolent enslavement. Of course, his M.Div at Westminster was titled Slavery in the Bible and he was mentored by R. J. Rushdoony and Gary North (both holocaust deniers, opp Jordan has an eye for detail, the question is whether he's reading too much into things. In any case, this is an interesting work on the book of Genesis. Nevertheless, he advocates that Christians can lie to unbelievers without sin and in the final chapter on Joseph and the enslavement of the Egyptians, supports the idea of benevolent enslavement. Of course, his M.Div at Westminster was titled Slavery in the Bible and he was mentored by R. J. Rushdoony and Gary North (both holocaust deniers, opposed to civil rights, Rushdoony a supporter of South African Apartheid and opposed to interracial marriage), so we shouldn't really be all that surprised.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Dan Isadore

    2 Timothy 3:16-17 James B. Jordan ably provides a taste of the depth of instruction, correction, and encouragement that all Scripture has to offer, beginning at the beginning. He enables readers to catch a glimpse of the light that that God-breathed words give. You'll never see Genesis the same way. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 James B. Jordan ably provides a taste of the depth of instruction, correction, and encouragement that all Scripture has to offer, beginning at the beginning. He enables readers to catch a glimpse of the light that that God-breathed words give. You'll never see Genesis the same way.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Brian Algie

    For far too many Christians these patriarchs are viewed as someone else’s history, but for the believer in Jesus Christ these (Seth, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, and Joseph) are our fathers in the faith! Will cause you to look to the Scriptures and see what is written, what more could you ask for.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dylan Stinson

    One of my favorite books. Jordan's insights on the book of Genesis allowed me to see many of the foundational Christian stories in a new and refreshing way. I especially appreciated his analysis of Jacob and Esau. One of my favorite books. Jordan's insights on the book of Genesis allowed me to see many of the foundational Christian stories in a new and refreshing way. I especially appreciated his analysis of Jacob and Esau.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jack Wilkie

    For every good detail he pulled out of the text that usually gets missed, there was an equally bad interpretation or assumption. The arrogance it takes to matter of factly tell the reader what Jacob’s thoughts were, for example, is rather off-putting.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nick Jones

    Overall good. Jordan gives some very interesting perspectives on well known Genesis passages. I am not convinced by all of them, but they are thought-provoking and drive me back to the scriptures.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Korey Daniel

    James Jordan's book on the patriarchs was eye opening. I really enjoyed his simplistic way of looking at the text and finding the things I often skip over. James Jordan's book on the patriarchs was eye opening. I really enjoyed his simplistic way of looking at the text and finding the things I often skip over.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Schoolland

    Jordan stretches the Scripture a little too far in some places, but it's still a five-star read. Most of what he says is spot on. Jordan stretches the Scripture a little too far in some places, but it's still a five-star read. Most of what he says is spot on.

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