Paper topics, paper 1

Paper Topics
Paper One
~3 pages, double spaced in a font that does not insult my intelligence.
Note: The following are topics are issues that you can focus on in your paper. You are
responsible for developing a clear, concrete, and sufficiently controversial thesis to defend in
the essay.
1. Why does God scatter the people and “baffle their language” (p. 46) when they build the
tower of Babel. Defend your answer by relating this episode to other relevant events in the
2. There are three episodes in Genesis where a city or world is destroyed (the flood, the
destruction of Sodom, Simeon and Levi laying waste to Shechem). How do these events
relate to one another? Describe the role of these episodes in the overall narrative. Is there a
moral message that we are supposed to take from them? (Note: if you wish, you may select
two of the episodes to focus on rather than all three.)
3. What is the role of the Akedah (the near sacrifice of Isaac) in Genesis? Why does it occur
where it does in the text? Are we meant to endorse Abraham’s obedience? Why or why not?
4. Jacob’s "I know, my son, I know" in 48:19 contrasts with the nearly blind Isaac tricked by
the young Jacob. Why does Jacob do what he does in 48:19? More generally, why is that
first born children never seem to come out on top in Genesis?
5. Select two women in Genesis and contrast their characters, motivations, and situations.
Describe how the comparison relates to Genesis’ portrayal of female characters in general,
and how it differs from the portrayal of male characters.
6. Why does Joseph wait so long to reveal himself to his brothers and his father? What is he
trying to accomplish? How do Joseph’s actions here relate to other episodes of delayed
gratification in Genesis?