The Book of Genesis as Literature

A Great Books Discussion Course

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Introduction to the Book of Genesis as Literature

For most people, reading the Bible from a secular perspective — as “literature” — is both an intensely challenging and an intensely rewarding experience that requires the re-evaluation of a range of preconceptions in order to appreciate the texts along the lines as the authors of the Bible. This course introduces both the process of reading the Bible as literature and the Bible itself through a close reading and discussion of the first book in the biblical anthology, the Book of Genesis. Participants will also likely be introduced to less familiar aspects of themselves.





Mark Cwik

A lifelong devotee of “Great Books”, Mark Cwik has over 25 years’ experience participating in Great Books discussion courses and over 15 years’ experience leading them for adults in a range of traditional and non-traditional settings. Mr. Cwik’s teaching pays close attention to both the text under consideration and the students’ responses to that text in order to enhance the interaction between the two. Mr. Cwik studied at St. John’s College, worked at the Great Books Foundation, and is currently President of Great Books Great Discussions. He lives in London, England where he facilitates discussions for The London Literary Salon.

Course #: 



  • 7 Weeks


  • 1 hr 45 min


  • Online


US$ 235


“Early Bird” reduced tuition (US$ 195) is available through March 27, 2017.

Section A(Course #: 170404A)

Sunday, 5:00 PM CT
Apr 23, 2017 to Jun 10, 2017

Course Documents

Please Note

General Information

Like all Great Discourses discussion courses, this live, interactive online discussion course is designed to facilitate the collaborative close readings of classics in ways that help participants transform the challenging into the exhilarating and elevating through “Aha!” moments of profound discovery. Participation requires an Internet-enabled computer or mobile device. The course is open to adults from all walks of life (and to mature teens with parental consent) and does not require any specialized prior knowledge or experience. Students do a modest amount of reading homework in preparation for each live online class session, but there are no papers, no tests and no grades. The readings and discussion are in English.


The Book of Genesis.
Recommended Edition: The Five Books of Moses (trans. Everett Fox). Schocken, 2000. ISBN: 978-0805211191.
View/Buy at: Amazon (US), Amazon (CA), Amazon (UK), Amazon (IN), Amazon (AU)

Please Note

You are responsible for obtaining your own copy of each book used in this discussion course. Most books are available in a number of editions, in both print and digital formats. All editions are acceptable unless otherwise noted, although print format texts are generally recommended. If you do choose to use a digital text, try to access it on a device other than the one you will using to connect to the online classroom.

Additional Readings

This course may have additional short readings that will be used during the first class session as well as during other class sessions. These will be available to you on the dedicated course page at the Great Discourses Collaboratory Online Course Center once you have completed your registration for this course.


To get the most out of this discussion course, you will have to do a modest amount of reading homework in between class sessions — usually about two hours of reading for each hour of class time. No homework is required before the first class session (although some technical and general preparation is required).

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What students are saying

I have been involved with Great Books for a long time now and think Mark Cwik is the best of the best. We are very fortunate he is our discussion leader. I always am anxious for our next meeting.

Mark Cwik is the best; no one else comes close. He’s the discussion leader you’re looking for: He has a solid grasp of the material; he asks just the right questions that get to the heart of the issues; he has a knack for bringing the discussion back on topic when it strays; and he has a very welcoming demeanor. You’ll have a much better understanding of the piece at the end of the discussion. To boot, you’ll meet interesting people who also enjoy good conversation.

Our book group has been fortunate to have Mark Cwik as our leader/facilitator for over a dozen years, and under his skilled and gentle guidance, we have read and discussed perhaps a hundred books or more. The group has been for a long time, one of the highlights of my month.

Mark Cwik is one of the best discussion leaders I know. He has unfailing insight into even very abstruse readings to know what the essential issues are and formulates astute questions to address the significant issues. [...] His discussions are characterized by a high degree of energy and enthusiastic participation; yet he is careful to solicit opinion from those more reserved members who might otherwise be reluctant to express themselves in the crush of eager participation.