When the Beginning Began Summary
Julius Lester

Everything you need to understand or teach When the Beginning Began by Julius Lester.

  • When the Beginning Began Summary & Study Guide

When the Beginning Began Summary

When the Beginning Began: Stories about God, the Creatures, and Us opens as a midrash, Hebrew for to inquire. Midrashim (plural of midrash) are inquiries into the gaps in the narratives of the Bible. Lester gives as an example the passage: "And Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and killed him."

Lester points out that what Cain said to Abel is not explained and that Abel's reaction is also not recorded. A midrash could fill in those gaps, and there is a long Jewish tradition of doing just that. The use of imagination in composing midrashim is an accepted, perhaps even expected, tradition, and Lester's efforts to imaginatively fill in gaps in Genesis expanded to become a happy, funny, account of God and His Creation.

(read more from the Short Guide)