Lisa Schwarzbaum
November 29, 1996 AT 05:00 AM EST

A group of thoughtful, articulate types sit around talking about the story of Joseph in Egypt, wrestling at one point with the bit about Potiphar’s wife, who, frustrated by her inability to seduce Joseph, gets him thrown in prison. The talk ranges smartly, graciously, until one participant busts loose. ”I can’t take any more of this!” announces feminist biblical scholar Phyllis Trible, frustrated by the misogyny of it all. The room full of civilized adults comes alive. And so do we. For weeks now, Genesis: A Living Conversation has provided some of the deepest, liveliest talking-heads drama around, as scholars, writers, artists, and clergy of all faiths wrestle with some of the world’s oldest and most profound stories. Inspired by a study group created by Rabbi Burton L. Visotzky, overseen by TV parson Bill Moyers, and introduced with biblical narratives by Mandy Patinkin and Alfre Woodard, Genesis covers it all: murder, rape, betrayal, hatred, all in the pages of a sacred text. ”The Bible is not a sanitized book,” Trible sums up. ”It can speak authentically to human existence out of its conflicted nature.” This authentic conversation is rare — a blessing of human existence.

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