Topics for Discussion What kind of king does the prologue present? What are Gilgamesh’s strengths and weaknesses as a man? In what ways does the harlot Shamhat “civilize” Enkidu (beside the obvious)? What are the signs of his “civilization”? What is the nature of the relationship between Gilgamesh and Enkidu? What do the get from each other? What about the women in the story: Ninsun, Shamhat, and the goddess Aruru? How do they move the narrative forward? Why do Gilgamesh and Enkidu pursue their first adventure? What do they hope to gain? Each group come up with one discussion topic of your own to pose to the class?
Topics for Discussion 1.How would you characterize Ishtar? What does she want from Gilgamesh and what tactics does she use to get what she wants? 2.What is the purpose of Enkidu’s string of curses in Tablet VII? Why, especially, does he curse Shamhat? For what does he blame her? (VII. 58-86 [pp129-30]) 3.Is Enkidu’s death ordained by the gods? Why him and not Gilgamesh? 4.In what ways are water and bodies of water significant in the narrative? What do they symbolize? Give specific examples. 5.What is the significance of Utanapishtim’s challenge to Gilgamesh to stay awake for 6 days and 7 nights? Why does he have his wife measure the days with loaves of bread? 6.Why does the narrative end with Gilgamesh’s observation of the walls of Uruk? How is this scene related to the story’s Prologue? Does it signify any progression of his character?
Close Reading: Things to Consider Language – Word Choice – Rhetorical Figures and Figures of Speech – Tone Narrative – Structure – Point of View – Voice Syntax – Sentence Structure – Patterns and Repetition – Conventionality Context – Historical – Geograpic – Biographic – Intertextual (Allusiveness)
The Temptation and Expulsion of Adam and Eve Michelangelo, The Sistine Chapel, 1508-1512 How does Michelangelo’s depiction differ from the account in Genesis?
The Temptation of Adam and Eve William Blake 1808
John Milton, Paradise Lost (Book 1, lines 1-16) OF MAN’S first disobedience, and the fruit Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste Brought death into the World, and all our woe, With loss of Eden, till one greater Man Restore us, and regain the blissful Seat, Sing, Heavenly Muse, that, on the secret top Of Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspire That Shepherd who first taught the chosen seed In the beginning how the heavens and earth Rose out of Chaos: or, if Sion hill Delight thee more, and Siloa’s brook that flowed Fast by the oracle of God, I thence Invoke thy aid to my adventrous song, That with no middle flight intends to soar Above the Aonian mount, while it pursues Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme.
Cain and Abel Titian 1542 What does Titian’s “mannerist” style emphasize in this episode?
Topics for Discussion How does reading the Bible as literature differ from reading it as scripture? How does the author characterize God? What is his relationship with creation, including his people? What changes in the world after “man’s first disobedience”? Compare and contrast the flood stories in Gilgamesh and Genesis. What do their differences say about their functions in the larger texts the are a part of? Why does the Lord disregard Cain’s offering? What explanation does he offer to Cain? Is there pathos in the story of Abraham and Isaac? If so, where does it come from? How is the reader supposed to feel about God’s testing of Abraham? Each group come up with one discussion topic of your own to pose to the class?
The Reconciliation of Jacob and Essau Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640)
Topics for Discussion How does reading the Bible as literature differ from reading it as scripture? Compare and contrast the flood stories in Gilgamesh and Genesis. What do their differences say about their functions in the larger texts the are a part of? Is there pathos in the story of Abraham and Isaac? If so, where does it come from? How is the reader supposed to feel about God’s testing of Abraham? How does irony function in the story of Joseph? Why do Jacob and his “seed” end up in Egypt if God promised that he would give them “the whole land of Canaan, as an everlasting holding”? Each group come up with one discussion topic (focus on Joseph) of your own to pose to the class?
Compare the two images of Abraham preparing to sacrifice Isaac. How does each artist interpret the event? How does each want the viewer to experience this moment from Genesis Chapter 22?
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