Monday, October 20, 2014

Love and the Book of Genesis

            Love in the book of Genesis is not merely marriage between a man and a woman.  While the text does a poor job of explaining the rare occurrences of love, Crumb does an excellent job of interpreting these scenes in order to show how love truly does influence the decisions of characters throughout the book of Genesis.  Love shapes the work as a whole as it symbolizes God’s unyielding love for all those who follow him.
            In the second half of the illustrated version of Genesis, the first example of love illustrated by Crumb is of Isaac and Rebekah frolicking despite the fact that Isaac told the people of Gerar that Rebekah was his sister, not his wife.  In the image, both Isaac and Rebekah have smiles on their faces while Isaac wraps his arms around Rebekah in a loving embrace.  This image and the background knowledge of the events that just happened show the love between the two because they refuse to suppress their love despite the possible consequences.  The love between these two acts as a symbol of God’s unyielding love because God ultimately brings these two together by acting through Abraham.  God also makes frequent promises such as, “Sojourn in this land so that I may be with you and bless you, for to you and your seed I will give all these lands, and I will fulfill the oath that I swore to Abraham, your father, and I will multiply your seed like the stars in the heavens!”  God’s frequent proclamations of multiplying one’s seed represents how he wishes all who follow him to be happy with their wives in order to create many children through an act of love.  The love between two individuals is also frequently drawn by Crumb in a way that depicts affection between the two individuals.
            In chapter 29, another loving relationship, between Jacob and Rachel, surfaces.  When the two share their first kiss, Crumb illustrates the background of the image in a similar fashion to the way he draws messages from God.  This is Crumb’s way of illustrating the instantaneous love between these two and their connection to God.  After Jacob serves his time to Laban in order to marry Rachel, he is tricked to marrying Leah first.  In their scene of love, Leah is drawn as a pleased woman as she has a smile on her face and is shown caressing Jacob’s face.  Jacob, however, has a face of disgust mixed with betrayal.  The background of the image is filled with squiggly lines that represent his unease and displeasure with the given situation as he just came to bed with a woman that he did not love.  Crumb draws the image this way in order to show Jacob’s feelings about going to bed with a woman that he does not love.  God’s love is shown through Jacob’s relationship with Rachel. He is also shown in this relationship through the pillar that Jacob uses for her tombstone.  This stone is drawn very similarly to the pillars that Jacob created for a house of God, which shows the connection Jacob feels between God and the gift that He has given him, Rachel.
            The second half of the illustrated book of Genesis shows that love is not a one-way street. In chapter 34, Crumb shows Shechem’s love for Dinah but not Dinah’s love for Shechem.  Crumb chooses to illustrate the sex between the two in an outside environment and chooses not to show either of their faces.  This shows how this is not a true love as the lack of expression make the act seem cold and the outside environment makes it seem out of place.  When the faces of the two are shown in the next frame, Shechem is illustrated as happy while Dinah appears unnerved.  The resulting consequences on Shechem and the men of the city show how God did not approve of the given situation and therefore did not truly love Shechem or the relationship.

            God’s relationship with many characters in Genesis is positive and loving but he does freely express his anger with some of the characters.  This makes God out to be a dynamic and all-powerful character that makes the inhabitants on Earth both fearful and honored to serve him.  The relationship between God and man is a motif throughout the book of Genesis and much of it is revolved of the love between God and man.  This relationship is similar to the love between man and woman as God created woman from man’s rib much like God created man out of dirt and soil, which he initially created.  If the reader does not interpret the text and the relationships within it, the message of love is lost and the book loses some of its power.  The book also becomes a lot more violent when love is ignored and God’s other half is removed.  Without both sides of God, his messages are lost, leaving the reader and the believer skeptical about religion as a whole.


  1. For the most part, the essay seems like a decent start for a revision, but does lack some support. The parts about God seem to be somewhat loosely thrown in there and could be expanded upon to make a more solid argument or to become more supportive of the thesis. In the paragraph on Isaac and Rebekah, there seems to be a description of the story with some analysis, but Crumb’s depiction plays a small role, if any, in the analysis. As stated earlier, the God bit at the end seems to be thrown in there and not tied into Crumb’s depiction of Isaac and Rebekah. Another interesting aspect would be to compare and contrast the depictions of Isaac and Rebekah to those of Dinah and Shechem.

  2. I love the introduction. It’s a real idea, far from the obvious, difficult to prove but potentially very rewarding. The 2nd paragraph is a little wordy - it’s an important point, maybe, but not a hard one.

    “When the two share their first kiss, Crumb illustrates the background of the image in a similar fashion to the way he draws messages from God.” -- Good. This is especially interesting after his feats of superhuman strength, which are boldly drawn - his strength and their love are all tied to God in Crumb’s depiction.

    The next paragraph is great too (especially your point about the pillars). One thing that bothers me, of course, is Leah. Why does she miss out on both divine and human love (one answer: she’s the elder sister so, like Esau, she must be behind her younger sibling).

    I think the material about Dinah is underdeveloped, which is fine - if your revise, there’s lots of work to do there, to figure out the tragic interplay of love, sex, and violence in this brutal story. I do think if you can find divine love within it, though, you’ll have accomplished a remarkable reading.

    The last paragraph stumbles a little. I like your direction a lot, and I like your use of details, but I don’t think you’ve really finished working out what you have to say about the interplay between divine and human love in the 2nd half of Genesis & how Crumb works with it. I liked the formulation in the first paragraph better, but maybe you realized you were pretty far from pulling that off, and so fell back on a vaguer statement. Still, it’s probably your best work so far - it’s a good idea with substantial support, with lots of room for revision.