The Genesis of Justice is a nearly nuclear reaction, the explosion from the confrontation of a modern legal mind with the ancient biblical text. The amazing thing is that both Genesis and the law come out the better for the collision. Alan Dershowitz, one of the most renowned criminal lawyers in the United States, brings a decidedly lawyerly perspective to his study of Ten Stories of Biblical Injustice That Led to the Ten Commandments and Modern Law. Dershowitz is persuaded that our entire modern system of morality grows out of Genesis injustice. The Genesis of Justice argues that the Bible “as contrasted with earlier legal codes . . . is a law book explicitly rooted in the narrative of experience,” that it is the very social injustices in Genesis that provoke its readers to recognize the need for justice.
Dershowitz’s argument has particular appeal for Latter-day Saint readers whose theology is likewise deeply rooted in experience. And he argues persuasively. It is hard to resist the wry personal tone of such statements as “This book was begat by a long line of patriarchs.” Like the Bible itself, Dershowitz is disarmingly undisposed to stand on ceremony, from his grinning opening sentence: “Would you give a young person a book whose heroes cheat, lie, steal, murder—and get away with it? Chances are you have.” And the substance of his argument is as invitingly expansive as his voice: “I read Genesis as an invitation to question everything, even faith. It taught me that faith is a process rather than a static mind-set.”