The Book of Genesis and the beginning of the Book of Exodus are of utmost importance for many fundamental issues in the study of Judaism, Christianity, and nascent Islam. The traditions related to the narrative passages of these books refer, inter alia, to the Creation of the World, Adam as bearer of God's image, angels and demons, Enoch, Divine election, the covenants with the patriarchs prior to Sinai, the establishment of monotheism, the formation of Israel as a nation, and the Exodus. These themes were highly significant in the formulation of the competing religious worldviews and self-understanding of Second Temple and rabbinic Judaism, early Christianity, Gnosticism, and eventually early Islam. It should be emphasized that the relevant material is not confined to works dedicated expressly to the exegesis of these biblical books; rather, themes of Genesis and the beginning of Exodus are part and parcel of the religious messages of Jewish, Christian and nascent Islamic thought.
Themes and traditions from Genesis and Exodus may be found in a vast array of sources in Antiquity. The Qur'an – unlike medieval Islamic traditions – is one of the latest products of Late Antiquity. While scholarship by and large has tended toward the study of the relevant biblical themes in each religion unto itself, comparative studies transcending the boundaries between the corpora of varying religious traditions are often mutually illuminating. The group’s purpose is not merely to map and compare divergent traditions, but also to elucidate the dynamics of transformation among them, considering the relationships (including polemics and influence) among the religious groups of Antiquity. The anticipated collaboration of scholars from diverse backgrounds in the proposed Research Group will be a rare opportunity for productive synergy.