Wednesday, 05 January 2011
If you think about it, there is a lot of controversy over how our culture relates to what the Bible says, including such polarizing topics as abortion, homosexuality and the death penalty. But what hit me here is that you can't even make it through the first sentence of the Bible without a major controversy arising.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. - Genesis 1:1
Already we have controversy about whether this statement is true or not, not to mention the controversy that surrounds the rest of the chapter:should we should take it literally, figuratively, or throw it out all together? I don't want to begin a creation v. evolution debate, that's not my intention. For me, regardless of whether Genesis 1-3 is true in a literal 7-day, dust-from-the-earth, historically accurate sense or not, the fact is that God chose to communicate the beginning of the world and mankind to us in this narrative, and the truth is in who God is, who Man is, and how God relates to man and creation.
The detail is incredible to me. How easy would it have been to say, "God created the heavens and the earth, and the sun and moon and stars, the animals, fish and birds, and all the plants. And finally humans, male and female, in his own image." Yet instead, creation is communicated in a detailed and beautiful poetic style (especially when you read the Hebrew). The amount of care this shows God taking over creation is incredible.
Other brief thoughts:
- God tells humans to have dominion over the earth (v. 28). What does it mean to exert dominion over the earth?
- Being created in the image of God=AMAZING. I shouldn't take that for granted.
- God gives mankind the plants as food, but makes no mention of animals.... (v. 29)
- The creation of the universe is explained in the context of the narrative's intended audience, using their"Three-Storied Universe" Cosmology, though we know this cosmology to be incorrect.
One of the first things that's hard not to notice is a second, and rather different, creation narrative in chapter 2. This makes sense in light of the Source Theory that they come from two different sources (more on this in the Intro to Genesis), but my question is why did the redactor leave both accounts separate?
I also wonder about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. What was it about this tree that made God tell them not to eat it? What was it about knowing good and evil that was bad for mankind? In chapter 3 God makes it clear they could have eaten from the tree of life and lived forever, so the issue here isn't that they were going to physically die (3:22). Donald Miller in his book Searching for God Knows What proposes that knowing good and evil meant that they took the right to choose what is good and evil for themselves, not looking to God for that distinction, and that is what's at the heart of the fall: wanting to take God's position. What do you think the tree is all about?Chapter 3
This isn't really a new insight, but it really struck me in a different way reading this time. Satan hides the lie in truth. When Eve is tempted by the serpent (assuming that the serpent=Satan), he outright lies when he says "you will not surely die" (3:4), but the lie is incorporated with the truth that their eyes would be open, and they would know good and evil. It's so difficult to separate the lie from the truth in what Satan/the world/the flesh says.
What's the point of the nakedness? In verse 7 they know they are a naked, and they cover themselves. Again in verse 10, they hide from God because they were afraid, and they were afraid because they were naked. Why is realizing their nakedness such a key point in the fall? Is this pointing to their loss of innocence and naïveté? Or is this the introduction of shame into humanity?Chapter 4
What was it about Cain's gift that didn't please God as Abel's did? Neither God nor the narrator make an explicit point as to why God had no regard for Cain's offering. The closing thing to an explanation I see is that Cain brought "an offering," whereas Abel brought "of the firstborn." This is often the explanation given, that Cain didn't bring his first and best, but we don't see anywhere in the Bible God telling them to bring their first and best. It's possible God told them and it doesn't show up in the Bible, but regardless, what a sad way to begin the history of mankind.
On another note, where does Cain's wife come from??? (v.17)Chapter 5
Instead of skimming the genealogy, try doing the math. How many generations of descendants did Adam see? How long from Adam to the flood? Actually really interesting stuff!What did you find interesting in this reading? What questions do you have? Did you receive any insight? What do you think about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the nakedness of Adam and Eve?