Bible Stories for Grownups -

Creation


Genesis 1:1-19, Creation
Genesis 1:20-2:3, Creation
Genesis 2:4-25, Creation


More Bible Stories for Grownups

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Genesis 1:1-19, Creation (6/30/2009)

"Creation" is the favorite Bible story of a five-year-old of my acquaintance (not a reader of our study, as far as I know). We're starting this study with it mainly because it comes near the beginning of the alphabet, but I suppose that all good stories have to have a beginning, and this certainly qualifies. What do children know about creation? God made everything, and everything that God made is good. These two ideas are vitally important for grown-ups to know, as well.

By the time "Creation" was written down, there were a ton of gods to choose from. There were probably a dozen pantheons in Palestine alone; a pantheon is a group of gods that sort of work together in one geographical area or culture. A typical pantheon has a sun god, a moon goddess, a storm god, an earth goddess, and a fertility god and goddess; one of these six is usually nominally in charge of things. Pantheons almost always have a variety of lesser gods and goddesses as well.

The Bible says, NO! There is only one God, who made everything. The sun is not a god; it is a created thing. The moon is not a goddess; it is a created thing. Rain and lightning are not a god; they are created things. The earth is not a goddess; it is a created thing. Fertility is not a god or goddess; it is God's will for his creation. The theological idea of the pantheon is wrong. One God made everything. Nowhere is this stated more clearly than in Genesis 1.

Genesis 1:20-2:3, Creation (7/1/2009)

Yesterday we saw that the first idea adults should learn from "Creation" is that there is only one God, who made everything. This idea stands in stark contrast to the vast majority of religions that have arisen through the ages. Aside from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, all of which have common roots, only a handful of religions are or were monotheistic; all the rest – and there have been hundreds – are or were pantheons.

The second pervasive theological idea corrected by Genesis is that god, or goddess, or a bunch of them working together, or maybe even God, is a capricious character who does bad things and causes bad things to happen. (I tell you, brothers and sisters, you would not want the typical god or goddess in a pantheon as your neighbor, because he or she would be unreliable and an incredible trouble-maker.) This is wrong, says the Creation story. Every single thing that God made – which by the way is everything – was made good. God does good work. God is good.

Now, just about all the grown-ups I know have had bad things happen in their lives. (This is a pretty good definition for being a grown-up.) What's up with that? If God is good, and everything God made is good, then where did "bad" come from? That hard question is also addressed in Genesis, but it's a whole 'nother story, and nobody asked for it. (Read Genesis 3 & 4). It's also addressed in Job and the Psalms.

Genesis 2:4-25, Creation (7/2/2009)

The third important thing that grown-ups need to know about the Creation story is that there are two separate stories, back to back. Yesterday and the day before, we read the first one, and today we read the second one. The editors of the first five books of the Bible (who are usually called the "Redactors" and who lived and worked a long time ago – like maybe three or four thousand years) had these two stories about Creation that were already very ancient, and they wanted to use them both. They apparently didn't fool around with the originals, except to kind make them fit together around Genesis 2:3-4.

How do scholars know that these were originally separate stories? The first one is very elegant; the second one is folksy. The first one accounts for all of creation; the second one concentrates on the living creatures and the geography of the Middle East. Creation takes place in two different orders in the two stories. In Genesis 1, you get vegetation on Day 3; birds & fish on Day 5; and land animals and the people on Day 6. In Genesis 2, you get the man first and the plants second, so that he will be there to take care of the plants when they arrive. Somewhere along the way God created the animals, but the text isn't too clear about when. Last of all, God created the woman from man.

Now, just because it's interesting, and not because it's particularly important, here are three translational notes: More Bible Stories for Grownups

Old Testament Stories

New Testament Stories

Introduction

Creation

The Tower of Babel

Noah's Ark

Jacob and Esau

Stories About Joseph

Moses Parts the Red Sea

Joshua Parts the Jordan

Samuel's Call

David and Jonathan - Part 1

David and Jonathan - Part 2

The Lost Tribes of Israel

Hezekiah's Reprieve

Ruth, Jonah, and Divorce

Feeding of the 5000

Three Parables of Jesus

Six Short Stories About Jesus

Zacchaeus


Copyright 2009, 2011 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved. This page has been prepared for the web site by RPB.

Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the Bible-study participants.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers for their support and enthusiasm.  All errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.

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