Bible Stories for Grownups -
Genesis 1:1-19, Creation
Genesis 1:20-2:3, Creation
Genesis 2:4-25, Creation
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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
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
Copyright 2009, 2011 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved. This page has been prepared for the web site by RPB.
- In verse 7, God made the adam man out of the dust of the adamah ground. A good way to think of this in English is that God made the man out of dust and named him "Dusty."
- In most English translations of verse 23, the man sounds kind of bored, or maybe just a little relieved, that his search is over and he can take a break. In Hebrew, he's excited. The word often translated "now" or "at last" means something a lot closer to "Zowie!" What he says in vs. 23 is actually a little poem – the oldest love poem in the world.
- We're special (Genesis 1:27), but maybe not so special as we think. The ESV is good in that it correctly translates nephesh "living creature" the same for the man in vs. 7 and for all the animals in vss. 2:19-20 and 1:20, 24. Many translations use "living creature" for animals and "living soul" for people, even though it's the same word in practically identical sentences in Hebrew.
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