I bought another pop-culture-take-on-the-Bible book. Like my addiction to Coke, I just can’t help myself. But it is written by another, non-practicing author, who brings great insights and applications but isn’t a Christian. So, I wondered what it would look like for a Christian, an everyday guy, to read through the whole book and write about it. The whole Bible, even the crazy, “did they just say that?” aspects. And this idea was born…
What if I did that? I doubt it would go here…
But it might not be exactly what you or I expect right now. Still, I think I’m going to start … in the beginning. I won’t read a commentary on a tricky passage, I’ll do my best to make it apply to real life, and we’ll see what happens. Who knows, maybe you (or I) will be surprised.
Genesis 1-2: Two Versions of the Creation Story
“In the beginning” is pretty basic, right? You start stories at the beginning, but in this case, there’s nothing and there’s God. Not a whole lot going on, except the creative power of God. Over and over through Genesis 1, God makes something by speaking it into existence and it is so. And God calls each created thing “good.” [Now, my New Testament-reading brain reminds me that John 1:1-2 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” That would lead me into an understanding of at least a two-person God (God and the “Word”). It would also make me wonder about what the Word of God is… but that’s probably getting ahead of myself.)]
God makes humankind in the image of God, here, too. That can be pretty confusing if we’re going to read the whole thing literally, but here’s a quick disclaimer: I don’t. I think God uses the narrative of Genesis’ creation elements to reveal the characteristics of how the Judeo-Christian faith began, but I am not sold on there being a specific man named Adam and woman named Eve in Genesis 2. Might there have been? Sure. But this was an oral tradition, an explanatory myth (not like a fake story but an overarching understanding of something predating the written history).
If I can interpret the first chapter that way, then it frees me up to ‘not sweat’ that Genesis 1 and 2 share similar characteristics but don’t line-up word for word. [It’s like comparing and contrasting the synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, but there I go getting ahead of myself…] In Genesis 2, God forms ‘man’ out of the dust and breathes the breath of life into him. Does it matter if you see humanity as in God’s image or filled with the breath of life? Either way, God’s involvement in the creation and life of humanity is essential and utterly important; there is something of God in humanity’s origins, either way. That fundamentally shapes what we think of ourselves – we start off good (even if we will see sin’s entry in Genesis 3). We are innately, originally, intended for good. And that gives me hope.
One final word, before I call this one a wrap. There’s something beautiful about the fact that “no suitable helper” was found for Adam and so God used a rib to make the woman. If God had created another from-dust creature to be Adam’s helper, then the two from-dust creations would’ve had plenty in common with God (spirit breathed into them) but nothing with each other. Because God had initially created Adam and then took the woman’s rib from Adam, she becomes “of God’s spirit” and “of Adam.” They are connected horizontally and vertically, setting up the way that community in God’s terms is with God and with each other.
We’re barely skimming the surface here, but in just two chapters, we’ve seen how God created us with God’s own spirit and for good, and then established how we are meant for love with God and with each other. Pretty awesome stuff for just “in the beginning” indeed.
What do you see with fresh eyes? What still makes you go “yeah, but..”?