Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Genesis 1:6-25

Day 2 (Genesis 1:6-8) divides cosmic space. In ancient cosmologies, the atmosphere was perceived to be a solid expanse—not a scientific fact corrected by God. The emphasis is function not form, establishing the cosmic order vs. the threat of waters.

Day 3A (Gen 1:9-10) divides earthly space (Job 38:8-11, Ps 95:5, II Pet 3:5). In a word, Days 2-3A creates the space in which people would live while controlling weather and precipitation.

Day 3B (Gen 1:11-13) establishes certain types of vegetation. As Matthew Henry notes, God had built their house as was now “spreading their table"—setting the table for the appearance of animals and eventually man.

Specifically, God creates grain and fruit trees here. Why? To keep you regular, of course. Beyond that, it’s interesting that these are the foundations of bread and wine—when combined with human activity. It’s significant that these occur on the 3rd day (an important number biblically) and are set apart as the first living things.

Days 1-3 have laid out time, weather, and food—the foundations of life. (Interestingly, Gen 8:22 has the same list reversed, post-ark.)

Comparing days 1-3 to days 4-6, we move from preparation to population, from stationary objects to moving objects (at least from earth’s perspective)—and with progressively increasing freedom (heavenly bodies’ fixed orbits, animal instincts, human free will).

With Day 4 (Gen 1:14-19, we have the appearance of the specific lights in the sky. Their purposes: to 14b’s “mark seasons”; 17’s “give light” (1:3-4); 18a’s govern day/night; and 18b’s separate light from darkness (1:4).

The “literary framework” view of Genesis 1 observes the parallels in this creation account—between days 1-3 and 4-6—and argues that God intends something beyond the (purely) historical. This passage may be more poetic than prose; it certainly reads like a hymn with its “rhythmic sense of forming and filling”.

Whatever else we say here, it is obvious that God is trying to obviate the (natural) worship of those as false deities. Leon Kass: These are “not living gods but lifeless creatures…not even named by God…[and not called ‘good’]...presented as merely useful for the earth…rule extends only over day and night not over the earth and man…[days 1-3’s] light, time and even vegetation are presented as not requiring the sun…not heaven but [day 6’s] man has the closest relation to God; heaven is not said to be good…the stunning star-studded sphere…to which ancient peoples looked with awe and fear…[is/was] not deserving of such respect.

In Days 5-6A (Gen 1:20-25), we have the creation of the aquatic, air and land creatures. Again, not that day 4 builds on day 1; day 5 on day 2 (water/sky with fish/birds); day 6 on day 3 (ground with animals/man).

Next up: the creation of man later on day 6…


At January 28, 2010 at 12:18 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

Good stuff Eric! Some thoughts I'd never picked up on before. Keep it coming...


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