Friday, January 15, 2010

Intro to Genesis

From The Life Application Bible: “[Genesis] is the story of God's purpose and plan for his creation. As the book of beginnings, Genesis sets the stage for the entire Bible. It reveals the person and nature of God (Creator, Sustainer, Judge, Redeemer); the value and dignity of human beings (made in God's image, saved by grace, used by God in the world); the tragedy and consequences of sin (the fall, separation from God, judgment); and the promise and assurance of salvation (covenant, forgiveness, promised Messiah)."

Genesis, of course, points to Jesus.
He is...
-the 2nd Adam (Rom 5);
-righteous Abel who was slain (Mt 23:35, Heb 11:4) and whose blood was shed (Heb 12:24);
-Noah, the vehicle through which humanity is saved;
-Abraham, the father of a new nation;
-Isaac on the altar through his father;
-and Joseph sold for a bag of silver.

Genesis covers key biblical figures/events: Adam & Eve, "original sin", Cain & Abel, Noah and the Flood, and the Tower of Babel (chapters 1-11); Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac (11-25); Jacob (25-36); and Jacob's son, including most prominently, Joseph (37-50)—more than half of Heb 11's "faithful".

Genesis introduces a key literary tool in the Bible-- the power of narrative to communicate truth. There is much here on family and community, private and public life. With Abraham, we move from one man to one household to one clan/tribe to a nation. Beyond that, it's interesting to note how sparse the narrative is-- especially (and sometimes, frustratingly) over matters of curiosity. But this also allows the text to be more universal, more interpretations and applications, and more powerful in engaging/teaching us more fully.

Leon Kass (in his 670-page commentary): “I make no claim to a final or definitive reading. On the contrary, the stories are too rich, too complex, and too deep to be captured fully, once and for all.”

Likewise, Kass notes that Genesis speaks to universal themes. Genesis is both temporal/historical and universal/anthropological; it's about what happened and what always happens. Genesis “invites reflection” on ontology (purpose), ethics, politics, and philosophy (lit. wisdom-loving—how to live life well). It covers cities and civilizations; crime and injustice; xenophobia and abuse of strangers; unbridled technology a la Babel; civic morality a la Sodom; justice and revenge with the rape of Dinah; competing cultural visions (Canaan, Babylon, Egypt)—“though these ancient civilizations are long gone, their animating principles survive”.

It is a great book in a Book to fall in love with!


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