Here are 7 interesting things about Genesis 1-3 that came up in relation to my Old Testament Interpretation class at Wake Divinity:
1. Genesis 1:26a says, “And God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’”
Us?! Our image? Our likeness? Who else is God referring to? The royal “we”? Christ? The earth? Someone or something else?
2. Genesis 1:27 says, “And God created man in His image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
This verse reports the first Biblical act of creating humans. The Hebrew word that is translated as “man” in Genesis 1:27 is “haadam” or “adam” (small a), which can mean humans as a group—“mankind” or “humankind.” So, this might tell us that the first time God created humans, God created a group of them.
3. Genesis 1-3 contains two different accounts of creation. Genesis 1-2:4a is one, and Genesis 2:4b -3:25 is another.
The first calls God “elohim.” The second calls God by a different name. Animals are created before humans in the first, but not in the second. There are lots of other differences. Is it necessarily so that at least two different authors wrote the two accounts? No, but nearly every Biblical scholar says that it is nearly certainly so.
4. Genesis 2:9 mentions two particular trees in the Garden of Eden, the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Bad.
Good and bad? I thought it was good and evil. Most every English translation on the market translates it as good and evil. The latest scholarly thinking holds that the best translation is the “tree of good and bad,” though. Basically, the latest reasoning is that the Hebrew word could mean either bad or evil and that there is no good reason to translate it at the extreme of its potential meaning (evil). “Good and bad” is what the new Jewish Publication Society Tanakh translation uses.
5. After Genesis 2 describes the creation of Eve, it says “Hence a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, so that they become one flesh.”
Historians report that in the relevant time-frame, the reverse was true: a woman left her father and mother (to live with the man’s family), rather than a man leaving his father and mother.
6. Part of the story of the Garden of Eden: Eve took of the tree of knowledge’s “fruit and ate. She also gave some to her husband, and he ate.”
The fruit they ate is traditionally described as an apple. Bruce Springsteen: “They say, Eve tempted Adam with an apple. But I ain’t going for that. I know it was her pink Cadillac.” Turns out, historians and archaeologists agree with the Boss on this one (well, in part). There were no apples in the Ancient Near East, per the scholars.
7. When Eve was created, Adam said:
“This one at last
Is bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh.
This one shall be called Woman ….”
If one follows the logic of Young Earth Creationists and concludes that Adam and Eve were created during the same, 24-hour day, a few hours (minutes?!) apart, then doesn’t this passage indicate that Adam is a super-impatient dude? He’s been alive for only a few hours before Eve shows up. When she does, he says “at last”!
At last, this post is over!
(Picture: Yes, I know that the fruit story isn’t technically part of the creation account, but I wanted to take a picture of my apple for this blog post. The picture is one I took earlier this week of an apple sitting on my laptop.)
The Jewish Study Bible 2d ed. 2014. Oxford: University Press (Tanakh Translation).
Collins, John J., Introduction to the Hebrew Bible 2d ed. 2014. Fortress Press. 1-84.
Springsteen, Bruce. “Pink Cadillac,” on the Dancing in the Dark album (Columbia Records 1984) .
http://biblehub.com/hebrew/120.htm (discussing adam and related words), last visited September 23, 2016.
This was a very nice morning reading for me. Thanks Steve!
Thank you Paul!
A few thoughts on diversity:
Diversity of thought is what attempts to make the mainstream of America to not only tolerate but accept gays, lesbians, bi-sexual, trans-gendered, trans-sexual people. Diversity of thought is what attempts to force feed the notion that gender is in flux. That our genes or creation don’t determine our gender. Diversity of thought is what attempts to make “normal” marriage between two men or two women or between mothers and sons, fathers and daughters.”
Diversity is not what makes America stronger. In all cases. Sure diversity is a good thing, but when morals or character or common decency comes second to diversity, then it is not important to me.
Steve, your diversity program clearly questions the words of the bible:
I have studied the bible for all of my adult life. I believe it is the inspired word of God. When God inspired those that wrote it, he had the power to know how those words would be recorded. I have faith the bible today is what God intended for us to have.
He inspired John while in prison to write what he was shown in visions or dreams, and we have Revelation. He inspired many prophets in the old testament to write down future events as it related to his one and only son. All of those prophecies became truth in Christs’ life.
I own several very early bibles dating to 1580’s, in original condition. While researching these bible editions, I came to learn how very few hands and minds the original texts went through to get not only those bibles (the Bishop’s bible, Geneva bible, KJV bible and Matthews, for example) but the versions we have today which are largely based on those four translations.
We don’t have bibles today that went through dozens of translations all of which were dependent on its predecessor. Most were translated back to those four translations which were largely written based on original texts.
Your diversity program does not promote having faith in the creation of the bible:
I don’t believe that God was uncertain about how he intended to create the Earth and humans. It is recorded in scripture he inspired, exactly how he created the universe and Earth, animals and humans. I don’t believe that God tried other times to create and scrapped it in lieu of what we live in now. I don’t believe God was on a committee of “us”, rather it was always him, Christ and his Spirit at the helm.
I don’t study the Bible with diversity trumping faith or belief. I study the bible with the intent of strengthening my faith. I don’t have to ponder with diversity in mind whether God was a woman. I don’t have to consider other versions of God to strengthen my faith.
I write this post to your blog to say that I am a better Christian after I read how you question and almost revel in calling into question basic understandings of the bible that I take by faith. I have a stronger faith, knowing that my faith stands on the solid ground of of not only NOT knowing all of these things, but not NEEDING to see every far fetched, left field perspective in order to have faith. I’m glad my faith does not require such questioning.
I heard it once said, in a debate between a strong christian and an atheist that both must have faith to stand on their own belief. Atheists don’t KNOW that God doesn’t exist, they just believe he does not exist, and they have faith that their belief is true. Christians don’t KNOW that God exists (I can easily argue he does), they just believe that he does and they have faith that belief is true. Christians should revel in knowing if they are right and live a life accordingly, they have a chance in Heaven with God. Atheists should revel in knowing if they are right they can live according to their own humanistic moral compass, they turn to dust. If Christians are wrong however, they simply turn to dust. If Atheists are wrong, well, that’s a different story. They will burn in hell as God commanded. I’m glad I am a Christian.
I have FAITH that God alone created Earth how he said he did in 7 days (reference the movie, The Genesis Code for a wonderful explanation on how this was possible taking as much time in today’s years as some believe a prolonged “universe creation” took, it might surprise you), that he didn’t have to start over after failed attempts elsewhere, he didn’t create other universes, he didn’t create life on other planets and didn’t have to hedge his bets by creation more than one garden of Eden and more than one Adam and Eve, and on and on and on. I believe his scriptures communicate in clear English, exactly what he wanted us to know. Heaven will be a wonderful time for all of God’s mysteries to be revealed.
Hi Sean! Thanks for your comment. Heaven will indeed be a wonderful time for all of God’s mysteries to be revealed!