First day reading the Bible. I will find it really challenging to NOT read all of the footnotes as well as the introduction to each book. But reading the introduction will be really helpful for this endeavor.
Intro to Genesis: So, here are my thoughts on the introduction to Genesis. First, I have heard and read in several places that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all believe in the same God. It was good to see in the intro that all three “lay claim to the characters and stories of Genesis, each with their distinct understanding of the meaning of this important book of beginnings” (p. 7). Pretty cool stuff. I had no idea that the authorship of the Pentateuch wasn’t attributed to Moses until after his lifetime. That’s pretty interesting. Fascinating reading about when Genesis was written on pages 7-8. I’ve heard and read many times that Moses is the author of the first five books. So this kinda surprised me: “Nevertheless, we do know that the book was written over centuries by multiple authors, and we have a more specific and assured picture of the final stages of its composition” (p. 8). This makes me wonder why is it that many people argue that Moses was the author. Why is this so important?
Noticed this on page 9: “The primeval history has two major sections that parallel each other: (1) the creation of the cosmos and stories of the first humans (1.1–6.4); and (2) the flood and dispersal of post-flood humanity (6.5–11.9). It features universal traditions similar to myths in other cultures, particularly in the ancient Near East and Greece. For example, the Mesopotamian Atrahasis epic was written hundreds of years before chs 1–11, yet it parallels numerous particulars of the biblical narrative as it describes the creation of the world, a flood, and the vow of the gods (here plural) not to destroy life with a flood again.” I didn’t realize that parts of the narrative in Genesis closely match stories from other cultures. There are also some parallels between what is written in the ancestral history and other traditions.
Page 10-11: Under the interpretation section-much discussion of the importance of Genesis to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Fascinating read.
Page 11: Interpretation section also discusses intersection with science: “In the modern era, Genesis has been an important battleground as communities have worked to live out ancient faiths in a modern world. For example, much discussion of Genesis, at least among Christians in the West, has focused on whether the stories of Genesis are historically true. Astronomers, biologists, and other scientists have offered accounts of the origins of the cosmos and humanity diff erent from those in Gen 1–2. Some believers, however, insist on the importance of affirming the historical accuracy of every part of Genesis, and have come to see such belief as a defining characteristic of what it means to be truly faithful. This definition is relatively new: the historicity of Genesis was not a significant concern prior to the rise of modern science and the historical method; in fact, in premodern times, the stories of Genesis were often read metaphorically or allegorically. Moreover, many would argue that an ancient document such as Genesis is not ideally treated as scientific treatise or a modern-style historical source. Instead, its rich store of narratives offer nonscientific, narrative, and poetic perspectives on values and the meaning of the cosmos that pertain to other dimensions of human life.” I never really thought about when the notion of a literal interpretation of the Bible started. This argument is interesting and one I will need to explore further.
Genesis 1: I noticed in Gen 1.2 “the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.” I didn’t realize that the first creation story in Genesis started this way. I just always thought the creation aspect started with Gen 1.3 “then God said, ‘let there be light’; and there was light.” I’ve always liked this story. I’ve heard many people say that the order of appearance in the first creation story predicted the theory of evolution (it seems to show increasing complexity). I don’t agree with that and hope to find some information to help me explain it to others. I am curious as to the terminology based on when this was written. Words like “earth,” “seas,” “sky,” etc. When were these terms coined in the oral traditions? Also, the text refers to the sky as a dome (Gen 1.6). Ancient astronomers used to argue that the sky was in fact a dome. Kinda interesting. I definitely need to explore this further.
Genesis 2: Second creation story. Here’s a site comparing the two creation stories: http://www.leighb.com/genesis.htm. I do find in interesting how different this creation story is from the first creation story. The order of appearance is vastly different. I just didn’t realize how different they were from each other. It’s clear that when people claim the creation story predicted the theory of evolution they aren’t talking about this one. Another thing that I find interesting is the appearance of humans. In the first creation story, men and women appear at the same time. In the second creation story, Eve is created from Adam’s rib after God realizes Adam needs a companion. Why is this so different? Why is it some use the second creation story to argue that women are subservient to men?
Genesis 3: When Eve is tricked and eats the apple. I noticed the word ‘us’ in Gen 3.22 “then the Lord God said, ‘See, the man has become like one of us…’”. The word ‘us’ was also used in Gen 1.26 “then God said, ‘let us make humankind…’”. Notation for this says that “the plural us probably refers to the divine beings who compose God’s heavenly court (1 Kings 22.19; Job 1.6)” (p. 12). I will need to refer back to this later, but I didn’t remember that there was a “heavenly court.” What exactly was their role? Another thought was “wait, what?”
Luke 1: I like how this starts by referring to earlier gospels. I’m sure I have seen this before, but I do find it interesting that the author refers to a “priest named Zechariah” and his wife “Elizabeth.” This was written prior to the founding of the Catholic Church. Just find this interesting. This chapter was an interesting read. As a novice I found myself wondering who Zechariah and Elizabeth’s son, John, is. My initial thought is that John is John the Baptist. Reading the notes indicates that this is correct. Hooray me! As a fan of history I really like that the author dates the passage with “in the days of King Herod of Judea” (1.5). I honestly did not realize that John the Baptist and Jesus were only a few months apart in age (John’s older). I just assumed that John the Baptist was much older than Jesus since he is the one who baptized him. I also do wonder what it must have felt to be Mary and Joseph.