Intro – The Backstory

This is a study into the ancient stories of Genesis. It is formatted as a series of blog posts which build on the ones before. I have numbered them accordingly to make the sequencing simple to follow. Each post can be read in one sitting and I hope you spend time thinking about the content before diving into the next. Questions are scattered throughout to help you engage with the content or to facilitate discussion in the context of a small group setting. Finally, I would love your comments and feedback, even if you disagree with my conclusions. . . “For we know in part and we prophesy in part”

A Personal Note
In the early 1980’s I was a new believer with a yearning desire to learn all I could about God, the Bible and spiritual matters. I was in college at the time and in my naïveté I enrolled in a course “The Bible as Literature,” thinking it would help with my understanding.  Little did I expect the onslaught which was to follow against the character of God and divine inspiration of his word. 

The attack began with an argument positioning the two creation accounts against each other, highlighting the contradictions in the narrative.  This rattled my new faith substantially. Had it not been for the very real changes God had done in me during the prior months, I may have fallen victim to the “higher and lower criticisms” which were to come.

Since that time, I have learned that God is not intimidated by our hard questions, he has nothing to hide and there is nothing we can discover that will delegitimize his person or kingdom.  Much to my surprise, I also found that some of the most challenging portions of scripture contain some of the greatest revelations.  So as we begin this study on the early chapters of Genesis we will look at the two creation stories which nearly shipwrecked my faith forty five years ago.  Today I understand these stories from a completely different perspective as they lay a foundation for the greatest story ever told.

Some suggestions for approaching this study.
When thinking about the Bible from a high level, we generally organize it as Old and New Testament, almost as if it were two separate stories. The Old Testament being a collection of stories for the Jews, their national history and moral truths for a successful society. And Christians view the New Testament as the model for humanity to have relationship with the God of Creation through his son, Jesus. What if this organizational structure hinders our understanding?

Several years ago, a light bulb was turned on for me; what if the first eleven chapters of Genesis represent God’s original design followed by the of cause of evil, pain and suffering in the earth.  Then in chapter twelve, God calls to a man in Mesopotamia which begins the Creator’s magnificent plan of redemption, first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.

. . . to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile
 Romans 2:10

Beware the lullaby.
Many of us have heard these stories (garden of Eden, the flood, etc.) so many times we almost yawn with apathy, “oh yeah, I’ve heard this before.” But do we understand the nuances embedded in these stories and how they inform major biblical themes. One of my favorites was discovering what was really going on when Adam named the animals.  So guard against the lullaby affect and search for the deeper meaning in these stories.  For hiding under the surface beats the divine heart pointing the way home for the weary pilgrim.

What is your perspective?
We each approach the scriptures from a perspective. That perspective may be influenced through denominational affiliation, creedal statements, or family background. Some might even read it as historical fiction, mythology, or teachings of moral philosophy.

While it may not be possible to completely remove these viewpoints, can we at least admit they exist? Perhaps that will help us imagine these stories in their ancient context, even as the first audience. I invite you to join me; all you need to bring is your heart, your emotions, a curious mind and a willingness to consider hard questions. If you do I believe you will be richly blessed with newfound joy and peace.

“Therefore, every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”
Mathew 13:52

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