Monday, June 22, 2009

In the beginning, there was Genesis

I've just begun a journey into the depths of Hebrew scriptures today, as I endeavour to read the entire Hebrew Bible/Old Testament/whatever you may want to call it, this summer. Today I started and finished Genesis. I've studied parts of Genesis before, but today's reading was more to soak in the bigger story rather than glean all the intricacies (for that in itself could take an entire summer). Now I'm not going to commit to writing a blog for every book that I read, but I thought today's reading was worthy of reflection for the following reason: Anyone who thinks the bible isn't scandalous is ridiculous, and really should give this a read before you jump to such conclusions. Here were some interesting things I read about that would make the critical theorists cringe, the bible-thumpers ponder, and the puritans blush:

1. The beginning of the story, with multiple creation stories, sets the scene for created intent; a created intent that does not praise patriarchy or male headship, but equality. Yes, I'm saying that the foundation of Judeo-Christian belief is in equality being inherent to a good creation as it is intended to be. It actually seems like a really good setup.
2. God is first introduced as a plurality, made manifest singularly.
3. God promises a lot to people, and very rarely do they believe at first. It usually takes entire life times to fully believe.
4. Murder seems to be everyone's third favourite past time (casualties include Abel; the guy that ticked off Lamech; Hamor, Shechem, and all strong men with them who were recently weakened after being circumcised; Joseph - though this was faked)
5. Deception and trickery seems to be everyone's second favourite past time (everything about Jacob's life; Lot's daughters; all Jacob's son's; Tamar; Joseph's scheme)
6. Sex, sex, and more sex seems to top the priority list - and often not in the best scenarios (familial relationships don't seem to provide boundaries; prostitutes/in-laws/cousins/strangers to town/concubines/servants/multiple wives [oh how they departed from equality quickly]).
7. Similarly, there's a story about a guy who dies because he lets his semen hit the ground rather than fulfill his family duty to conceive with his dead brother's wife.
8. It's amazing how much damage that those two emissaries from God wrought on Sodom and Gomorrah. That would be quite the interesting story to film.
9. Funny how there's a promise for nations to multiply early on, then barrenness sets in for periods and everyone tries to reason their way around it, and lo and behold, the reasoning never works out well and multiplication takes place regardless. Point God...
10. "Reuben... don't you think for a minute that Dad was clueless about you laying with Bilhal. He wasn't impressed then, and he isn't impressed now."

In summary, the story begins with a really really nice setup scene, and then tons and tons of bad sex/violence/deception/conflict enters the picture. And yet, through it all, God still cares for the people, and seems to be trying to teach them something about dependency and belief. I can only imagine how many Christians would be offended with what they saw if a literal interpretation of this was conveyed on film, and how many non-Christians would be intrigued by the story that is far more scandalous and involving than first perceived.


chris wignall said...

what version have you chosen for this summer reading. It can make a big difference in how things are perceived

thedavestonelimited said...


CY said...

I welcome hearing more of your thoughts as I've encountered a lot of those notions/themes throughout my studies.

We must set up a 'theology date' when I move to TO. Maybe it can be a weekly coffee thing?