Primeval History (Gen. 3-11a), 1/25/08
Recall the two creation stories that open up the Bible, particularly the position/identity of
human being. Note the sense of closeness and intimacy that’s established between God
and humans, men and women
Gen 1: Made in God’s image and likeness; male
Charged to be lords over the earth, have dominion over “every living thing”
Commanded to be vegetarian (“every plant and tree yielding fruit”)
Told to be sexual, reproductive: “increase and multiply.” More life!
Personal, hands-on Creator, with man and woman as prize handiwork
Man out of the soil, woman out of man’s ribcage
“Placed” in the garden; given the task of caring for it
Charged with a commandment to eat every fruit
Intimacy of second creation story:
God perceives man to be solitary, needing a partner, a mate
God forms animals, Adam names them, but they are not “it”
(Midrash type question: Did God not realize that they
wouldn’t be enough? Or did he want man to experience the
need and realize that only another human would do?
Woman formed not from soil but from man: they share a root
connection that is unique among creatures: they are bone/bone, flesh/flesh,
their mutuality revealed in the word play of
“And the two shall be one flesh”: sex act alone? No, partnership.
Sudden shift in tone and reality:
The biblical story that follows upon the two creation accounts is about
of partnership, the breakdown of union and communion,
God’s recurrent attempts to reconnect, to forge a
between God and humans,
and among humans.
A link first with humanity as a whole (today’s reading), then with a particular
people descending from Abraham, Isaac, Jacob . . .
Theme for today’s lecture: loss of partnership and God’s attempt to reconnect with God’s