Wee Scoops

Measure for Measure

And that was the first day #E100

The iconic image of the Hand of God giving lif...

The iconic image of the Hand of God giving life to Adam, used since the series’ inception. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Genesis 1 is a great panning shot of creation. It reminds me of the opening scene of “The Lion King”  – although it’s not ‘The Circle of Life’, or even a new king that is being introduced, but the Creator God. It has huge sweeping statements of power and beauty and order and, for us, familiarity: “Let there be light”; “And God said”; “evening passed and morning came. That was the first day…”; “And God saw that it was good.” (Turns out you can start sentences with ‘And’…)

The bit that jumps out at me is when God refers to himself in the plural:

 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

Not only does God come across as plural, he also contains masculine and feminine. I’ve posted before on the gender of God here.

So, these male and female are sent out to “be fruitful and increase in number” – then chapter two takes the zoom lens and we get to see the remarkable life of Adam.

Adam’s pre-Eve existence is fascinating – as picked up in Andrew Marvell’s poem “The Garden”:

Such was that happy garden-state,

While man there walked without a mate :

After a place so pure and sweet,

What other help could yet be meet!

But ’twas beyond a mortal’s share

To wander solitary there :

Two paradises ’twere in one

To live in Paradise alone.

This is before Eve, before the Fall – and Marvell wonders what it would have been like, noting that Adam was not yet mortal. Where Marvell thinks it would be doubly blissful to be there alone – and complete and solitary – God says “It is not good for man to be alone”.

This in turn reminds me of the end of Paradise Lost when (I’m getting ahead of myself here…) Milton suggests:

They, looking back, all the eastern side beheld

Of Paradise, so late their happy seat,

Waved over by that flaming brand; the gate

With dreadful faces thronged, and fiery arms:

Some natural tears they dropt, but wiped them soon;

The world was all before them, where to choose

Their place of rest, and Providence their guide:

They, hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow,

Through Eden took their solitary way.

So, the pair of them end up solitary together – but they are solitary because of Chapter three which I haven’t read yet this time round.

The other bit that jumped out at me was the two named trees in the garden of Eden, There was the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And Adam wasn’t to eat of the second tree because he would die. I just wonder why they weren’t just called the Tree of Life and the Tree of Death.

It’s an interesting relationship between knowledge of good and evil and culpability – that if you “know” something is wrong, you shouldn’t do it. It also raises the question as to whether or not ignorance is an excuse. The older I get, the less validity ignorance seems to have, as an excuse.

That was the first day.

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14 thoughts on “And that was the first day #E100

  1. When God refers to himself/herself in the plural, is that because of the holy trinity or is it the whole universe thing? This was an excellent post.:)

    • People have used that as ‘evidence’ to justify the doctrine of the Trinity. I think it’s interesting – and is an indication of multi-factetedness and variety.
      I could read it as the Trinity also – as the New Testament has Jesus there from Creation –
      “1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it.”
      So, that’s how the NT writers must have read the Creation story in response to the life of Christ.

  2. Pedant alert! As far as I know (and I’m no Hebrew scholar), “the man” and “the woman” are never referred to as ‘Adam’ or ‘Eve’ until after the fall, irrespective of how your English translation might render it.

    Also, did you notice that “the deep” (or “the waters”, depending on your translation) exists before the start of creation?

    And Chapter 2, which expresses the order of creation as Man > Plants > Animals > Woman, contradicts Chapter 1 which has Plants > Animals > Man & Woman together… Which is it, can’t be both?

    And there’s more, but I’d better stop there…

    • I haven’t looked but I’ll take your first point.
      Your second point – I always kind of thought that the line: ” In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” was the creation of matter – and then it kicks off. But whatever.
      As for the order – I think Cat puts it well in her comment below 🙂
      But also, I (perhaps heretically) like to think of the two accounts as not consecutive, but parallel – and as accounts and … I dunno… “essays”…
      Sure, there’s more – but I think to get bogged down in the minutiae is to cloud the point. The accounts show God as the creative force and that Creation is good – and there is order to it – and humans have a responsibility to steward the creation. And that people should live in community and help each other out.

      • theotheri on said:

        Yes, that’s the way I see it too. I understand people’s questioning whether the Bible or any other sacred book is really divine revelation. But to argue on the grounds that various accounts don’t have a potentially profound message for human living because various biblical accounts contradict each other or make different points or don’t match what science tells us today about the beginning of the universe miss the point altogether. For thousands of years, the Hebrews did not look – and still do not look – to their scriptures for scientific fact. Asking for all the stories to match each other exactly is like asking, I think, for all the poems in a book to match. Or to speak only literally.

        But we are on the same page on this issue. I’ll stop!

  3. Well Rickster, the answer is not to look to Genesis for your evoloutionary biology queries.

    • I agree. It’s a dramatic piece of writing. Quite cool and stylised. Not very scientific. But then, neither am I.

      • Despite being a scientist by inclination and by training, I don’t expect to find scientific information in Genesis, and have never read it as such.

        As a Christian, I went to Genesis expecting to find the Word of God and after many years of careful study and reflection have come to the conclusion that some parts of the bible, and Genesis 1 and 2 are a good example of this, are merely the words of man about God, not in any meaningful way a divine revelation. But the words of man can be flawed, misleading and sometimes wrong…

      • Yes they can 🙂
        *urge to say “except mine”*…
        😉

  4. I didn’t even mention evolution…

  5. theotheri on said:

    And then, of course, there is the whole question of whether this story is meant to be understood metaphorically. It is the way the Hebrews often thought and spoke, especially about their God. So did God tells his stories in return in the language of the Hebrews or literally, ie, using the language of modern science.

    I, personally, find much great depth and profound truth in the metaphorical understanding.

    But it also makes more sense to me, that God would speak to his people in their own language.

  6. Pingback: That Tree of Knowledge « The Other I

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