Monday, October 17, 2011

New Schedule

After the first two session, I have decided to slow down substantially. Where my first focus was on the first eleven chapters, I have now changed the scope to just chapters one through three or four.

As I have tried to meet the goals of the course to 1) a close reading of the text, and 2) seeing how narratives shape the way we view ourselves and the world. In this class, the narratives we are considering are the first two chapters' take on creation or origins, and the events of the Garden.

I hope this will be okay with all.

Monday, October 10, 2011

First Session

Well, the first class is history. We were able to cover about 6 verses of chapter 1. I am wondering if I will follow my inclination, and just move more deeply into the first four chapters, and may get to the Flood narratives in the next three weeks. It does not seem possible to get to the end of chapter 11.

There were three questions that were raised in the first session before we began:
  1. What's the "big deal' about the two creation stories?
  2. Who wrote the book of Genesis?
  3. What do these first eleven chapters have to do with being a believer in our time?
Good questions that will be covered in the coming weeks. I look forward to other questions.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Maps, Images, and Graphics

I have added links to some maps, graphics and images that are connected to this study.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Update on course outline

I have posted a revision of the course outline. You can click on the link to the right to see the update.

The reason for the revision is to look at Gen 1 (actually its Gen 1:1-2:4a) as "THE" creation narrative and to link Gen 2:4b-25 (the "other" creation narrative) with chapters 3 and 4. Chapters 3 and 4 are about the first family's exploits as they are cast from the Garden and one brother kills the other for no apparent reason. This leads into the sixth chapter that explores the the consequences of human violence; the flood narrative.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Reflections on Reading Westerman's Genesis

This is a reflection that comes from an observation that Claus Westerman makes in pages 173-174 (see bibliography). Commenting on the thought forms of P (Priestly writer of the Torah) he observes:
he [P writer] stands in a line in which there are others in front of him, Israelites and non-Israelites, who have described creation. P does not say that all of these were wrong or inadequate and that he alone was right. As he speaks, he allows others to speak with him at the same time. If recent exegesis of Gen 1 has demonstrated anything at all, it is that the author of Gen 1 is both a receiver and a giver.
I think he is trying to say that the Gen 1, P writer, is one among many creation narratives, and each has a perspective to offer to the human quest for knowledge. In other words, he is not trying to turn the Bible in a book of dogma. Statements such as God made the world out of nothing or God created the world in seven days or God created man in his own image, are to be set along side other origins stories and to see what light the Gen 1 can add to the discussion on God and creation. Of course, those who have no belief in God, have no stake in this conversation and thus can only be a critic of people who do have a sense of the Holy. The Jewish and Christian traditions will give more weight to the narratives in the Torah, but we cannot ignore the wisdom of others.

I want to explore the observation that the Bible is not a book of dogma, that is, it is a testimony of a particular people who have found in its narrative the Word of God. Thus, it is a book with a great deal of authority. Church doctrine can be based upon what is acknowledged as Holy Scripture, but this process of a sifting and sorting of the multiplicity of images and thoughts in an attempt to provide a coherent theology. The sifting and sorting process comes with assumption that we bring to the text. All bring assumption. The prerequisite of open biblical studies is to acknowledge our assumptions and expressing their limits in our understanding.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Class Outline

Course Outline:
  1. The Creation Epics (Genesis 1:1-2:4a)
  2. The Creation of Man and Woman and the Expulsion from the Garden of Eden/Paradise (Genesis 2:4b3:24) [The story of Cain and Abel is part of this Garden theme but will not be addressed directly. If you are interested, read chapter 4 and see how the expulsion from the Garden effects the first family.]
  3. The Flood (Genesis 6:1-8:22)
  4. The Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

First Assignment

  1. Read chapters 1-11 of Genesis in two or three different translations. 
  2. Make notes on differences if they seem to matter.