Monthly Archives: December 2019

A Lingering Aroma

Virginia Chitwood died a little while ago but Dewayne knows where to find her when it’s his turn to leave and he happily goes looking for her. They’ve lived all their lives loving one another and their Lord Jesus.

Along with Virginia and Dewayne Linda and I had dinner at the Long’s warm and welcoming home.  There she was, gracious, though often greatly troubled with physical pain and always diminishing memory. I was babbling as is usual for me and maybe on that occasion I had said something worthwhile. In any case when I took a breath Virginia (beside Dewayne), leaned over, touched my hand and from a great depth down inside her and a tone that added loveliness she said, “You’re a very nice man. I like you.”
It was a beautiful moment and everyone around the big table were moved and delighted. Not much later I sent what follows to Dewayne, adapting Leigh Hunt’s poem, Jenny Kissed me.

Virginia liked me when we met
Leaned over on the chair she sat in
Time, you thief, you love to get
Sweet things for your list, put that in
Say I’m lonely say I’m sad
Say health and wealth just didn’t strike me
Say I’m growing old but add
Virginia liked me.

I knew it would frame a moment for him. A moment that revealed her inner loveliness that not even great physical pain and a vanishing memory could destroy or hide.
That was the last time I saw her alive but her fragrance still lingers in every place she had ever been as it did that evening in the Long’s home.

So, beyond those moments we’d like to forget because they fill us with remorse for generating them—beyond those—what lovely moments—still linger for you or because of you? What moments of yours might linger on in someone’s mind that makes them smile and enables them in various ways or in various testing times?

Lovely moments! Not even purposed! All the lovelier because they weren’t purposed. You did it without thinking and out from within you, the movement or the sound or the look that says something sweet and beautiful and implies something too, something about you. An act that once you have done it and done it almost reflexively says something about you that means no one whose opinion might matter can stamp across your life: “All Bad!” Moments, I mean, like that one created by Virginia Chitwood in Abilene in 2019

(Holy Father we want to be to you the fragrance of Christ. Thank you for that hunger you’ve initiated and do sustain. Be our helper still and help us to generate moments of beauty. This prayer in the name of the Beautiful One of 2 Corinthians 3.15)

 

Acts: The Gospel of The Holy Spirit (Part 46)

Watch the latest video from McGuiggan Reflections.
We are exploring the book of Acts in a series titled Acts: The Gospel of the Holy Spirit. We hope you enjoy and can benefit greatly from this study. To contact Jim, feel free to email him at holywoodjk@aol.com or visit his website at http://www.jimmcguiggan.com.
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Earthly & Heavenly Image (5)

When we see Jesus we are seeing the TRUE image of God as both Male & Female. Cf. also Revelation 12:1-5 and Romans 16:20 with earlier comments on Genesis 3.

If I understand correctly the teaching of the Holy Scriptures in this area, the One we know as Jesus of Nazareth is the true image of God in three aspects.

In His pre-incarnate state, as one member of the Godhead (the Word, as in John 1:1-2) purely and fully imaged God. That is, if you saw Him then you would have seen a flawless image of God (with God), and so, distinguishable but not separable from the Father & the Spirit). He was that flawless image and reflection in every respect because He was God as indeed the Father & Spirit are God.

Secondly, while in the divine, pre-incarnate state, He chose to become “flesh” (that is, a human—John 1:14). The human He chose to become was truly human, a mortal human, subject to death (Romans 8:3; Hebrews 2:10-14, passim). When we saw Him in that incarnate state we saw God self-revealed, nothing and no one less than God, making Himself visible. In pursuit of His everlasting and redeeming purpose GOD showed Himself in the man He is being, the One we call Jesus of Nazareth. In that man and only in that man GOD shared the hurt of an alienated human family (from birth to death).

Thirdly, when Jesus of Nazareth, the man God was/is choosing to be, died and rose immortal, He died not only in “the flesh” (with all its human/creaturely limits & weaknesses) He died to that realm and mode of human vulnerability and rose in power in a mode of being that transcends the earthly/fleshly/creaturely realm or state (2 Corinthians 13:4; 1 Peter 3:18), “put to death in flesh, made alive in spirit”—note that there are no definite articles in that phrase. ‘Spirit’ in that text is not the Holy Spirit— He awakened, as it were, in a new world beyond ‘flesh’ and He became “the heavenly man” (1 Corinthians 15:48). He did not become a ghost or “made of ‘heavenly’ stuff! (Cf. Luke 24:37-43). He became and is a glorified immortal human.

He became a new creation human, no longer subject to death or the limits of mortality & mortal flesh. He LIVES as a human made for an exalted fullness of life—for “heavenly” life in contrast to “fleshly” or “natural” (psuchikos) life. He isn’t made of heavenly “stuff”. He belongs to a higher world. The idea is not a different location but a different mode of being.

As a result of His person and work, Jesus doesn’t become “a living soul” as did Adam—He became a “life-giving spirit” Being (1 Cor 15:45). He gives not only mortal life which is confined to the here and now but in rising for all the redeemed of all the ages He bestows on them life beyond the flesh, beyond mortality and all that goes with it. Mortal beings can’t give that because as Adam they are subject to Death. This “last” Adam (1 Cor 15:45) is Lord of Death and rises to graciously  give immortal life for He by His Father’s grace has such power (John 5).

  1. Jesus is the true image of God prior to creation
  2. Jesus is the true/flawless image in His mortal human phase
  3. Jesus is the true/flawless image of a new humanity in His resurrection to immortal glory—the image God eternally purposed for humankind.

The creative work of God did not end with the creation of Adam and Eve as the image of God. Centuries passed while the faithful GOD worked with the creatures He made—humans. He made, creatures He allowed to make choices because He made them like that! He chose to make them like that and He chose to allow them to choose to go their own way. Three times in Romans 1: 24, 26, 28 (and context—1:18-32) we’re told that God “gave them up” to their choices.  In Acts 14:16 (and context) Barnabas and Paul, surrounded by Zeus worshipers, tell the crowd that God “in bygone ages allowed all nations to walk in their own ways.” The result of that we’re still experiencing today

But that was not all the Creator did. We chose alienation and He pursued us and continues to pursue us offering reconciliation and that reconciliation God was working out and making clear in Jesus of Nazareth (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). “Now all things are of God who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ…that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself not imputing their trespasses to them.”

And who is Jesus of Nazareth? He “is the image of the invisible God.” (2 Corinthians 4:4; Colossians 1:15 and Hebrews 1:3) Prior to His becoming the image of God as Jesus the man of Nazareth, He was the image of God in His pre-incarnate state (cf. Philippians 2:5-6; Hebrews 1:3). and He is the one who took His place among us creatures (Romans 8:3; Hebrews 2:10—14). But how did He come to be one of us creatures, a man (John 8:40; Acts 2:22 passim)?

He became one of us because the Holy Spirit created Him from a woman (Luke 1:34-35). Jesus was not “born” in the usual manner and in fact Galatians 4:4 says, as all the scholars remind us, that Jesus was “made” of a woman, not “born” of a woman. In Genesis 2:22-24 we have the newly created woman made of a man (see Robert Alter on the wording). In the case of Jesus of Nazareth we have a new creation made of a virgin woman. In Him, Jesus of Nazareth, the new and true image of God we have both womankind and mankind. Jesus of Nazareth a man is not of man but of woman and He is the new image of God in contrast to (not in opposition to)!

In going to God at the ascension Jesus the new, true, flawless and exhaustive IMAGE OF GOD takes with Him female and male to everlasting glorification.

Seed of the Woman (4)

HUMANKIND IN REBELLION: GENESIS 1-6, ESV

 Genesis 3:1-6. Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘Youa shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”
2 ­ And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, *
3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”
4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.
5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight (see Alter on word) to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

* Cf. Alter on v.2: on linguistic grounds he assures us that the woman cut the Satan off in mid-sentence.

The ESV and the KJV take note of the fact that “you” in the first 5 verses is both plural and masculine. So though the woman is addressed the man is included. If what I am inferring is true it would fit in nicely with the picture of Eve interrupting the Satan. Adam is seen as more a follower in this section than the leader. We notice that it’s Eve that eats and “gives to Adam who is with her.” And then Adam seems to be passing the blame on to her (and God). It’s easy to imagine him saying it with something of a whimper. I can easily believe that God purposed Adam as the leader but that he wasn’t taking the lead. Whether any of that has any merit, this much is clear, Eve is not presented as a pathetic little female creature running behind the man to do his bidding, which is what many feminists would have us believe (Stanton, Schüssler Fiorenza and Daly illustrate).

3:1. Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?’

It’s easy also to imagine the Satan knows better than that, but he wants to provoke a conversation with the pair. It would be a crime, he would imply, for God to make this marvelous garden, place them in it and then deny them the pleasure of eating of any of the trees. Since that accusation won’t work he will move on to something more plausible, more seductive and sinister.

3:2. We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden…

The woman said, ‘We” may freely eat so we know that she is including the man; she speaks for both of them. Adam (if he is by her side as Satan speaks which I think is the case) says nothing. As above, Adam is shown as playing a passive role rather than taking the lead.

3: But God said…

She vigorously ‘corrects’ the cunning tempter and tells him God had opened the entire garden for their pleasure (2:16) but that He had forbidden one of the trees. And His “don’t eat” was a word of protection rather than a word of arbitrary choice. “You’ll die if you eat!” said God. In fact she says they were forbidden to touch the tree or they would die. Sometimes scholars try too hard. It’s true there is no mention of touching in 2:17 but what if God had later told Eve they weren’t to touch it? What if Eve simply added the word to deepen the intensity of the prohibition? “We’re not even allowed to touch that tree!” That’s hard to imagine? Cynthia Westfall (Evangelical scholar}, makes use of this addition in an overall futile attempt to defend Eve against criticism when Eve doesn’t need defense in the first place.

3:4: The serpent said, “You shall not surely die…”

“He was a murderous liar from the beginning,” said the Lord Jesus, the destroyer of the Satan (John 8:44; Hebrews 2:10-12, 14). “When he speaks a lie he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”

 3:5. For God knows that in the day you eat…you will be like God…”

‘Elohim’. God or gods. “You’ll be divine! You’ll be rivals to God or at least gods. Your wisdom and knowledge will make your heads swim.  Your eyes will be opened to depths formerly unknown! People will come to call you ‘gods’ and you’ll be able to jeer at those who are obviously grossly ignorant compared with you.” Humans don’t make good servants so muchless do they make good lords or gods. God gave Solomon wisdom and look what he did with the gift. No, it’s GOD we need to be GOD if we’re to be glorious beings.

There he is standing in the middle of the stream chest heaving and heart thumping like a runaway train speeding downhill. His wide-eyed and wild-eyed look scours every foot of ground around him but there’s no sign of them. Maybe he finally shook them off but his legs are trembling, throbbing and weary from miles covered at breakneck speed, his ribs are aching from the pressure of lungs expanded to their limit in sucking in great gulps of air, his throat is on fire and his mouth though foam-flecked is dust. He can wait no longer, danger or not he must find the nearest stream and drink or die.
The long chase, the fierce pack, the cunning way they pursued, always keeping him running full tilt with a single leader dog while the rest waited until he tired and then they’d take his life. This time he outwitted or outran them but the strain and the effort has been close to overwhelmingHe pants for water. No sipping, no little desire but a desperate and unquenchable thirst. He finds the stream and sinks his muzzle in the ice-cold water and swallows it down in big life-giving gulps.
The psalmist might have seen that from some high place, have seen the drama of it all and rejoiced at the escape and felt like rising to his feet and applauding. That’s the picture he paints for us in Psalm 42:1. “As the deer pants for the flowing stream so my soul longs after you.”
How could he not be thrilled at the “great escape”? Did it not remind him of the days when he was pursued long and hard, like a frightened deer, a period in his life when he heard the ‘dogs’? There he was, hemmed in by circumstances beyond his control, his strength almost gone, his friends not within reach, the effort to stay on his feet having drained him and driven him to the edge of the abyss. He must find GOD. “My soul thirsts for GOD, the living GOD. When shall I come and behold the face of GOD? My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me continually, ‘Where is your God?’” [42.3] Idolaters and God-rejectors could point to their gods and goddesses so they mock Israel’s unseeable God who has no idols). In AD 63 when Pompey waked into the Holy of Holies he found no idol there. Psalmists could have told him that would be the case. God is enthroned in heaven (11:4, passim) and on a greater throne than that (cf. Psalm 22:3).
As the deer at the limit of his endurance instinctively knows he must find water so this distressed human knows he must find God for it’s only in GOD he has reason to hope! He tests every offer of help with the question: “Will it help me to find GOD?”

Satan: “Here, here is good advice and counsel.”
Will it help me to find GOD, the Creator and the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ?

Satan. No, but you will be a god!
Satan. “Here, here is an offer of friendship.”

Will it help to find my Friend GOD?

Satan. No, but you will be a god!
Satan. Here is a place you can run to.

Will I find GOD there?

Satan. No, but you will be a god!
Satan. Here is a book you should read!

Will it help me to know and love GOD?

Satan. No, but you will be a god!
Satan. Here is a seminar you should attend.

Will it bring me to trust in and commit to GOD?

Satan. No, but you will be a god!
Satan. “Here, here is a book you should read, a movie you should see, a lecture you should attend, a habit you should develop, an author you should follow, a reputation you should hunger for….”
Will they bring me to GOD?

Satan. No, but you’ll be a god and feel like a god.
Satan. Here, here is some fruit you should eat—it’s your right!

Will it bring Death to me and all I truly care for, all I want in GOD to truly care for?

Satan: Slyly, “No, but it will make a god of you and for a while you will feel like a god!”

(Holy Father, help us to see you in the words. Help us to see you EVERYWHERE. Help us to WANT to see you everywhere. And though you are not far from any one of us sometimes we’re so tired and afraid that we feel the need of something more “face to face.” We’re giving you no ultimatums Holy One but so many things frighten us and deceive us and take us to very dark places and in our confused weariness we need your nearer presence. We are brave, because you have made us brave and we see gallantry in so many fine people. But sometimes, don’t you know, we feel like just sitting down. This prayer we bring to you in Jesus Christ and by His Spirit.)

GOD THE REDEEMER THROUGH THE WOMAN: Genesis 3:14-15

 Satan meets his Nemesis and it’s not the Man:

A few leading questions
Who is it that threatens the Serpent-Satan?
Who does GOD make the enemy of the Satan?
Whose children with be the enemies of the Satan’schildren?
Whose special child crushes the Satan’s head?
Whose special child is hurt in the crushing of the Satan’s head?

The central character in this section is the WOMAN. The man is not mentioned though we know he has to be in the picture but God chooses to imply he is in it rather than show him in it. If there is an active human hero in the entirety of Genesis, 1—3 it is the woman.

Did Paul know that?
Is that the same Paul who wrote 1 Timothy 2 and 1 Corinthians 11?
Is that the Paul who is accused of degrading women?

3:14. The Lord God said to the serpent because…

 It’s true of course that the human pair went along with the claim made by the Satan and so were responsible for the consequences; it was not that the Satan could coerce them into evil—he has no such power. Nevertheless, it’s true that the Satan is declared to be a destroyer, a bringer of hurt and harm and alienation. Moses has it that the Serpent brought doubts about God’s goodness into human experience but Paul says that “Sin and Death” came in by man (humankind—1 Corinthians 15:21-22 & Romans 5:1). The Satan deceived the mother and father of humanity and God curses him. But he deceived them by maligning the Lord God whose heart and motives he called into question.
“Is he robbing us of wisdom and godhood by forbidding to us the tree?” That would be the kind of thing he led them to think and act on. GOD had given them Paradise and created them with a status and commission of splendor and majesty. But it wasn’t enough. They wanted more! (Cf. Jude 6; 2 Peter 2:4 for such an attitude in spirit beings and 1 Corinthians 11:10 and the suggestions later on that text.)  What the Satan had said to the woman (and her husband) made it clear that God wanted no rival, that the prohibition was self-serving. The Lord God is not the “good guy” they might have thought He was. The Satan set the human pair against their Creator Father and on the path of agony and their children on a long road called “Alienation Highway”(see 3:22-24).

3:14. You are cursed more than all cattle…you shall eat dust

From this rendering it appears that the human transgression brings the innocent creation down with the humans, (“cursed more than…”) The crawling and eating dust is suggesting the dishonor and shame that the serpent-Satan has brought upon itself/himself. Despite the fact that it/he is presented as having been wiser (in the sense of cunning) of all the other animals it/he is now in a state of ill-repute and shame.

It’s interesting and probably very instructive that the animals (think of birds, sheep, goats and cattle come to be sacrifices for sin, victims of predators and often enemies of one another. However we might come to understand all that, this much we know; the suffering of the animal world is real and has a message for us. Emerson said something like this: ‘Maybe it’s true that animals can’t reason but they can suffer!”

3:15. I will put enmity between you and the woman…

 God didn’t have to be told that Eve and Adam had sinned against Him but He had asked them so that they could get it right out in front. They were afraid of His presence and He wouldn’t allow them to continue to live in fear. His Holy Son Jesus acted in the same way with the sinful Peter (John 21:15-17) when He required Peter to confess three times what he had denied three times and on the third asking Peter groans and knows nothing is hidden from the Lord, “Lord, You know everything…!” And it was because He knew everything and was still trusing Peter to a wondrous commission—it was because He knew everything that Peter knew it was okay to start anew and fresh and  pursue happy faithfulness to his Savior. So it is with Adam & Eve.

Adam’s half-whimpered confession was still a confession, “I did eat!” She more openly and honestly confessed and denounced the lying rascal for what he was. They were repentant and God, we’re told, in 3:31 gave them a covering that really covered their shame. It looked only like a hide of some animal (some innocent animal covered the guilty pair?) but it was the gift of a pure-hearted Lord God who took away their self-made covering (3:7) and provided a covering Himself and later, now outside the garden, By Adam God gave Eve a son in the place of Abel (4:25-26) and we find “in those days men began to call on the name of the Lord.”

It is the LORD GOD who made the woman the enemy of the Satan. Satan may have begun the war but it is God who continues it to the destruction of the Satan. And God’s chosen instrument in that warfare, explicitly mentioned, is the woman the serpent deceived. In deceiving her, of course, he made an enemy of her because she denounced him as a lying deceiver, calling him by his name and his children by his/their name! (See 2 Corinthians 11:2-15.) God knows the woman can’t have children without the man, nevertheless He chooses not to say I will make “them” your enemy.  In this section on triumph over the Great Liar the woman to the exclusion of the man (in the text!) is the redeemer in the service of the Redeemer.

3:15. And between your seed and her seed…

 Eve’s children—not the man’s— (3:20) will divide into two groups. Some of them will become “children of the Satan” though also of Eve and her other children would be children of God. That mother would experience that truth very soon for she will bear a faith-filled boy called Abel and a boy called Cain. 1John 3:10-12 tells us Cain was ‘of the evil one.’ Jesus, with a clear eye on this section of Genesis speaks of some of Eve’s children as children of Satan. See John 8: 37-44 and note Matthew 23:35 where Jesus shows that Cain was alive again in His day. ‘Raising Cain’—is that the phrase?

The suffering female savior Genesis 3:16

 3:16. To the woman he said: I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception

Commentators characteristically tell us that this is speaking about ‘the labor pains’ women have to endure. I don’t doubt for a moment that this could be included but I have a hard time believing that this is anywhere near the point of this ‘curse’ section. The section has to do with the consequences of the woman’s letting loose the power of evil into human experience. It sounds like God is saying He will increase the pain women would feel in the process of delivering. This reduces the agony that is ahead for womankind. Westfall senses this so she offers statistics about and discussion of women down the years dying in childbirth. This reduces the consequential agony of Eve. God is dealing with womankind in a world that is radically different from the one He created. We’re reading here about worlds in collision and Genesis makes the measure of ther agony the reflection of just that.

The woman contributed to the war that is really a collision of two worlds and she and her children will suffer agony. We mustn’t make light of labor pains. But ask any woman believer which pain would be more excruciating and long-lasting—the anguish of labor pains or seeing her children imprisoned or tortured for their faith. Ask them if they would rather their children died young and gallantly for the faith or live long against God. The questions would hardly be worth asking since the answers would be so obvious. See Jesus’ use of labor pains in John 16:31 and a hundred million women would nod in approval of what He said when the child is born safely and well.
It’s in the context of WAR against the Satan that God speaks of her greatly aggravated suffering in connection with childbearing. It’s in the context of her children being at war with the Satan’s troops that God speaks of the extra agony. Jesus speaks of some of her children who were enemies of the enemies of God saying, “Behold I send you out as lambs among wolves.” Luke 10:3.

It is Eve’s  particular child that would suffer greatly and hurt His mother’s heart as He steps on Satan’s head and crushes him (3:15). He wasn’t the man’s child—He was the woman’s. Cf. Galatians 4:4 and later comments and Luke 2:34-35 that illustrates the kind of thing Genesis here speaks about. The particular Child who would destroy the Satan would be a source of division between even brother Israelites.

‘Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”’

3:16. Your desire shall be for your husband…

I won’t quote any of the nonsense some older commentators have offered to explain this phrase. If the previous comment has merit and I think it does because it stays with the context of Genesis that is dealing with humankind and an earth that’s in upheaval and the consequences of humanity’s rejection of the Creator God.
God has been talking about the woman as redeemer and links the redemption with the bearing of children. If you lessen the significance of her as the “mother of all the living” and her children as involved in civil-war as well as world-war and the destruction of the Satan by her special child—if you do that then you can imagine this: “the woman still wants sexual intimacy with her husband and want to please him.” Bless me, a worldwide catastrophe has just taken place and it is still affecting the planet and beyond and we reduce this to a woman’s sexual desire and pleasing her husband because, as one older commentator put it, “that’s how women are.”

This is EVE, the mother of all the living; the woman to whom God gave (in joint-heirship and commission) universal dominion and a place with her husband as the image of God and we see her as this weak little female. God never saw her that way!

He flatly asked her, “What have you done?” She repentantly confesses, but there’s no sign of whimpering. She renounces the ‘god of the gods’ (2 Corinthians 4:4), the ‘prince of this world’ (John 12:21), the ruler of demons (Mark 3:22) and this is the woman Genesis speaks of and in this context we turn her into a weakling who is a pitiful dependent. She is in union with the man God blessed and said, “Be fruitful and fill the earth.” She has no more need of her husband than he has of her.

But she does need him if the blessing of Genesis 1:28 is to be fulfilled! And why wouldn’t she want it? There’s a day coming, in a better world, a glorified creation when humankind—male and female—will experience Genesis 1:28 to the full.
See Hebrews 2:5-8; Romans 8:16-17 and 8:29 where humankind gains glory the same way God’s unique Son gained glory—suffering first and the glory that follows (Luke 24:26; 1 Peter 1:11).

What has happened in this moral/spiritual/religious disaster does not sever her from her husband. “What God has joined together” (as He joined together the male and female) is not to be torn apart. Nor does the disaster change God’s everlasting purpose to glorify humanity as His redemptive words earlier and His covering their shame (3:21) make clear.
3:16. And he shall rule over you.

This phrase is given by God to remind Eve of the consequences of her and her husband’s departure from Him. At THIS point it is not painting the picture of a dire future! God is making the point that turning from Him, turning against Him will have consequences! He is underling the exceeding sinfulness of Sin.

Nevertheless, I’m taking this phrase as an evil consequence of their sinning against Him. This is a different Adam (who always stands for humanity) and Eve (who is always “the mother of all the living”) and while they are completely dependent on one another things will never be quite the same! The Satan said ‘If you eat God will know your eyes will be opened.’ The lie he told was true in a way more devastating that they knew. Having eaten they now knew the experience of doing evil. Paul says Eve engaged in transgression (1 Timothy 2:14) and Adam no less (Romans 5:12-19). This Adam wouldn’t be the same one that looked at her, delirious with joy, when he first met her.

The words themselves aren’t obvious in meaning but they have an ominous sound don’t they!?  Bearing in mind that Adam and Eve are not presented as just two persons but that they stand for the human family at its beginnings, we have good reason to believe that he ‘Adam’ that will rule over ‘Eve” would demonstrate the growing alienation between humans, even the closest humans.

We see this in Eve’s children when some became servants of the Redeeming Lord and some became the enemies of God’s enemies. It will be seen again—soon—in Abel and his brother Cain in Genesis 4 when murder enters because as 1 John would have it, “Cain was of the evil one” Then again we meet Lamech, the murderous polygamist (Genesis 4:19, 22-24 and 6:2). The husband and wife relationship has deteriorated in the eyes of the human family whose evil continues to intensify until we hear the awful word in Genesis 6:5-7.

We have more than enough evidence to believe that the sinful plague spread universally and it became systemic. While strident feminists can and so overstate the mistreatment and enslavement of women in ancient times (see archaeologist and strong feminist Ruether in Sexism & God Talk) there is no need to deny womankind has been abused. The Lamech of Genesis 4 violated God’s desire for married people but he also murdered men. Men and boys as well as women and young girls have been abused and enslaved with all the rigor experienced by women.

Seed of the Woman (3)

Only the patient among you will be able to finish reading this. It’s poorly written–I have no discipline. My only reason for turning it loose on a reader is because I think there is some truth in it that needs to be grasped. My apology in advance.

REMARKS ON GENESIS 1—3

 Genesis 1-3 has 4 distinct sections

  1. GOD AS CREATOR
  2. HUMANITY AS FALLEN
  3. GOD AS REDEEMER through the woman
  4. CONSEQUENCES OF WORLDS IN COLLISION

It’s important to remember that when Bible writers spoke of “God” they weren’t talking about any old God—they were speaking of the GOD of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob whom Christians have come to know as “the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 1:3; 1 Peter 1:3, and elsewhere).

When the psalmist (19:1) sings, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the sky shows His handiwork,” he isn’t making an argument—he’s singing praise of the GOD he knows and serves and he is defying the gods of the nations. The sky was the supreme Mesopotamian god: Anu. The psalmist says GOD (Yahweh) created it.  He isn’t announcing the conclusion of a rational argument; he’s proclaiming the faith of a nation! So it is in what follows. All the physical realities mentioned in Genesis 1:1-31 were major and minor gods of the Near Eastern nations.

36 times! Imagine a colossal assembly of Jews listening to a public reading of this creation narrative and when the word GOD occurs they respond with one voice, like a massive wave thundering against a granite cliff. Imagining that might help us to “get” the majesty of GOD that is embedded in the text. I’ve bold-faced the word and the other pronouns. GOD (not Amun, not Hathor, Geb, or Marduk, not Ptah, Re, Shamash, Isis, Aphrodite, Zeus, Artemis or Enlil). It didn’t matter what gods came or went, which became supreme or was destroyed, in whatever age, Israel at her best and most faithful period, led by her prophets and psalmists cried out GOD said and GOD did! Exodus 20 begins with these words: “You shall not!” and 1 John ends with these words: “Keep yourselves from idols!”

GENESIS 1:1—2:4, (NKJV)

 1:1. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness [a]was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. [b]So the evening and the morning were the first day.

6 Then God said, “Let there be a [c]firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” 7 Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so. 8 And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day.

9 Then God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. 10 And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good.

11 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so. 12 And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13  So the evening and the morning were the third day.

14 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; 15 and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. 16 Then God made two great [d]lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. 17 God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19  So the evening and the morning were the fourth day. 20 Then God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living [e]creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the [f]firmament of the heavens.” 21 So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 So the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

24 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind”; and it was so. 25 And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over [g]all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that [h]moves on the earth.”

29 And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. 30 Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is [i] life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so. 31 Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made. This is the [a]history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.

(The New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.)

I take the view that the “image of God” as Genesis tells it is: humankind as a whole and NOT each human as an individual, independent of his her place within humanity.

  1. Humankind is not Adam OR Eve but Adam AND Eve (1:26-27; 5:2)
  2. Universal dominion was given to Adam AND Eve.

N.B. The events of 2:7 & 2:21-23 must have occurred in the first 6 days or the summary in 1:31—2:2-4 wouldn’t be narratively accurate.

N.B. Humankind did not appear by the goddess Chance or any other god but by the GOD of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 11:25).

REMARKS ON GENESIS 2:7, 16—23

questions for discussion:
Following the narrative:

Was Adam made on any of the first five days of creation?
Was he made later than the 6th day of creation?
Was Eve made later than the 6th day of creation?

Following the narrative, why can neither them be made later than the 6th day?
Could Adam be the image of God without Eve?
Could Eve be the image of God without Adam?
Is ‘the image of God’ male or female or male and female?

Following the narrative could there be humankind without both?

Was Adam created first?
Could God have chosen to create both simultaneously?
Could God have chosen to create them simultaneously independent of one another?
Could God have chosen to create only a male made to bear children without a female?
Could God have chosen to create a female made to bear children without a male?
Could God have made Adam out of Eve?
Could God have made Eve out of the dust and not
out of Adam?

Why did God create an Adam that was “not good” when everything else He created was declared “good”?
What does “good” or “not good” mean in these texts?
Why all these details? Why isn’t 1:26-28 enough?

The creating of a ‘not good’ adam

2:7 And the Lord God formed man…

To allow the narrative to make sense we’re compelled to think that 2:7 occurred no later than the 6th day. We’re compelled to think that “man” here refers to Adam since we’re to be told that he is as yet without Eve and, still following the narrative, we’re compelled to think Adam was created first. What we are to make of that is a matter of debate.

2:7. Man became a living being

His being made out of the ‘dust’ stresses his mortality. Man was not made immortal but in Jesus Christ, the “last Adam” God had purposed to bring humankind to immortality. See 1 Corinthians 15:21-55; Philippians3:20-21. 1 Corinthians 15:45 makes the point that Adam received life and the resurrected ‘Adam’ gives. life The first Adam passed on mortality and the last ‘Adam’ passes on immortality.

There is no reason to believe that humans will become non-humans in post-resurrection life.It seems clear that the eating of the tree of life counteracted their mortality (rather than immortalizing their bodies) and which is why they were cut off from the ‘tree of life.’ I find it hard to believe they were not eating of the tree of life that was freely offered to them. The idea that a one-time bite of the fruit of that tree meant that one became immortal simply won’t do because it would have in effect be offering immortality to them. 3:22 isn’t speaking of a one-time eating.

It was always God’s intention that humankind would first bear the likeness of the first Adam (mortal, of the earth) and then the image of the “heavenly” Man (15:45-49).  Paul’s teaching here can only make sense if they are based on his knowing the will and purpose of God.

2:16-17. And the Lord God commanded the manfreely eatyou shall not eat
God hadn’t place the man in a squalid ghetto without food. This rebellion didn’t happen in Warsaw under the jackboots of the Nazi regime or in South Sudan or any other hell-hole in this world. It took place in Paradise!

God’s, “Don’t eat,” was a command but it was also a warning. It’s a warning, “Eat and you’ll die!” It’s such disobedience that there’s no going back from. It’s an eye-opener (3:5, 22) and the disobedience is addictive and infectious. It was such an act and since God made humans interdependent that it spread throughout humanity at large (Romans 5:12-19). Allowing the narrative in chapter 2 to unfold, it’s clear that the Lord is here speaking to Adam. Eve is not in the picture since she has not yet been created.

In the Garden there are all kinds of trees that were pleasant and good for food but two are noted. “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat…” The solitary exception is the tree of knowledge of good and evil. To eat of the Tree of Life would express a desire for life and its fruit would counteract their mortality! To desire to eat of the Tree of knowledge of good and evil would express a desire to gain experiential knowledge of evil as well as good and such a choice dooms the human to death (see Alter’s rendering of 2:17).

Narratively, whatever happens after this, Adam knows without doubt what will happen if he eats of the forbidden tree. We’re not to reduce his sin to a bare act of eating a forbidden fruit, the threat to life is not GOD, the threat is the desire to experience evil.

It’s true, of course, that God has allowed that to happen but the setting is one where God is offering the human LIFE even while He chooses to allow the man to choose Death. In this narrative Adam is not presented simply as an actual individual; he is presented as humanity in its beginning. As the truth is told here GOD did not choose Death for humanity; we chose it! We must put the blame where it belongs! The serpent didn’t/couldn’t coerce the humans into sin—we chose it!
“Eat and you begin building ‘a world’ of corruption and that is death and leads to a continuous state of death t!” Once more, God did not punish us with alienation and deathwe chose it and God acknowledged our choice but pursued us seeking and offering reconciliation. But that reconciliation can only end in the destruction of this satanic world we have built (John 12:31; 1 John 3:8). The satanic act of disobedience was the beginning of a war! A war of worlds.

Jesus of Nazareth in whom God came working reconciliation said, “I haven’t come to bring peace—I’ve come to bring war!” He said this too, “I’ve come to burn a world down and I wish it were already started.” (Cf. Luke 12.49-53) What do we make of such texts? What should we make of such texts? It doesn’t matter that we ourselves are the arsonists, God allows us to be the arsonists! But God chooses what He allows.  We can say many things about the wrath of God” but it includes what He chooses to allow (cf. Romans 1:18, 24, 26, 28).

Choose to eat and you’re dead!” is still ‘death’! Whatever we make of “hell” it isn’t life—isn’t life with God. Jesus sets “hell” (gehenna) over against “life” with God (Mark 9:43). Whatever hell is, He said, “Avoid it! You miss LIFE.”

If we think there’s a greater loss than that; a greater wrath than that, perhaps it’s because we don’t grasp, can’t grasp, the breathtaking glory and joy of living in His nearer presence; perhaps it’s because we can’ t really imagine a world of life saturated with adventure, glory, joy and righteousness, free of evil, brutality, confusion, worry, partings, caskets, cemeteries, hospice care, terminal wards, burnings, raping, wars and rumors of wars, bone-deep loneliness, desertion, weariness, failure or betrayal or such hidden shame that keeps one looking over his/her shouler and listening in case people are whispering about our former failures or current struggles! Oh God, to be FREE to LIVE. To miss that makes all other losses   trivia. “EAT AND YOU’RE DEAD!”

Sometime back in the mists of time Adam and Eve, together laid the foundations for another ‘world’, a world which became the home of all that is unlike the Holy Father and the ‘curse section’, Genesis 3:14-19, tells us about ceaseless war with satanic forces, human ‘civil-war, ’suffering, loss and planetary desolation. “Eat and you’re dead!” was no slap on the wrist for a ‘misdemeanor’.  

The power of the satanic forces working in our world, with all its subtlety and sophistication robs us of LIFE and offers us religion, philosophy, ignorance, oceans of knowledge in the academy that leads down countless corridors in search for God or something that will stand in for God, or shrewd political reforms, warm human feelings and activities that prove that God is redundant. We are all we need! We eat and die!

God MAKING ‘NOT GOOD’ ADAM ‘GOOD’

2:18. And God said, ‘It is not good…”

 Genesis chapter 1 has this:

1:4       It was good
1:10     It was good
1:12     It was good
1:18     It was 1ood
1:21     It was good
1:25     It was good
1:31     It was very good

Genesis 2 has this:

2:18     It is not good

 To reduce Adam’s need, his state of “not good.” to some simple or at least common social needs that all humans experience in life, reduces a cosmic panorama to a domestic scene. That completely ignores the massive Genesis issues.

It’s true that the text does not say, “The man is not good!” Had it said that it would have suggested discussion about Adam’s humanness, his essence as a man. Adam as an example of a male would have been perfect but Adam is not viewed here as simply one human—he is being viewed as that which (he who) GOD created. He is the father, the source of humankind, the representative of humanity, and that is the sense in which the text speaks. It’s the sense in which Paul uses him (Romans 5:12-19;

1 Corinthians 15:21-22). This male in isolation is not “good” not because he is a failure in his manhood but because since he is solitary he is not suited for God’s purpose.

“Good” in these texts is not speaking about what is morally right in contrast to what is morally wrong. It speaks of what satisfies God in light of what He accomplished and in light of what He purposes by what he has accomplished. A man builds a structure for a given purpose and when he completes it he steps back and says, “It’s good.” God creates light, takes a look and sees it’s “good”. He creates creatures of the seas, air and land, looks and sees it “good.” He creates Adam and says, “as it is it is not good.”

2:18. I will make him a helper, comparable to him…

A woman was not a man’s idea! A woman was not a woman’s idea. A woman is not society’s idea (ancient or modern). If we allow the Holy Scriptures to speak a woman is God’s idea! Psalm 136 speaks of creation (and alludes back to Genesis). Creation the psalmist sings, is an expression of GOD’s “faithful love” that endures forever. God created out of love. Women exist as women because God loved the thought of them and loved them into existence.

2.19-20. “beast of the field, birds of the air…but for Adam no comparable helper”

We need to let this sink in! Solitary Adam was “not good!” 1:26-28 as an aspect of God’s purpose could not be fulfilled if he was solitary. The blessing given could not be experienced by humanity if he is alone. He needed “help” and he needed the kind of “help” without which he could not be what the narrative presents him to be or what God meant him to be! All that God wanted and wants us to know which is why it’s recorded.

To reduce Adam in this magnificent drama to just another male person is to miss the point entirely! He is not just another male person—he is the father of the human race and to reduce his need to some domestic experience such as occasional loneliness or the need of a charming conversationalist isn’t within hearing distance of the Genesis setting.

This is ADAM the father of humankind and what he needs is one who will enable him to be what he was created for!. He needs someone who can be the mother “of all the living” (3:20) and that’s what God provided. Without her there is no humankind (5:2)! Without her there can be no ”image of God” (1:26-27); without her the “blessing” of filling the earth cannot be experienced.  (3:16c becomes significant here.)

God saw Adam needy! He chose to create him that way! (Why did He do that?) Whatever, precisely, his need is, God brought him all the animals from land and air but there was nothing anywhere that filled the need. The phrase in 2:20 makes the need clear, “But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.” God skipped the sea creatures so they were of no help either. Nothing on land or in sea or in the air could help Adam, the potential father of the human race. God chose to create something new—a woman! Nothing in GOD’s entire created universe could accomplish what a woman as a woman could do.

The text has GOD bringing all the birds and all the land animals to Adam. I don’t deny what most commentators is true. They say that in naming the animals we’re hearing an expression of his universal authority. Maybe that’s involved but that would suppose that at this time in the narrative he exercises universal authority but in 1:26-28 he is only said to have that dominion in tandem with Eve. It’s together such a blessings is spoken on them My sense of it is that in 2:19-20 we’re not hearing about Adam’s universal authority but about Adam’s need—a search is going on! ALL the animals and birds are brought to him to let him know that his need could not be met by any of them. God already knew that but Adam needed to know it and by and by Eve would know it. Does any of this sound as if Eve is being degraded?

Imagine God bringing him a bird and hearing Adam say, no! Then another and another. No! No! Then the land animals and a long series of no’s from Adam and the close of 2:20, “But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him” Those words, “not found” speak of a search rather than an expression of authority. As the years went by we’d hear about gods and goddesses being birds and animals but Adam did not know of such things or if he did he knew the difference and knew it wasn’t a god or goddess he needed. Animals and gods don’t make “not good” “good”.

Genesis 1:28 is spoken to Adam and Eve so we must read 2:18, 21-23 in light of 1:28 because this section is a commentary on 1:26-28; it gives us details passed over in 1:26-28. Eve is no plan B! No afterthought! God isn’t correcting an oversight of His and He certainly is not providing a little social diversion or a doormat for arrogant males.

2:21. The Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam…

 In 2:7 “dust” is used in the creation of Adam only to indicate his mortality (3:19) but it is used in 3:14 to signify humiliation and degradation of the Satan. A word means what a writer means it to mean which in turns means a word may mean one thing in one sentence and another in the next sentence. (This may be significant when we look at 1 Corinthians 11.)

GOD could have created woman out of the dust as He did Adam without any notion of insult. He could have made her out a bird or any kind of animal but to use such language would probably have been a literary mistake since gods and goddesses worldwide were so closely connected with such creatures. God could have simply willed her into existence ‘out of’ nothing but none of that would have suited his purpose.

If we were thinking only of GOD’s power, His ‘divine muscle,’ and not His power in service of a purpose He could have created Eve in any one of countless ways I suppose. But He creates woman out of man (Eve out of Adam) to stress her need of Adam. Just as surely as Adam needed her she needs him. GOD is stressing mutual complete dependence and their awareness of it.

When it comes to the Creator’s viewpoint and purpose humankind is not male OR female but male AND female. Cf. 1 Corinthians 11:11 noting that Paul there is reflecting on the very section of Genesis we’re now looking at.

One man or one woman is not humankind. One man or one woman is not the image of God. Humankind is the image of God. Each human is part of humanity and it is humanity that is God’s image and it was to humanity (humankind) that God gave dominion over the creation. (It’s astonishing how quickly that truth becomes ecology and how quickly ecology becomes a crusade and a crusade generates a tide of linked social hermeneutical strategies and various forms of cosmic eschatology. Since Eve and Adam stand for ‘everyman’ and ‘everywoman’ they’re more than two distinguishable human beings. They’re meant to stand for humanity. We don’t need to adopt Calvinistic federalism to understand Romans 5:12-19 or 1 Corinthians 15:21-22. Adan and Ever is not only their story—it’s ours. We only have to look at Genesis 1-3 and then look at our history to know that “the old” man is our father (Romans 6:6).

At no point in Genesis is Adam portrayed as superior or Eve inferior! The two are distinguishable and different from the other as persons but they are more than individual “persons”—they are characters who represent humankind at its source (1:26-27; 5:1-2 with 3:20). Eve is not Adam! It is all right for her to be like the man but it is equally all right for her not to be like the man or be the man. A woman has the God-given right to be a woman and not a man but she doesn’t have the right to function contrary to the will of God.

In making her out of man God shows she is an aspect of a single humanity (which is something Schüssler Fiorenza seems to have forgotten or perhaps wishes she could forget) but He also shows that she is a person in her own right. Having created her out of man does not show she is inferior or that the text needs to be interpreted that way.

Making Adam out of the dirt (soil, dust) doesn’t mean he is less that dust! Making Eve out of a man doesn’t mean she is less than a man. But He does make the woman out of the man! Is there a purpose and a message in that? If Genesis 2 were the end of the story we might close the Book and say, “Well, wasn’t that an interesting story.” But if it is a part of a divine drama with humans in the center of it; maybe it embodies truth that remains true and operative until the unending climax.
EVE is a new creation. Adam was the original human and Eve was as much a human as he was. In a distinct act of Creation that produced Eve God gave out the news to the world in every age—there is no humanity without male AND female! This is true in light of sexual physiology, of course. I understand that there is more to marriage than sexual intimacy and procreation and I understand that a great host does not hold marriage in honor. I’m aware of that but it’s nevertheless true that it was and is (according to Genesis 2 and Jesus in Matthew 19) God’s desire and purpose for marriage to illustrate the oneness of humankind as the creation of GOD. For this cause! For what cause? ”He who made them made them at the beginning made them male and female and for this cause…” Jesus said.

In Matthew 19, immediately a discussion about marriage, the Lord Jesus goes to the very section of Genesis we’re looking at that and links marriage to creation. “He who made them in the beginning made them male and female and for this cause…a man shall cleave to his wife and the two shall become one flesh.”  The Lord goes on to say in light of wicked divorces and a violation of the truth of Genesis 2, “What God has joined together let no man tear apart.” Marriage at its best, as God purposed it to be, speaks a universal truth that rises beyond the marital relationship! Putting the best face on it in human experience, the marriage relationship is wondrous—that isn’t to be denied. Millions down the years will tell us that. But from a Biblical and theological standpoint it carries a message about God, creation, about the wonder of humans as male and female and about universal dominion that humans are to experience in fullness and in righteousness in a coming day under the Lord Jesus Christ.

We have no reason to believe that Eve was created a wife. She was created a woman and God then brought her to Adam who immediately recognized her as a ‘helper comparable to himself’! She was not  an “add on” to make his life more comfortable; she completed him; her existence made him glorious in a way he was not glorious before she came! But we’re not to think she was an “add on”—not even a glorious “add on.” God created her to give her universal dominion. She does serve Adam! But in creating her God was doing more than completing Adam He was creating an equally glorious human who would share universal dominion with the man

Alone Adam is a human but he is not humankind and God did not want just a solitary human—He wanted humanity! Alone he does not have universal dominion! All this we know from 1:26-28 and that is why he needs her—he needs a “counterpart” to himself. That’s why when everything God created is said to be “good” as created Adam was said to be, “not good.”
Why then did God create him alone? Why didn’t He make him so that he could say about him what he said about all the other creations? That’s good!?  God is prolonging the lesson of the singleness of humanity; the lesson of their utter dependence on one another. To fulfill God’s purpose they were not to be nor could they be utterly independent on of one another. It’s only when He creates Eve and creates her from Adam that the message of a plural unity is spelled out.

2:23. This now is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh!”

Adam isn’t claiming to own her!  He is acknowledging that she is what he needs! He is in a deep sleep when it all happens. At this point of creation he doesn’t know she is being taken from him but when he wakes and God brings Eve to him (2:22) Adam knows ‘what’ she is and what he is. God did not make him as a companion for animals! She is human, she is him, he is her, she is not an animal or a bird—she is taken from him personally and so has his nature. God wants them to be distinct and distinguishable but for His purpose which rises above them as persons they are a plural unity, they are not separable (and what God has joined together let no one separate). When she becomes his wife (3:8) they acknowledge their oneness and become one not only in God’s eyes but in their own. This isn’t just physical in the sense of the two bodies joining in sexual intimacy; it is more than a marital metaphor—here it is a narrative expression of God’s creative intention. God’s speaking of HUMANKIND as nothing less than male and female (again, 5:1-2).

Together, together these two constitute humanity. Humankind is presented here as a plural unity, a oneness, but a oneness that doesn’t obliterate the difference between male and female. When the true image of God is revealed in the man Jesus of Nazareth He is made of a woman and not a man. In Jesus we have both female and male in one specific person and He is the source of a new humanity which is made in His image. Cf. 1 Corinthians 15:21-49.)

(One doesn’t have to be married to be a human! “It is not good for man to be alone” as we’ve outlined above. But Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:1 makes it clear that “it is good for a man to be alone.” (BF is mine.) There were those who were insisting that people had to marry (multiple cases of fornication had occurred and Genes 2:18 was being used to make marriage a command of God. Paul denies that and the entire reading of 1 Corinthians 7 makes that clear. The “not good” was true in the creation setting.

2:24.  Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother…

I’m taking this to be the comment of Moses about one aspect of marriage. Whoever said it here the statement is followed by the Lord Jesus. The statement is immediately related to God’s creative act. The woman is taken from man and marriage images the return to him and the two (!) become one again. Jesus scathes the adulterous system set up by hardhearted male leaders and He does it by appealing to marriage as a witness to God’s creative work. In Genesis the man goes looking and acknowledges the woman as being what he needs to be who he and she weren’t meant to be together.  Their wicked and adulterous system was ‘undoing’ God’s creative act and the manner in which He created.

Paul will make use of the marital relationship, the husband and wife relationship to suggest truth about the Lord Jesus and his wife, the Church (Ephesians 5:22-32). He doesn’t develop that truth but he says enough explicitly to indicate that Genesis 2:21-24 is about more than Genesis 2:21-24. The truth about Christ and His Wife the Church is embedded in Genesis. See also Ephesians 1:23 and the phrase that the once dead (sleeping) Jesus is “the head of the Church which is His body the fullness of Him…” (The phrase is much disputed but with the Genesis back ground and Paul use of it in 5:22-32 I’m satisfied to think that the imagery of Genesis is in Ephesians 1:19-23 speaks of “the last Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:45)

It seems clear to me that Paul takes the Genesis narrative as the picture of more than the beginning of the ‘old’ creation. He holds it as the beginning of the beginning and fulfillment of the new creation. Paul’s Adamic theology rises beyond a rehearsal of an earthly and mortal experience and opens our eyes to an immortal and heavenly new creation (1 Corinthians 15: 45-49; 2 Corinthians 5:14-17, with Psalm 8 and Hebrews 1—2:9). I don’t think we take seriously enough the truth that there is a single Gospel being told in the entirety of the Holy Scriptures.

It’s obviously true that we need to allow specific sections or books to speak to the circumstances they are addressing and Jesus and His specially chosen and equipped teachers would approve of that. Nevertheless, when we hear Jesus say that the entirety of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms (Writing) are about Him and His work we must take Him seriously (John 5, Luke 24, Acts 3, Acts 24:14; 26:22-23, passim).

We’re not required to comb through the verses of the entire OT to find a prediction about Jesus in every verse or book. I’m not denying there are such predictions, I’m saying the entire Biblical Witness is a Holy Spirit superintended drama of God’s purpose for and His working it out in the midst of a human family that chose alienation from Him. One summary of it is in Hebrews 2:5-9 thata having alluded to Genesis 1:26-28 and quoting Psalm 8 says that we haven’t seen the full fulfillment of Genesis 1 or Psalm 8 “but we see Jesus…” The entire NT works on a hermeneutic of trust that enables us to read all that has gone before it as an unfolding drama that comes to an unending and glorious climax in Jesus of Nazareth who is the new image of God.

What is there in this section of Genesis that degrades the woman?

Seed of the Woman (2)

My view of humankind is that we were created by God! This was/is the view of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 19:4). Genesis 1:26-28 is where we go find who we are and how God purposed us to live (as and in His image). But in light of Jesus of Nazareth who has been glorified by God as the Lord Jesus Christ we learn that humanity’s first phase of existence was mortal and that God had always purposed to bring us to immortal glory (cf. Colossian 1:15-16; 1 Corinthians 15:20—58, passim).

At some time back in our history we rejected God, His love and goodness and chose to go our own way (Romans 1:18—32; Acts 14:16) and created gods and goddesses in our own image. These creations that rose out of our desperation and our growing wickedness became our lords and they required that we live in their image. In modern times we modern people rejected these gods and their names and took it upon ourselves to provide all we need and want but though the names Mars and Ares are gone we still worship War which requires and brings about destruction. There’s still Aphrodite, Sekhmet, Isis, Artemis and Fortuna and Tyche and the rest though the ‘wise’ sneer at such things; the way we sneer at ‘demons’ and Satan and yet daily we witness the demonic and satanic behavior of individuals and nations. IF the terms, “Satan” and “demonic” are simply terms to be dismissed as ignorance the demonic behavior of humans cannot be denied. The Genesis record speaks to all that. A little more on this later.

 How should we read the creation narrative of Genesis?

 I have no interest here in the debate about who or how many wrote or contributed to the production of the book of Genesis. Nor do I care about the date of the ‘final form’ of the Genesis Jesus read (which is the one we read). He based a killing argument on Genesis 1:26-27 and quoted from 2:24. See Matthew 19:6-8.

I’m offering no theory of inspiration. Before you know it, such issues have us all over the planet and the text before us is lost due to the debate.

Nor am I interested in the latest fashion in the literary critical world! I’m not ignorant but I’m not qualified; but even if I were, this would not be the place to enter the discussion. I’m writing for people like myself who trust Paul, Peter, John, James, Luke and the rest of the entire company of writers and compilers of the Holy Scriptures. We believe that their teaching, gathering together and canonizing of the Scriptures was superintended by the Holy Spirit who, Jesus said, would guide His People via specially commissioned witnesses, prophets and prophetesses (cf. John 16:13-14; Ephesians 2:20; 1 Corinthians 11:5; 14:3, 5, 29-32; Acts 2:16-18; 21:9; Ephesians 2:10-20; 4:7-16). I’ll say a little more about that later.

We’re intelligent enough to understand and embrace the obvious and to seriously doubt the bizarre-sounding. Many of us are wise enough to allow those with the debating spirit to go their own way (cf. 1Timothy 1: 4: 2Timothy 2:14-16; Titus 3:10; 1 Corinthians 11:16). We can’t forever allow people with their numberless interpretative strategies to set the agenda for us.

For my purpose here I’m not even interested in questions such as: “Are we to understand literally all that’s in these three chapters?” Should we take some of it ‘literally’ and some not? Should we read it as a story-formed telling of the truth about humanity’s beginning or as an historical record of “exactly what happened”? Is it a combination of the two? I’m not saying these questions don’t matter—I’m saying they aren’t what I’m interested in here.

GENESIS VERSUS various ancient MYTHICAL STORIES told in egypt, Sumer, Assyria,  Babylon and the modern myths of the modern west

 The Birth & Evolution & Longevity of the gods

We need to “get” this—the entire Biblical Witness is the Story of GOD AGAINST THE GODS. It tells the truth that the gods don’t exist! It tells the truth about universal self-deception of the human family and of the war of ‘the gods’ here on this planet. At some point we rejected GOD who created us and purposed for us only life and glory and we got Death and shame. We rejected our identity as being created by GOD (the Genesis Story) and we created a new identity. As Romans 1:18-23 tells it. Once we rejected GOD we created a new identity and came to say we were created by Atum or Ptah or Ea or Marduk, choosing our goddesses and gods depending on when and where and how we lived.

We began to worship the realities that made life possible (sun, sea, rain, soil, earth, sky, vegetation and such). These physical realities were more than what we saw, heard and felt; there was power in them, invisible power that affected human existence.

These powers were stronger or weaker depending on how much we depended on them. There was no local limit to the sun that reigned over the entire world, there could be no human life without the earth providing, there was death, a dark mystery, there was spring and summer with harvest and winter with death of vegetation and their coming alive again, there was the moon that ruled the night when the sun went down to rest. There were powers that worked together and others that opposed one another. There were gods and goddesses so closely connected that they were thought to be husbands, wives, sisters, mothers, fathers, sons and brothers. Kings were characteristically called ‘sons of god.’  Even the ‘good‘ powers (the life producing and sustaining ones) could be ‘bad’ (destructive—the sun, the storms, the rain, the earth withholding its blessings) and there were powers that could hardly be thought ever to be ‘good’. These powers were personalized and that was an advance. One can plead with or bribe an angry ‘person’ or praise one but you can do nothing with a ‘force’. Names were given, animals became the representation of the gods and goddesses, houses were built for the gods where the worshipers could meet them to praise them or to abjectly apologize for failures. Idols were built that were often just representations and at other times the god would take up residence in them. It was no surprising development when powerful humans who were conceived as a great blessing to the people under them were seen as sons or daughters of the gods and sometimes the embodiment of the god him or herself. An academy of priests and prophets and servants of the gods developed. These knew what the various gods wanted, why they were angry or pleased, what had to be done to make things right. They promoted the cult, the building of shrines, temples and the celebrations associated with these places and of course they proclaimed the intimate link between a current king or emperor and the gods. Will Durant, the noted historian, dryly commented that the gods were found profitable and so they multiplied.

Now, in the West, many in the scientific academy have whittled the pantheon down to a single goddess. Roman and Greek polytheists gave her the name of Fortuna or Tyche but these modern scientists call her CHANCE. They’ve gone even further. We humans—well, a special group of wise and wonderful humans—have made it clear that they are in control of ‘chance’ and will before long do more than that. We are our own redeemers—now we are the gods. Maybe two years ago (2017) I listened to Michio Kaku, the noted physicist and cosmologist, saying, “Before long we will become the gods we used to fear.” * We still haven’t got the Genesis 1—3 truth!

We insist we didn’t introduce the cosmic mess but we can and will cure it.  That shows we haven’t got the message of Genesis 11 either! “Let us make…let us build…so that we won’t be…”Our arrogance and insolence remains and we still ‘Babel’ on about putting men or women on Mars to find out how life here on Earth evolved. We put men on the moon and then threaten to blitz our enemies on earth from the heavens. In the West we jeer at the old gods and now rejoice in warring, competing and self-serving gods; cultural gods in finance, medicine, science, politics, courts and technology. We even call our entertainers and sports celebrities “gods” and they shape us the worshipers. Cure the mess? Mythology is as much at home in the ‘modern’ world as it was in the ancient.

In ancient times the nations would make images of the gods and goddesses and set them up in special places (temples, shrines) where the worshipers could go and meet them. They were men and women, they were animals of all kinds, figures have human and half animal, half woman and half man or half human. These were their images of the gods and goddesses. Genesis tells us that God made all things and they reproduced after their own kind. Genesis tells us that God made mortals, humans (not immortals) and that He made them “in His image” and placed them not in temples to be worshiped but rather to reflect to rejoice and reflect Him in their creativity (1:28 & 5:3) and life together.

Israel’s own polytheistic and idolatrous background (cf. Josiah 24:2, 14, 23 with entire context) was given deeper roots while they lived as slaves in Egypt and that shaping remained as a besetting sin to Israel despite the fact that Yahweh had arrived on the scene and exposed the entire polytheistic and idolatrous culture to be sinful foolishness. Exodus 12:12; 15:11; Numbers 33:4; 1 Samuel 6:5-6 illustrate.

The Plagues were the visible, tangible proof that the gods were not gods but the creation of deceived humanity. Now Israel is delivered out of Egypt and they will be heading for Canaan. There and along the way they would meet up with various forms of polytheism including Baalism. God, by Moses, gave the nation the Genesis narrative and has this to say to Israel: in Leviticus 18:1-5 :

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘I am the Lord your God. According to the doings of the land of Egypt, where you dwelt, you shall not do; and according to the doings of the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you, you shall not do; nor shall you walk in their ordinances. You shall observe My judgments and keep My ordinances, to walk in them: I am the Lord your God. You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am the Lord.”
            The entire world being built on faith in the ancient gods the nations, societies and empires were shaped by that faith (as is the case in the modern world). Their laws, policies, national and international, personal and societal and the religious systems built around and about this faith were determined by these human creations (gods)—see and reflect on Psalm 82.  Genesis is the truth Israel was to rejoice in and herald to the world, bringing light and salvation to the nations (cf. Micah 4:1-2; Isaiah 2:1-4; 40:12-26; 42:5-9; 44:6-8 and to end of chapter; 45:1-7, 14-25; 47:1, 12-15; 48:1,5; 49:-6, Jeremiah 5:12, passim).

It’s true! It is true that GOD hates oppression in all its forms. The Exodus is probably the central OT event called on to make that point—and it does that! Psalmists and prophets recall it again and again, but they most often use the Exodus to call Israel from apostasy or to confirm Israel’s faith in GOD in contrast to all other gods. Liberation theologians use it to say God hates oppression and so should we! Prophets said we should commit to GOD and reject the gods for GOD is the GOD of all gods. The Exodus is about the faithfulness of GOD who made promises to the entire human family when He made a covenant to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Exodus 2:24). Exodus wasn’t only about suffering Israel, it was about an alienated world and the GOD who was working to reconcile a Sin-smitten world with HIM the one true God.

The people who saw the plagues, God’s act of liberation, are all dead now! An entire generation of them died in the wilderness alienated from the God who brought them out of slavery (cf. Hebrews 3 and 4:1-2). This happened because their physical liberation from slavery, squalor, social despair didn’t liberate them from the gods!

 * Kaku speaks of his discovering ‘God’ but though it sounds like, say, Christian theism, if I’ve understood him correctly it’s pantheism, of the Spinoza and Einstein brand. The word ‘God’ is being used in a non-personal sense to cover the order and beauty of the universe. Another theoretical physicist, joint winner of the Nobel Prize in research in elementary particles, derides all talk of ‘God’ as ‘religious coloration’ and doesn’t understand why his peers use it r rather than simply dispense with all of it.

 

 

Seed of the Woman (1)

I’m borrowing the remarkable GB Caird’s opening sentence in his book The Language & Imagery of the Bible. “This book is written by an amateur for amateurs.” This is certainly true of this series of reflections that might have been a book that I can’t finish. I can’t confess to being an utter novice but I’m no professional theologian.

I meant what follows to be a little book but I can’t complete it so if now and then I speak of the fragments as a “book” you’ll know I didn’t edit well. I may not even get these pieces finished. Get what you can and dismiss the rest.
Why am I writing what follows if I’m not a qualified theologian? For many reasons I suppose and one of them is that my experience in reading a fair amount of theological work has led me to agree with Peter Berger’s trenchant remark” “Theology is too important to be left to the professional theologians.”

So why am I writing these? Because I wish to say something about a major truth that I have said precious little about in my years of fumbling preaching, teaching and writing. I wish to say something about the glory of humankind with special focus on womankind.

So why am I writing these? Because a steady stream of strident (!) feminist voices has expressed harsh and false criticism of the Holy Scriptures, claiming that they degrade and enslave women. I’d like to express my own entirely different view of them. Here are only two typical examples of what I’m talking about though they aren’t strong enough to satisfy the late Mary Daly or the current doyen of ruthless feminists, Elizabeth Sch ssler Fiorenza.

“In Western culture, the Bible has provided the single most important sustaining rationale for the oppression of women.” Pamela Milne, Feminist Approaches to the Bible, p. 47

“Feminist theology cannot be done from the existing base of the Christian Bible. The Old and New Testaments have been shaped in their formation, transmission, and, finally, their canonization to sacralize patriarchy (see below for McKim’s definition of the term)*…in their present form and intention they are designed to erase women as subjects and to mention women only as objects of male definition.” Rosemary Ruether, Woman’s Guide, p, xi

 Now we hear professors of reputed ‘Evangelical’ universities publicly proclaiming that the Holy Bible is “wrong!” “wrong!” about slavery, wrong about women and wrong about homosexuality (now covered by a ‘nicer’ politically correct term, ‘sexual orientation’). This of course has far-reaching effects that go beyond the specific topics just mentioned. The Holy Scriptures as expressing the authority of God are subjected to an alternative and ‘greater authority’.

Perhaps the most damaging voices are the men and women in the congregational pulpits and behind the lecterns—these are women and men who don’t mind saying that the God of the Holy Scriptures calls for genocide, infanticide and promotes the enslavement and degrading of women.
GOD they’re okay with but not the God of the Bible. Well, they’re happy with the God of the Bible depending on what parts of the Bible suits them. The text of the Holy Scriptures no longer expresses God’s authority—these congregational speakers replace the Bible as the authoritative voice. With their hermeneutical strategies they become ‘the Bible’ or more pointedly, ‘the voice of God’ to the people who gather week after week to be fed. Makes one wonder why a Bible is needed at all. Makes me wonder if the Bible is such a book why bother with an interpretative strategy?

It seems to me if the Holy Scriptures support and promote genocide, infanticide, enslavement and degradation of women (to say no more) we ought to say more than that they are “wrong.” We ought to say they are demonic, satanic. The word “wrong” is too weak!  They in fact are ‘unholy scriptures’. We ought to say what the forthright Muslim leader, Elijah Mohammed, once said: it is “a poisonous book.”