Introduction to the first story of creation notes

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An introduction to Genesis 1:1-2:4a

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Introduction to the first story of creation notes

  1. 1. Genesis 1:1-2:4a: The First Story of Creation
  2. 2. Genesis 1:1-2:4aThe First Story of Creation The Bible begins with this stately hymnlike account from the Priestly author. (Collegeville Bible Commentary: Genesis; Pauline A. Viviano; The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota 1985 p.9)
  3. 3. Genesis 1:1-2:4aThe First Story of Creation “The story of Creation, or cosmology, that opens the Book of Genesis differs from all other such accounts that were current among the peoples of the ancient world. Its lack of interest in the realm of heaven and its economy of words in depicting primeval chaos are highly uncharacteristic of this genre of literature. The descriptions in Genesis deal solely with what lies beneath the celestial realm, and still the narration is marked by compactness, solemnity and dignity.” (The JPS Torah Commentary: Genesis; Commentary by Nahum M. Sarna; The Jewish Publications Society, Philadelphia, PA 1989 p.3)
  4. 4. Genesis 1:1-2:4aThe First Story of Creation The first creation account affirms a cosmic event at the beginning of history. It offers neither a literal nor a scientific description of how the world was made; rather, it asserts theological truths about God and creation in a symbolic way. (CCC 289)” ) (Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: Commentary, Notes and Study Questions; Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch; Ignatius Press, San Francisco, CA 2010 p.17)
  5. 5. Genesis 1:1-2:4aThe First Story of Creation CCC 289: Among all the Scriptural texts about creation, the first three chapters of Genesis occupy a unique place. From a literary standpoint these texts may have had diverse sources. The inspired authors have placed them at the beginning of Scripture to express in their solemn LANGUAGE the truths of creation—its origin and its end in God, its order and goodness, the vocation of man, and finally the drama of sin and the hope of salvation. Read in the light of Christ, within the unity of Sacred Scripture and in the living Tradition of the Church, these texts remain the principal source for catechesis on the mysteries of the "beginning": creation, fall, and promise of salvation.”
  6. 6. Genesis 1:1-2:4aEnûma Eliš “In Enumah Elish human beings are almost an afterthought in the work of creation, and they are created specifically to labor and serve the gods, reflecting their origins in a clot of blood taken from the rebellious god Quingu.” (Gods in the Desert: Religions of the Ancient Near East; Glenn S. Holland; Rowman and Littlefield, Lanham, Md., 2009 p. 127-128)
  7. 7. Genesis 1:1-2:4aEnûma Eliš “In contrast to the Enumah Elish, creation does not result from conflict. There is no war between the gods, there is nothing that opposes God. Instead, we are informed, in a carefully ordered sequence, that God creates the world solely by the power of the divine word.” (Collegeville Bible Commentary: Genesis; Pauline A. Viviano; The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota 1985 p.9)
  8. 8. Genesis 1:1-2:4aThe Divine Word: Logos(logos) The Divine Word is Christ
  9. 9. Genesis 1:1-2:4aThe Divine Word: Logos(logos) The Divine Word is Christ John 1:1-5
  10. 10. Genesis 1:1-2:4aThe Divine Word: Logos(logos) "Modifying the first verse of the Book of Genesis, John began the prologue of his Gospel with the words: ‘In the beginning was the Logos. ...Logos means both reason and word-- a reason which is creative and capable of self-communication, precisely as reason. John thus spoke the final word on the biblical concept of God, and in this word all the often toilsome and tortuous threads of biblical faith find their culmination and synthesis. In the beginning was the logos, and the logos is God, says the Evangelist.“(‘In the Beginning’ – A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall; Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI), translated by Boniface Ramsey; William B. Eerdman’s Co., Grand Rapids, Mich. 1995)
  11. 11. Genesis 1:1-2:4aHints of other creationStories There are many hints in the Bible about other creation myths and stories that originated in Israel. Some of the fragments that we have hint at the act of God subduing chaos, represented by the names of primeval monsters such as Leviathan, Rahab, and Tannin. (The JPS Torah Commentary: Genesis; Commentary by Nahum M. Sarna; The Jewish Publications Society, Philadelphia, PA 1989 p.3)
  12. 12. Genesis 1:1-2:4aThe Sweep of TheologicalHistory “…This broad perspective is most evident in the early chapters, which encompass the divine creation of the cosmos, the formation and fall of the human race, the epidemic spread of moral and spiritual corruption, the universal flood, and the scattering of peoples over the earth (chaps.1-11).” (Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: Commentary, Notes and Study Questions; Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch; Ignatius Press, San Francisco, CA 2010 p.15)
  13. 13. Genesis 1:1-2:4aThe Sweep of TheologicalHistory “The first 11 chapters of Genesis present truths based on historical facts. There was a creation by God in the beginning of time, a special divine intervention in the creation of man, the existence of the first man in a condition of friendship with God, a fall from that condition, an increasing separation between man and God brought about by man’s sins, and a succession of natural catastrophes by which man suffered the consequences of his sins. Whereas these are religious explanations that in most cases transcend the competence of modern science, they are at the same time historical in that they explain historical events.” (JBC 8:6)
  14. 14. Genesis 1:1-2:4aThe Sweep of TheologicalHistory “The [Genesis] account should not be interpreted as a revealed timetable about the actual historical sequence of creation, nor should the author’s pre-scientific view of the cosmos be mistaken for divinely inspired teaching about the physical constitution of the natural world.” (Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: Commentary, Notes and Study Questions; Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch; Ignatius Press, San Francisco, CA 2010 p.17)
  15. 15. Genesis 1:1-2:4aThe Framework The framework for the Creation account in the first Creation story:
  16. 16. Genesis 1:1-2:4aThe Framework The framework for the Creation account in the first Creation story: Announcement: “And God said…”
  17. 17. Genesis 1:1-2:4aThe Framework The framework for the Creation account in the first Creation story: Announcement: “And God said…” Command: “Let there be…”
  18. 18. Genesis 1:1-2:4aThe Framework The framework for the Creation account in the first Creation story: Announcement: “And God said…” Command: “Let there be…” Report: “And it was so…”
  19. 19. Genesis 1:1-2:4aThe Framework The framework for the Creation account in the first Creation story: Announcement: “And God said…” Command: “Let there be…” Report: “And it was so…” Evaluation: “And God saw that it was good…:
  20. 20. Genesis 1:1-2:4aThe Framework The framework for the Creation account in the first Creation story: Announcement: “And God said…” Command: “Let there be…” Report: “And it was so…” Evaluation: “And God saw that it was good…: Temporal framework: “It was evening, it was morning…” (Collegeville Bible Commentary: Genesis; Pauline A. Viviano; The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota 1985 p.10)
  21. 21. The scheme of the theological Creation narrative fromthe first (Priestly) story of creation:Group 1: The Resource Group 2: The UtilizerDay Creative Act Day Creative Act1 Light 4 The luminaries2 Sky, leaving terrestrial waters 5 Fish and fowl3 Vegetation (lowest form of 6 Land Creaturesorganic life) Humankind (Highest form of organic life)
  22. 22. The main teachings of the initial story of creation includethe following: 1. The entire universe owes its existence to God as Creator and Lord.
  23. 23. The main teachings of the initial story of creation includethe following: 1. The entire universe owes its existence to God as Creator and Lord. 2. Each and every part of creation is good in the eyes of God.
  24. 24. The main teachings of the initial story of creation includethe following: 1. The entire universe owes its existence to God as Creator and Lord. 2. Each and every part of creation is good in the eyes of God. 3. God established a hierarchy among created things, as seen in the ascending movement of the account, from inanimate things to animate creatures to the human race as the crown of the material world.
  25. 25. The main teachings of the initial story of creation includethe following: 1. The entire universe owes its existence to God as Creator and Lord. 2. Each and every part of creation is good in the eyes of God. 3. God established a hierarchy among created things, as seen in the ascending movement of the account, from inanimate things to animate creatures to the human race as the crown of the material world. 4. Creation shows forth the power of God, who speaks the universe into existence, the wisdom of God, who arranges all things into a symphony of natural beauty and harmony, and the goodness of God, who bestows life and blessing gratuitously.
  26. 26. The main teachings of the initial story of creation includethe following: 1. The entire universe owes its existence to God as Creator and Lord. 2. Each and every part of creation is good in the eyes of God. 3. God established a hierarchy among created things, as seen in the ascending movement of the account, from inanimate things to animate creatures to the human race as the crown of the material world. 4. Creation shows forth the power of God, who speaks the universe into existence, the wisdom of God, who arranges all things into a symphony of natural beauty and harmony, and the goodness of God, who bestows life and blessing gratuitously. 5. The Creation story exhibits an apologetic interest in countering the mythological world views of the ancient Near East. According to the pagan myths, a pantheon of deities existed in the beginning: the gods were embodied in nature and had humanlike needs and imperfections; the world was born out of a struggle between the gods; and man was created only to be exploited by the gods. In contrast, Genesis teaches that only one God exists, that he stands outside of time, that he is altogether distinct from the natural world, and that he blessed mankind, making man the bearer of his image. In addition to these considerations, the seven-day structure of the account is best used as a literary device for communicating the following points.
  27. 27. The main teachings of the initial story of creation includethe following: 6. Six days of work followed by one day of rest underscores the obligation of man to lay aside his labor and honor the Creator every seventh day (Ex. 208-11)
  28. 28. The main teachings of the initial story of creation includethe following: 6. Six days of work followed by one day of rest underscores the obligation of man to lay aside his labor and honor the Creator every seventh day (Ex. 208-11) 7. The founding of the world in seven days parallels the building of the Tabernacle according to the seven commands ((Ex. 40:16-33) and the dedication of the Temple in seven days (1 Kings 8:65) after seven years of construction (1 Kings 6:38). Also, the description of God resting on the seventh day (2:2-3) has links with ancient concepts of a temple, which is considered a place of divine rest (2 Chron. 6:41; Ps. 132:14; Sir 24:11; Is 66:1). The creation week in Genesis thus reflects the belief that the world is a cosmic sanctuary.
  29. 29. The main teachings of the initial story of creation includethe following: 6. Six days of work followed by one day of rest underscores the obligation of man to lay aside his labor and honor the Creator every seventh day (Ex. 208-11) 7. The founding of the world in seven days parallels the building of the Tabernacle according to the seven commands ((Ex. 40:16-33) and the dedication of the Temple in seven days (1 Kings 8:65) after seven years of construction (1 Kings 6:38). Also, the description of God resting on the seventh day (2:2-3) has links with ancient concepts of a temple, which is considered a place of divine rest (2 Chron. 6:41; Ps. 132:14; Sir 24:11; Is 66:1). The creation week in Genesis thus reflects the belief that the world is a cosmic sanctuary. 8. Seven days of divine speech hint that God established a covenant with creation. Not only does the Hebrew for “seven” share a common root with the verb for “swearing a covenant oath” but in later Jewish tradition, God is said to have founded the world through his oath.” (Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: Commentary, Notes and Study Questions; Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch; Ignatius Press, San Francisco, CA 2010 p.17)
  30. 30. Creation is Oriented TowardWorship “[The seven day rhythm of Creation] is itself at the service of a still deeper meaning: Creation is oriented to the Sabbath, which is the sign of the covenant between God and humankind….Creation is designed in such a way that it is oriented to worship. It fulfills its purpose and assumes its significance where it is lived, ever new, with a view to worship. Creation exists for the sake of worship. As Saint Benedict said in his Rule: Operi Dei nihil praeponatur – “Nothing must be put before the service of God.” This is not the expression of an otherworldly piety but a clear and sober translation of the creation account and of the message that it bears for our lives. The true center, the power that moves and shapes from within in the rhythm of the stars and of our lives, is worship. Our life’s rhythm moves in proper measure when it is caught up in this….The creation accounts of all civilizations point to the fact that the universe exists for worship and for the glorification of God.” (‘In the Beginning’ – A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall; Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI), translated by Boniface Ramsey; William B. Eerdman’s Co., Grand Rapids, Mich. 1995)

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