Skip to comments.Sorely Needed Wisdom: Wrestling With Genesis
Posted on 09/22/2003 4:06:31 PM PDT by Mr. Silverback
At a recent conference in Washington, D.C., the questions were asked: Why Genesis? Why Now? The event, sponsored by the Ethics and Public Policy Center, was a discussion of the new book The Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis by Professor Leon Kass.
Both Kasss book and the conference it inspired raise a question that Christians ought to welcome: What is the role of the Bible, in particular, Genesis, in twenty-first century American life? Do words written more than three millennia ago have anything to tell us about how we ought to live our lives today? The answer, according to Kass, a great scholar and the chairman of the Presidents Council on Bioethics, is absolutely.
Kasss book is the product of twenty-five years of studying Genesis and teaching it to his students at the University of Chicago. Those experiences led Kass to appreciate the moral sensibilities and demands of the Torah, although he confesses that his practice is still wanting. But he is no longer confident in the sufficiency of unaided human reason to answer lifes most important questions.
Genesiss impact isnt limited to the personal. What Kass, who is Jewish, calls the crisis in modern thought, especially in the moral and ethical realms, stems from our cultures disregard for the lessons taught in Genesis. We have a need for wisdom in this area, one that requires a serious examination of the Bible, starting with Genesis.
And what better place to start than at the beginning? Even a reader who doesnt believe in the inspiration of Scripture has to admit that Genesis chapters 1 through 11 are without peer in their accurate depiction of the human predicament: our strengths and our weaknesses, our nobility and our folly.
As Kass puts it, the stories in chapters 1 through 11, tell what always happenswhether the subject is the relationship between spouses, between siblings, or between man and God.
For instance, Kasss chapter on the story of Cain and Abel, Fratricide and Founding, is a powerful antidote to our cultures sentimental and even utopian view of human nature. Genesiss account of how pride, jealousy, and anger cause us to prey upon one another is much more true to life than what we hear from contemporary experts.
Given Genesiss insight and accuracy regarding the human condition, its reasonable to think that its insights on what it means to be human are likewise worth examining. Its account of what makes man unique and the dignity that flows from that status, like its portrayal of our faults, rings far truer to human experience than secular alternatives.
Genesiss understanding of human nature and human dignity has implications for nearly every aspect of our culture: bioethics, human rights, religious freedom, war, and peace. That answers the question: Why Genesis? And the answer to the secondWhy Now?is that the alternatives to the biblical worldview have all failed. They have left us with the crisis Kass mentions, unable to find answers because we no longer remember the real questions: Who are we? How are we supposed to live?
To remember those, we, like Kass, need to start at the beginningin this case, The Beginning of Wisdom.
And what do we have recorded as Christ's view of Genesis?
To claim the important thing is Christ, while actually ignoring Christ's clear regard for Genesis, is a circuitous means of denying Christ while maintaining a fiction of Christianity.
Call it the theological version of "my boyfriend likes someone else...so I'll blame her."
The double account of creation is thought to be an incorporation of the story passed down by Adam in some circles.
about one man (Abraham) who chose G-D, who dedicated his life to G-D and passed this legacy on to his children.
They the same "glasses" that G-D "saw through" (kavayochal). Do you have a problem with that?
And I will make of you a great nation; I will bless you, and make your name great, and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those that bless you, and those that curse you I shall curse; and all the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you. Genesis 12:1-3.
And the Lord said, "Shall I conceal from Abraham what I do, now that Abraham is surely to become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by him? For I have loved him, because he commands his children and his household after him that they keep the way of the Lord, doing charity and justice, in order that the Lord might then bring upon Abraham that which He had spoken of him. Genesis 18:17-19.
In your immediately preceding post, you claim "If Genesis is open to interpretation, then the entire Bible is nothing more than a story book." But "interpretation" is precisely what you have done in your explanation of the meaning of Genesis 1, 26! There is nothing in the text of Genesis 1,26 that moves the mind immediately to understand that verse in the way that you explain it. Now, I happen to AGREE with you regarding the meaning of that verse; my point is that "Interpretation" is necessary. It is not wise to disparage Interpretation in principle. What is needed, though, is a method of Interpretation that respect the meaning which the sacred author intended to communicate and that stands in continuity with a believing community. I know I just said a mouthful, but that's the main idea.
Yes I do.
Call me a mystic, but I don't think the Almighty intended for us to overlook the discrepancies between Divine attribution to Abraham, and what the text actually says about Abraham.
The problem with YOU is that you believe God created everything (al beit by starting everything with the first single-celled creature, then guiding all through evolution), but you talk about creationists as though they were nutcases to be dismissed.
Hate to tell you this, but YOU are a creationist. You just think God did it differently than others might.
Just want to point out that Jesus spoke of Adam and Eve as though they were historical figures.
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