Questions for Genesis

Our group combines Jewish, Christian, Hindu and agnostic readers. I look forward to the conversations.

Tuesday, March 27
8pm NYC time
(I’ll be sending out another number for international callers)

Here are a few questions to guide your reading of the first part of Genesis (we’ll discuss the whole book; this should just help you get started).

1. Creation, Adam, Eve and the serpent
The initial stories of Genesis are powerful. “In the beginning…” Herodotus (for those who joined us for Herodotus) attempted to explain how the Greeks and Persians came to fight each other – and in so doing told the stories of the peoples of the Mediterranean. Yet, he did not attempt to start “in the beginning” and while the morality of his history may be debated, the Bible is an entirely different piece of literature.

What did you think about the two stories of creation in Genesis? About Adam and Eve? For first-time readers of the actual text – did some of the language offend, delight, surprise you?

2. Cain and Abel 4.1 – 4.26
This famous story – earliest instance in Genesis of violence – only takes about three paragraphs in Genesis. Were you surprised it was so short? What is the story about? Why does God snub Cain when the two brothers make their offering? Why does Cain lie to God? Does he think God does not know? Remember that “denial of family solidarity” would have been “anathema to Israelite readers.” Note also famous phrases like “…am I my brother’s keeper?” and  “…land of Nod, east of Eden.”

3. Noah and the great flood 6.1-10
Again, for first-time readers, were you surprised at how early the flood story appears in Genesis? Surprised by how quickly evil takes root and thus must be wiped out? What was God’s promise to Noah?

4. Babel 11.1
The Bible describes the making of the bricks for the building of a city and tower. [note: recall that Herodotus talked about the brick-making skills of the Babylonians; and the many brick-based walls of their beautiful city]. Herodotus introduced his history by stating that prosperity never stays long in one place. Is there a similar sentiment here in God’s decision to confuse the builders of Babel?

5. Abraham 12 –
What is the Lord’s promise to Abraham?  What marks the covenant? Sarah and the Lord argue in 18.11 – .15. What’s their argument about? What do you think about the negotiation between God and Abraham regarding the destruction of Sodom? 18.22 -32.

More coming soon…look forward to speaking to you in about a week.


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1 Response to Questions for Genesis

  1. March 25, 2007 at 09:25 PM says:

    <p>I agree the Tower of Babel story is well worth discussing on our call. Though I hear one of these OT stories every Sunday at church, I am finding it interesting to read them from a purely secular sociological/political pov, and try to understand how they are providing instruction on how to live. The idea that God found Babel’s “tower with a top in the heavens” a threat from humanity, encroaching on his supremacy doesn’t ring true to me. God seems to take a pretty dim view of cities. He is moving people around a lot in Genesis – and he instructs people on several occasions to spread out and fill the earth. In 13.5-6, Lot and Abraham had to split up because the land couldn’t support both their extensive flocks. So this may have been a survival strategy. On another level, if the OT is a history/mythology created to provide common identity and cohesion for a group of (chosen?) people, the lesson in the Tower of Babel story may be that this identity is not linked to a specific geography. While God keeps promising a promised land, the group needs to self-identify as a cohesive group before that promise is fulfilled. </p>

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