Genesis 3 recounts the undoing of the intimate relationships established in the previous chapter between humans and God, between the man and the ground, between the woman and the man. In recent decades most of the discussion seems to have been over what God says to the woman, traditionally translated something like:
[Yhwh Elohim] said to the woman:
I will intensify your labor pains;
you will bear children in anguish.
Your desire will be for your husband,
yet he will rule over you. (HCSB)
Of most interest is the syntax of the second half of the verse and the meaning of the word translated “desire.” While most studies have sought to clarify the nature of this desire, I want to suggest that perhaps the word “desire” is not the best way to render the Hebrew at all. Read on for more.
The story of the creation of man and woman in Genesis 2 begins with God forming the first human who is designated האדם (hāʾādām, ‘the human’). The word is used as a generic term referring to human beings in many places in biblical Hebrew. Furthermore, there are a number of other words which mean ‘man’ as specifically distinct from ‘woman’. This has prompted quite a few people to argue that when first created this human was sexually undifferentiated or androgynous or a hermaphrodite. This creature was then divided into the first man and the first woman in Gen 2:21.
If this is a valid understanding of Genesis 2 it clearly undermines any claim that the man’s creation prior to the woman indicates that he has authority over her, because he is not created as a man until she is created as a woman.
It’s an interesting idea apparently rooted in a careful analysis of the hebrew text of Genesis 2, but it is ultimately untenable. Read on to find out why. Continue reading
Last week I heard Thomas R. Schreiner speak at Moore Theological College on the topic of “What the Bible says about Women in Ministry.” While briefly making reference to Genesis 1–3 he made a particular point that the man’s act of naming the animals and the woman is an exercise of authority on his part, and hence demonstrates his position of authority over the animals and the woman.
Frankly I’m surprised that appeal is still made to naming in discussions about women’s roles in the church. Read on for my reasons. Continue reading
It is reasonably clear that the story of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob found in Genesis 12–50 is presented as a historical narrative (regardless of what one thinks about the actual historicity of the story). But what are we to make of Genesis 1–11? Would the original audience have understood these chapters in the same manner as the later chapters, or would they have differentiated them?
The question is relevant because if it is read as the same type of literature, then the events of the creation, fall, flood, and tower of Babel would have been understood as historical narrative in the same way as the remainder of the book of Genesis. However, if the original audience recognised that Genesis 1–11 represented a different literary genre from the following chapters, then there are grounds for reading these earlier chapters in another way. They may, for example, function as some sort of pre-history which should not be treated as precisely historical as the latter accounts.
What can I say? Genesis 1 is not poetry, nor is it some weird hybrid of poetry and prose. Genesis 1:27 alone is poetry, but the rest of the chapter is pretty much stock-standard biblical Hebrew narrative in regards to its syntax. It is not poetry!
Why is this an issue? It’s an issue because debates about Genesis 1 seem to align figurative reading (of some sort) with poetry and literal reading with prose. This is a manifestly false disjunction. It is perfectly possible to have “literal” poetry, and it is quite common to have figurative prose. In other words, the whole argument is daft!
I was simply going to title this “Common Misunderstandings of Genesis 2,” but then I thought the title could be spiced up a little bit, particularly because there’s a tendency to see sexual activity lying behind so much of what happens, particularly in the latter part of the chapter. Anyway, here are some of the common misunderstandings of Genesis 2:
Otto Procksch described Genesis 4:7 as the most obscure verse in Genesis, and he may well be right. One of the more curious things to note about this verse is that it is clearly intended to remind the reader of Genesis 3:16, the punishment of the woman. This is clear because the syntax and terminology in the two verses is virtually identical, and yet in both instances rather unusual.
Compare the verses, first Gen 3:16b:
ואל אישך תשוקתך והוא ימשל בך
then Gen 4:7b:
ואליך תשוקתו ואתה תמשל בו
The existence of the parallel is indisputable, but what is the significance? Read on for my thoughts…
The most obvious place to start when discussing suffering is with sin. The opening chapters of the Bible (Gen 2–3) are an aetiological tale which functions to describe the original state of the world and explain why it is no longer in that original state.
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Opponents of the doctrine of the Trinity occasionally throw up the assertion that the word ‘Trinity’ never appears in the Bible as a supposed problem for the doctrine.
The objection is, however, largely without merit. Read below the link for an assessment of this contention!
The Common English Bible has been completed, the result of an impressive array of scholars, with admirable goals. A page comparing it with the NRSV and NIV is available here. Some brief and very initial observations based primarily on a few passages I like to check follows.