In the beginning…

…I started, well, at the beginning. I am reading the Catholic New American Bible Revised Edition 2011 available from the iBooks bookstore. I made this choice for a couple of reasons. First, it was recommended to me after discussing it with a close friend. Second, the translation is easily readable, and has footnotes that aid in understanding some of the material. In general, I am going to assume that the footnotes are correct, unless something just doesn’t seem right to me. Also, its on the iPad, so I dont have to lug around a big book, I carry enough of those around as it is.

I will try to provide jumps to each chapter for easy navigating with each post:
Genesis 1
Genesis 2

Genesis 1
As the footnotes explain, this chapter serves as an introdiction to both the book of Genesis, and the entire Pentateuch. Really this chapter seems to give off precisely that air, like a summary. It feels very much like other creation myths that I’ve read, no real story yet, just a kind of account of things that happened. A few things I found interesting:

  • The Jewish day begins and ends at sunset. Nothing really more to add to this, just an interesting fact, and I like those.
  • Genesis 1:26: Here God speaks with a first person plural. The footnotes explain that at times God was imagined to be “presiding over an assembly of heavenly beings who deliberated and decided about matters on earth.” Is this a referance to angels? The deliberation aspect peaks my interest, who are these heavenly beings who can argue with God? Are they just as powerful as he? Lots of questions created here…
  • Genesis 1:29: I would suspect this verse as the likely source for some, such as seventh day adventists, and possibly other bible literalists to take up vegetarianism.

Genesis 2
In this chapter we start to get into some of the actual story. It appears to be a more in depth look at the creation of man that was described in the previous chapter. A curious little mismatch I found was that in Genesis 1 man was created after the animals (Genesis 1:25-26), but in this chapter man is created before the animals (Genesis 2:18-19).

  • In this chapter we see the creation of the garden of eden, as well as the creation of man. A footnote for 2:8 suggests that eden was not built for man, but rather was a pleasurable place God built for himself. Apparently man was the groundskeeper (2:15).
  • This chapter also describes the creation of man. Man is created out of the dust of the earth (2:7). I like this, it links humanity to the earth. I have a friend who like to use the dust as a metaphor for cells, as it was probably one of the smallest things people at the time knew of. This would provide some revelatory oower to the story. It’s a nice sentiment, but I don’t buy it.
  • Woman is also created in this story. She is created after all of God’s previous attempts to create a helper for man resulted in animals that were not suitable for such a position. So God puts Adam to sleep, takes out one of his ribs, and makes Eve from it. The footnotes are explicit here in stating that the role of “helper” is not meant to imply subordination. However, I would argue that just by the fact of God creating man first, and woman later, for the purposes of being a companion for man, it relegates women to an inferior position.
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4 responses to “In the beginning…

  • Christian Jimenez

    As opposed to the typical “Christian” beginning with some bold arguments, I have decided instead to simply post a few thought provoking questions and things to ponder…..just a little food for thought. (bear in mind, that these questions and ideas will be based on my personal beliefs as a passionate follower of Christ, so they will be posted from an ” in my opinion” standpoint)

    A few things to ponder….

    Chapter 1

    1. Simply stated in the scriptures, God is referred to as “love”…love is best expressed toward something or someone else. So if you entertain the thought that God is love, would it be logical to think that possibly God created the world as an expression of his love? (From a parental view, being a father of 2 beautiful kids, the thought of a “Father” longing to express his love, but not having someone to express it to, would be a very difficult task.) Some believe that it is horrifically arrogant to assume that “if” there was a God, he would care to know us on a personal level, as insignificant as we are compared to this incredibly vast universe…..on the other side of this, how beautiful would it be to think that this universe and all it’s wonders WERE created for us. To think that this God chose to express his love in such a way, that he would give us something beyond our own understanding putting in us a desire to know what’s out there. Giving us something so incredible, that we can spend a million years exploring the answers to this place, and possibly not even scratch the surface. Is it possible that the universe was a gift to us to explore and discover, in the same way that a father would give his son a book on a subject matter that interests him, could the universe be our “book”

    2. There are two basic views about the “days” of creation: (1) Each day was a literal 24-hour period; (2) each day represents an indefinite period of time (even millions of years).
    As far as I know, the Bible does not say how long these time periods were. Maybe a better question is not how long God took, but how he did it. Based on the Biblical account of creation, it seems that God created the earth in an orderly fashion (he did not create plants before light) and he created men and women as unique beings capable of communication with him. Does any other part of creation share this remarkable privilege?

    3. God created us in his image? How can this be, when we are confined to a physical body? Is it possible that we are reflections of God’s glory? That some of our reasons, creativity, speech, or self-determination is the image of God? Could he have given us the ability to reflect his character in our love, patience, forgiveness, and kindness?

    4. Based on the Biblical account of creation, and our current understanding of the planet we reside in, it appears that if God did create the heavens and earth….he was very careful how he made this earth, was it his desire for us to take responsibility for the environment, and to not be careless about how we take care of our planet. Was that what he meant when he commanded us to “be masters over…” (Gen 1:28)

    Chapter 2, food for thought to come…

    • skepticole

      “Simply stated in the scriptures, God is referred to as “love”…”

      I would first like to ask what your source is for this information. I honestly just used Wikipedia to get an idea about this, but it appears that the most common form of the name of God used in the Hebrew texts was the Tetragrammaton YHWH, which is most commonly translated to be “the lord” in English, but a more literal translation appears to be “He is”. While there a many names given to God, according to Wikipedia, none of them would literally translate from Hebrew to English as “love”. If you can provide evidence for this, I am willing to accept it.

      “Is it possible that the universe was a gift to us to explore and discover…?”

      I suppose that this is possible, but it is not stated in Genesis 1. In Genesis 1 man is told he has dominion over all the plants in animals, and to take over the earth. In Genesis 2 it is almost explicit that man was created and charged with explicitly taking care of the garden of Eden.

      “There are two basic views about the “days” of creation”

      The Bible says “day,” which for ancient Hebrews started at sunset. I would assume those who wrote this book meant day if that is what was written. To assume it was meant as metaphor allows you to bring any and all passages to be assumed as metaphor.

      “God created us in his image?”

      That is what the book says: “God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27). Also in Genesis 1:26 it says “let us make human beings in our image, after our likeness.” I am willing to concede that this is more than just physical, but also with similar behavioral characteristics of God. To be honest though, it just gives me reason to think that God behaves as morally and immorally as man at times, which is to be seen later.

      “was it his desire for us to take responsibility for the environment, and to not be careless about how we take care of our planet.”

      I certainly cannot argue against this, and wish more Christians would take this point of view. Regardless of your belief system, we only have one planet, and I think we should be taking a lot better care of it than we do.

  • Christian Jimenez

    Coleman, good friend……sorry for the delayed response, life got busy! Haha. Anyway, I really appreciated your reply to my first post, you bring up some very interesting points. I have been following your blog from Genesis 1 up to the current post today in chapter 40, hopefully I’ll soon catch up on my reply’s. I decided to reply in a similar format to the one above. Thanks again for opening this blog and creating a platform for a friendly share of thoughts and questions.

    • skepticole


    October 19th, 2011 at 22:44 “Simply stated in the scriptures, God is referred to as “love”…”
I would first like to ask what your source is for this information. I honestly just used Wikipedia to get an idea about this, but it appears that the most common form of the name of God used in the Hebrew texts was the Tetragrammaton YHWH, which is most commonly translated to be “the lord” in English, but a more literal translation appears to be “He is”. While there a many names given to God, according to Wikipedia, none of them would literally translate from Hebrew to English as “love”. If you can provide evidence for this, I am willing to accept it.


    God referred to as “Love” comes from the verse 1 John 4:7-8, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”

    “Is it possible that the universe was a gift to us to explore and discover…?”
I suppose that this is possible, but it is not stated in Genesis 1. In Genesis 1 man is told he has dominion over all the plants in animals, and to take over the earth. In Genesis 2 it is almost explicit that man was created and charged with explicitly taking care of the garden of Eden.
“There are two basic views about the “days” of creation”
The Bible says “day,” which for ancient Hebrews started at sunset. I would assume those who wrote this book meant day if that is what was written. To assume it was meant as metaphor allows you to bring any and all passages to be assumed as metaphor

    I definitely understand your point on this matter, what is literal and what is metaphorical, who decides? John Lennox breaks this point down in his book “Seven days that divide the World”, a very good read I highly recommend. In his book he states the issue at stake in the Galileo controversy is, of course, how the Bible should be interpreted. So let us think about some general principles of interpretation before we apply them to the moving-earth controversy. The first obvious, yet important thing to say about the Bible is that it is literature. In fact it is a whole library of books: some of them history, some poetry, some in the form of letters, and so on, very different in content and style. In approaching literature in general, the first question to ask is, how does the author who wrote it wish to be understood? For instance, the author of a mathematics textbook does not intend it to be understood as poetry; Shakespeare does not intend us to understand his plays as exact history, and so on. Next, one should in the first instance be guided by the natural understanding of a passage, sentence, word, or phrase in its context, historically, culturally, and linguistically…” “…The importance of considering the natural understanding of a passage is clear, when it comes to the basic teaching of the Christian faith. The crucial thing about Christianity’s fundamental doctrines is that they are first and foremost to be understood in their natural, primary sense. The cross of Christ is not primarily a metaphor. It involved an actual death. The resurrection is not primarily an allegory. It was a physical event: “standing up again” of a body that had died. But this basic principal needs to be qualified. For instance, when we are dealing with a text that was produced in a culture distant from our own both in time and in geography, what we think the natural meaning is may not have been the natural meaning for those to whom the text was originally addressed. We shall consider this issue in due course. At this stage we make a few general remarks about the way in which we use language. Some of us will be familiar in what I am about to say, but many of us may not have thought much about how we use language- we are too busy using it to bother. However it will help us greatly if we spend just a little time thinking about this matter. Firstly, there can be more than one natural reading of a word or phrase. For example, in Genesis 1 there are several instances of this. The word “earth” is first used for the planet, and then a little later for dry land as distinct from the sea. Both times the word earth is clearly meant literally, but the two meanings are different, as is clear from their context. Next, in many places a literal understanding will not work. Let’s take first an example from everyday speech. We all understand what a person means when they say “The car was flying down the road.” The car and road are very literal, but “flying” is a metaphor. However, we also are well aware that the metaphor “flying” stands for something very real that could be expressed more literally as “driving fast.” Just because a sentence contains a metaphor, it doesn’t mean that it is not referring to something real.”

    “God created us in his image?”
That is what the book says: “God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27). Also in Genesis 1:26 it says “let us make human beings in our image, after our likeness.” I am willing to concede that this is more than just physical, but also with similar behavioral characteristics of God. To be honest though, it just gives me reason to think that God behaves as morally and immorally as man at times, which is to be seen later.

    Coleman, you bring up quite a good point, something that also intrigues me as well, where does our immoral nature come from. I would like to believe that is comes from Satan, but then the question arises, where does Satan’s immoral behavior come from? I do believe that it is definitively clear that we as humans have absolute free will when it comes to our moral decisions. I believe that we, for the most part have a conscious that is well capable of distinguishing right from wrong. But still the question remains, where does “wrong” come from? Here is an interesting excerpt I pulled from a blog, doesn’t quite give us the answer here, but sheds a little light on the topic.

    The scriptures clearly teach that God cannot be the author of evil. James 1:13 states “Let no one say when he is tempted. ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.” And further “Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow.” (emphasis added) We know that God is not a God of confusion (1 Cor 14:33). Psalm 18:30 tells us “As for God, His way is blameless” and “Thou art not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness; no evil dwells with Thee (Psalm 5:4). Also, “The Lord is righteous in all His ways, and kind in all His deeds.” (Psalm 145:17)

    Read more: http://www.comereason.org/phil_qstn/phi025.asp#ixzz1jaBJ2200

    So in conclusion, I cannot explain where our immoral behavior comes from, but based on the theme consistent and throughout the scriptures, God calls us to be moral and loving beings full of compassion and forgiveness. I do understand that this is a bit more difficult to pull from the old testament, but even still one thing remains consistently true in the Bible, God desires to have a personal relationship with mankind and within that relationship he asks us to be set apart from evil. My apologies for not being able to elaborate more on this specific topic, I will however be diligent in my search for a more conclusive answer.

    “was it his desire for us to take responsibility for the environment, and to not be careless about how we take care of our planet.”
I certainly cannot argue against this, and wish more Christians would take this point of view. Regardless of your belief system, we only have one planet, and I think we should be taking a lot better care of it than we do.

    Agreed x2!

  • Morning Bible Study – Genesis 1 | An Atheist Human

    […] This is a repost from my old blog, the original post can be found here. […]

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