…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.
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.
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.