Genesis Revisited

09/08/2012

Three major religions (Christianity, Judaism and Islam) have more in common than they care to admit.  Christianity and Judaism are both based on the Bible (at least the Old Testament) while Islam claims to be a combination of and successor to both Christianity and Judaism.  Two of the religions (Islam and Judaism) trace their roots back to the same patriarch (Abraham), who was also revered by Paul as a progenitor of the messiah.  However, none of the three religions have ever talked with any great clarity about the entity that is generally referred to as God (or Yahweh or Allah).  This may be because little to nothing is known about him.

The universe was presumably created some 14 billion years ago and man came into the picture only in the last million years, roughly speaking.  So there was a large time gap of 14 billion years from the original act of creation until man came along.  Yet in the first book of the Bible (Genesis), there are two stories which comprise the account of creation, the first of which refers to the original act of creation (Genesis 1) and the second of which gives a detailed account of the creation of man (Genesis 2).  The two stories are intentionally woven into one story even though they were written at two different times by two different writers, which scholars have referred to as P and J, respectively.  The P and J designations have been used since the actual writers are unknown.

The account of the original creation is much older (than the account of man’s creation) and dates back to a time when the Israelites were polytheists – that is, they worshipped many gods.  Thus, the use of the term Elohim (plural term of El or God) in the first verse of Genesis, a term that has been translated into the word “God”.  Accordingly in Genesis 1, God says, “Let us make man in our image”.  Obviously the words “us” and “our” are plural terms indicating that there were many gods(elohim).  This is consistent with other passages in the Bible which refer to many gods (see Paul’s writings in 1 Corinthians, for example).

By the time Genesis 2 was written, Judaism was just becoming a formal religion.  At that time, the Israelites believed in just one God with a belief system dating back to Moses and his life in the court of the pharaoh Akhenaten, who is widely claimed by scholars to be the father of monotheism.

Because of the conversion to monotheism, the term Yahweh (YWHW) was used for God in Genesis 2 and it was translated into the words “Lord God”.  It was Yahweh, one of the Elohim, that became the one and only God of the Israelites.  But then, just who was Yahweh talking to, or referring to, in Genesis 3 when he said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us” (emphasis added)?

Of course, most scholars, and even many theologians, would say that these stories about God are simply mythological in nature and not to be taken literally.  After all, the original creation predates man by 14 billion years and just who was God talking to, anyway, when he said, “Let there be light”?  Besides as it says in the Book of John, “No one has ever seen God”.  It’s fair to say then that indeed no one has ever seen or even talked to God, at least not God as in the “prime creator”.

I have reason to believe that lesser gods, that is god with a little “g”, were the basis for some of the stories about gods that appear in the oral traditions (and writings) of many cultures around the planet.  This would include gods like Jehovah in the Bible.  It was Jehovah who made the covenant with the Israelites whereby if they would choose him as their god then he would be their god.  Well, you’re either the prime creator or you’re not.  There’s no choice involved.  Only a god (little “g”) would say such a thing or act in that way.  Anyway, why does an all-loving, all-knowing God need to have a contract to cover such things.

The conundrum then for religion is what exactly is their moral authority based on if they don’t really know God?  This situation is further complicated by the faithful who are concerned because they want to feel that moral actions result in eternal rewards.  As a result, we get the church involved in the selling of salvation as opposed to trying to teach their flock about God.  In a world where chaos rules the day, churches are suppose to be a haven for the weary and the downtrodden.  However, because of a lack of a meaningful message the church has become marginalized, and without a moral compass people just wait around hoping to be saved.

In the absence of concrete evidence about the existence and nature of God, the world has developed what are essentially faith-based religions. Perhaps then we should consider rewriting Genesis because, for one thing, we know that in the Genesis story God violated one of his own commandments by lying.  That is, he told Eve that if she ate from the Tree of Knowledge she would surely die, and of course she ate the apple and didn’t die.  While religion has brought the discussion about God to the masses, it has done so through the invention of largely superficial stories.  Just as with Jesus who taught through parables that even his disciples didn’t understand, the common man has never been allowed to fully explore the deeper esoteric truths about God.  In one sense, though, I guess it’s hard to fault the church because if it was okay for God to lie, why shouldn’t they.

 

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25 Responses to “Genesis Revisited”

  1. Accordingly in Genesis 1, God says, “Let us make man in our image”. Obviously the words “us” and “our” are plural terms indicating that there were many gods(elohim

    Read genesis 1:26 amp
    Then read
    John 6:38-39
    What are your thoughts?

    • Luke 10:18
      Micah 5:2

      Aren’t these saying Jesus had been with God in the beginning?

      • chicagoja said

        There is nothing in the Old Testament of the Bible that says that Jesus was with God in the beginning. Keep in mind that the Old Testament was written by Jews, for Jews and about Jews. At the time of writing the Old Testament, Jesus wasn’t even born.

    • chicagoja said

      I didn’t see any connection between the two passages you cited. Did you have a specific question? Thanks

      • That genesis is referring to god, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

        And in John, Jesus is saying he came down from Heaven.

        These are all saying Jesus was with God in the beginning, answering the “us” and “our” question.

      • chicagoja said

        The writers of Genesis didn’t know Jesus(he hadn’t been born yet) and they didn’t believe in the Logos either. After all, the first five books of the Bible is the Torah, which Jewish law and the Jewish bible is based on. Christianity merely borrowed Genesis from Judaism.

      • I don’t believe I will ever have all the answers in this life. That is why I have faith and I believe I will know when I am supposed to know. But for me, does it matter that the writers didn’t know about Jesus? Because it was God who spoke the “us” and “our”
        Then it was confirmed later through Jesus. Idk that’s just what i think.

      • chicagoja said

        But the writers wrote it. Are you saying that they wrote something that they didn’t understand?

      • Yes, I guess I am.
        I believe there is one true God.
        I believe Jesus is the son of God.
        I believe Jesus was with God in the beginning.
        I believe The us and our are referring to to Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
        I know these to be my truths.
        I’m comfortable with what I believe.
        I believe I will have the answers when I’m supposed to have the answers.
        I believe God is so great and so much more that I can’t even begin to comprehend or understand Him in His entirety. I also believe I’m not supposed to.
        I’m truly okay with that.

    • I have read the “us” and “our in many versions in the bible. The amplified version refers to them as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then when you look into the things Jesus spoke, I believe Jesus.
      I believe my beliefs are coming from the bible.

      • 26 God said, Let Us [Father, Son, and Holy Spirit] make mankind in Our image, after Our likeness, and let them have complete authority over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the [tame] beasts, and over all of the earth, and over everything that creeps upon the earth.

      • chicagoja said

        The Bible is said by many to be the Word of God and accordingly they accept the Bible literally. But consider this: There are many different Bibles to choose from (over 30 I believe) and they say different things. In some cases, they even contain different books/gospels. In order to properly evaluate the Bible, one needs to know about its history and the major events in Christianity, as follows:

        During the first 300 years after the crucifixion: the early development of the Christian church; there were different competing doctrines some of which were substantially different from others The next 100 years: Establishment of the Holy Roman Church; the concept of Father, Son and Holy Spirit becomes accepted as part of church doctrine; the Catholic church compiles the first Bible and decides which scriptures will be included in the Bible and as a result important Christian writings are left out of the Bible (and declared heresies). The next 1,100 years: Christian thought is expressed primarily through the Catholic church; the pope is the head of Christianity Around the year 1500: the Protestant Reformation; Protestants break away from the Catholic church and the Bible is substantially changed. Some books are taken out of the Bible. The last 500 years: Separate churches(denominations) arise from the Protestant movement; they teach different church doctrine based upon their own interpretation of the Bible. Today: There are two main expressions of Christian thought, Protestantism (in its many forms) and Catholicism. Some might even add a third, the Eastern Orthodox. They all have different church doctrine.

        As you mentioned below, you are using an “amplified version” of some Bible, which means that someone has added yet another interpretation (based upon their own personal beliefs). There are also any number of other translation issues in the Bible which have been debated by theologians for the better part of the last 2,000 years and as a result the official church doctrine has been somewhat of a moving target. In addition, there are major discrepancies within the Bible itself (for example, different gospels say different things about Jesus’ birth and the crucifixion). Furthermore, many historians and theologians believe that some Bible passages are merely symbolic and not intended to be taken literally anyway.

        I know that that makes it very tough for someone like yourself to make any sense out of the Bible. Among other things, which Bible and which doctrine (if any) are you suppose to accept as the true Word of God? I was in your position when I was your age and it’s taken me a lifetime of researching the Bible to gain some insight into what it all means. I’ve given you some very brief responses to your questions even though there is so much that could be said, pro and con, about the issues. Nonetheless, I hope that it helps.

      • I can’t even pretend to know half of what you know. I respect your knowledge on everything you know. At 31, I have not had the life experiences of kids and a husband the way you mention in other posts. I also don’t have the history background of those times, or other religions. I can’t sit here and say I am right or you or wrong. But what I really hold true to my heart is this. Whether people believe Jesus was resurrected, stolen from the tomb, had a twin brother. Whether they believe the God of the Garden was not God. Or many of the other things people debate about. The one thing for me that speaks to me and where my faith comes from is Jesus didn’t sin. Do you know how impossible it is for me not to sin no matter how hard I try? Pride or pride in reverse. Jealousy. Envy. Gossip. I have never worshiped another God persay. But have i not placed money, people, material things above God before? I have. I’ve done a lot things. Today I still sin, I’m getting better, i recognize it sooner, but I still do it. And to believe a man walked this earth and didn’t sin, never took the bait. Completely blows my mind and the only answer I have for this is, Jesus. The debates of what is right and what is wrong, don’t interest me. What interests me is Jesus. For every person out there to say the bible is false is another person saying its true.
        Where I am at today is peace and contentment. I can’t even express how the bible comforts me when I’m struggling. Those are just my 2 cents. You are much smarter than me, I won’t argue you on that. I’m okay with that though, we all have our own journeys! I enjoy reading your posts. If anything it confirms my faith to me. Sometimes until things are challenged in your head you don’t realize how strong your faith is!

      • chicagoja said

        Well said. I appreciate your thoughts.

  2. Perhaps then we should consider rewriting Genesis because, for one thing, we know that in the Genesis story God violated one of his own commandments by lying. That is, he told Eve that if she ate from the Tree of Knowledge she would surely die, and of course she ate the apple and didn’t die

    Romans 6:23

    How did God lie? Eve did die, did God say you will die immediately or you will surely die?

    • chicagoja said

      Thank you for your comment. Let’s just say that the serpent was more forthcoming than God. To better understand my position on what was going on, I would refer you to my post “The God Below God”.

      • I guess I’m one of those people lol
        Proverbs 3:5

        I have read both of those posts already. Your posts are giving my bible and brain a workout. Lol

      • chicagoja said

        With respect to Proverbs 3:5 : But how did you come to trust the Lord if not through your own experiences and understanding?

      • But didn’t the serpent deceive eve? How is that forthcoming?
        Genesis 3:1
        John 10:10

        Isn’t that what satan did to eve?

      • chicagoja said

        See Genesis 3:4. The serpent told her the truth (that she would not die). The fact is that Adam and Eve were created without knowing good or evil, so exactly how were they suppose to know that disobedience was evil? In fact, God actually didn’t want them to know good and evil which is why he forbade them to eat the apple (from the Tree of Knowledge).

      • They disobeyed God, plain and simple. They were told not to do it and they did it anyway.
        It didn’t matter that they didn’t know evil. They disobeyed. Why is the importance placed on, they didn’t know it was evil, shouldn’t it be placed on the disobedience?

      • chicagoja said

        The central question is “why is there sin”? The answer according to the church and the Bible: Because they were disobedient.

        Let’s break it down: Punishment presupposes responsibility and responsibility presupposes the capacity to make decisions. For example, parents don’t expect young children(babies) to do the right thing immediately because they haven’t yet learned the difference between right and wrong. So a loving parent would never think to punish a child for their behavior at that point. Adam and Eve were like children in that they didn’t know the difference between right and wrong. God could have taught them that concept by giving them access to the Tree of Knowledge, but he refused to. God gave Adam and Eve the gift of free will and you can’t give such a gift and then put conditions on it. If you do, it is no longer free will. Further, God is omnipotent so when he told Eve not to eat the apple he knew in advance that she would exercise her free will and eat it. In legal terms, it’s called entrapment.

        In society today, you generally have to be an adult (18 or older) to be tried in a court of law, because of some of the reasons stated above. In addition to being an adult, they also need to be mentally competent. We do not punish people for breaking the law who do not have the mental capacity or maturity/knowledge.

        Hope that helps.

      • I’m going to process what you said. Let me ask you this? Have you ever experienced God working in your life?

      • chicagoja said

        Divine revelation, yes – God, no. Hard for me to answer that question, though, in a way that you would understand it. My definition of God is slightly different than yours.

      • In reply to proverbs question, I posted on another post you had written about how I came to know And trust The Lord. I don’t remember which post I commented on.

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