The Three Things You Need To Know About The Bible
Here’s the three things that you need to know about the Bible, at least from one person’s perspective:
What’s the most important part of the Bible?
That’s easy. It’s Genesis. Why? Because, above all, man needs to understand his place in the universe. That is, why do I exist?
What’s the most interesting part of the Bible?
It’s Genesis, again. Why? Because we get to eavesdrop on God during the creation process.
What is the importance of the Bible to religion?
This one is trickier. It’s moral authority. That is, man needs to be able to distinguish between good and evil, right and wrong and arguably this can only come from God.
With respect to Christianity, Genesis is central to their faith. So, there are three things that one ought to know about Genesis, as follows:
The God of Genesis is the God of the Hebrews
The God of Genesis is Yahweh who is the Hebrew God. In fact, Christianity does not have a God that is unique to its own religion.
Genesis is not an original Christian story
That is, like Yahweh, Genesis was borrowed from Judaism.
The author of Genesis is unknown
Genesis was written by Jewish scribes shortly after the Babylonian exile (6th century BC), however, the exact author(s) is unknown. Contrary to popular belief, though, it was not written by Moses.
All of which leads to three things that one ought to know about Christianity.
Who were the very first Christians?
Obviously, the disciples, themselves, were the very first Christians (i.e. followers of Christ).
What did the disciples believe in?
The disciples’ beliefs were based on their first-hand experiences from being around Jesus. What Jesus taught them, they taught others. The disciples were Jewish and they lived their lives strictly in accordance with the Jewish Written Law, the Torah (the first five books of the Bible). The scriptures that they studied were from the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament); as for the New Testament scriptures, they had not yet been written as of that time.
Who decided the official church doctrine?
There was a lot of diversity in early Christian thinking. After much debate, the core tenets of Christianity were officially decided by a series of church councils beginning with the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, which was convened under the auspices of the Roman Emperor, Constantine I.
All of which takes us back to the literal beginning…to Genesis. That is, what makes Genesis so important to Christianity? Does it answer the age-old questions of how and why were we created?
How were we created?
Well, for starters, Genesis has an explanation of how life was created. The Bible’s concept of God creating the heavens and earth is sometimes referred to as Creation Out of Nothing. Interestingly enough, that concept is actually supported somewhat by science whose own Big Bang Theory is also, essentially, creation out of nothing.
Why were we created?
Almost everyone I know has, at one time or another, wanted to know the reason for their existence. That is, what is the meaning of life? Genesis has a reason, but it isn’t exactly what you might think or have been taught to believe. Genesis actually says that man was created to care for the Garden of Eden. As for the woman, she apparently was an afterthought as she was created later (to be a companion for man).
In search of God
Man has been forever in search of his origins, in search of his creator; in other words, in search of God. God, of course, is the main character of the Genesis story. However, there are some age-old questions that Genesis doesn’t answer about him. For example, although much has been said about God, we still don’t know what God looks like. How could that information have possibly been left out of the Genesis story…unless the author didn’t know.
Further, did Adam really have a fireside chat with God and did Eve really have a conversation with a talking snake? The answer to those questions is that Genesis should not be read literally (rather it’s allegorical in nature). Luminaries such as Paul, St Augustine, Philo of Alexandria and Origen all agreed that certain parts of Genesis should not be read literally. Accordingly, down through the years, there have been a myriad of interpretations concerning the Creation. Even people who still read Genesis literally have different interpretations from each other.
As a result, everyone has an opinion and they say that they’re the only one that knows the truth. Perhaps, in the final analysis, that’s the only thing that you really need to know about the Bible.
The Hebrew scribes that penned Genesis no doubt relied on older sources for their story. Among other reasons, I can say that with full confidence because Genesis was written some 3,000 years after-the-fact. Yes, 3,000 years if you can even imagine that. Besides, as the Talmud says, some Genesis passages were taken from tradition (in other words older belief systems) or older writings. So, Genesis, while it may be an interesting read, is not even an original rendering of the creation story.
“For who that has understanding will suppose that the first, and second, and third day, and the evening and the morning, existed without a sun, and moon, and stars? And that the first day was, as it were, also without a sky? And who is so foolish as to suppose that God, after the manner of a husbandman, planted a paradise in Eden, towards the east, and placed in it a tree of life, visible and palpable, so that one tasting of the fruit by the bodily teeth obtained life? And again, that one was a partaker of good and evil by masticating what was taken from the tree? And if God is said to walk in the paradise in the evening, and Adam to hide himself under a tree, I do not suppose that anyone doubts that these things figuratively indicate certain mysteries, the history having taken place in appearance, and not literally.”
– Origen, Christian theologian