As we’ve noted before, it’s nice starting to read John and Genesis at the same time. Both deal with “the beginning” in wonderfully complementary ways, and better appreciation of that might save us some interpretative heartache.
And then, once I read from Jeremiah 4 and caught another reference to the language of Genesis 1:1-2, I knew it was time to write something about it. It took me about a week longer than anticipated, but I finally got ’round to it.
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One of the coolest things about the Bible’s text is that the first book literally starts “In the beginning…” I mean, of all the things it could start with, it just makes perfect sense that it would start with the beginning. And when you finish that sentence you find that the “beginning” is eternity past – before time itself was created. In the beginning, God created. You learn so much about God in that phrase – his distinction over against all created things, his omnipotence over the same, his very being belonging beyond not only physical existence but also beyond time. I’m really into science fiction, especially Doctor Who, which deals constantly with the ins and outs and paradoxes of time travel. So it’s kind of strange, in a marvellous way, to find a truly “timeless” deity proclaimed in the opening words of Sacred Scripture.
But then you get through the first couple chapters and the debates start flying thick and fast – how did God create the world? Are there conflicts between the various pieces of the text? Are these writings meant to be taken literally? What, even, is the literal meaning? All this and more quickly rises to the forefront of a Bible Study, sermon, or discussion on the opening chapters of the book of Genesis; it’s almost inescapable. So let’s side-step that direction of argumentation and look at Genesis from a birds-eye view.
“In the beginning, God created…”