Genesis: The Tree of Knowledge
As you read the Genesis text, I would encourage you to think about the following:
1) What or who are the characters involved? What happens? What does not happen? Why or why not? (i.e., know the story cold—you may be quizzed on it later). For more ways to probe the text see my “Exegesis guidelines” Web page.
2) What can the answers to #1 mean? What messages does the author(s) want to get across? What symbolic readings of the story/myth are possible?
3) How would you demythologize this story/myth (i.e., get its message[s] across to people today who may not believe in gods or creation or serpents that once could talk or had legs)?
4) How does this myth/story relate to Inquiry?
5) Who was Prometheus and Icarus? What is their story and how might they relate with this story?
6) Bring your definitions of myth (also look it up).
7) Jot down examples of animism
and anthropomorphism in your own life or experience or in our world.
Consult Bible commentaries on the assigned text (see librarians for help—you can tell them that I sent you).
Remember: at least 2 Qs or insights, etc.
For more, see the highlighted text (if you wish, check out the non-highlighted parts)
Read and analyze the creation stories in Gen 1–3 very carefully. Slowly & carefully. (Did I mention slowly & carefully?)
What are the similarities & differences between the 2 creation stories in Gen (1.1–2.4a and 2.4b–3.24)?
What is the overall effect that each story has on the reader?
What is the structure of the creation story in 1.1–2.4a? And in 2.4b–3.24? Pay attention to the order of creation in each of the creation stories in Gen 1-3. What does the order in each version indicate to you?
What is the main purpose of Gen 1.1–2.4a? Gen 2.4b–3.24?
Which story do you prefer, if any? Why?
What is the significance of the creation of the woman in each account? Which do you find more appealing? Why?
What about the plural in Gen 1.26–27? Cf. Ps 82; Ex 15.11; 1 Kgs 22.19–23; cf. also Ps 8, 136, 148; Prov 8.22–31; Job 38.
What is happening with God's name or the stories' reference to God?
In either story, is there any textual hint about the state of things before or at the moment when God began to create? (Try several different English translations, especially for Gen 1.1–3.) Does God create from nothing or something? If nothing, what does that mean? If something, what is that something?
Look up "tohu-bohu" in an English dictionary & figure out what it means & where the word comes from.
Read Job 26.12; Ps 74.14, 89.10; Isa 27.1, 51.9 & see how these very old Israelite traditions "remember" creation. Look up Levtiathan & Rahab (not the woman, but the sea monster) in an encyclopedia or a Bible dictionary & see what they are.