Monday, August 27, 2007

Meditations on Genesis (#1)

For the edification of both of my readers, I'm risking a venture into the large and ominous waters of Genesis 1 & 2, and beyond. I've been spending multitudinous minutes in the Bible's salutatory book this summer, and I've gathered a few eggs. And by eggs, I mean good stuff.

It will be hit and miss, hither and yon.

Here's my first thought (#1):

Why would any author choose the particular words and phrases that he does? This question certainly applies to the author of Genesis. Our usually answer is something akin to "to communicate theological truths" or "to teach a particular moral message." But this is only partly true, and the smaller part at that. Genesis was not written by anyone resembling a theologian, as we would imagine one.

The author of Genesis is not writing a manual or a news story. He selects his expressions with a desire to please the ear and the imagination as much as the intellect. His words are sometimes called upon for their phonetic and aesthetic properties, as much as their meanings. Consider his word choices for the ideas of "emptiness" and "formlessness" in 1:2 -- he chooses two locutions that rhyme: tohu va bohu. It is no coincedence that they compliment each other aurally. This should give us some clue as to the author's intent for Genesis 1 and 2.

I'll let your imagination fill in the rest.

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Post Script (8/28): Two quick clarifications -- (1) I am assuming that the author of Genesis was "under the Influence" (of the Holy Spirit), making God a collaborator of sorts; (2) To be precise, I should have mentioned formlessness and emptiness in the correct order.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Dave Robinson said...

Chris,
As always, I'm looking forward to see where you take this little excursion.
DR

10:29 AM  
Blogger derek said...

Chris,

I think that you are maybe onto something regarding the almost "poetic" feel of Genesis 1. I personally believe that modern man's need for chronological precision will go unmet here, because the author is trying to teach us something of the sovereignty of God.

The sad part is that we assume that such a teaching cannot be wrapped in such beautiful, pleasing to the ear language!

12:03 AM  

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