I am reminded of this again this morning as I get ready for today's Bible study class at church. In response to many statements of "I don't know anything about the Bible," it was clear that beginning at the beginning was not a bad idea. Bible 101, here we come.
For my preparation I am using a commentary from the Jewish Publication Society, a favorite source for study when I was in seminary. And frankly, when studying a book written for the Jewish faith it makes good sense not to complicate its study by using Christian sources whose interpretive lens has a very distinct agenda.
Holy Cow. Literally. There is so much more to Genesis than the fall from grace, pretty rainbows and musical storytelling about Joseph's couture coat. For instance. God created man. The hebrew word (adam, accent on the second syllable) that is translated into man does not refer to gender, it refers to the human race. Let's put that one in our pipe to smoke for a while and see what sorts of implications emerge.
And here's another tidbit. When God is creating the world we don't tend to take notice of what God isn't creating. Like angels. It is to them that the text refers when it says that man is made, "in our image." The Christian faith points to the use of the plural as refering to Jesus. Hmmm. Makes you stop and think, eh? What else is the Church messing with in the story it tells? More than we want to know is my guess.
So what do we do with insights like these? Chew on them. Ask questions. Consider the implications. If in doing so it changes the way we look at the Christian Story, so be it. That is not a bad thing. My early notions of the Story have undergone all sorts of permutations, and rather than push me away revelations like these serve to draw me in. The Story has power because and in spite of the details, and if I have learned anything in the 20 years that I have been on this journey it is that faith doesn't lie in the details--the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The more I learn the more mysterious it becomes, and I have always loved a mystery.
As I have heard at least one giant in the faith say, the opposite of faith is not doubt, it is certainty. Here's to mystery.