Tuesday, May 6, 2008


So, I am rereading bits of Brueggemann and discussing it with you lot in order to begin an assessed exegesis, and no - before you tell me – “the Bible is the inerrant word of God” does NOT count as Biblical exegesis and will not gain me any marks nor count towards a master’s degree.

Brueggemann makes a number of key points in Chapter 2:

• He describes the Creation stories as Religious Myth i.e.: a reiterated liturgical form and poetic narrative which has grown out of a pre-Judaic cultural and religious series of stories, most notably Babylonian. It has become a solemn, stately, ordered and symmetrical account and is more like a liturgical antiphon than a narrative.

• These, together with the Flood myth and the Tower of Babel myth tell of a creation recalcitrant and resistant to God’s good intentions. “This deep elemental disorder, narratively instigated by the serpent and rooted in disobedience is enacted as human violence.”

• “The sum of these narrative parts constitutes a remarkable theological statement. What my have been various “myths of origin” is now transposed into a theological statement of divine judgement and divine rescue. ….This material is no longer interested in origins….rather, the text is an attestation of the main themes of Israel’s faith in God.”

• The first eleven chapters of Genesis, then, illustrate that the will and purpose of the Creator God is sovereign, but that sovereignty is deeply and categorically under assault from the outset.

• Gen 1.27 shows that “male and female” are together in “God’s image”.

• There is no theology of the Fall in Genesis 1-11. We owe our theology of the Fall to the interpretive authority of St. Paul in Romans 5, St. Augustine, Luther and Milton, even though the textual tradition of the Old Testament does not refer again to Genesis 3. “To be sure, the prophetic teaching of Hosea, Jeremiah and Ezekiel assert that their contemporaries are hopelessly locked into recalcitrance against God; but nowhere in the Old Testament is that judgement articulated beyond existential disappointment about contemporaries.”

These are the points which particularly struck me. I won’t go on about the genealogies, nor the strange interlude of the “sons of God and the daughters of men”, but the key thing for me – and I have been very challenged by these readings – has been the idea of “imaginative remembering” and of a sense that, as the Pentateuch reaches its final form in the sixth century exile, the claim that the world belongs to the God of Israel is a mighty and daring alternative to the dominant and easily visible claims that the world is dominated by Babylonian gods. It achieves this claim by subverting Babylonian material for its own ends.