Issues in Genesis – Introduction

The Promise - Jan Vant Hoff
This painting, “The Promise,” is from Dutch painter, Jan van’t Hoff .  Gen 3:15 – “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

 

Genesis has got some issues.  Well, that isn’t really true.  A better way to say this is that I had some issues with Genesis.  They were big ones.  I had them for a long time and a few of those issues were only worked out very recently.  In fairness to me, a lot of people struggle with Genesis…once they actually read it.  There’s some thorny stuff in the first book of our Bible, and we have to work through it if our goal is to understand all the other books that follow.

Genesis is a story filled with people who don’t act right, imagery that doesn’t seem to make sense, and ugly things I just kept thinking God was going to say something about…but He didn’t. 

So I some had issues with Genesis.  They were big ones.

How “Issues in Genesis” Will Work
This series will methodically work through passages in Genesis that caused me difficulty.  By “difficulty,” I mean that I found a passage difficult to understand, difficult to believe, or difficult to reconcile.  I will be sharing passages that I found hard to make sense of.  I will be sharing passages that I found too fantastical or too unbelievable to put my trust in.  I will be sharing passages that made me question whether or not the Bible was the Word of God.  I will be sharing passages that made me fear that God was not good.

As you can see, some of these “difficulties” will be heavier than others.  They were all, however, difficult.  I had “issues” with all of them.  Hence, the title of the series.

But one thing I promise to you:  I have found resolution for ALL of these issues in Genesis.  That is why I’m doing this.  I want you to find that resolution, too.  It’s there.  God is good.  God is trustworthy.  This is His book.  It is trustworthy, too.  It tells the truth, and the truth is that God is for us, not against us.

1.) I will identify the passage from Genesis that gave me difficulty.

2.) I will walk you through reading the passage.

3.) I will identify, in detail, the difficulty that this passage raises.

4.) I will give you little “homework” assignments to read, consider, look up, pray over, or work out in some way between posts.

5.) I will show you my own resolution to the difficulty and I will explain to you each step of my thinking on it and my current positions on what the text says, what it means, and why.

That’s how this will work, and sometimes it might take only one post.  Most of them will likely require multiples because of the limitations inherent to blogging in chunks of 2,000 words at a time.

Why Are These Posts Always So Long?
Every post in this series will be long, and that is out of necessity.  Don’t be daunted by it.  You can deal with each post and each passage of scripture one small piece at a time.  You don’t have to conquer it all at once, and you probably shouldn’t try to.  I surely didn’t.  When I was working through these issues in Genesis, it took me years (plural) to find a place of peace and understanding with some of them.  My issue with Lot and his daughters?  I read that for the first time in January of 2017, and I didn’t fully come to terms with it until last week.  That’s two years and 10 months, for those who didn’t do the math already.  You picking up what I’m putting down, here?

So.

Some of these passages will have clearer resolution than others.  You might come to a different conclusion than I have about some of these passages, in the end.  A properly-trained scholar might read one of my posts and correct something I’ve gotten totally backward.  All of that is possible.  The Bible doesn’t always have a neat and tidy answer.  I think this is by design, and it no longer frustrates or upsets me.  More importantly, it no longer scares me or threatens my faith.

Patience will be required.  Mental effort will be required.  It isn’t always fun or exciting, but it certainly can be in moments of discovery.  You have to commit to it.  This is what loving God with your mind looks like. 

I promise you that I will do my very best to be accurate, thorough, complete, and honest with you about each of these difficult passages.  If they could all be summed up and “fixed” for people with a 500-word essay, no one would struggle with the Bible.

So be realistic about what working through these passages of scripture will require from you, okay?  If it were easy…you wouldn’t be here.

4af86e90-60e7-402f-ad1d-bd46e14ac3cd-e1573626819782.jpeg
Taken by my daughter on our way home from school a few months ago.

 

Mrs. Nix Has Limitations
I want to remind you of something before I start in on this, though.  I am not a scholar.  Well…I’m very scholarly in my nature and scholarly curiosity is in my bones, so if you know me personally and you’re reading this, you might be doing that thing where you start arguing with me.  “But, Amy, you’re the nerdiest person I know!”  Some of you might have even said that out loud.  But, guys?  I love you.  My status as an unrepentant book nerd is not what I mean. 

What I mean is that I am not a Bible scholar.  I’m not anything even remotely close to a Bible scholar.  There are about 20 chapters in Jeremiah I haven’t even read, yet, and some of the smaller books?  Well, I’ve only read some of them one time, late at night, when I was too sleepy to have any business still being up.  Ask me about Zephaniah; any question, doesn’t matter which one because the answer is, “I don’t know!”  I can see that I read it, and I’ve got notes in the margins, but I don’t remember reading Zephaniah, and I don’t remember writing those notes, and I don’t even know what it’s about!  I can tell you that book belongs to the genre “minor prophets.”  Boom.  That’s it.  So.  Perspective, y’all.  Perspective.

I have zero degrees or certificates–I don’t even have a participation trophy–from any program of formal study in the Bible or Bible-adjacent disciplines.  I’m just a lady who loves Jesus on the internet.  Keep my advice and the commentary I provide on this blog in its proper place, okay?

I Have A High View of Scripture – You Need to Know that Going In
I always say that I have a “high view of scripture,” but since actual Bible scholars can’t seem to share their notes and agree on a concise definition of what that actually means, I’ll have to give you a bit more.

I believe that the Bible began long before it was written.  The people told one another stories for a long, long time before anyone took up writing.  The Bible as we know it, of course, is a book.  I believe that it was written by men (and maybe some women, but it’s not terribly likely, it doesn’t matter all that much, and we’ll never know from this side of eternity, anyway).  I believe these men were chosen by God and inspired by the Holy Spirit.  I believe that the Bible says what both God and the human authors wanted it to say.  People wrote it.  People gathered it together.  People kept it and saved it and preserved it and copied it and translated it and disseminated it down the millennia…and God’s inspiration was hovering over the entire process.  Maybe it still is.

SRT Devotion Page
My Bible – She Reads Truth edition of the Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

The result of that process is that I get to sit here with my beautiful, well-bound, and relatively inexpensive copy of the Holy Bible right next to me on my desk in 2019.  If anything happens to it, I can have another one exactly like it delivered to my door by tomorrow.  It is printed in my native tongue and translated with the very best scholarship from the most reliable manuscripts we have ever had access to on this earth.

I love this book.  It is God’s book, and this Bible on my desk is the product of roughly 3,500 years of cooperation between God and humanity.

I refuse to get down in the philosophical mud and argue with people over the exact definition of inerrancy.  It’s God’s book.  It doesn’t lie.  It tells the truth.  It is complete.  It tells the unified story of who God is and what He has done in an arc that follows from Genesis through Revelation.  It is His Word.

That’s what I believe, and that’s what I mean by a “high view” of scripture.

Stop for a minute.

Go get your own Bible if you don’t have it with you.  I’ll wait.

(I’m serious, my dude.  Go and get it.  I need you to have it physically with you for this part.  Not your tablet.  Go and get a hardcopy of the Bible.)

Look at it.  Do you remember where you got it?  Did someone give it to you or did you pick it out yourself?

Hold it in your hands.  Seriously.  Pick the book up and hold it.

Now listen to me:  That you own this book and can read this book in your own language; that you can know with reasonable scientific certainty that it contains exactly the same words our Lord and Savior read when he dwelt among us on this earth; that you can know it is witnessed by more than 25,000 extant pieces of ancient manuscript; that men and women have labored and died to copy it, hide it, protect it, translate it, and preserve it for more than two thousand years…for you.

Oh, my friend…just sit with that for a minute.

You are holding a literal miracle in your hands. 

Allow yourself to remember that, to acknowledge that, and to feel it every once in a while.  The incredible and ludicrous improbability of this Bible…is glorious.

The answers are there.  Keep looking.

See you next time.


4 thoughts on “Issues in Genesis – Introduction

  1. Hi Amy, I’m happy to see new posts from you! I’ve also been studying some Genesis, and in case you haven’t heard of it, you might enjoy listening to a podcast called “BEMA”. I have some minor personal quibbles with it but it has introduced me to some new aspects of the text. (maybe try episode 22 – that one was kind of a summary so if it piques your interest, START OVER from the beginning!) anyway, nice to see you again.

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