IV. Exercise: Discuss Genesis 1 as outer history, not the story’s outer history. Rather, discuss it as a literal account as to how creation actually came about. What difficulties do you have in doing so? I know the atheists and non-literalists out there will have an easier time at this, but I think it will be helpful for everyone if you state what each person thinks and why. What’s at stake for you in accepting the story as literal? For those of you who accept Genesis 1 as outer history, i.e., literally, do you have any difficulties in doing so? Why or why not? Why do you accept it as literal? What’s at stake for you in not seeing it as literal? Giving this account, I think, will also be instructive for everyone in the group. Now, consider Genesis 1 as inner history – trying to look with, rather than at, those who wrote it. Is there anything in the story, not taking it as a literal account, that jumps out at you – either in a positive or negative way? Does it “speak” to you on any level or connect with you on any level? How so? Considering the inner history, it will also be helpful to think about Genesis 1’s actual outer history, what was going on historically at the time in which it was written. Remember: be sensitive to each other. Try to understand each other, remembering we’re at different places in our lives for various reasons.
V. Exercise: Genesis 2 and Genesis 1
A. As you might have guessed at this point, there is a different group of writers for each story.
1. Genesis 1 was put together by the Priestly Code (P), a group who wrote around the 6th century. This group is dubbed the Priestly Code because they are foremost responsible for the ritual instructions and laws (as in Leviticus). This group is also responsible for the lists of genealogies, and records of migration, marriages, etc. They are also the group who authored Genesis 1, whose tone and presentation, consistent with their role, is highly liturgical, relative to the narrative presentation of Genesis 2. Theologically, P tends to adhere to the presentation of God favored by the Elohists (E) and refers to God, initially, not as Yahweh, but Elohim.
2. Genesis 2 was formed by the Yahwists (J), a group who wrote around the 10th century. This group is considered to be the early storytellers who were more interested in relating a thoughtful narrative than presenting a consistent picture of its God, which it typically referred to as YHWH (Yahweh, which means, among other things, “I am who I am”). For this group, however, Yahweh is often presented as an anthropomorphic creature who resembles human beings. The one theological preoccupation (rather theo-political) the Yahwists had was “to establish Israel’s divinely bestowed right to the land of Canaan [i.e., Israel].” J’s presentation of God, by the way, strongly contrasts that provided by another major group of writers, the Elohists (E), who presented God less as a person-like being, rather favoring a more distant, humanly inaccessible interpretation of God. Historical events at this time are sketchy given limited records, a large number of redactions, and the Bible itself being unapologetically “un-historical” in its presentation. What I do know of this time is that it was tumultuous: Saul and king David were on the scene trying to unite and keep together a loose federation of tribes in the area known as Israel – most notably to keep their primary enemies, the Philistines, at bay. The various tribes were actually divided up into two nations that we refer to only as Israel: Judah in the south, within which was Jerusalem, and Israel in the north.
B. Consider the creation of man and woman in both accounts. How are they different? What does each, compared to the other, suggest to you?
C. Consider order of creation in both accounts. How are they similar and different? What does each, compared to the other, suggest to you?
D. Consider the images of God in each: How does God of Genesis 1 seem to you? How does God of Genesis 2 seem to you? How are they different?
E. How does the tone of the stories differ? What seems to be the focus in each story? Are they the same?