Genesis speaks of beginnings: God’s creation; the beginning of humanity; the beginning of sin; the beginning of salvation; and the beginning of our story. It is a literary tour de force that makes all other creation stories pale in comparison.
The opening scene spans Chapters 1: 1 - 2: 3. In this scene God creates all that is, simply by speaking it into existence. During the first half of creation, God creates space: on the first day he creates light, and he separates the light from darkness; on the second day, he creates earth and sky, and he separates them from one another; and on the third day he moves the waters on earth to expose dry ground.
During the second half of creation, God fills the spaces he has created: on the second half of the third day, he fills the dry ground with vegetation; on the fourth day, he fills the sky with sun, moon and stars; on the fifth day, he fills the waters on earth with fish, and the sky above with birds; and on the sixth day he fills the ground with animals. Closing day six, God creates humanity—the subject of our story. And on the seventh day, God rests, his creation complete, perfect and “very good.”
Like William Blake’s “Ancient of Days” kneeling on a cloud and marking out creation with a compass, we view the opening chapter of Genesis from a divine perspective: all is symmetry, balance and harmony...
William Blake. “Ancient of Days,” Europe a Prophecy, copy K
(relief etching with hand coloring), 1794.
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge University.
But there is much more to the story! This is Dr. Creasy's definitive teaching of Genesis, and it lays the foundation for everything to come.
Lesson #1: An Introduction to Genesis
Pyramid of Pharaoh Pepi II, 6th Dynasty, later Old Kingdom (c. 2284-2216 B.C.)
As scripture scholars and many students are aware, every ancient culture has a “creation story.” For example, the ancient Egyptians understood the god Atum, the source and substance of all the elements and forces of the world, to have self-engendered from the primordial waters of chaos, and out of loneliness he created his son Shu god of the air (the atmosphere between earth and sky), and Tefnut, goddess of moisture (the dew, mist and rain that dwell between earth and sky): an Egyptian trinity, of sorts. Shu and Tefnut, curious about the welter and waste that surrounded them went off to explore, and becoming lost, Atum sent the fiery Eye of Ra, personified as a sun disk, to search for them. The tears of joy he shed upon their return were the first human beings. It’s a lovely story, one version inscribed inside the pyramid of Pepi II of the Sixth Dynasty (24th century B.C.), nearly half a millennium before the Genesis story.
Creation myths address in poetic form fundamental issues of the human condition: how did the earth, seas, sky, sun, moon, stars . . . and us get here? Why do we witness duality—light/dark, up/down, male/female, good/evil? How do we know what we know? What is our purpose? What is our relationship to whoever or whatever created us? What is our ultimate destiny? Such stories begin as oral tales in preliterate cultures, and they develop over generations, indeed, over millennia, finally achieving written form as an accretion of traditions, fragments stitched together, shaped and polished over time.
Genesis is no exception, and in this opening lesson we explore how Genesis reached its finished form—what we might call its final redacted version—and we look closely at the literary nature of Genesis, as well as at its purpose as the first book of the Bible.
Lesson #2: “In the beginning . . .” (Genesis 1: 1 – 2: 25)
Having explored how Genesis reached its final redacted version, we engage the creation story from a literary perspective, recognizing it as the opening movement in what we might call the “primeval chapters” of Genesis (chapters 1-11), not an historical, scientific account of creation, but a poetical, “mythopoeic” account, an account that differs from “mythology” in that, although it consists of multiple strands of oral tradition developed over countless centuries by countless voices, those strands are expertly trimmed, stitched and woven into a deliberate literary artifice, a polished gem with its origins in the distant past, but a past that sets the trajectory for the future, a past from which will emerge a family that takes center stage in the drama of redemption.
Lesson #3: Sin Enters the World (Genesis 3: 1 – 6: 6)
William Blake. God Judging Adam (relief etching with ink and watercolor on paper), 1795.
Tate Britain, London.
Every creation story grapples with how evil enters the world. In the Egyptian creation story, the primordial god Atum creates his two children, Shu god of the air and Tefnut, goddess of moisture. They in turn beget two children: Geb, god of the earth, and Nut goddess of the sky. Geb and Nut then beget four children: Osiris, god of the afterlife; Isis, sister-wife of Osiris, goddess of children and protector of the dead; Set, the war-like god of storms, disorder and violence; and Nephthys, the sister-wife of Set. In Egyptian mythology, Set murders his brother Osiris, dismembers him and usurps his throne, establishing an evil, unrighteous reign. Meanwhile, Isis gathers up the butchered pieces of Osiris, and through her divine power resurrects Osiris from the dead. The resurrected Osiris and Isis then beget Horus, the falcon-headed god who ultimately defeats the evil Set, becomes king and restores order and righteousness to Egypt.
In Genesis, the primordial God Elohim “formed man out of the dust of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life” (Genesis 2: 7). God then made “a helper suitable to him,” a woman [‘ishsha] built from “the rib that he had taken from the man [‘ish]” (2: 22) “and the two of them became one body” (2: 24) and they lived happily together in a perfect world, in the “garden in Eden” (2: 8) . . . until the Serpent appears, introducing evil and sin into the world, and conflict into our story.
Lesson #4: Inevitable Consequences (Genesis 6: 7 – 11: 26)
With evil and sin in the world, inevitable consequences follow. Humanity—indeed, all of creation—begins a downward spiral. By Genesis 6: 5 “the Lord saw how great the wickedness of human beings was on earth, and how every desire that their heart conceived was always nothing but evil, [and] the Lord regretted making human beings on the earth, and his heart was grieved.”
So, God resolves to destroy the creation he had made, flooding it by opening the heavens above and seas beneath, saving only one family and two of each creature he had made, male and female. With the flood, God washes the board clean and he gives humanity a second chance.
But once again, humanity sins.
Lesson #5: The Plan of Redemption (Genesis 11: 27 – 14:24)
In Lesson #5 we leave the mythopoeic past of Genesis 1-11, and we move toward the future with stories of the patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. These are stories of family, vivid portrayals of domestic life with its profound love and crippling hatred, deep compassion and seething jealousies, burning ambition and searing failures, brutal murder and heartbreaking sacrifices, stories that play out on the very real stage of history, rooted in a land dominated by tribal rivalries and governed by a code of honor and shame.
These are stories of immense complexity and ambiguity that define an insignificant people who will move to center stage in God’s plan of redemption, a plan that will affect not only them and their descendants, but all of humanity.
Lesson #6: Of Covenants and Concubines (Genesis 15: 1 – 17: 27)
Returning from Egypt with great wealth, Abraham also brings with him the beautiful and exotic Hagar, servant girl to Sarah—and concubine to Abraham. Life becomes very complicated in Abraham’s tent! Although God had made a covenant with Abraham in Genesis 12 that involved both property and people—land stretching from the Euphrates River to Egypt and more descendants than the stars in the sky or the sand on the seashore—the promised people have not yet materialized . . . and Abraham is 90 years old; Sarah, 80. Abraham had, however, fathered Ishmael by Hagar, complicating the covenant . . . not to mention Abraham’s domestic life!
Tensions rise; jealousies simmer; resentment boils. In Lesson #6 the light of God’s promise swirls with the dreadful darkness of the human condition, a destructive cyclone of surging motives and emotions.
Lesson #7: Fire and Brimstone (Genesis 18: 1 – 19: 38)
John Martin. The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (oil on canvas), 1852.
Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne, England
With tensions rising, three visitors come to Abraham and Sarah under the great tree of Mamre, and one of the visitors informs Abraham that Sodom and Gomorrah have sunk to such depths of depravity that God is about to destroy the cities and everyone in them. Abraham steps forward and negotiates with God for his nephew Lot and his family who live in Sodom: if there are five righteous men in Sodom, God agrees not to destroy it.
But Sodom is toast.
Lot and his two daughters escape, but in the end the family sinks into seduction, sex and incest. I’ll bet you didn’t know all that was in the Bible!
Lesson #8: The Birth of Isaac (Genesis 20: 1 – 21: 34)
God has taken his good old time about fulfilling his covenant with Abraham, the promise that Abraham’s descendants will be numbered like “the stars of the sky and the sand on the seashore.” Abraham is now 100 years old and Sarah is 90, and they still are childless. But lo and behold, Sarah becomes pregnant (an unwelcome image to ponder!) and gives birth to a son, Isaac, through whom the plan of redemption will be fulfilled. With the introduction of Sarah’s son in the family, tensions reach a fever pitch between Abraham and Sarah, Hagar and her son Ishmael.
Finally, at Sarah’s insistence, Abraham casts out Hagar and his eldest son, Ishmael.
Lesson #9: Isaac on the Altar (Genesis 22: 1 – 23: 20)
Caravaggio. Sacrifice of Isaac (oil on canvas), c. 1603.
Uffizi Gallery, Florence.
Abraham’s long-awaited son, Isaac, plays a key role in God’s plan of redemption: the covenant moves through him, not Ishmael. But in Genesis 22, God says to Abraham: “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering.” This is a stunning demand! What are we to make of it?
The sacrifice of Isaac story is fraught with ambiguity and narrative gaps. Indeed, the German literary critic Erich Auerbach observes in his classic Mimesis: the Representation of Reality in Western Literature, that the narrative strategy employed in this story—a strategy of creating deliberate ambiguity and narrative gaps—demands that readers bring their own interpretation to the text, constantly reevaluating and revising it, as active participants in the narrative world of the text.
This is very sophisticated story telling!
Lesson #10: Isaac and Rebekah, a Love Story (Genesis 24: 1 – 25: 18)
If God’s plan of redemption and his covenant with Abraham is to be fulfilled, Isaac needs a wife and children. But at 40 years old he is still single, living at home, a failure to launch. We need a plan, a matchmaker. And we need one quickly.
Lesson #11: The Terrible Twins (Genesis 25: 19 – 27: 46)
Literature abounds with twins: Romulus and Remus, Artemis and Apollo, Castor and Pollux . . . the Bobbsey twins. In Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, when Antonio discovers the fraternal twins, Sebastian and Viola, he exclaims: “How have you made division of yourself? An apple cleft in two is not more twin than these two creatures” (V, i, 215-217). And who can forget the creepy Grady twins in Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining?
Nearly always, twins spell trouble!
With the marriage of Isaac and Rebekah, the plan of redemption moves forward and Rebekah gives birth to twins, Esau and Jacob. These terrible twins struggle even in the womb. The covenant promise will move through the younger son Jacob, but not until after a great deal of deceit and mischief wreak havoc.
Lesson #12: Jacob on the Run (Genesis 28: 1 – 30: 24)
William Blake. Jacob’s Dream (pen, ink and watercolor), 1805.
British Museum, London.
When Esau threatens to kill his brother Jacob, Rebekah tricks Isaac into sending Jacob to her home in Haran for a short time, until the heat of Esau’s anger cools. Short time turns to long as Jacob settles into uncle Laban’s home and into the arms of Rachael, Laban’s beautiful younger daughter.
Lesson #13: Conflict and Strife Abound (Genesis 30: 25 – 31: 54)
Fourteen years have passed since Jacob’s mother, Rebekah, had sent him to Haran to protect him from his brother Esau, who had vowed to kill him. During fourteen years on the run, Jacob had acquired Leah and Rachel as his wives, along with their servant girls, Zilpah and Bilhah. Combined, the four women have given him eleven sons and one daughter, as his concubines.
Yet, during all that time, Jacob had worked for Laban as an indentured servant, exchanging work as a shepherd to pay the bride price for Leah and Rachel and to pay for their room and board. And during that time, Laban had changed his arrangement with Jacob ten times. For every step that Jacob got ahead, it seemed that Laban dragged him back two.
Now, it’s time for Jacob and his family to strike out on their own, to leave Laban and head back home to Canaan. But before they go, Jacob needs to even the score.
Lesson #14: The Chickens Come Home to Roost (Genesis 32: 1 – 34: 31)
After making a covenant with Laban, Jacob and his family move southwest, from the hills of Gilead toward Bethel in the central mountain range.
Twenty years earlier, Jacob’s twin brother Esau, whom Jacob had deceived multiple times, stealing both his birthright and his blessing, had sworn to kill Jacob. Now, as Jacob travels with his family toward Bethel, Esau—accompanied by four hundred armed men—is heading north to intercept his brother!
Lesson #15: A Tale of Woe (Genesis 35: 1 – 38: 30)
As we look back at the stories we’ve studied so far a serious problem has taken root between husband and wife, parents and children: 1) Abraham loved Ishmael, but Sarah loved Isaac more; 2) Isaac loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob more; in this lesson Jacob loves Joseph, son of Rachael, more than all his other sons.
Trouble is brewing in the tent and the pot is about to boil over! Jacob sends Joseph out to the fields to spy on his brothers who are tending the sheep. The brothers see him coming (how could they miss him, strutting like a little peacock in his “coat of many colors”); they beat him; strip him naked; drop him in a cistern; and he’s sold into slavery in Egypt. Although a simple story of sibling rivalry, it is far more complex than it seems, filled with hidden twists and turns, shame, guilt, regret and simmering vengeance.
Once again, ambiguity and narrative gaps prove crucial to reading our story.
Lesson #16: The Fortunate Son (Genesis 39: 1 – 41: 57)
Although a slave in Egypt, young Joseph is handsome, smart . . . and he always lands on his feet. In the course of three chapters, 17-year old Joseph rises from a newly-sold slave to become manager of Potiphar’s household; in a stunning reversal, he is fired and ends up in prison, accused of assaulting Potiphar’s wife; within a few years Joseph becomes head trustee of the prison; and in twenty years, by the time he is 37 years old, Joseph rises to the position of “Prime Minister” of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh himself. Twenty years pass in our story and Joseph has done quite well for himself.
But what about his brothers?
Lesson #17: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? (Genesis 42: 1 – 43: 34)
Joseph is “Prime Minister” of Egypt; he is married to Asenath, the High Priest of Heliopolis’ daughter; he has two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim; and Pharaoh treats Joseph as one of his own family: by any measure, Joseph is wildly successful. He has long since forgotten the betrayal that brought him to Egypt, and he has long since forgotten the father who never came looking for him.
Until his brothers show up at the front door.
Lesson #18: The Truth Will Out (Genesis 44: 1 – 45: 28)
When Joseph sees his brothers standing before him, a storm of emotions surges in his heart: anger, vengeance, self-righteousness, longing, love, hate . . .. These are the brothers who betrayed him. These are the brothers who hated him. These are the brothers who now need his help in a time of famine. The anger and heartbreak, love and loss that Joseph buried deep inside for twenty years erupt. Nowhere else in Scripture do we have such a kaleidoscope of emotions on full display.
Lesson #19: Family Reunion (Genesis 46: 1 – 47: 26)
Jacob has not seen his son Joseph in twenty-two years. At seventeen Joseph went missing, and all the evidence suggested that he had been killed; his brothers inferred as much when they presented Jacob with Joseph’s bloody “coat of many colors.” Jacob mourned the loss of his son deeply; he never truly recovered from the loss. And now, as an old man, Jacob learns that Joseph is alive; and not just alive, but “Prime Minister” of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh!
The family reunion that follows in Egypt is poignant, tear-stained . . . and very funny.
Lesson #20: In a Far Country (47:27 – 50: 26)
In a brilliant conclusion, Genesis brings Jacob’s entire family together in Egypt, seventy people in all, where Jacob blesses his sons, blessings that foreshadow future events. Recall that God said to Adam, “You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Genesis 2: 17). Adam did eat of the tree, and he did, indeed, die. As the story of Genesis begins with birth, so it ends with death: in Genesis 50: 26 we read, “So Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten. And after they embalmed him, he was placed in a coffin in Egypt.” Our story comes full circle, but instead of enjoying eternal life in the Garden of Eden, the Israelites are in Egypt, poised on the brink of slavery, far from where they belong.
In a very important sense, Genesis is the opening chapter in the sprawling narrative of Scripture; it launches a story whose trajectory will span 2,000 years, involving unforgettable heroes and villains, rascals and rogues, and ending with the redemption not just of Israel but also of the entire human family.
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Analytics. Logos may use one or more third party analytics programs, including but not limited to Google Analytics, to help analyze how users utilize the Services. Google Analytics does not collect any Personal Information. Google Analytics uses a single first-party cookie containing an anonymous identifier to distinguish users and to collect standard Internet log information and visitor behavior information. The information generated by the cookie about your use of the Services (including IP address) is transmitted to Google. This information is used to create statistical reports on user activity for Logos. For more information about Google Analytics, including opt-out options, visit the Google Analytics privacy page at https://www.google.com/analytics/learn/privacy.html.
Use of Information Collected
Our primary purpose for collecting Personal Information and Aggregate Information (collectively “User Information”) is to provide you with products and services you request. We may also use your User Information for the following purposes:
· to provide services and customer support that you may request;
· to correct problems, resolve disputes, and collect fees
· improving and optimizing our Services;
· to inform you about service updates and promotional offers;
· to send newsletters and marketing materials;
· to communicate with you about enrolling in one of our Bible study programs;
· to communicate preferences which you have indicated;
· to customize the advertising and content you see;
· to verify information; or
· for any other purpose disclosed at the point of collection.
Information We Share
Logos does not sell, rent, or trade Personal Information to any third party. Additionally, Logos does not disclose any Personal Information to any third party for that party’s own marketing purposes. However, Logos may disclose Personal Information to third party service providers hired to perform internal business functions on our behalf. Logos may also share Aggregate Information with third parties for advertising and promotional purposes. Further, we may disclose Personal Information to government/regulatory agencies as Logos deems reasonably necessary to comply with applicable legal and regulatory requirements.
User Disclosures. Some Personal Information is disclosed as a matter of course as a result of your use of the Services. Any Personal Information shared using our Services or on another website (such as Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Instagram, or Twitter) may become public information. You should exercise caution when disclosing information to third parties or in public forums. Content shared between users of our Services, including advice and opinions, represent the views and are the responsibility of those who post the content. We do not necessarily endorse, support, verify, or agree with the content posted. If you have any questions or comments about any content posted using our Services, please contact us at the address below.
USERS ASSUME ALL RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY LOSS OF PRIVACY OR OTHER HARM RESULTING FROM THEIR OWN VOLUNTARY DISCLOSURE OF PERSONAL INFORMATION IN PUBLIC FORUMS.
Business Transitions. Logos reserves the right to transfer all User Information in its possession in the event Logos goes through a business transition, such as a merger, being acquired by another company, or selling a portion of its assets. Similarly, your User Information may be passed on to a successor in interest in the event of a reorganization, reconstruction, liquidation, bankruptcy or administration. Users will not be notified of any such change of ownership or control of their User Information.
The Services are intended for adult use only and is not directed towards children, minors or anyone under the age of 18. If you are under the age of 13, you are not authorized to provide us with any personally identifying information. If the parent or guardian of a child under 13 believes that the child has provided us with any personal data, the parent or guardian of that child should contact us at the address below and ask to have this personal information deleted from our files. We appreciate your cooperation with this federally mandated requirement.
Links To Third Party Sites
No transmission of data over the Internet is guaranteed to be completely secure. Therefore, we cannot guarantee that your submissions to the Services, any content residing on our servers, or any transmissions from our server will be completely secure. It may be possible for third parties to intercept or access transmissions or private communications unlawfully. Any such transmission is done at your own risk.
Accessing and Updating Personal Information
Additional Information for European Union Users
Data controller. Logos Educational Corporation of P.O. Box 420398, San Diego CA 92142 is the data controller for registration, billing, and other account information that we collect from users in the European Union.
Accessing and correcting your personal data. You have the right to access and correct the personal information that Logos holds about you. This right may be exercised by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
· the transfer of your data to a data controller and data processors located in countries, including the United States, which do not have data protection laws that provide the same level of protection that exists in countries in the European Economic Area. Your consent is voluntary, and you may revoke your consent by opting out at any time. Please note that if you opt-out, we may no longer be able to provide you our Services.
· us sharing your personal data with relevant persons working for service providers who assist us to provide our Services; and
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