Archive for January, 2012

We sometimes believe God would listen to us if we could just calm things down a little and finish up the dusting.

The patriarchal narratives of Genesis offer no support to such an idea. Hagar’s remarkable interaction with Abraham’s God is unruly from start to finish. Yet the son of this servant of Abraham’s wife Sarai is named to honor God’s listening skills and the place of Hagar’s encounter with him after his powers of observation.

Nothing about the story escapes the prevailing unruliness. (more…)


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In the ‘account of Adam’s line’ that appears in Genesis chapter five, the genealogy’s structure assumes the very shape of the human situation.

The summary of each individual’s history begins with life and ends with death, this for a race that the narrative presents as deathless until they rebelled against the Creator who blessed them as soon as he had breathed life into them. An example establishes the pattern:

When Seth had lived 105 years, he became the father of Enosh. And after he became the father of Enosh, Seth lived 807 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Seth lived 912 years, and then he died. (Genesis 5:6–8 NIV)

Modern translations rightly tidy up the flow of things with a subordinate clause (‘When A had lived 105 years …). The Hebrew text itself develops the human rhythm to a more austere beat:

And A lived X years and he engendered B … And all the days of A were Y years, and he died.

Always, he lived. Always he played his role in the sustaining of the race by engendering children. Always, he died. (more…)

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