Reading Genesis Politically: An Introduction to Mosaic Political Philosophy

By Martin Sicker | Go to book overview

Chapter 1

The Emergence of Man

Perhaps the most fundamental of all the issues the biblical author must deal with is the radical concept of an interactive relationship between God who transcends the universe and man who is confined within it. This concept, which is the foundation of all biblical thought, was quite alien to the pagan mind, which conceived of its gods as beings that existed within the universe. Accordingly, the first task of the biblical author is to disabuse the reader of the pagan notion of deity. He therefore proclaims the transcendence of God by describing Him as Elohim, the plenipotentiary creator of the universe, the physical environment that will constitute the stage upon which human history will be enacted. 1 But, of course, since Elohim is the Creator, He cannot be part of that which He creates. He therefore necessarily transcends the material universe at the same time that He is immanently connected to it as its creator. Moreover, He must also necessarily be the ultimate master of the universe. By definition, Elohim is sovereign of the universe and is therefore free to do with it as He chooses, subject only to His own self-imposed constraints. This concept of divine sovereignty has implications of the greatest importance for the biblical idea of the covenant between God and man and more specifically between God and Israel. The first twenty-five verses of the Book of Genesis are devoted to making these fundamental points unmistakably clear.

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