In His Own Image and Likeness: Humanity, Divinity, and Monotheism

By W. Randall Garr | Go to book overview

PREFACE

The book of Genesis begins with two distinct though interrelated narratives. The first is the Priestly cosmogony (Gen 1: 1–2: 3).1

In this first section, we are vouchsafed a sublime vision of the totality
of creation, portrayed with great synthetic power, which unifies into a
clear and comprehensible order all the endlessly changing categories
of existence; we perceive there, enthroned on high, the Idea that rises
above the accidental, the temporal and the finite, and depicts for us with
complete simplicity of expression the vast expanses of the universe to
their utmost limits. God reveals Himself as a transcendental Being
dwelling in His supernal abode.2

The second is the Yahwist story of the human race (Gen 2: 4–3: 24), “a more intense reflection upon the implications of creation for the destiny of humanity.”3

An interest conspicuously prominent in the entire narrative is the desire
to explain the origin of existing facts of human nature, existing customs and
institutions
, especially those which were regarded as connected with the
loss by man of his primaeval innocence. Thus among the facts explained
are, for instance, in ch. ii. the distinction of the sexes, and the institution
of marriage, and in ch. iii. the gait and habits of the serpent, the
subject condition (in the ancient world) of woman, the pain of child-
bearing, and the toilsomeness of agriculture.4

The first narrative focuses on cosmogony; the second, on humanity.5

1 For this delimitation of the cosmogony, see Bernhard W. Anderson, “A Stylistic Study of the Priestly Creation Story,” in Canon and Authority: Essays in Old Testament Religion and Theology (ed. George W. Coats and Burke O. Long; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1977) 159–161 (repr. as “The Priestly Creation Story: A Stylistic Study,” in From Creation to New Creation: Old Testament Perspectives [OBT; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1994] 52–54). See also §0.5 with n. 65.

2 U. Cassuto, The Documentary Hypothesis and the Composition of the Pentateuch: Eight Lectures (trans. Israel Abrahams; Jerusalem: Magnes, 1961 [1941]) 71.

3 Walter Brueggemann, Genesis (Interp; Atlanta: John Knox, 1982) 40.

4 S. R. Driver, 77K Book of Genesis (12th ed.; WC; London: Methuen, 1926) 36 (italics original).

5 Samuel E. Balentine, The Torah's Vision of Worship (OBT; Minneapolis: Fortress, '999) 82

-1-

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