In what ways are the writings of an ancient people and their perception of God relevant to us?
Old Testament Reading: Genesis 1:1-5
For Sunday, Jan. 8, 2012: Year B—Baptism of Our Lord
What a job Moses had.
I mean, can you imagine if you got the job to write the story of creation, the beginning of everything, the world, life, and humanity?
The Whole Enchilada?
I am saying it was Moses who wrote the story because that is what the tradition says. I am sure it probably wasn’t Moses, but tradition says Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible.
I am sure, one could wonder how Moses was able to conclude his last book with the story of his own death and burial, but that is a minor question, compared to the many others his work brings up.
I wonder—did God ask Moses to write the books? God did tell him to write down the Law, right? That is, I guess, according to Moses God told him to write down the Law. But, did God ask him to write the rest of it?
Did God come to Moses and say, “I really like what you did with the Ten Commandments, but I was wondering if you could expand it a little bit?”
Moses says, “Sure what do you have in mind; you want something like the eleventh commandment? We could do, like, an eleven through seventeen, or even twenty-five? Whatever you want, or maybe I’ll go into more detail on one through ten, kind of flesh them out a little.”
God’s like, “No, I was thinking more along the lines of, well sort of a history, like maybe from the beginning of time until now? I know it’s a lot to ask, but I was just thinking maybe somebody should be writing some of this down. Just give it a shot, write a draft and will see where it goes from there.”
Maybe at first it didn’t seem that difficult. I can see Moses sitting down to write and the first part coming pretty easily…
“Let’s see, ‘In the beginning….’ Yeah, I like it. In the beginning….”
Of course that’s where it starts to get hard.
“In the beginning…. In the beginning, God…. Yeah, yeah, yeah! In the beginning God was around, right? God was thinking, maybe I should make some stuff.”
But Moses had to explain everything. He had to explain, the creation of the world, animals, the sky, the sea, humankind.
You can tell by the time he gets to people, that the responsibility to explain is getting complcated. It’s not just the reality of the existence of people; but also, how we got to be the way we are.
This brings up, for instance, how humans are different than animals—what is that all about? What Moses comes up with is pretty remarkable or, some might say, unbelievable.
The Hardest Question
Reading the beginning of our Holy Book seems like a good time to revisit exactly what kind of book we think we have. If the Hebrew Bible is the writings of an ancient people and their perception of God’s interaction with them, as well as the ordering and governing of their culture, in what way is it relevant to us?