Thursday, November 25, 2021

Reading from the ashes


Reading Genesis 1 in a post-Brexit pandemic.

While drawing on a centuries-long oral tradition, the book of Genesis is an exilic and even post-exilic text, a work of making meaning in a context of enormous upheaval.

If Eden (chapters 2 & 3) is Babylon, Genesis 1 is centred on Jerusalem. This is not the creation of the world, but in a world that has become formless and for whom God acts to bring order out of chaos, Genesis 1 plants us firmly in the ashes of Jerusalem besieged and plundered by Nebuchadnezzar II.

Chronologically, it follows on from Jeremiah’s Lamentations over Jerusalem. In the unfolding vision of a sun and moon and stars, and the reestablishment of a flourishing plant and animal kingdom, the text actively engages with texts such as Ezra, Nehemiah, and Haggai, in which God raises up governors and high priests to give light to the people, and the restoration passages in texts such as Isaiah, Joel and Amos, which paint pictures of a new world centred on a restored Jerusalem.

What bearing might this have on how we read Genesis 1 in a UK ruled by disaster capitalists on the make, or a world where leaders make promises on tackling climate crisis they have no intention of keeping?


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