Beginning at the Beginning…

With the end of the Fall biblical Holidays (Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkoth) last week millions of Jews and Hebrew oriented non-Jews, including many Christians, began a new cycle of Torah readings this past weekend. The reading for October 17th, this past Sabbath, was Genesis 1:1-6:8. I guess one might call this “beginning again at the Beginning.” However, as I pointed out in a recent post, “Is the Best Known Verse of the Bible Mistranslated?” one need to ask an underlying question–In the beginning of what...? Is Genesis 1:1 about the origins of the universe or is it a hymn, quite sublime in its poetic power, celebrating the ordering of the land and the sky on planet earth making it fit for habitation–or as we would say today, for carbon based DNA life? There is good evidence for the latter.

As many of my readers known, there are two Creation stories in the first three chapters of Genesis. The first runs from 1:1 through 2:3 and the second, focused on a garden in the land called Eden, runs from 2:4-3:24 and actually has a title: These are the Generations of the Skies and the Land. The word translated “generations” is literally “bringing-forths…” Just as with a man and a woman “bringing forth” a child.

There is a lot in that first chapter of Genesis–core principles that get picked up and elaborated throughout the rest of the Bible. One of the major ones is the concept of “The Good Earth.” Historian and “Gardner” Ralph Buntyn recently published an article making use of my new Transparent English Bible translation elaborating this point. I am honored that he found the translation particularly meaningful. The article is really excellent and I highly recommend it.You can read his article here: “The Good Earth,” and you can get your own copy of the TEB translation of Genesis on Kindle or in a quality paperback print edition via Amazon including all its international outlets. The Kindle edition is particularly useful since this Book of Genesis has nearly 1000 notes, and you can access them instantly clicking or hovering over the note number in the text and the note pops up for you to read as you go along.

I have also begun a new weekly interview series titled “Gleanings from Genesis” that is posted on-line, each Thursday morning. You can access these programs, with host Jono Vandor of the site, and my friend and colleague, Hebrew Bible student, Ross Nichols. We really delve into the text and I invite you to follow along. The first few programs are archived here, along with some other discussions I have done on Paul and my book Restoring Abrahamic Faith. We have done five programs so far and will pick up on October 29th after taking a short Fall Break. If you browse the site a bit you will find much more, including discussions of the entire Torah week by week according to the traditional readings or Parashot.


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