May 17, 2010

Examining The Scripture I: Why Keep Repeating Yourself?

This will be the first in my new series Examining The Scriptures-The Old Testament. It is based off of my Old Testament class at school. I will be changing nuances within the text so that it will not be easily borrowed for future references in the class. I will also not include the original questions. Instead I will pose these posts in an ongoing procession of insightful blurbs. I found the insights gleaned from the exegesis I have done too valuable to keep to myself and felt they would best serve God's purpose out in the world. For those from my school, do your own exegesis of the text it will benefit you more. Besides, if the professor sees these answers, he will know where they came from ;) and quite frankly, I don't want to make his job harder.

Like the Berean Jews I am trying to do the noble thing by eagerly examining the Scriptures daily. Unlike the Bereans I already know that the Bible is true and inerrant, I do not need to see if things are so. I do it because I love God's Word. God's Word is truth. I love the Truth. Praise His Holy Name.

Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. ~Acts 17:11

There are repeated phrases in Genesis 1. As we all understand from Jesus Christ's "verily, verily" statements, repetition is in the Bible for a reason. I have learned when God repeats things or emphasizes them, we as readers need to take special note.

"And God" (without the verb attached 24 Times)
"And God said" (6 times)
"And God saw" (7 times)
"It was good" (5 times)
"And it was so" (6 times)
"According to its kind(s)" (4 times)
"According to their kind(s)" (5 times)
"[preposition on/all/of] the Earth" (19 times)

The first thing that comes to my attention about the "and God" statements is that they all have subsequent verbs. God was doing something. God was "speaking", God was "seeing", God was "making". This suggests a few things to me as a reader/believer and my perception of God. First, it shows God as an active God or God that acts in His creation as opposed to a Deistic point of view. I also believe it is why God originally created us and put us in the garden of Eden in Genesis 2:15, it was "to work it and keep it". Why? Because to work was to be like God. This glorified God. It always glorifies God when we attempt to be like Him of mimic Him. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Second, it shows me that the author (Moses) needed to give God anthropomorphic characteristics/actions to describe Him in a manner understandable to me, the finite reader (speaking, seeing, etc). Some other obvious effects of repetition on Genesis 1 and its style are the fact that it shows a sequence of speaking or linear unfolding of events in time: making things into existence, a matter-of-fact statement that it was so, observing them and pronounce judgment on them which as either good or very good.

The "according to their/its kind" statements are also prevalent in Genesis 1. My guess is that this is to convey a deliberateness or specificity of intention or plan. God acted deliberately with a purpose and goal in mind.

The phrase or prepositional statements ending in "the Earth" are the most ubiquitous and are usually but not always the answer most of the time to what God is acting upon or what the verbs are affecting either directly or indirectly whether it be the creature(s) and their/its kind or man himself. As a matter of fact there are very few objects acted upon by God other than the Earth or its inhabitants other than Heaven(s) and light. In the end, this chapter is telling a story. It is a narrative in terms of rhetorical mode. God is the central character and the sequence of events which is unfolding incrementally is the Creation ex-nihilo.

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