Monday, January 04, 2010

Gen 12 for Jan 5

(On the one hand, it doesn't seem too strenuous a schedule to read through the Bible in the year set out by the One Year Bible, as we are doing. But if by Jan 5 we are already way past the Fall and the Flood, hitting the Tower of Babel and the call of Abraham, we'll have to say Genesis is a Condensed Book!)

In Genesis 12 we have what many people find to be the most crucial chapter for understanding the Bible, pointing to 12:1-3. For example, one scholar, in the thick of a controversy, challenges us to understand why Galatians 3:29 is the conclusion of an argument for Paul, saying that understanding God's way with the world is dependent on understanding this reason!

Noticing how Genesis 12 reads as a story, a "narrative," scholars say, helps understand 12:10-20. If we taught high school, we would get up there and say things about "reading intelligently," probably getting blank stores for our trouble.

Reading intelligently might get us to ask a question like "why, right after the event of being "spoken to" (12:4)by God, is the story about Abraham's wife there? The story even goes into the exact dialog between Abraham and Pharaoh about it, and Pharaoh says "I took her for my wife." We may well say "how then is 12:2 going to come about, if Sarah belongs to Pharaoh as Pharaoh's wife." Reading a story is good practice in keeping in mind what just was stated, as we read what is currently stated.

What is currently stated -- to whom? Let's remember that the readership is those who themselves are like those who know a secret, that somehow, the "great nation" promised in 12:2 comes about anyway, since "it is us!" The readers know that in this case, they know that the movie doesn't end the way that 12:15 has things.

In what way? Criticize the following summary of 12:10-20: "Immediately after being spoken to by God, Abraham began to fearlessly trust in God's promises by treasuring Sarai so highly as to guard her by his own life if necessary."

Hmm. It seems that reading intelligently is also following the narrative closely enough to notice what actually happens and compare it to what we have just been given enough information to understand what was expected to, rather than what actually, happened.

12:17 "But the Lord struck Pharaoh and his house...." Does a first-time reader expect that? How about a reader of the Exodus generation? :) God is showing His interventionist ways.

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