Opening Up the Bible1
2. Where Did the Bible Come From?
St. Paul Lutheran Church, Cambridge ON
Sunday April 27 2008
we started learning about the Bible
in a series called “Opening Up the Bible.”
-Hopefully you remember me saying
that before the Bible was written down
and gathered into a book,
the Bible was told as stories
shared around a campfire.
-I want each of you
to have your own Bible Book
so that each week
we can add to it
as we learn more about the Bible.
-So for each of you,
I have a booklet
which you can put together at home.
-Adriana and Daniel have already put theirs together
to show you what it will look like....
-Each week I'll give you another page
to put into your Bible Book.
Thank you God, for helping the Church to put together the Bible so that we can learn about you from stories of the past. Thank you for coming to us through the words of the Bible, and help us all want to be met by you in Scripture. Amen.
-Last week we began a sermon series
called “Opening Up the Bible.”
-We noted that we got the Bible
through a long process of discernment and inspiration.
-Stories, traditions, songs, wise sayings, poetry,
and prophetic words
were first told,
and much later written down.
were then laboriously and carefully copied by hand,
Jews and Christians
gradually sifted through the possibilities of writings,
those that would be considered Scripture.
-Those choices, as well,
were laboriously and carefully copied by hand,
circulated, and preserved.
we read translations of these copies.
-And last week in the “Sending Thought”
I suggested that if the translation you read
is still the King James version,
it's probably time that you update your Bible
so that you don't have to translate the translation.
-Hopefully you've brought your favourite Bible
with you to worship this week.
-If not, there's always next Sunday.
-Today we begin looking at highlights throughout
so that we have a good overview of the Bible.
-The title of our Scriptures, “The Bible,”
comes from the Greek word biblia
which means “little scrolls.”
-It refers to the separate rolls of leather parchment
on which the first writings of scripture were written.
-But our Bible is not really a single book;
it's a collection of 66 books.
-It's a library.
-39 of these books are in the Old Testament,
sometimes called the “First Testament,”
meaning First Witness.
-Because this First Testament was written in Hebrew
it is also referred to as “The Hebrew Scriptures.”
-The Old Testament
describes God's relationship with all creation,
and with the Jewish people,
whom God chose for a special relationship.
-The back part of our Bible
is called the “New Testament”,
because these books were originally written in Greek –
the “Greek Scriptures.”
-The Greek Scriptures are made up of 27 books,
many of which were originally letters,
and include four narratives about Jesus:
the 4 Gospels.
-The Greek Scriptures refer to events from the time of Jesus' birth through the next 70 or so years.
-Today we'll start with the first chapters of the
from the book of Genesis,
which means “Beginnings.”
-Before we look at the text of the Bible,
I'd like you to recall what it is that you know
about the biblical version of creation....
-You may remember that the Bible opens
with God's Spirit brooding over a watery chaos....
-You may recollect
that there was a certain order in which God created,
and that creation was accomplished over 6 days
with God resting on the 7th day....
-Try and recall
just how it was that Adam and Eve
fit into the process of creation....
-Now, let's turn to the biblical text.
-Those who have Bibles with them
can turn to Genesis chapter 1 verse 1,
and you'll read that Genesis opens with a watery chaos,
in total darkness,
until God creates the first thing: light.
-The people who told the story
that became the first chapter of Genesis,
lived 3000 years ago,
and viewed the earth as flat,
“with the sky as a bowl-shape,
held up by the mountains”2:
Genesis 1:6-8 (NRSV) tells us:
6 God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. 8 God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.”
-On the third day, begining at verse 9,
land rises up out of the water.
-This is the kind of picture one would get
living in Egypt at the Nile River,
and watching sediment build up in the mouth
of the river
to form the Nile Delta.
-In verse 11,
this newly-risen dry land grows vegetation.
-On the fourth day, starting with verse 14,
God creates stars, sun, and moon –
somehow there was light before the sun was created.
-On the fifth day, God creates sea creatures and birds:
-Day six begins with God creating land animals
and then humans,
who are uniquely created in God's image
as rulers with authority over creation.3
-God gives them every plant for food,
and then rests on the 7th day
according to chapter 2 verse 2.
-In these opening verses of Genesis,
God is presented as a royal figure
so powerful that God simply speaks creation into being.
-The opening scene is watery chaos,
out of which land emerges.
-Sea creatures, birds, and then land animals come next.
-Humans are created last, after all the animals:
humans are, therefore, the crowning glory of creation.
-According to Genesis chapter 1,
humans have God's authority to rule over creation.
-Then a strange thing happens
in the early verses of chapter two.
-Up until now, the Creator has been called “God.”
-But now, part-way through chapter 2 verse 4,
the Creator is suddenly referred to
as “the Lord God.”4
-And God is addressed in that way –
as “the Lord God” –
until chapter 5 begins.
-Continuing on in chapter 2, now at verse 6,
we read that a stream rises “from the earth
and water[s] the whole face of the ground.”
-This is a scene more from desert life,
than from the Nile Delta kind of image.
-Here it's not land rising out of water
as in Genesis 1.9.
-Here in Genesis 2.6, it's the reverse:
water rises out of land.
before there is any vegetation in chapter two,
the Lord God creates a man –
not male and female, but just male.
-After that in chapter 2 verse 8,
the Lord God creates vegetation.
-In Genesis chapter 15,
God created them the other way around:
vegetation before humans.
-Next, according to chapter 2 verse 19,
the Lord God creates land animals and birds,
and the man assists the Lord God
by naming the animals.
-No animal or bird seems suitable as a partner
for the man,
so the Lord God then uses one of the man's ribs –
verse 22 –
and creates a woman.
-In Genesis chapter two,
water comes out of land.
-But in Genesis chapter one,
land arose out of the water.
-In Genesis chapter 2,
the man is created before vegetation,
and before the animals.
-But in the first chapter,
it's the other way around:
man is created last,
rather than first.
-In Genesis chapter 2, the Creator is referred to
as the Lord God;
in chapter 1, it's just “God.”
-What we have here
are two different accounts of creation!
-There are two different orders
in which things are created.
-The Creator is known by two different names,
and is presented in two very different concepts.6
-In the “Sending Thought” I'll say more
about how we think these two very different versions
came to be.
-Why on earth would we have a Bible
that tells us one thing in chapter 1,
and quite another in chapter 2?
-Either humans first appeared after the animals,
or they were created before.
-And why is it that in chapter one,
God is portrayed as a regal king with incredible power,
pretty much above and beyond creation;
while in chapter 2,
the Lord God is more of a sculptor
who kneels down to work in the dirt,
and lets the man