Today’s class was devoted to probing the philosophy implicit in Genesis. That is, we talked about the picture of the relationship between human beings and God, on the one hand, and the rest of the animal kingdom, on the other.
We first talked about what Genesis is. We had to do this because, as several of you pointed out, it’s weird! For instance, there are two versions of some major events: people are created twice and Noah gets in the ark twice. This is evidence that Genesis was compiled from a variety of sources.
One point that emerged from our discussion of this fact is that there are a variety of different translations and interpretations. There are even differences of opinion about what the Bible is. For instance, the volume I chose includes parts that some Christians do not believe are part of the real Bible: that’s the “apocrypha” that you see referred to in the title. It’s worth keeping that in mind for when we turn to questions about how human beings could know enough about God to practice a religion.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that different religious traditions have different standards for interpreting the word of God. The reading I gave you is from an edition compiled by scholars. But it’s contentious to say that the methods employed by scholars are the best way of understanding God’s communications with us. Some religious traditions maintain that this is so, but others disagree.
It’s neither my intention nor my place to weigh in on this. This is the best presentation of the historical document that we have. What you make of it is a separate matter.
Our official task is to look at what it means to say that we’re made in the image of God. We found a variety of places where this comes up. For the period we’re studying, our ability to know things was especially important. God’s special concern for us based on the fact that we’re made in his image is also important.