Friday, 6 February 2009

Genesis 1, 2 and 3

Well, the bible gets off to an entertaining enough start.

The exceedingly famous first chapter* is all very mystical and august but it also seems bizarrely irrelevant, as it's immediately contradicted by a second account of creation in chapter two. It has pretty much next to nothing to do with what follows. For example, in chapter one, God creates animals then man and woman in that order. In Chapter two he creates man first, then the animals, then woman (in a strange ritual where he steals one of Adam's ribs).
Why does God need to perform rituals anyway? A ritual implies that he's beholden to some kind of cause and effect - surely he can just will things to be?
Anyway, small gripe, because God so far isn't the omniscient, omnipotent being we've come to know and love. He's more like a grumpy, magical grandad charged with the task of babysitting Adam and Eve and doesn't seem to be all-knowing at all. Indeed, he has to ask Adam and Eve (who'd previously been unaware of their nakedness) why they are suddenly aware that they're naked, then deduces it must be because they'd eaten from a magic tree (why he had to create a magic tree in the first place isn't explained).
There then follows a farcical "passing of the buck" episode where Adam blames Eve and Eve blames a talking snake. God punishes them all - he condemns the snake to a lifetime on its belly (one wonders what kind of snake it had been previously), tells Eve he'll make childbirth painful and, to punish Adam, he makes the ground grow thorned plants (!?). Then he kicks them all out of the garden, in case they eat from a second tree which will grant them eternal life (again, the reason God created these magic trees isn't given).

It's a rather silly, but kind of enjoyable start to the most influential book on Earth, but I'd struggle to call it an allegory (or even a metaphor), as it's often explained as.

I still don't know what chapter one has to do with anything.

*the obvious flaws with chapter one have been pointed out enough to be tiresome (creating day and night before the sun and moon, for example) so I won't really go into them here.

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