Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A book of biblical proportions

Finished reading Genesis, or the first book of Moses, today. The first of 39 books in the Torah (Jewish book) or Old Testament (first section of the Christian Bible). Genesis is 50 chapters, packed full of stories about the decendents of Abraham, who was saved after the Great Flood. There's Abraham's son Jacob, then his grandson, Joseph, and 70 other decendents who all have their own stories. I can see how it's going to take me a while to get through the whole Bible. Just the first book is crammed with significant stories.

Though I'm familiar with most of Genesis, there were a few chapters that threw me. One that stands out is Lot and his two daughters who seduce him and get pregnant by him. Incest? Really? And why does he offer them to the soddomites in place of his two dinner guests? I realize they're angels, but I guess women really were only as valuable as cattle?

Another curiosity is the idea of a "Chosen People." Why does God choose some people and not others? What's the purpose of this? I can only see problems arising when the "chosen" start getting all arrogant and the "non-chosen" start getting resentful.

And if only 10 generations into humanity, God decided to wipe the slate clean and start again with the only righteous guy left, why has He not done this again, say in the 20th Century?

And, okay, what's with circumcision? I can't find in Genesis a single line that explains WHY God wants the Jews to snip their sons eight days after they're born. Why not shave their heads, or tattoo their arms? It seems arbitrary.

I honestly don't understand, so I'm going to start by reading, asking the questions, and then do some research and studying. So far, Wikipedia has been useful.

I do like the beginning of the book, in which the creation story unfolds. I like reading a chapter a night before bed. I like the idea of a Sabbath, a day of rest. And the idea that we're created from dust, only alive after having the breath of God blown into us... and unto dust we shall return. Though it's confusing and often misogynistic, I have enjoyed the imagery and the stories in Genesis. Reading the Bible is quite relaxing. The style and pace of the writing makes it almost impossible to rush through it. It's going to take me a while, but I'll get there.

1 comment:

jessica said...

To put it simply, the Bible does not make sense.

I'm sure you know this, but Jacob was Abraham's grandson. Isaac was Abraham's son, who married Rebekah and they had two sons, Jacob and Esau.

I read this good book called Rebekah by Orson Scott Card. It's a novel following the life of Rebekah and how she becomes part of Abraham's family. There's also The Red Tent, which is about a a girl named Dinah who's a daughter of Jacob. I thought both of them were quite good. Orson Scott Card wrote another one called Leah & Rachel and that's about Jacob's wives, but I still have to get around to reading that one. I'm such a sucker for biblical fiction.