This week's section of the Bible is troubling on several fronts. On one hand, we have to figure out what to do with a text that commands Israel to commit genocide. And on the other, we have to figure out what to do when the historical evidence disagrees with the Bible's story.
This week we move from the Exodus to the Land of Canaan. We examine how these ex-slaves unlearn that which they internalized in slavery and learned a new way of being.
This week is all about myths. Not the myth vs. fact kind of myths, but the ancient stories that inform your life. For the Israelites, this myth was the Exodus story. We dive into it to look at what kinds of things the Israelites learned about who they are as a community.
In the Joseph story, we find ourselves a complex, ambiguous protagonist. He's proud and get exploited and becomes a powerful elite through economic manipulation. We dive into the contours of his story in this last sermon on Genesis.
We keep moving through Genesis, this time taking up two sets of stories about our spiritual patriarchs. One, Isaac, only exists as a prop for other characters' storylines. But the story of Jacob and Esau and Leah and Rachel and Zilpah and Bilhah—that gives us enough intrigue to really sink our teeth into. But just like last week, we have to make sure we're paying attention, so that we don't silence those voices that have traditionally been overlooked.
This week, we tackle difficult subjects. We look at Abraham and Sarah, and how they tried to work out their covenant with God. But then we also look at their collateral damage: Hagar, their slave. We try to hold to the former while not minimizing the latter.
This week, we turn to the story of the Tower of Babel. It's a myth about the origins of language, but what does meaning can modern readers get out of it? Surprisingly, in order to make sense of it now, we have to go way back to ancient cosmology. And then we need to examine how empires function. All to help us to realize that as finite beings, we must come to terms with the fact that world is fundamentally not under our control.
For our second week of our trek through the whole Bible, we look at Noah and The Great Flood. Many of us have this Sunday School version of the story in our minds. But the real story is completely different from that—violent and weird and profound. However, the real version in the Bible is not a story that we can affirm. So we examine what it means to hold these in tension.
Next week's reading is the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11). As you read, consider these questions:
- How does this story relate to the previous two weeks?
- What reasoning did God give for confusing the languages? Do you agree with that reason?
- What is the purpose of this story?