Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Summer Reading Update: Genesis

Finished reading Genesis today.

When I look at the book itself, it's an accomplishment. It's 50 chapters, 51 2-column pages (in my version), and not written in a way that's easy to follow. The people repeat their stories two and three times, and tales are followed by genealogies. The stories are ones I've heard countless times in Sunday School and in church services. Everyone knows about Adam and Eve, Noah and his Arc, Jacob and Rachel and Leah. I went 15-20 chapters without finding a story I didn't recognize.

But there are stories in Genesis that aren't told in church. Lot's daughters get their father drunk so that they can have children by him. Joseph, while he overcomes his brothers selling him into slavery, is kind of a jerk when he sees them again. In church we are taught to forgive one another, rather than seeking revenge, but Joseph seems to have never learned that lesson. Is he special because he is favored by God? But just because someone today is a pastor or a bishop or a priest doesn't mean that he or she has the ability to not treat others kindly. Some of these things just do not make sense to me.

It's interesting that we look to Joseph as a person who overcomes what his brothers did to him, and, later on, treats them with kindness and forgiveness. We remember his "technicolor dreamcoat," and that he was different from his brothers, special and "chosen." But that is not the story told in Genesis. Before embracing his brothers, Joseph puts them through hardships and even plants a cup in his brother Benjamin's pack so that he can detain him. Why is this okay? Why is he allowed to do this? And why have we forgotten this part of the story?

Genesis was an interesting adventure, and I'm sure Exodus will be as well. I can't wait to see what the Bible has in store for me next!

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