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GENESIS — 1:14 signs

GEN29 The past four hundred years have marked an incredible growth in man’s ability to control and manipulate the world of nature.  Man’s sway extends from the microcosm of the sub-atom to the macrocosm of stellar space.  But this fantastic expansion of man’s capacities has set dialectic in motion that was not originally evident.  Together with this trend toward ever greater control and mastery of the world about him, another tendency, parallel to it yet diametrically opposed, has been making itself felt—a steady decline in man’s sense of his own self-worth, a growing feeling of his unimportance in a vast universe.  Best by impersonal forces and automatic processes that seem to defy control, man sees himself reduced to helplessness, his hopes and dreams turning to ashes.  … Previously the earth was conceived of as the center of creation, with the sun, the moon, and the stars having been made for man’s benefit: in the words of Genesis, to “serve as signs both for festivals and for days and years.”  [this verse].  Now the earth was reduced to the role of a lesser planet revolving around the sun, with man becoming a brief sojourner on a minor astronomical speck in the universe.  A few centuries later, scientists were to demonstrate that the entire solar system was only one galaxy among an almost limitless number.  But the major blow to man’s self-esteem had already been inflicted by Copernicus.  Man had become physically insignificant in the cosmos.  Theoretically, one could still hold fast to the old faith that man is created to glorify God, but his hosannahs tended to be drowned out in the vast reaches of interstellar space.  GORLAW 10-11


GENESIS — 1:28 subdue

GEN171 … the same opening chapter of Genesis, in which man is given the right to “subdue” the earth and to “have dominion” over all living things does not even permit him to use animals for food.  For the very next verse – Genesis 1:29 – declares: "… I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruits; you shall have them for food.”  This is surely a drastic limitation upon man’s rights.  Not until many centuries later, after the Flood, is man (in the person of Noah and his family) permitted to eat meat Genesis 9:3-4.  And even then, all men are forbidden to eat the blood of the creatures they have used for food, because the blood is the seat of life.  Reverence for life dictates that the blood be poured out and not consumed.  This ritual is a symbolic recognition that all life is sacred—all life, even the life of animals that men kill for sake of sustenance.  Actually the paradigm of man’s relationship to his environment is expressed in the task assigned to Adam in the Garden of Eden before the Fall: “He placed him in the Garden of Eden to till it and to guard it” Genesis 2:15.  What is the meaning of the Hebrew phrase in the opening chapter of Genesis, “and subdue it”?  The truth is that the passage in Genesis was never used to establish a principle of aggressive action by man vis-à-vis the environment. GORLAW 113-4


GENESIS — 3:14 because

GEN399 Perhaps the most striking instance of this divergence [between Jews and Christians in interpreting Scripture] is the role that the Paradise narrative in Genesis plays in both religions.  For traditional Christianity, the tale of Adam and Eve in the Garden is of transcendental significant; indeed, the entire Christian drama of salvation would be inconceivable without it.  Basing himself primarily upon the narrative of Adam and Eve in Genesis, Paul enunciated the Christian drama of salvation: Adam and Eve, disobeying the Divine will and eating of the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, were guilty of the primal sin. The Fall of Adam placed an ineradicable stain upon all his descendants, who are doomed to perdition.  God, however, in His infinite live, sent His son to redeem mankind from the consequences of the Fall by his suffering.  Only faith in the Savior and his sacrifice can save mankind from perdition.  This doctrine of innate evil in man was maintained by various sectarian groups in Judaism at the beginning of the Christian era, as is clear from the Book of Baruch and the Dead Sea Scrolls.  The innovation of Christianity lay in the role of Jesus as Savior.  For traditional Christianity, the significance of Genesis is thus primarily theological.  Far less importance is attached to the Genesis narrative by normative Judaism.  For classical Judaism, the narrative reveals the strength of human weakness, the propensity to sin characteristic of men and women.  The transgression of Adam and Eve in disobeying God’s will is the first tragic illustration of this human trait, but Judaism finds no evidence in the text of Scripture that the sin in the Garden of Eden placed an eternal stain upon human nature.  It finds in Scripture a straightforward account of the punishment meted out upon all three sinners: the serpent, Eve, and Adam. … In sum, the snake is made to crawl upon its belly, woman must suffer pain in childbirth, and man must eke out his difficult existence by backbreaking toil.  Most important of all, by being driven out of the Garden of Eden, humanity loses access to the Tree of Life and thus is stripped of immortality, becoming subject to death.  [Genesis 3:22-23] In sum, the theological importance for normative Judaism of the Paradise narrative is comparatively slight and the divergence from the Christian view considerable.  For Christianity, man sins because he is a sinner; for Judaism, man becomes a sinner when he sins.  GORLAW 68-9


GENESIS — 5:1 generations

GEN530 The verse embodies two fundamental truths about man—the dignity of each human being created in the Divine image, and the unity of all men derived from a single ancestor.  The biblical lawgiver, prophet, and sage all emphasize the thought that the entire human race is a unit, both “horizontally,” through space, and “vertically,” through time.  All the members of a single generation in space have a common destiny they cannot escape, and the various links in a family through time are also indissolubly joined together, both for good (“the merit of the fathers”) and for ill (“the sins of the fathers upon the children”).  … Each human being, particularly in an age when individualism has run riot, likes to think of himself as a discrete entity, an independent soul, sharply demarcated from all his fellows.  The fact is, however, that by a thousand invisible threads, each human being is associated, for weal or woe, with the entire human race.  He is organically linked in time with all the generations of his ancestors before him and his descendants after him.  He is inescapably joined in space with all men and women who are his contemporaries.  The wicked sin and the innocent suffer—that is a consequence of the interdependence of mankind.  GORLAW 90-1


GENESIS — 9:4 life-blood

GEN682 The process of creation underscores the unity and holiness of all life, for the Creator blessed the so-called lower orders of creation in words identical with the benediction pronounced upon the human race in [Genesis 1:28] One of the ethical consequences of th[e] insight into our unity with the animal world is the horror at inflicting unnecessary pain upon them.  At the one end of the spectrum is the prevention of cruelty to animals, for which the rabbis coined the poignant phrase, “the pain of the living creatures.” At the other end of the spectrum is the doctrine of vegetarianism, the avoidance of the use of animals for food.  Though espoused by a small minority, vegetarianism has excellent biblical warrant in its favor.  In verse [Genesis] 29, God permits only the eating of fruits and vegetables.  Not until Noah emerges from the Ark after the Flood are he and his descendants allowed to eat meat, with the proviso that blood is not to be ingested [this verse].  The pouring out of the blood after the slaughter of an animal for food is enjoined by biblical law (Leviticus 17:13-14), since blood is the seat of life.  The act constitutes a symbolic sacrifice, a recognition that all life is sacred. GORLAW 71-2


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