Session 01: Sin and Flood
God love and life,
May I learn more of you and of your love for your people and your world as I study this session.
Open my eyes to new things in familiar passages and open my heart to the moving of your spirit.
The Concept of Sin and Satan
The idea that God created the world as good is a familiar one. However, the idea that the story of Adam and Eve is not about sin but rather about mortality and moral freedom is not so familiar. Like many biblical scholars Hayes contends that this story is “etiological rather than prescriptive or normative” (2012, p49) in other words it is a story about the cause of mortality and of how the conditions of human life came to be rather than being about a “state of utter and unredeemed sinfulness”.
Furthermore the idea that Satan (as understood by Christian theology) is not present in the Hebrew Bible can be a startling one. We will explore this further when we look at the Writings and particularly the book of Job. It makes quite a difference to interpretations of this story. The importance for the readers is not the serpent but rather the effect of eating the fruit, which is to say that humans become like divine beings, realising they have choice and that the end of this is mortality.
Watch Hayes Lecture 4 here
Take a moment to reflect on these ideas. How do you feel about this and what implications do you think it has for our theology as Christians? Make a note of your thoughts in your reflective learning journal.
The Epic of Gilgamesh & the Story of Atrahasis
As we come to the end of this session we move onto the Flood Story in Genesis and its similarities and differences not only to the 'Epic of Gilgamesh' but also to another ANE myth the 'Epic of Atrahasis'. Unlike the familiar myths of the ANE, the biblical writers contend that God is not only consistent and faithful (rather than capricious) but also that God cares deeply for all created things and because of this humans too must care for everything, including each other, if they are to offer true worship to God. This was a new concept in its original context. The ideas contained in these early chapters of Genesis will reappear continually throughout the Old Testament.
What are the similarities and differences between the ANE myth 'Epic of Gilgamesh' and the second Creation story of the Hebrew Bible/OT? What do you think the writers of the latter were trying to convey in the differences?
Reflect on what you have learned in this session. What do you think the writers of the two Creation Stories, the story of Cain and Abel and the Flood story wanted to convey to us about the nature of God?
Make a note of your thoughts in your reflective learning journal.
Something Practical To Do
Look for evidence of the God the creator in your church and in the services this week. Where are there echoes of Genesis 1-11?
Blessed are you, Lord our God, all things come from you:
from you come our life,
this world and all that we have and are.
Teach us to love and respect your creation
and give glory to you.
Blessed are you, Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer.
Spend some time prayerfully thinking about what you have discovered in this session. What are the most significant things for you? How might you use what you have learned in your own faith journey? Write this down in your reflective learning journal.