9/16/08---Reflections on my reading the book of Genesis:I read Genesis in one sitting. It was a privilege to read it all at once. I was used toreadings of individual stories, so I did not have a sense of continuity and of the “atmosphere” of the entire book. To say that I enjoyed reading Genesis is anunderstatement. I felt animated, energized, perturbed, and nostalgic. The storiescarry tremendous energy, the energy of a people committed to their survival, whileobeying the will of God.What struck me first was the different style in which the stories are written. In thestories up until the story of Joseph, their style reminded me of magical realism--thegenre in which magical elements or illogical scenarios appear in an otherwiserealistic or even "normal" setting. God interacts with people, he interrupts theirdaily life to give them instructions, admonitions, guidance, advice, protection, hope,and--what I call--faith assignments. The people, on the other hand, respond totheir best of their ability, while always reserving their right to use their own will andhuman judgment in handling the challenges of every day life.The style in which the stories are written expresses the intimate coexistence of tworealms--a divine and a human--both of which need each other in order to fulfill theirpurposes. Humans need God as their conscience and God needs humans as hisbeloved work of art. The intimacy between God and humans expressed in Genesisis touching--really touching. It permeates all stories, finding its crescendo in thestory about Isaac’s sacrifice, where Abraham surrenders to God’s love with a faiththat surpasses his love for his son. And God responds with even greater love, bysparing his son’s life, a moment before Abraham is about to slaughter him. It is amoment of intense love between God and humans, given through the heart-wrenching scene of infanticide. It is paradoxical, extreme, scary, edgy, disturbing,almost disgusting. But nothing in love is pristine, and Genesis is--in my eyes--abook about God’s love affair with people, and that’s a love that knows no limits andmakes no excuses for its temperament, intensity, or unconventional creativity.Another reaction I had was that to the energy that permeates the stories of Genesis, as expressed through the verb and the name. There are three kinds of words that stayed with me, after reading Genesis: God’s name, people’s names,and verbs--verbs of motion, verbs of action, verbs of ongoing movement. There isno reflection in Genesis--there is action and movement. The verbs carry energy,they carry the energy of God and of humans, and that is energy always in motion,expressed through actions--walking, going, coming, falling, ascending, working,listening, hearing, speaking, blessing, cursing, guiding, hiding, saving, speaking,doing, making. Action. Ongoing, endless action. People live their relationships withGod and with each other through action, and through action they sin, repent,forgive and are forgiven, punish and are punished, get closer or farther away fromGod. God also, becomes present through words and actions. In fact, God’s actionsare contained in God’s words. For example, “Let it be light”--- contains the act of creating light. After reading Genesis, I felt a rush of energy that stayed with me forhours. Interesting reaction, indeed. I attributed it to the power of the verbs inGenesis, which carry the power of God.
JOURNALING ON THE OLD TESTAMENT--MARIA GRACE, Ph.D. 3