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Eli Gutierrez Christian Scriptures 1

01/28/2019 Dr. Lai Ling Ngan

Alienation

Genesis 6-11: The violence and evilness of humanity are illustrated in the stories of Noah’s Ark
and Tower of Babel. At the end of the flood story God establishes a covenant with Noah, which
includes not only one people, but every living being on earth. The sign of such a covenant is the
rainbow. It was an unconditional covenant that rested only on God’s grace and faithfulness. The
story of the Tower of Babel shows the sovereignty of God and his involvement in human affairs
as well as the fragility of the human condition.
Anderson, 150-53: In the Mesopotamian plain inundations are common. The biblical tale of the
flood is highly influenced by its ANE context. However, in the form that we receive the story,
the narrator used an ancient popular tradition to express a fundamental conviction: Israel’s faith
in God, and his inescapable judgment. In contrast to Babylonian gods, Yahweh acts in a
purposeful way. The story inherited elements from oral tradition but the central view is that God
is involved in human affairs and that he judges with mercy. The curse of Ham is not a racist
statement but a pointed attack against agricultural Canaan with its practice of wine-drinking and
sexual abandon. The tale of Babel’s tower may have been an independent story for explaining
the diversity of people and languages. However, the narrator uses it as the climax for the
Primeval History. Here, God’s judgment is confusion (Babel). The narrator shows how human
evilness and tragedy increased leaving humanity estranged from God and from one another.
Anderson, 416-24: The final form of the Pentateuch is a work of the Priestly writers that
blended together different traditions and shaped them according to their beliefs and faith in God.
The atmosphere of worship pervades in their whole work. It points to God’s holiness, majesty,
and presence. Since the beginning, in the tale of the creation, and towards the climax and
essential event of the covenant in Sinai, they arranged a story planned beforehand by God. There
are three main moments in that story, the covenant with Noah, the covenant with Abraham, and
the covenant in Sinai. It was an everlasting and unconditional covenant.
Reflections: Genesis 6-11 shows the increment of human depravity. From the fall up to the
Tower of Babel, human evilness is displayed in a number of stories that show how “every
inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time” (Gen 6:5 NIV) and
“every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood” (Gen 8:21). These chapters show
how estranged is humanity from God and from one another. Also, they disclose the opposition of
God against sin and his severe judgment of it. However, they also reveal that God judges with
mercy. In face of the great sinfulness of the human heart, God judges but he also shows his
mercy. He destroys the earth but he also offers salvation. These, perhaps strange tales, embedded
in the worldview of their own time show a purpose arrangement that communicates a profound
truth. Most likely, it was the work of the priestly writers that arranged purposefully a story taking
from the Old Epic material to create a bigger narrative that expresses a compelling message. God
is involved in human affairs, he hates evil and he judges the evil, but he also shows mercy and he
offers redemption. Human sinfulness and God’s holiness and mercy are constants in the world
since the beginning of history.
Of course, some questions are brought up after reading theses chapters of Genesis. What
beings are the “sons of God” in Gen 4:4? How do we preach these stories? How do we answer to
the lay person who comes with questions about, for example, the sons of God? Do we explain to
them the context of ANE and all the documentary hypothesis? Also, in Gen 9, what is the
meaning of Ham sin? Are there different interpretations?