The Lenten Spring Has Arrived

At the very beginning of Great Lent, one of the hymns in the Orthodox Church calls the season of fasting, “the Lenten Spring.”

Two days ago I noticed the first crocuses budding and blooming around the church, and wanted to capture them in a photo.

The reappearance of the crocuses gives hope that after the long darkness of winter, new life will emerge again.

Great Lent gives us hope that despite the darkness of our souls, of sin, of the world, there is hope.

Darkness does not triumph, nor does the dead of winter, nor the darkness of our hearts.

God, the giver of life, triumphs in the world, in His time, with His love.

God Questions His Creation: Genesis 5:1-2 (a)

See:  God Questions His Creation:  Genesis 4 (reflections on the entirety of Chapter 4 as one PDF file)

See:  God Questions His Creation:  Genesis 4:25-26 (c)

 

Creation of Adam & Eve

Genesis 5:1

 This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. 2 Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created.

“This is the book…”   The second creation story in Genesis 2:4 begins with these identical words.   One would assume the author of Genesis wanted the reader to hearken back to that story.    Whereas the first story of creation in Genesis 1:1 began with God speaking His Word which caused creation to come into existence, Genesis 2:4 made the first reference to the written word, “the book” (The RSV refers to “the generations” to translate the Greek word “Biblos”, our word for the Bible, the books).    Genesis 5:1 is thus the second reference to “scriptures” in Genesis.   Though 5:1 certainly echoes 2:4, this seems to be a third telling of the creation of humans in Genesis, albeit a summary of what we learned in the opening chapter.  This telling of the story reaffirms the teaching of Genesis 1, though here humans are only created in God’s “likeness” (RSV) – the Septuagint however says “ikon” = image.   The word “man” is the generic “anthropon” (=human, not specifically male).   The patristic writers opined that humans having the “image” meant that God made  humans “lord” over the visible earth in the same way that He was Lord over all things visible and invisible in the universe, including Lord over the humans.  While the text reaffirms the teaching of Genesis 1 that humans are “ikons” of God, it offers no further explanation of the significance of this anthropology.  As the story unfolds we are going to see that one way humans are like God is that we too have a heart, just like the Lord does.

“the book of the generations of Adam.”    St. Matthew begins his Gospel with almost identical words:  “The book of the generations of Jesus Christ” (Matthew 1:1).  Matthew no doubt intended to invoke the memory of Genesis as his genealogy imitates the first book of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures.   This is perhaps Matthew’s version of John 1, where St. John the Theologian intentionally harkens back to Genesis 1 as the very basis for understanding Christ.   And certainly Matthew’s imitation of Genesis 5:1 is also hinting at the typological thinking the New Testament writers loved when interpreting the Old Testament.  Adam was but the type of the real man Jesus who was to come.  Jesus is the type of all those living in the light of the New Creation brought about by the coming of God’s chosen Messiah.

“When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God.”    The “When” at the beginning of the verse tells us we have moved back in time, back to the beginning of creation, to the time before the Fall of Eve and Adam,  to the prelapsarian world.  This time, however, the story is not going to remain long in this prelapsarian state but is going to leap to the fallen world, skipping any mention of the cosmos before the Fall or how we got into our current state.  The world before the Fall is just the springboard to dive into our world’s postlapsarian condition.  Within a few verses of this return to the creation of the world, Adam will be dead, his 930 years of life condensed into a few summary.   We are going to be impressed with how long these early humans live, but the text dismisses their long lives in a sentence telling us nothing about these men other than they once existed, had a son and died.   No glory is given to their long lives.  Their names and ages are remembered, but they are not credited with doing anything with their long lives except perpetuating the human race.  But what the text does reaffirm is that despite sin, despite mortality, humans are created in the image of God – this has not been taken away from us humans.  Biblical anthropology affirms that even after the Fall, after the fratricidal Cain, the image of God has been preserved in us.  Even when the entire earth has become wicked and destroyed, the image of God is still visible in the one righteous man left on earth – Noah.  Orthodox anthropology holds strongly to this positive view of humanity.  Neither Ancestral sin nor our own current wickedness wipes out the image of God in us which is indelibly impressed upon our soul.  Evil cannot wipe out the innate goodness which God planted deep within each of us.   That image can get buried beneath a lot of dirt and corruption, but it remains alive in us.

If this is intended to be a third telling of the creation story its focus this time is on the humans with little reference to the created world.   Genesis 2:4 which this verse  echoes claimed to be the book of “the generations of the heavens and the earth.”   Here in 5:1 it is the book of Adam and his descendents.  The story begins with humans, not with chaos or with the earth, and it hardly mentions the world in which humans live but jumps right into the first humans and their descendents.   The rest of the created world is largely ignored – no sun or stars or even animals mentioned, and unlike Genesis 1 & 2, no mention of food in God’s creation. The story of paradise and the Fall are also absent.   And though God creates the first humans, this time it is the humans who are central to the story and the real actors as God becomes more distant from His creatures and is hardly mentioned in the chapter.

Next: God Questions His Creation: Genesis 5:1-2 (b)

God Questions His Creation: Genesis 4 as one PDF document

It has taken several weeks of daily blogs to release the entire commentary on Genesis 4. 

You can of course search my blog site for the individual blogs on the verses of Genesis 4. 

Your comments, questions or reflections about this blog series are always welcomed. 

If you would like to find the text as one single PDF document, you can go to:  https://frted.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/gqhc_gen4.pdf.

You can also find the Bibliography for my reflections on Genesis at  https://frted.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/gqhc_bibliograph.pdf

A special Glossary of terms used in my reflections is at https://frted.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/gqhc_glossary.pdf

You can also find the original Introduction to the entire collection of reflections at https://frted.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/gqhc_introduction.pdf
When all of the individual blogs covering Genesis 5 have been published, I will publish the link for where to find the reflections on chapter 5 as a single document.

Delving into the Jesus Prayer

“Delve deeply into the Jesus Prayer (Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner), with all the power that you possess.  It will draw you together, giving you a sense of strength in the Lord, and will result in your being with Him constantly whether alone or with other people, when you do housework and when you read or pray.  Only you must attribute the power of this prayer, not to the repetition of certain words, but to the turning of the mind and heart towards the Lord in these words – to the action accompanying the speech.”   (THE ART OF PRAYER, pp 90-91)