IN THE BEGINNING!!!!!! (Well, kinda …)
So, with this being my very first post I feel compelled to give a short introduction for the five of you who may read it. Daniel Emery Taylor: actor, writer, paranormal investigator, loving husband, doting stepfather, dirt road alum of Auburn University, dog enthusiast, pimp. I’m also a follower of Messianic Judaism, a Calvinist, and probably one of the least pious Bible commentators you’ll ever read. As much as I love and adore my Messiah and as strong as my faith in Him is, I am woefully aware of just how much I fuck up on a daily basis. I know that, apart from Him, I can accomplish no good and my entire existence is vanity. This knowledge amplifies just how in awe of Him I am. He loves me (and you!) in spite of the flaws.
And if it bothers you that I used “fuck” in the first paragraph I’m probably not the ‘blog writer for you. I believe in full disclosure with God. Too many people walk the earth wearing a proverbial mask, thinking they can hide the ugliness from their Maker. He knows me. He knows my ugly thoughts. I’m not putting on a show. This is real.
One last tidbit before I get into the meat of my discussion: in recent years, one of my favorite verses has become Luke 18:13-14. “… the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Chisel that junk on my tombstone. I live by His mercy and grace.
And now … why I’m here …
I enjoy reading different translations of the Bible because the different wording often brings to light things I may have overlooked previously. I’ve started a new one (the Holman Christian Standard Bible) so I figured this would be a great time to record some thoughts on the text as I read through. This isn’t going to cover every detail. Hell, I probably won’t even hit all of the major stuff. I just get funny thoughts … often little philosophical things … and thought that others may get something out of them. Ready?
GENESIS 1 – 5
“IN THE BEGINNING …” Wow, those are some mightily epic words. It’s a shame they’re really vague. In the beginning of what? God has no beginning. In our beginning? We know that angels (and probably demons) pre-date “Creation,” so the beginning begins to sound like no beginning at all. Is it the beginning of time? The beginning of the universe? The beginning of the earth?
I maintain that the Scriptures are absolutely true and without error in their original forms. I also maintain that our interpretations are probably way off in some instances. The six-day creation is something that so many evangelicals dig their heels in on, but I think it becomes an issue of unnecessary contention. I believe in a literal six-day creation because I have no reason to believe otherwise. (I’m a proponent of the idea that God created a mature earth, rendering much of our dating processes irrelevant. That’s a whole different issue, though.) However, I remain open-minded enough to understand that I am not omnipotent and could be wrong. The first three chapters of Genesis are poetic enough to be open to interpretation. The fact that they may not be literal does not mean they are not correct.
The Bible does not attempt to be an exhaustive history of the world. The point is how to reconcile ourselves to God. The rest of it is just background. It’s not a science book. It’s not a history book. It’s not a math book. Yes, it contains elements of many of these subjects but that isn’t its aim. The point is to show us how much God loves us and how we can please Him. People get hung up on the trivial issues. Adam and Eve were the first people … but were they the only people? Was Cain’s wife his sister? Are Adam and Eve only the first people in reference to the Hebrews? I don’t know and God didn’t feel the need to make it any more clear than that. He told us stuff on a “need to know” basis. Otherwise, if He told us everything, the Bible would weigh eighty-three pounds and nobody would ever read it. And the stuff He left out doesn’t matter. If they found a fully formed fleshy monkey man, a missing link, frozen in a block of ice it would do absolutely nothing to my faith. I would just accept that my interpretation was wrong and move on. It wouldn’t change a damn thing.
Of course, I don’t think they’ll ever find that fleshy monkey man.
So, to sum up the first five chapters of Genesis: God created everything. He then put humans here. He gave us one simple commandment and we were too stupid to listen to Him.
Most everyone knows the story of the Garden of Eden, but I wanted to point out one issue of interest: the Bible never says the serpent in the Garden was Satan. There is absolutely nothing in the text that implies that he is anything other than a talking snake. I’ll wait here while you go double-check me.
I won’t go into detail, because I have another project detailing many of the misconceptions we have about the Accuser, but one thing really strikes me about this. Earlier translations use the wording that Eve was “beguiled.” That carries a connotation of some magical influence. For thousands of years, we’ve tried using “the Devil made me do it” as a viable excuse. That may have worked for Flip Wilson but it won’t work for you. The Devil didn’t make you do a damn thing. You did. Eve wasn’t glamored by the mighty lord of the underworld. She was tricked by a talking snake. That rightfully makes her sound like a dumbass.
And so it is with humanity. We constantly do the wrong thing, the dangerous thing, and the futile thing against all good common sense, against good advice, and against historical outcome. We are too stupid, arrogant, and hard-headed. We don’t need the Devil to possess us or blind us with the dark arts. We screw up just fine all on our own. The human heart is wicked, depraved, and selfish above all things.