How was light created before the sun? – Genesis 1:6-31


What have we been missing in the creation story? What does the Sun being created before “Light” mean? Why do we have two different creation stories? Join us as we reexamine Genesis 1:6-31.


Nate: Welcome back to Almost Heretical, the show where we revisit and reimagine the Bible together and find new ways forward. My name is Nate.

Shelby: And I’m Shelby.

Nate: And we’re going to be looking at Genesis again. We’ve had a couple guest episodes, but now we’re back to talking about the Bible. We’re going to go through the Bible verse by verse, chapter by chapter, every dot in Iota. Anyways, we’re going to look at this kind of like the old days where you just went through sermon by sermon and we looked at just each passage.

Shelby: Yeah, it could take a very long time. But also, and as we said on the first of these installments, we’re not going to necessarily dwell on every single verse. We’re going to kind of go through the ones mainly that I think are interesting enough to talk about and maybe just do some broad strokes on other passages, but still in Genesis 1 because that is a chapter worth talking about.

Nate: Yeah. And so go back and listen to the first one. If you haven’t where we talked about.

Shelby: The first five verses or listen to.

Nate: Them out of order, that’s fine. This is the second part to it. And this is not like a Genesis series or a through the Bible series. This is just the way we’re going to start doing the show a lot. We’re going to be just looking at the Bible verse by verse and the ones that are interesting to us. So we did that other one on the first little bit of Genesis 1 and now we’re continuing that. And that’s a stack of notes there.

Shelby: Yeah, stack of notes for just the rest of the chapter. That’s my goal for this episode is to just get through the rest of Genesis 1 and a little bit extra as we’ll talk about. We’ve got through let’s see, I’m pulling over the Bible here. We got through verse five, which was God called the light day and the darkness he called night. And there’s evening and morning the first day.

Nate: Right.

Shelby: So that was where we ended.

Nate: We talked a little bit more on our second podcast, Utterly Heretical, which you can get on Apple. You can subscribe there, you can subscribe on Patreon. It helps us that money helps us. A couple dollars a month helps us keep this show going. But also we try to give you some extra content and plug you into a community of other people. There’s hundreds actually, that are rethinking about a lot of this stuff, like Genesis.

Shelby: Yeah. So today we’re going to start in verse six. And it starts off with well, there’s different translations. In fact, Nate, if you want to pull up Genesis 6 or I mean, Genesis 1:6 on Bible Gateway or something so we can maybe look at a couple of those translations. I am holding what I believe is the ESV. It’s a parallel Chinese English Bible. It doesn’t actually say what the English translation is because I lived in China for a few years. That’s the explanation. Genesis 1:6 in the ESV says, and God said, let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.

Nate: Yeah. And then NIV is god said, let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.

Shelby: And I think the King James says, Let there be a firmament, potentially.

Nate: I think that’s right. Let’s see here. Switch it over and go to new King James.

Shelby: Sure.

Nate: New King James is maybe not the same. Let there be a firmament.

Shelby: Okay.

Nate: New King in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. NIV kept the waters from water.

Shelby: What translation did you grow up reading?

Nate: NIV.

Shelby: Okay.

Nate: Yeah. I mean, I think when I was kind of coming online in my brain, age seven, eight, nine, I don’t know, whenever my first memories of church would be, it was the debates about Bible translation. Well, the older people in the church were like, I don’t understand why we can’t just keep using the King James. I’m King James from early age. It was NIV. I think that was like the new cool. What is that, from the 70s? Right, but that was the new cool translation. And then ESV, when I was in college or whatever, they have a beautiful.

Shelby: App and everything, so ESV really swept. But that’s funny because I think my church was probably past the King James to NIV transition when I came online around eight.

Nate: I’m a few years older.

Shelby: Yeah. So that’s I guess it only took a few years and then yeah, by the time I was exiting that church, it was the do we switch to ESV? Don’t know what translation they’re using nowadays, but anyway, so interesting verse we have. Let there be an expanse. ESV is the most recent of these translations, and that’s kind of the most it’s pretty different than like vault or firmament. Those are rather concrete terms versus expanse. Just feels like this big, wide open space. And I would say that those earlier ones are probably better translations of the Hebrew concept. And really the ancient idea behind this was that there was an actual hard shell, essentially a tent above the earth that was supporting all the waters above. That’s why it says in the midst of the waters or separating the waters, that there was water where we would picture outer space, and then there’s the water beneath in the ocean, and that there’s this firmament, this hard vault holding all that water above back from us. And what I think is interesting is that by the time this story became part of the Genesis collection, which is after the exile, I mean, only a few hundred years before Jesus, really, that you’re starting to actually formulate all of this into kind of a Hebrew Bible by the time the story was in a final form of Genesis, more or less. The Jews scientifically did not actually believe that there was a firmament in the heavens anymore. That was already an old idea to them by the time the story was being kind of they should tell the.

Nate: Flat Earthers this because there are still some that use, I believe, and someone correct me if I’m wrong, send an email., but I think that flat Earthers sometimes reference the dome verse in Genesis 1:6 here.

Shelby: Well, that’s all the space we need to give the flat Earthers for today. But what I think is interesting is that it’s just the difference in philosophy here. That how it shows very clearly the intent of the passage to not be some kind of scientific explanation of creation. That even though the Jews at that point didn’t actually believe there was a firmament separating waters, like at that point, they knew that it was stars and kind of more of a space concept, they still included that story because it was just the tradition. It was more about the way the story was told than being somehow scientifically accurate. So I just think that’s a valuable way to look at the writers and their intentions behind this was to just tell a story. I think most people listening to this podcast were all comfortable with the idea that this was never meant to be a scientific explanation of the creation of the world. But I love that you can even see within the writing, within the pre Jesus time of Hebrew scriptures, the Jews are showing that they’re not tied to they’re not trying to create a scientific document. They understood that the imagery wasn’t literal and they weren’t concerned with scientific accuracy. And so we can be the same. I also do think it’s interesting, I mean, I guess you’re saying that there are flat Earthers who do still claim there’s a hard dome.

Nate: I think in the list of things that they would say. Right.

Shelby: I think it’s interesting that I grew up in a very literal seven day creation. Young Earth community answers in Genesis can ham all that. And nobody ever really dwelt on this verse. The literal Genesis account was only taken to match up with things that they felt that they could prove, like nobody was saying. And yes, there is a hard firmament separating the waters above from the waters below.

Nate: I mean, I think the second you break through that with the first rocket ship exactly. And we go to the moon, Apollo 1160, I think that doesn’t really hold up anymore. We have a picture from the moon back to Earth. Right, right. What do you do with that?

Shelby: Like, never once did I hear an argument that it’s actually all water up there and yet definitely heard an argument that creation happened in seven days in this order. So it’s funny to me what things are taken literally and what aren’t. Yeah. Okay. So there’s the creation of the firmament. God made the expanse, separated the waters. God called the expanse heaven or sky. I mean, heaven is obviously not in Hebrew is not the concept that we necessarily think of. It just kind of means everything above, like the heavens. And there’s evening and morning. The second day starting in verse nine, we have okay. God said, let the waters under the heaven be gathered together into one place and let dry land appear. And it was so God called the dry land earth. And the waters that were gathered together, he called seas. And God saw that it was good. This is the end of the naming in chapter one. After this, it continues to describe creation, but God’s not naming anymore of the elements, which I find kind of interesting.

Nate: You know what’s interesting, too, is that these are very basic things that are being named, right? Like land, sky, sea. We have learned more and we’ve been able to break down the elements. Right. So we know that when you say water, there’s actually a couple of things going on there, right? When you say sky, there’s a number of things going on there with our composition of our atmosphere, really such a.

Shelby: Thing as sky, I guess you could say.

Nate: Right.

Shelby: Maybe that’s not a very scientifically accurate statement.

Nate: Right. And so I guess what I’m getting at is that should be evidence right there that if they had more elements to deal with, they would have dealt with them in their story. Right. They didn’t because they didn’t know about those things. No, it’s not a knock on an ancient people. It’s just saying that they didn’t talk about those things because they didn’t know about those things. So don’t try to make this be a scientific do. Are we still talking about this? Do we still have to say, don’t make Genesis 1 a probably not.

Shelby: Probably not to this not to this audience.

Nate: But this audience is talking to people who may still believe that. So anyways, we’re there with you on that one. And I think that could just be another thing to use. Maybe we hear from you all sometimes that give me more thing. Not that you want to get into these debates and discussions necessarily, but they happen. And so one of the reasons I started this show in the first place was because I felt lost in those discussions. I felt like I used to have a lot of information and arguments and cases for everything, and now I’m in this new space of believing something different, but I can’t prove it all. I can’t explain it all. Not that I’m trying to win an argument, but I can’t even sound reasonable.

Shelby: In a discussion, even go into the discussion, right.

Nate: And so I think that’s a helpful piece for me here is like, yeah, they’re talking about these three pretty basic things because that’s all they knew at the time. So don’t make this a scientific account of how the world came into existence because it doesn’t deal with countless other elements. I don’t even know all the elements. You probably know them all. You probably memorized the song when you were a kid. Shelby’s very smart.

Shelby: I don’t think I memorized that song. But he teases me about the songs we learned that were like specifically on the northern border of the United States or the east.

Nate: I was like a normal child. I memorized I had a song for the states of America. Shelby has like a song for the northern.

Shelby: Incredibly helpful.

Nate: I know you beat me in trivia stuff because southern border didn’t need one for the west coast. Yeah, that’s true.

Shelby: There’s only a couple of states anyway. Yeah. The separation of land and sea is, like I said, the end of the naming. And also there kind of was these three categories. There was the Let there be light and the separation of light and darkness. Then there was the expanse and the separation of the waters from the waters. And then now there’s the creation of land and sea. And so those three categories are different from all the rest that follows in that they’re kind of a creation of time and space. So it’s kind of the canvas on which everything else will now appear and the foundation of it all. And again, what’s interesting and I think we said this on the first Genesis installment is first through the Bible installment is that again, it’s not creation out of nothing. This all started with there was this chaos, this tohu vivohu that God then calls everything into existence out of. So there was a commentator just as going through these verses who said this is sternberger says in the whole of the creation story of Genesis I can find nothing whatsoever of the creatio ex nehilo of speculative and dogmatic thought. This concept of creation out of nothing, it’s just not in the text. And I think that for me that was such a heavily taught concept that I wanted to emphasize it again. But moving on to the next section really of the story. So we finished the naming and the time and space. So now moving on to verse eleven. God says, let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed each according to its kind and on the earth and it was so the Earth brought forth vegetation plants DA DA DA DA. And God saw that it was good evening and morning, third day. So this is the first time that God’s word isn’t doing the creation like God does say Let there be. But then it’s the Earth that’s doing the producing. It’s more like God’s giving the power of creation to a different entity. Which is kind of cool.

Nate: Yeah, it’s starting that process. Right. It’s saying let the earth or let the land like it says in the NIV, it’s like let the land start this process that it does. Right. So even there, there’s some, I feel like, science or just the natural way of things involved.

Shelby: Yeah. All right, I’m going to keep moving. We’ve got the land producing vegetation and now at this point, there’s the creation of the sun and the moon, which is just the most non scientific order of events possible.

Nate: Well, I’ve never thought about that. So how’s the land producing vegetation?

Shelby: Well, how is there day and night?

Nate: Right. How’s their day and night? So, like land producing vegetation, we know that the essential components of that are photosynthesis and what plants do. Right. And it needs the sun.

Shelby: Yeah. So again, just, I think, another stab at the idea that this is a literal account, not that anyone needs this to be stabbed more, but just can’t help but point it out. But the creation of sun and moon is significant in the story, not entirely because of their natural like, what they are as much as what they represent. The sun and the moon were by far the most common and popular divinities in the cultures surrounding Israel. The sun god and the moon god were kind of everywhere in different forms. So here the author, the passage I mean, it’s like five verses talking about this. The author goes to great lengths to clarify that these are created entities, not other gods. But even so, there’s kind of hints of the cultural impression of the sun and the moon because they’re given, as we see in verse 16, they’re given the ability to rule. It says, God made two great lights, the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the Earth to rule over the day and over the night to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. So even within this very much emphasizing how God created these and they are just elements of nature, but they are also still ruling. So you can see the kind of just the cosmology of the day.

Nate: Yeah, I’m making weird faces.

Shelby: Yeah, you’re looking very contemporary.

Nate: Well, I’m reading because I was like, okay, Answers in Genesis has to have an answer on the light before the sun thing, which I feel like the bigger question isn’t just light before the sun, but it’s vegetation before the sun. Photosynthesis happening before the sun. It’s a very sun thing that happens because some of these things are like and some of them are like early church like Tertullian 155, 220 Ad.

Shelby: I think we might have talked about some of this on the last episode.

Nate: Oh, possibly, but go ahead. Just about maybe it was the they give kind of like two or three explanations here that the light was a physical manifestation of Christ’s glory. And that’s Tertullian you can still laugh at it using John one nine. Or maybe it was the original source. Or was the original source a pillar of fire that later became the sun?

Shelby: We’re really stretching here.

Nate: Ephraim of Syria. Syrian. And then there’s maybe the source was an essence of the sun, but without its substance. Did the angels provide the light? It just feels like maybe was it Shakina glory? Okay, I think this is yeah. Okay.

Shelby: Somebody’s got to admit it doesn’t make sense. We don’t know.

Nate: I mean, this is a long article to try to explain.

Shelby: Yeah. And there’s no real ballpark or there’s no real home run answer there. Yeah.

Nate: None that left or maybe not the.

Shelby: Right people to ask.

Nate: Well, none that left me going, okay. Yeah, that’s how do you deal with that one and the last one, of course. Do you want to guess what the last one is? What’s the last thing they say in the article? What’s the last thing they.

Shelby: I don’t know. I mean, the light of Christ was pretty right.

Nate: I’ll just give you the header. The header is admitting our limited understanding and letting God’s word have the final say. So basically, if none of these answers are suitable to you, doesn’t matter. Just remember right, god’s ways are higher than our ways, which I’m not trying to mock people or anything like that here. What I’m saying is that is given to people, and it’s probably been given to you, o listener out there as a like, well, you think your little brain up there can understand the ways of God and that sometimes the filthy rags is brought in here, too. Basically, you’re just this scum thing clay.

Shelby: And he’s the potter, right.

Nate: How are you going to and Job, you go to Job, where were you? Right. So don’t accept those answers anymore because it’s trying to just mold this Bible into something right. When we’re the ones that are accused.

Shelby: The reality is that that is not like to say that let God’s word have the final say. This just is a misrepresentation of the Bible.

Nate: Right.

Shelby: First of all, and call us heretics, but to call the whole thing God’s Word is assuming a lot of God that God doesn’t claim. Yeah.

Nate: Go back to our Bible series on that. I don’t know, what was that? A couple months back?

Shelby: Yeah. And then yeah. You look at the intention of the texts and the development of them, and there is no such thing as a final say. These were constantly changing and growing, particularly.

Nate: Until Constantine, like we say on here, we actually care about the Bible. That’s why we’re not doing this show to knock the Bible and try to put it in its place. Well, I guess we’re putting it in its place, appropriate place, because we think it’s a pretty amazing thing. Right. And we want to kind of shine a light on what it actually is and can be. Exactly. So anyways, for any of you who are feeling uncomfortable with some of that, that’s the goal here is to actually get to what is this trying to say? Because if we can figure out what it is trying to say, then we don’t have to do this whole molding and trying to crush something into the be this scientific textbook.

Shelby: All right, let’s see. Moving into verses 24 and 25. Oh, no, a little before that. 20 is the creation of let the waters swarm with living creatures and birds fly above. So the fish and the birds and then God created great sea creatures.

Nate: So that’s cool.

Shelby: I mean, we’re not necessarily talking Loch.

Nate: Ness monster here, although some people go there for dinosaurs. Yeah, some people go there.

Shelby: Why not? And every kind of winged bird. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, be fruitful and multiply, fill the waters and the seeds and let the birds multiply on the earth. What’s cool about this is the first blessing of part of the creation. God blessed them and then says be fruitful and multiply. Which is kind of cool because that’s the same blessing that’s given in a few verses later to humanity, just kind of a high calling of creation. And then moving into the rest of the animals on the 6th day, because that was evening and morning, the fifth day. God then on the 6th day, God says, let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds, livestock, creeping things, and beasts of the earth according to their kinds, and it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds. DA DA DA. God saw that it was good and it’s about to go right into the creation of humans. And I do think it’s interesting that the way it was structured. The land creatures are created on the 6th day. With humans, you would maybe think all the animals are going to get created on day five and then boom, climax of the story, humanity gets day six.

Nate: Or the humans would be first, or that.

Shelby: Yeah, but the humans are in a sense, kind of lumped together with all the other land animals. Not that I think the authors of this text saw humans as animals. Like they clearly see them as something different and special, but they are living in community with all the other creatures who live on the land. Yeah, and God sees them all as good. All right, so we’re getting to verse 26 and this is where it gets interesting to me. Not because I’m what’s the word, anthrocentric? I don’t know, that seems like that would be the word human centered. But I mean, creation of humans seems pretty significant too.

Nate: I think we need to be a little human centered with all this AI stuff going on right there. And people trying to put computers on the same level as humans. And that’s what the Go look into what the Google CEO said about I.

Shelby: Don’T think I want to know. Scary, I believe. All right, so so the first thing to note before we go into the creation of humans is which many of you are probably already aware of this, but Genesis has two separate accounts of the creation of humans. Essentially, Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 have two completely different I mean, somewhat overlapping, but if you were to do a Ven diagram, almost completely different accounts of creation of humans, and they are often harmonized into one. I mean, obviously, starting from when you’re a child, you’re just given kind of one creation story, and you’re going to have bits and pieces of both. And then, I mean, honestly, through most of my life, I don’t know that anybody really sat down and kind of compared and contrasted these accounts, because I think comparing and contrasting would bring up the question of why is there a contrast at all? Like, why are there two stories if this has all happened this way? And how could there possibly be any differences? So I think that’s why the conversation never really happened. But obviously the conversation is going to happen here.

Nate: Yeah. Why are there two stories?

Shelby: One’s just older than the other, and they’re teaching two different things. And this first one that occurs in Genesis chapter one is definitely my favorite, and you’ll understand why here. And then probably in our next episode when we dig deeper into the second account of creation of humanity. So here we get into humans verses 26 to 28. Let’s see. God said, let us maybe you were going to stop right there. Well, for anyone who hasn’t read the text in a while, it says, let us make man in our image after our likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in his own image. In the image of God, he created Him, male and female, he created them. So let us create man in our image. What did you learn about that growing up?

Nate: I mean, I was told that’s the beginning of the Trinity right there. Right? That’s the first time you see it pop up, which for any of you maybe who don’t know, the Trinity does not actually exist. The word does not exist in the Bible. Scripture. Yeah, it’s not there, but it’s a pretty commonly accepted doctrine in the church.

Shelby: That’s an understatement.

Nate: Are there any denominations or maybe not even denominations, but the Eastern Orthodox not believe it or something like that?

Shelby: There might be. I can’t name anything off the top of my tongue, but I mean, the doctrine of the Trinity did form very quickly. It’s part of essentially the earliest creeds, so I’d say it’s probably fairly universal, but nothing’s completely universal. You’re googling it.

Nate: And hardly any and none that I think evangelicals would call Christian Christians.

Shelby: Oh, yeah. I didn’t think that.

Nate: Yeah, non trinitarianism. Wow, that’s a big word. Oneness Pentecostals reject the Trinity doctrine, viewing it as a pagan wait, Pentecostals? Oneness Pentecostals. I’ve never heard of that until now. But viewing it as a pagan and unscriptural and hold to the Jesus name doctrine with respect to baptisms. Oh, baptize you in the name of.

Shelby: Jesus, I guess, would be the interesting yeah, yeah. I’d say that’s the most common thing I heard growing up, too, is that this led us is the Trinity showing up here, which I think I always felt like it’s a little funny that it’s not talked about anywhere else, essentially through the rest of the Old Testament. And then by the time you get to the New Testament, then you’re like, okay, well, now I can kind of see at least all the characters at play. Like, you’ve got the Holy Spirit and the tongues of fire and you’ve got the Father blessing. The know Jesus is obviously there in the New Testament, at least, you can kind of see them all. But in the Old Testament, there’s no sign of that whatsoever. If anything, there’s this huge emphasis on the Shema, which is one of the most important statements that Israel repeats in their religion is Hero Israel, the Lord our God. The Lord is one. When we think about maybe some of us are familiar with the tenacity with which Islam defends the monotheism of God. It’s so essential to their religion that God is one. And they very much contrast that with even with the Trinity. That can’t be possible. I mean, I’d say that’s probably along the level of what Judaism was too, very much, although that was a later development within Judaism.

Nate: So I guess the question would be.

Shelby: Then probably post exilic.

Nate: What did the Jews telling this story to each other and then eventually writing it down and continuing to read it what did they think that they were what? Did they mean when they said that God said, Let us?

Shelby: Yeah. Well, first of all, I think it’s very inaccurate and misrepresenting to say that this is the Trinity, and we’ve maybe.

Nate: Said this before, but doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not necessarily talking about the doctrine of the Trinity right now. You’re just saying, if we look at.

Shelby: This, this verse, I don’t think that we can say that the doctrine of the Trinity is represented within the Old Testament at all.

Nate: Right.

Shelby: And I think there’s a lot of teaching out there. Specifically, I’d say, the Bible Project, which does a lot of great work, but their kind of mantra is that the Bible is a unified story pointing to Jesus. And that would be the point that I have the most. Contention with because I think it’s their mission statement. Yeah, it’s in every video. I think that’s probably why I didn’t get my application to work. There was rejected a while ago, but that was years ago. But I think it’s unfair to the Hebrew Bible to read it that way. I mean, I guess you can sure, you can read anything through any lens that you want, but to say that it was meant to be read through that lens I think is a kind of cultural appropriation, like religious appropriation, I guess you could say. This is not how those texts were meant to be read and that’s not how Jews read them today. So how would we feel if some religion I mean, maybe we could say that Mormonism does take I think a lot of Christians would probably feel like they do kind of appropriate the New Testament and if they take the teachings of Jesus to make it more match what they say or Jehovah’s Witnesses or something. Christians don’t generally like that, but that’s exactly what we’re doing with the Jewish.

Nate: Scriptures when we make what we want. Right, but I mean, the claim would be that Jesus said that, right? Jesus was the one that inserted himself into lion, into the Jewish story. Right. And was claiming to continue that story.

Shelby: Sure. But I mean, I could claim to insert myself into the Jesus story as well. Anyway, so I do not believe that this was meant to be any form of the Trinity, but some other explanations. First of all, and probably the one that I would give the most credence to is this idea of a heavenly court. And this shows up in other passages throughout the Old Testament or the Hebrew Bible. There’s also a Babylonian parallel to this which again, most of these stories are coming and being formulated and finally written down post exile from Babylon. So there’s a lot of Babylonian influence on the authors. But there’s multiple descriptions of a heavenly court. They’re in First Kings, there’s in Job, there’s some in Psalms that are pretty well known and there’s several other ones within Genesis. So like in Genesis 3, it says the Lord God said, the man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not reach out his hand and take from the tree of life.

Nate: So there’s another kind of like divine realm type of stuff like our all.

Shelby: The way back to your first series.

Nate: Michael heiser who he eventually, because I think he was on our show, went on to Bible project and they had him on. I think he’s passed away now. But to talk about this whole idea of this divine realm that was believed by the Jewish people yeah, and it’s.

Shelby: Not a preposterous idea. I mean, it shows up in many different ways. Divine realm meaning like there were other divine beings around Yahweh, around God, and God was still the God the most powerful, but that there were other spiritual beings who also had power, who he consulted and yeah, I mean, Job is a pretty clear example of kind of this depiction of this heavenly know.

Nate: And again, it’s good to separate. When I say again, that’s me going back to something I said in episode eight or something like that of this show, I think in one of those early episodes, I asked, do we have to I was obviously in a very different place than I am now. But do we have to believe the worldview that are we trying to put on the worldview of early Jews? And the answer is no, right?

Shelby: Definitely not.

Nate: We don’t have to believe that there is a war going on in the heavenly realm. I think that’s just it’s helpful to separate this and being like, right now we’re studying an ancient people and we’re studying how they thought about the world, their worldview. And it’s telling that there were other worldviews at the time, other people groups at the time that had similar worldviews. Right. That was like a common thing to have this the gods are battling it out kind of a thing. There are and if anything and your god is the best of the gods.

Shelby: Remarkable. And we talked about this on the last through the Bible episode, but it’s noteworthy that there is no conflict going, even though there is still some hint of a divine realm in a heavenly court. There is no conflict. God’s not battling it out because, yeah, most of the other cultures around them were, like you said, kind of battles between different powers.

Nate: Right.

Shelby: This one’s portrayed very differently. And this beginning of peace out of chaos, which is a beautiful metaphor, which I guess kind of does bring us back to what you’re saying of like and maybe even just a reiteration of why are we doing this? Why do we even care? Why do we read the Bible? Why is this worth even talking about? Because, yeah, you and I don’t really believe probably anything in this chapter actually happened. So then why are we talking about it? And why do we read all these texts? I’m not Jewish, I’m not from Israel, this is not my history. And yet why do I spend all this time studying it? And I think the answer does just come down to there’s, I guess, multiple angles. One angle is purely like it’s interesting. And I think if you take that angle with the Bible, you can actually get a lot out of it. You can get different things out of it than you used to get because you just start drawing from it the things that actually stand out to you versus the things you think you should be getting out of it. And then, yeah, I mean, ancient wisdom. There’s a reason that these texts have lasted this long, because they generally teach stories that are exciting. The other day, our daughter was drawing, coloring something in a creature that was like completely covered in rainbows. And I was like, just looking at her drawing the rainbows. And I said, have you ever heard the story of Joseph with the colorful coat? She’s like, I don’t think so. So I just started telling her the story of Joseph for probably like five minutes to maybe ten minutes. Just a really kind of bare bones okay, there’s this brother, he had one of twelve brothers, and they all kind of hated him because his dad favored him, and then they tried to kill him. She’s like, what? I know. But then there was this other brother who kind of tried to save him, but then he didn’t get back in time. The slave traders took him to Egypt and all this stuff. And then there was a famine, so the brothers came to Egypt and who do you think was there? Who was going to give them the food when they got there? She’s like, Joseph.

Nate: This would make a good movie.

Shelby: Make a great movie as soon as I finished. And then the dad got to see him again before he died, and they all kind of made up with each other. She’s like, can you start at the very beginning again? It just reminded me of like these are just interesting stories of humanity. The same way we tell fairy tales and we tell the Goldilocks and the 3D bears and we tell Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Or I mean, it’s maybe a little more than that, but we tell stories of the founding of our country, or we tell stories of Isaac Newton shooting the apple. This is just the collective story of humanity, and they’re.

Nate: Number one.

Shelby: I think the moral of the story that Lucy took away from the Joseph story, because then we went back and did the backstory of why Joseph was a favorite and he married all these wives. I think her takeaway was, you should only marry one wife.

Nate: It’s a good lesson.

Shelby: Yeah, that’s all that’s legal here anyway, so that’s fine, right?

Nate: I don’t know. You can write us about that too. I love you. All your emails just email us.

Shelby: Yeah. Okay. So we’ll pull it all back that we went real big picture there, but let’s pull it back to well, you.

Nate: Said there were first of all, you said there were a couple of reasons.

Shelby: Oh, interesting. Ancient wisdom.

Nate: Yeah. Obviously this book and these texts are significant in our culture, and they’re used and we’ve talked about this on the show before, but they’re used in a lot of different ways. So it’s going to be significant whether we talk about on the show or not. So if it’s already being used in certain ways against some of you, that’s why probably you’re listening.

Shelby: Yeah, I guess a lot of us are using it as re equipping ourselves to deal with the beliefs that we were brought up with.

Nate: Right. I think there’s a number of reasons.

Shelby: Well, back to let us make men in our image. I think the last reasonable explanation is in grammar. In Hebrew grammar, there’s the justive is the use of essentially you can use the plural in the let us context, like this idea that we are kind of putting a command out there, let us do this, let us do that. It’s just like a formal way of saying I’m going to do that. And that’s a pretty decent explanation. Although I do think the divine court makes a little more sense to me because we know that that was part of the Jewish mindset at the time.

Nate: So that’s that, I mean, there’s also the R image is that there’s the US, but there’s the R as well.

Shelby: Because once you say the let us part, you’ve grammatically started that sentence, that structure. So it’s just going to carry forward into the hour. Yeah, good point, though. A note on the use of the word man. Let us create man in our image. It’s essentially just like the way we in English used and sometimes still use men as the default term. All men are created equal. Obviously. I don’t think anyone should be arguing that God’s saying let us make males in our image, like it’s definitely meant to anyone reading it in any time in history. They would have assumed it meant all people.

Nate: Although I will say I’m sure it’s not 0% of people that better be that have made that argument.

Shelby: I guess probably not.

Nate: Probably close to zero, but probably not.

Shelby: So yes, it is patriarchal that the word men or man can be used to denote everyone, but I’m not freaking out about it because I know that’s not what the intention was and I’d say there’s other things more worth freaking out about. So, yeah, let’s make man in our image and after our likeness. This is the most significant distinction from the animal world, definitely giving some a special status to humans. But the cultural context here is that in both Mesopotamia and in Egypt, the rulers, the monarchs, were described literally as the image or the likeness of their god, the name Tutankhaman. Or did you have like a children’s book about this Egyptian pharaoh who was mummified? I mean, it’s one of the coolest archaeological finds of all time. Oh, maybe, but his name Tutankhamen or however I don’t know how you’re supposed to say it, literally means the living image of the god Amun. And then also in assyria the image of God was a symbol on Earth that represented them. So, like a god might be represented by a winged disk or a sun disk or different kind of earthly symbols that were like that’s the image of god. So this is like a huge statement being made here that all humans are the image and likeness of God. Twofold meaning that all humans are rulers, as we’re about to see, like the pharaohs or in Mesopotamia. And then also that all humans are representation of God on Earth.

Nate: Feels kind of like all men or now we would say all men and women are created humans are created equal. Right. It feels like that kind of a thing. This is a big statement we’re making, right? Yeah, everyone has these rights.

Shelby: Exactly. So really beautiful statement. One of the reasons why this is my favorite creation story that I’ve read ever, but also in comparison to Genesis 2. But anyway, so he did let us create man in our image after our own likeness, and then let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the Earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the Earth. So God created man in his own image. In the image of God, he created him male and female. He created them. And it’s worth noting I’ll give it away, but one of the reasons why this account is my favorite over the next one is it’s so much more egalitarian. I mean, up until this point, no mention has been made of male and female until the very end of that verse I just read. It’s just all humans are made in the image of likeness of God and likeness of God, and then the command or the blessing to let them have dominion over everything and over all the creeping things that creep on the Earth is given to everyone before there’s any distinction made about male and female. And then even after the male and female distinction says, and God bless them, and God said to them, be fruitful and multiply, fill the Earth and subdue it, have dominion over the fish of the sea, birds of the heavens, and every living thing that moves on the Earth.

Nate: Where’s the verse about the umbrellas? Where God is the big umbrella?

Shelby: Genesis 2, and then man’s.

Nate: The next umbrella, basically no Jesus. And then man, and then woman. Wait. Yeah.

Shelby: Well, father children.

Nate: Yeah, something like that. That was left out of okay.

Shelby: Yeah. So it’s a very egalitarian creation account, I do think. I’ll just note here, as we start to wrap up this chapter, it’s interesting that it says right after this and God said to the humans, I give you every seed bearing plant on the face of the Earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it, they will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the Earth and all the birds in the sky and the creatures that move along the ground, everything that has breath of life in it, I give you every green plant for food. And it was so so everything’s vegetarian at this point in the Jewish mindset, there’s no eating of meat by anyone, even animals, until after the fall. Just kind of interesting to note. And also they go back to that in Isaiah. His vision of the utopian future is that the cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together. The lion will eat straw like the ox. The wolf and the lamb will feed together. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountains.

Nate: So we’re not supposed to eat animals?

Shelby: Well, I mean, we’re not really taking commands from the Bible at this point. But if you were, though well, you was vegetarian at one point and I was back and forth on this because it was very clear that the Eden, which doesn’t count till Genesis 2, was vegetarian. And the new Heaven, new Earth, utopian future is also vegetarian. But then I was like, well, Jesus ate meat, so that was kind of through a wrench in my philosophy there. So I don’t know, do what you will. I mean, I’m all for vegetarians, but not for any of these reasons. All right, well, this is the end of chapter one, although I do think we need to just really quickly throw in the 7th day here, because what’s interesting is that Genesis 2, verses one, two, and three really should be part of Genesis 1, which led me to do a little bit of digging into, like, where did these chapters and verses come from anyway? Because we’ve had all six days. Clearly the 7th day is part of this narrative. And then at verse Genesis 2:4, it very clearly breaks into a different creation story. Right? Essentially. I looked it up. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton in the 13th century. So fairly recently, all things considered, is the one who added chapter divisions, not even verses, just chapters. So up until the 13th century, there were not even chapters in the scriptures. So everything’s just being read long form. I mean, this whole book was one giant book. They really didn’t put a ton of precision into these chapters because I think because all they were doing was essentially creating a reference system. It’s not meant to be some theological just also fun fact, the same guy, Stephen Langton, was involved in the drafting of the Magna Carta. So if that puts things into some historical perspective, I feel like I could.

Nate: See that name on any church staff page I know.

Shelby: I’m like, this sounds like a more modern name than the Magna Carta.

Nate: He’s doing the announcements next.

Shelby: Mean, if you want, you can go look at if you go to the Dead Sea Scrolls online, you can see the great Isaiah scroll and you’ll see it all just long form, no numbers or breaks or chapters. I mean, other than just some natural breaks. And I think that would change the way that we read things. I don’t know that it’s like and this has absolutely revolutionized the way that we read the Bible and we’re completely off course now. But it is I mean, in this case, it’s pretty clearly like, oh, that’s in the wrong spot. So it’s just a helpful note. It’s also interesting to think about the people. Like, clearly the Bible wasn’t really used by lay people much at this point because the fact that there’s no verses or chapters would have made studying it and discussing it fairly like the way we do it today, would have made that pretty difficult. Like, in order to actually reference something with another person, you would basically just have to quote it and they would have to know the same verse. And so it was probably done mostly by scholars.

Nate: Well, I wonder if this Steve LinkedIn guy was I just feel like the LinkedIns are like a powerful family of the know and last ones out, they locked the door anyway. I wonder if Steve LinkedIn also around that time, maybe one of the things they’re solving for was, I don’t know, and some listener out there you can email were they was the communal reading of scripture was that going up at this time? And they’re trying to keep people on the same literally on the same page. So a couple of hundred years later, the printing press comes along. So I don’t know, maybe this is laying the groundwork for that’s true, more even just scribal mass production at the time, but then eventually printing press. So who knows?

Shelby: Okay, well, to finish us off here, our 7th day is just a couple of little tidbits here. We’ve probably heard a lot about the teachings on the Sabbath and all of that, but yeah, this day, that is a day of rest. Remarkable in that this doesn’t occur in any other creation stories in the cultures surrounding I think it’s worth noting that the creation of humans is maybe the pinnacle of creation, but it’s not the climax of the story. Like, the Sabbath is actually the climax and the finale. And I think that’s really beautiful. Probably one of the most significant gifts that Judaism passed down to Christianity. And I mean, even to our culture like this to this day, sundays maybe aren’t as sacred as they were a hundred years ago. Like walmart’s still open. That kind of you check whether things are open on Sundays and Chick fil A is not banks. Yeah, but we do still have this cultural rhythm of resting on now it’s more the weekend, but it’s because of this that’s how it started. And it’s a beautiful tradition, says God blessed the 7th day and declared it holy. This is the first use of the huge concept of holiness, which, as we know, just dominates the rest of the Old Testament. And I think it’s beautiful that it’s declaring a time holy, a day holy, not a space, not a temple. It’s time. And I think that likely that is sabbath became a much more emphasized tradition while the people of Israel were in exile because they had no temple and so much of what they had considered holy had been absolutely destroyed. And so this was something that they could still hold onto. So that wraps up what I would call Genesis 1. Yeah, we tagged a few verses on the end there, but the essence of Genesis 1 first creation story. And I’m excited to get into round two, which will be a bit of a hard knock, but it’s going to be interesting.

Nate: Yeah, the other the alternate ending? No, it’s like an alternate whole movie. Wow. Okay. All right, well, there we go. That’s the second part. We took two episodes to get through just the first chapter of Genesis and onward from here. Genesis 2:4 will be next.

Shelby: We’ll probably speed things up a bit from here.

Nate: Yeah, we’re not going to go I mean, this would take 1015 years, maybe longer easily if we did it that way. So stick around if you want to help support the show. You can go to And there’s a lot of ways to click, a lot of things to click on there to become a patron of the show. Just a few dollars a month. Or you can also give on Apple podcasts and get extra episodes. We do get into our Facebook group, private Facebook group. There’s a few hundred people in there. We talk about lots of random stuff in there. We’d love to have you, but I want you to know you’re not alone. You’re not crazy. That’s why we do this show. We’re on this journey with you, and we do this show for you to give the Bible back to you in new, fresh, and exciting ways. So we will catch you all next time.

Shelby: Thanks for listening.

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