Susquehanna Morning

Susquehanna Morning

Friday, March 3, 2017

Lent 1: Not Eve. Not Yet.

"The Creation of Man" by Marc Chagall

She appears slyly, at the end of the first creation story.

That's not exactly right. She appears as a quiet presence at the end of the great creation liturgy.

The first chapter of the bible, Genesis 1, the one that begins "In the beginning..." is a great liturgy. It is a great poem. Read it aloud. Even in the clunkiest of English translations, the poetry pushes through, and we read phrases that, repeating themselves, become the choral responses of the unfolding story.

"Then God said...."

"God called (named)..."

"And God saw that it was good..."

"And there was evening and there was morning, the (first, second.... sixth) day."

It is a poem. It is a liturgy. It is a story told around a fire for reassurance, that an unnameable God is in fact the source of all that is good, and the goal of all our longings.

The first woman, or maybe I should say, the first sign of woman, comes into the story on the sixth day, the last day in which God is creating (for now).

Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”
     So God created humankind in his image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them. ~ Genesis 1:26-27

The first thing we learn about the woman is that she is created, together with man, in the image and likeness of God. 

If indeed God spoke these words, it is an astonishing act of generosity from One to whom we ascribe all power and majesty. It's the origin of Psalm 8.

If these words are the words of God's people describing their experience of God, they are even more amazing. Think: A text that may be three thousand years old affirms that women and men alike are created in some way to resemble their God. A society in which women's power was relegated mostly to the home, and in which women were considered by custom and law to be the legal property of a male relative such as father, husband, or brother.... is telling us that nevertheless, woman is created with the same dignity as man.

That's pretty cool. (Now if only that conviction could be made manifest in the present day.)

The second thing we learn is that this is a creation, not of two individuals, but of "humankind" (which is the NRSV translation above). The first creation story (the next one is coming right up) speaks of creation of people, not individual persons. So, "the woman" is really still "woman." Woman has been created, and, like man, she is without particulars of character or action or any role except, along with man, co-steward of the creation into which she is plopped at the utterance of God. 

She is not "Eve." Not yet. 

But she has arrived.

No comments:

Post a Comment