This summer term we will spend time on Sundays looking at both the last book of the Bible as well as the beginning three chapters of the first.
For anyone wanting to engage more with some of the key themes in the early part of Genesis, a couple of options spring to mind.
One could easily read a good commentary on Genesis (Gordon Wenham’s two volumes come highly recommended).
Alternatively, if you are more a movie-person than a book-person, you could watch Darren Aronofsky’s ambitious new film Noah, out in cinemas now.
In the style of Jewish Midrash (commentaries on the Old Testament), Aronofsky retells the Biblical version of the universally-known flood story with style and force, filling in gaps with Jewish mystic tradition as well as entertaining embellishments from Gnosticism (the extra-Biblical idea that matter is evil).
An introduction to the world of Genesis
The film explores concepts we will be looking at in our Genesis series over June / July, whilst introducing us to the worldview and theology of the Ancient Near East, the context in which Genesis was written. To whet your appetite, here is but a small flavour of ideas explored, posed (in typical Jewish style) as questions…
What does it mean to live in fear of the Creator?
How do we live in light of both God’s justice and God’s mercy?
What is a man? What is his task on earth?
Were Adam and Eve immortal in the Garden? Can mankind be immortal now?
Should we still see the creation as the waters of chaos brought to order?
Does Genesis 1 advocate environmentalism or the pillaging of the earth?
Was the flood an un-doing of day 2 of creation?
Were Cain’s line only wicked? Were Seth’s line only good?
What do we know about the fallen angels known as the Nephilim / the Watchers in Genesis 6?
How did Noah build the ark?
Like any Biblical epic, the film will no doubt divide opinion between Christians angry with the inclusion of Jewish ideas not found in Genesis 6-9 (though without gap-filling, Hollywood would have made a very dull film) and those happy that a big budget movie is willing to look at sin, judgment, righteousness and God as Creator.
Certainly, as Christians wanting to engage with our culture, Aronofsky’s Noah presents us with a chance to have conversations with friends and family about matters of eternal significance from the Biblical Noah. Go and see the movie (and read a good commentary on Genesis) today!