Thoughts on Genesis 1-2
In our sunday school class this semester we are focusing on Genesis 1 - 3. This past week we focused on two issues, the meaning of the word "day" and the meaning of Sabbath. This class has been on my mind the past few days, so I wanted to offer a couple of random comments on both of these topics. I'll post part 1 tonight and part 2 soon.
It seems that whenever the book of Genesis is studied the question of what the word "day" means comes up. To be honest I think that this is completely misguided and very unhelpful. First, as I read the text, there doesn't appear to be any internal indicators given in the text by Moses that let us know what he means by the word "day". Realizing this, people then go off to other places of the Bible to try and "prove" that day means 24 hrs or day means a long period of time. This to me seems pretty fruitless because you're going to easily be able to make a case for both of those definitions. Finally, I just don't think that the point of the text is to emphasize that God created the world in 7 days; regardless of how you understand the word day. The point of the text is that God created, not that he did it in a certain time period.
While we were discussing this, one of the clearest examples of what happens when one asks the wrong questions of a text was given. One well intentioned student tried to prove the point that "day" in Genesis 1-2 means a 24 day by going to Jesus' first miracle. Jesus' first miracle is when he turns water into wine and not just any wine but the best wine, which also happens to be the oldest. This student's point was that in this story we see that Jesus performed a miracle of time. He accomplished in a very short period of time what usually takes a very long period of time. Just as Jesus performed a miracle of time with the wine, so too did God work a miracle of time by creating the world in seven 24 hour days. While this is very creative, it is just completely misguided; it misunderstands the points of both stories. Just as the point of the creation narrative is not the length of days, the point of the miracle at the wedding of Cana is not that Jesus can do things in a short period of time which usually take a long period of time. I don't mean any disrespect to this student, it was just too clear an example of what happens when you ask the wrong questions of a text.