To read is to interpret. To interpret is to seek intention. Good readers offer consistent readings of texts. Biblical heroes are good readers who read Yahweh’s intentions. Who is this Yahweh that we read of from the very beginning of the text?
“In the beginning of creation, when God made heaven and earth…” is the first thing we read. Not only is there a time indicator functioning like “once upon a time” but also it seems right to call it the time indicator – not once in time but at the beginning of time. “In the beginning of creation” signals an ongoing creation, a continuous creation in time, and not just a creative act of instantaneous power inserted and withdrawn.
In the Genesis 1 creation story we find authority, brevity, and solemn majesty presented in the character of God, the transcendent and creative commander of the universe. But already in Genesis 2 we meet a sudden switch in form and style. Now the relationship of the characters rather than the tabulation of events or commands is primary. Here is a personal God, immanent and knowable, instead of transcendent and imperial. The language is picturesque and flowing: this God breathes life into dust sculpted man and plants a garden, this God responds to the loneliness of Adam and creates Eve, this God walks in the garden and talks to his creations. The God who issued commands in Genesis 1 speaks only once here and then to himself, “It is not good for man to be alone.” While in Genesis 1 God appears as a being who stands outside of his creation and controls it with his mighty word, in Genesis 2 the portrait of God is very different. Here his immanence, personal nearness, and local involvement on the human scene are basic features. Yahweh is not a detached sovereign overlord but a god at hand as a loving master. He is a god with whom man has a ready contact. He molds with his hands like a potter; he breathes into the mouth of a clay model, he searches through the garden for Adam and Eve, he converses.
Read the book here.