“Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai echad!”
The Old Testament is a fascinating library of books. A common misconception categorizes the Old Testament/Tanakh as a single book which-as many bible scholars world over, from both Jewish and Christian traditions would say, is a gross error. Although it is tackled as a unified whole, it was not compiled during a single period of time, but over several centuries, as the Gideons’ Bibles would rightly put it at the preface, “[The Bible] was put together by people from diverse backgrounds, places and time periods” (my summary). It is this single point that is vital to understanding the Bible as a library in and of itself. And although it does impact the world today after so many years of being in existence, it still wasn’t written to the world as the immediate audience.
Mystery still lies behind this phenomenon as it has shown that the Bible, in spite of its diverse authorship is still able to communicate to people living in our day and age. This is what is known as the divine inspiration of the text. Inspiration implying, in theological terms, that God was able to speak his words and communicate to his people over time through the words of the writers of the books. Troublesome as this might seem, it has helped many people over history to learn something about the divine. Not only has this feat been accomplished, it has also helped unravel the nature of YHWH/Ha-Shem (The Name) to men.
This nature of God is that of justice. Oftentimes, we see his justice play out in a manner that seems odd and not so contemporary to what we already know and see today in our legal systems. This too should not be an area of concern for as peculiar as it might be, people living thousands of years before us had specific concerns and expectations regarding their deities. These desires often manifested as the need for the deity to show his/her might in certain situations. Sometimes, this would mean that the gods would truly be seen as powerful if they reigned over more elemental forces. This seems to be a common thought in most world mythologies, of which Egypt had Re the Sun God. And in an interesting turn of events was fused with Amun to become even greater, Amun Re!
Now here’s where the Old Testament gets real interesting. Although many are familiar with the Biblical story of creation, we often get entangled in finding the meaning behind the message of the narrative. Although the pursuit is in itself noble, it is important to note that Genesis 1 for instance, is said to not merely talk about creation from the scientific point of view but from a theological perspective. It is said that the manner in which it is written is similar to that of a craftsman [living at that time] building a temple, with the last day of creation being the day when he constructed images/likenesses of the god/gods to dwell in the inner sanctuary of his/her presence. For Christian theologians, it might be even more interesting to suggest that perhaps God’s creation of Adam and Eve and letting them dwell in his presence in the Garden of Eden is a clear reflection of God’s original intent for mankind; to be right by his side always.
Back to the point though, Adam and Eve are those images in whom now the God of the Bible breathes his spirit into and they become, not clay/stone puppets, but living breathing beings like their Maker. This creation in his image and likeness, demonstrating the life-giving power of YHWH is the treasure carried by his worshipers. This explains YHWH’s ‘jealousy’ when his people pursued ‘lifeless no-gods (lo elohim)’. And that’s where the tragedy is made clear that God is trying to restore man into his (God’s) image in the world. This takes place through the most interesting drama ever to be witnessed; rape, murder, coups, prophetic messages, adultery, incest and lies just to name a few.
How bad do we really think we are? Isn’t God able to make us a part of his story today?
“God: Why do you eat of the fruit of the tree that I forbade you to eat?”
Adam: The woman YOU gave me to eat and I ate it”
-God’s good character first denied by man to his Maker in the first cosmic trial to ever be held