Sunday, February 4, 2024

Hillsdale College: The Genesis Story: Reading Biblical Narratives: Video 1 & 2 Introduction & Adam and Eve

 Hillsdale College: Why and How we teach the Book of Genesis


Pillars of the college = learning character faith and freedom are the 4 pillars of education

Sound Learning and Character:

-building of a moral character

-cardinal virtues are written into history 

-teaching of the Christian faith through precept and example

-Intellect: operation of the mind and moral action to be brave 

-Human integrity of body and soul are virtues of excellence 

-Philosophy: is the love of wisdom

-Wisdom: is the achievement of the intellect-what you can know-think things through

-not built on principles of faith-ex. Political  philosophy 

-Classical philosophy: born in pagan times before Christ-recognize things like common

nouns ex. Glass (many kinds but we recognize them all is glass)

-classic human reason-raise kids just a like when little-but 2 when they begin talking

-dogs raised the same way but kids learn to talk but dogs don’t 

-kids pick up something that other creatures don’t but the thing that makes us different

we are still imperfect-indwells in a perishable body-

-2nd way we learn think and process

-we don’t know everything at once-we learn as we go and piece things together

-Aristotle says there is nothing in the soul that we can get to without the senses-

Faith and Freedom:

-right of the human being to be free

-exercise his mind to understand the things around him

-all the other freedoms follow

-we are limited

-there is a being that knows everything in an instant

-implications of God in hierarchy of things including us and in the imperfection even

in the highest things we see

-Humanities: raises the question on how are you going to know about God? 

-Imagine a perfect being-omnipotent- omniscient sees and knows everything-origin

of things is the creator-

-Greek philosophy-they don’t imagine a creator because they stick with what they see

-planets are there and the patterns of their movement doesn’t change-acorns produce

oak trees so the implications are that it has gone on forever-ask the question of did this all start somewhere? And if so where?

-if there was a creator he has to be outside nature-his is not just a dense lump at the beginnings of things

-to be the source and eternal thing in order to be perfect-picture of God-supported by tradition of learning through Christianity

-God is in the word and that is how humans differ from other creatures

-God speaks to us through His word

-we can’t explain everything at once

-God is the thing we don’t have any sensory evidence-creator of everything-

-Theology: Study of God

-always part of the cannon of the liberal arts

-understanding the faithful part of it 

-Natural Sciences: the revealed part of it-different kind of knowing different than the kind

of knowing that we observe-think-record-calculate

-both are valuable-but are different

-call yourself a holy people-holy thoughtful person-think about God

-form integrity- 4 pillars-grateful to God Civil and religious freedom

-best arguments-arbitrate-attempt to understand how and to be excellent human beings

-creatures of God given with a knowing mind

-Genesis, Shakespeare, Aristotle, and Plato humanities

-Genesis is profound serious and mysterious

1st line in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth 

-who is speaking? Need to be God only? But later is often quoted by then God said so

unclear of who is speaking?

-account of origins of things-both natural science and humanities

-natural question of man when he begins to learn

1st-11th chapters are like each other-mysterious and general



-expulsion from the garden

-Noah and the flood

-growth of humanity

-Tower of Babel-and deprivation of language

Last 29 chapters are like each other

-Ch. 12 starts with a particular study

-particular named people in particular places and are given particular responsibilities by God

-Ch. 12 God says to Abraham

-calling of Abraham to move to a place he had never been to make you a great people

-and this will be a blessing to all the people on the face of the earth( look at the language)

-story meant for the benefit for all of us 

-the rest of genesis is about the choosing of the Jewish people

-Abraham is tested with sacrifice of son-the son that was promised by God to Abraham-there is meaning to the story

-confusing as God is not a pagan god who demands child sacrifice 

-Jacob born- renamed Israel- he has 12 sons- heads of the twelve tribes 

-Joseph is the favorite-sold into slavery-part of a great drama

-ends Jacob dies-Joseph speculates going back home some day

-Moses-move into Exodus-Genesis sets the stage for this next great drama

Lecture 1-Adam and Eve

Narrative: Literary qualities in the text

relationships we shall see that dominate the narrative

-God and creation

-God and humans

-Human to human

***Leviticus-humans and creation

-intersection between god and human and human to human relationships

-the way in which face of God show up in human to human in relationships

-creation of Adam and Eve-by his likeness has he made him

-man is the mediator between heaven and earth

-in between divine qualities and earthly qualities-the tension between these two

Genesis 2:5

-God made Adam

-human from the soil

-word play in Hebrew= Adam human being= adoma means from the soil = God blows into his nostrils= it is the divine coming down

-God gives the human (Adom= God breathed into life from soil) a project 

-Adam is to till the garden and watch over it

-to till means to serve the land

-to watch/guard/protect (Samar) as keeper of what God has created

-fashioned all the animals and brings it to human to name them

-the original is protected from us after the transgression of adam and eve

***This is the picture of the divine in the midst of human relationship

God gave Adam the 1st commandment:

-you can eat from all the trees and vegetation in the garden but do not eat from tree of good and evil doomed to die

***as the reader at first glance if Adam eats from it he would drop physically dead, but no more plays out in this narrative

Notice the language shift:

-the most startling statement in 1st three chapters in Genesis

-God speaks up this point that “it was good” then “it is not good”

-vs. 18 = And the Lord God said, “It is not good for the human to be alone

-make him a sustainer to bring back “It was good” in nature as God created

-key insight to humans-1st time it is not good is spoken

-sets our place in the cosmos

-we are mediators between the earthly and the divine

-we are not autonomous beings held accountable to no one

-being in isolation is wholly unacceptable 


-created the animals like the human from the soil, but one difference God doesn’t breathe into the creatures only to man

-notice man is using his words to name the animals

-look at the divine human nature in this exchange

-God would abide by whatever man calls the animals

-man is taking part in this divine project

-participating in creation by naming the animals

-no sustainer for man among the animals


-Gen 2:21-23 God took a rib from adam to make woman

-Adam names her Eve (flesh of my flesh)

Beautiful moment

-human personhood is a corporate human personhood-incomplete-we can’t name who we are unless we have that interconnection with other human being

-Adam’s poem exemplifies this isha (wife)-ish(man rib taken) to make isha woman as wife

-only when he names woman does he name himself as a different identity but not a separate identity as they are bound to one another (they become one)

-notion of personhood-is found in this relationship

-stakes out what the human to human relationship

Chapter 3

-we see is the fall

-there is a disruption/rupture of the human to human relationship

-the rupture is she was supposed to be a sustainer to him and also the rupture between the human and divine relationship 

opening moment of the transgression:

Theological narrative:

-cunning serpent talks to woman

-tells her they are not doomed to die

-tells her you will be like God knowing good and evil and they both ate

-then they knew they were naked and hid themselves

-God gave them a commandment, but their prideful nature wanted to be like God

-He allows them to be tempted

-giving into the temptation they break the commandment from god

-they break their relationship with the divine

-consequence of this is God escorts them from the Garden of Eden which is a just response

-they had a commandment-they disobeyed-broke the commandment and relationship with the divine

What is the tree of good and evil? 

-so must assert it is made as is because God made it 

-The tree was made for good

-as we are told that all of creation was made good

-tree in and of itself is not evil

-but they have been told not to eat of it 

Why would God not allow them to eat it? 

-God made them in the image and likeness 

-he breathed himself into them

-they are these mediators-the earthly and the heavenly

-but are told you shall not have the knowledge of good and evil = to not be like gods

-God abided by the names man made for them but then commands them not to eat from one single tree in the garden-very confusing

-shouldn’t being part of the project is to become like gods?

Clues are in the text: 

-why not the sense of good be heightened if they ate of the tree since god is the source of good?

-the warning is knowledge of good and evil. 

-the tree has a double source of knowledge 

-why would God create all that is good including the tree of good

-then have good and evil

-then tell them no in perpetuity

-knowledge of evil brings them shame

-evil is the consciousness of transgression and the consciousness of shame but the shame comes from the very moment they eat of that tree and exposed to all that goodness

-the more good they are exposed to the more shame they will feel 

-each piece of that knowledge feeds off each other

Humans add details:

-the serpent says not to eat from the tree and Eve interprets the serpent and she adds to God's command that we are not to touch it. 

-Where did she get this extra part of the command?

-did she eye the tree daily so does she lust after the tree?

-she added to give her an excuse to eat the fruit

-is this command given to her to protect her?

-she repeated what Adam has said


-he tells a lie and truth simultaneously-conflation

-if you eat you will be like God so you will not die but be immortal like God 

-you will become like gods knowing the truth

Adam and Eve both eat:

-they hear God walking in the garden

-Where are you? 

Existential question for Adam:

-he was called to fellowship with God and now he is hiding from God

-being fearful of God ruptures of relationship with him and divine

God asks questions:

-How did you know you were naked? 

-Did you eat from the tree? 

God is omniscient asking basic questions of the humans:

-God is calling Adam and Eve into repentance as he is asking Adam to admit what he has done

-They had one commandment

-keep it to stay in the relationship with the divine

It is a blessing to look upon the commandments why?

 ***Because they are divine given

-commands come down and we meet them upwardly in our human earthly way so we are the proper mediator

-follow commandment-if break-repent-then follow commandment

-desires transgressors to return to God-repent-who told you

-Adam has chance to repent but instead puts the blame unto the woman whom you gave me

-intersection between human and divine relationship combined with the human and human relationship 

-what we see is a rupture of both relationships simultaneously

The blame game:


-the one person he calls his sustainer, flesh of my flesh, but then he cuts her off as the problem 

-the woman you gave to me

-in two ways he is passing on this responsibility to the woman and God

-rather than repentance

-he doesn’t take responsibility for his wife

-he doesn’t try to sustain her


-God talks to woman

-she passes blame on to the serpent

-she doesn’t even mention she brought the fruit to Adam to eat

-why so unrepentant

-go back and prophesy and commandment

-do not eat from the tree or you shall be doomed to die

How did they interpret doomed to die to mean?

-How did you read that 1st commandment?

-consequence immediate death?

-cuts and eventually decay and die 

-fear of death causes them not to repent?


-God makes them skin coats

-curses man to till the land

-birth pangs as a reminder to woman

-humans know good and evil

-tree of life is to live

-humans are not immortal

-how to understand the original sin of pride overwhelming desire to be like gods

-get a sense of rivalry between Adam and eve

-he doesn’t want them to be like gods

-notion of repentance

-what is the state of the relationship between Adam and Eve with the divine

-they stand in front of him naked and afraid

-conscious of their transgressions

-they have become like gods knowing good and evil but not able to connect with the tree of life as they are not immortal

-state of shame

-justice and mercy

-justice told you so

-fruit of transgression

-brought to the garden

-transformed this garden God has given them into a a place of mediation to turn it to hell

-hell is a state of shame living in transgression with no way out

Why put the tree in the garden in the first place if it caused all this drama?

-exercise free will

-God doesn’t fear rivalry

-image and likeness

-1st step divine

-event to give them access

-to abstain from it and listen to God

-use free will to obey God then eventually the tree would have been allowed for them to eat with a better understanding of the relationship with the divine

-God is not fearful of his creation

-enormous power rival with whom he made from mud

-participate in the divine life

-original transgression

-cutting them off from Eden was an act of mercy

-stopped them from creating a hell out of paradise

-leads them back to the divine through another path