Genesis (Part 2)

Questions to think about during this lesson…

  • Why did the Fathers think that it was so important to emphasize that God literally created the physical world, and not only the spiritual world? (Hint: It’s the same reason why the Church has always insisted on the humanity of Christ)
  • In our Orthodox service books we refer to “the Nativity of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ according to the flesh.” Why did the Church deliberately add the word “flesh” considering the fact that very often in the Bible (Matthew 26:41, John 3:6, Romans 13:14) and in our prayers flesh has a negative connotation? (Hint: It has to do with the importance of the Incarnation of the Lord)
  • Why was it a very strong and shocking statement for the ancient world to hear what the Gospel of John emphasizes about both the role of the Logos in Creation (John 1:1-3) and the Incarnation of the Logos (John 1:14)?
  • Why did the early Church have to repeatedly affirm the goodness of Creation?
  • How does the Orthodox Church’s affirmation of icons relate to its theology on the Incarnation of our Lord?
  • It can be said that to deny the holiness and goodness of an icon is to deny the goodness of God’s creation and to deny the reality of the Incarnation of Christ (which is to deny our very salvation). How so?
  • What does the Incarnation of our Lord say about God’s love toward His Creation and our inherent goodness as human beings?
  • Why is the Orthodox Church constantly affirming the goodness of the human being – even after the Fall — against people like Calvin who say that human beings are depraved and incapable of any good?
  • Considering that the Arians denied the full divinity of the Son of the God, why does St. Athanasius write a book against them called On the Incarnation?
  • What is the Orthodox Church’s teaching on Salvation and its relation to the Incarnation?
We’re always looking for ideas to get the most out of Dr. Jeannie’s lessons. With this in mind, the following questions were provided by Marianna Sayeg from the Bible study group at St. Mary’s Orthodox Church in Cambridge, MA.

Review Questions:

  1. By now we know that when the Fathers emphasized a “literal” interpretation of Genesis, they meant as opposed to an allegorical one – not that Genesis literally describes HOW God created the world. But WHY was it so important for the Fathers to emphasize that God literally created the physical/material world? What heresies were they combating? How does the creation of the physical world relate to our salvation?
  2. What do Chrysostom and Basil have to say about Genesis 1:2? “The earth was invisible and unfinished, and darkness was over the deep. The Spirit of God was hovering of the face of the water.”
  3. How do the Fathers instruct us to understand Genesis 1:3-5? “Then God said, ‘Let there be light’ and there was light. God saw the light was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day; the darkness He called Night; and there was evening and morning, one day.”
  4. What is Biblical cosmology? Explain how the firmament in Genesis 1:7-8 is an example of Biblical cosmology.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why do you think our salvation is so intricately tied to the Incarnation? Couldn’t God have saved us without becoming human?
  2. Can you think of any other examples of Biblical cosmology?

Download this lesson or listen to it below: