Genesis (Part 6)

Questions to think about during this lesson…

  • Was there a first man and a first woman, or was the story of Adam and Eve an allegory? What’s the Orthodox doctrine or do we not “go there”?
  • What is the scientific discovery known as the “Eve theory”?
  • As a review, what did the Fathers mean by understanding Genesis “literally” — and why did they emphasize this point of view?
  • How does Origen interpret the creation of the world?
  • How does Origen’s teachings on “image and likeness” in Genesis 1:26 compare to the Orthodox teaching? (Hint: Origen had a strong influence on the theology of the Fathers)
  • In Genesis (Part 5) we learned how the two different accounts of creation (Genesis 1 and Genesis 2) give us a more rounded view of who God is: God is both powerful, majestic, creates effortlessly by command… and yet He is also intimately involved with His creation, meaning He’s a hands-on, loving God. So we have neither a portrayal of a distant God by Himself (if we only had Genesis 1) and we neither have a tremendously anthropomorphic description of God (if we only had Genesis 2). Therefore, together we have a very nice picture of God who is both transcendent AND intimate… who’s both powerful, mighty and something a part from creation… and also someone who is gentle and loving and participates in a very concrete sense in creation. That said, while we’ve learned how Genesis 2 gives us a different view of God than Genesis 1, St. John Chrysostom says Genesis 2 gives us a different view of man. How so?
  • According to St. John Chrysostom, why is the creation of man in Genesis 2:7 described the way it is?
  • According to St. John Chrysostom, how does the anthropomorphized description of the creation of man instruct us in humility?
  • According to St. John Chrysostom, what does it mean to say God “breathed” into Adam (Genesis 2:7) and how does this relate to the “nobility” of our soul and how it’s possible for people to transcend the limitations of the body to live lives of great virtue?
  • How does the description of the creation of man in Genesis 2:7 show us the importance of the human being?
  • Because of the way the human being comes to life in Genesis 2:7 (that God “breathed” into him), some people, like the Gnostics, took this to mean that the soul is actually divine. Why does St. John Chrysostom severely criticize this interpretation?
  • What does it mean to say that our own human limitations are the reason for the concreteness of the languages used in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2?

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