Saturday, January 28, 2012

Genesis as Ecological Ethics

Alice C. Linsley

A friend recently asked my opinion of a course on Genesis being offered at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary by Professor Jerome Creach.  It is a lecture series on "Genesis and the Moral Imagination" and the recommended text is Terence Fretheim's God and World in the OT: A Relational Theology of Creation, Abindgon, 2005.

Before I offer my opinion, I should preface it with a note to those who don't know me very well. 

I am an old curmudgeon and care less what people say, especially when they make unsubstantiable claims such as "women make better priests" or "Abraham was the first Jew."  I either leave them to their nonsense or I ask them to substantiate their claims. I'm not interested in arguing with them. 

Leon Kass wrote a rather comprehensive book from the Jewish perspective on Genesis and ethics. If that is the angle one wishes to take, I recommend his book, The Beginnings of Wisdom. Kass sees the overarching theme of Genesis as God's effort to create a human society that will practice justice and mercy.  It is no surprise that Christ is not found anywhere in the book and Messianic expectation is of little concern.

Professor Creach, on the other hand, is a Christian (Prebyterian).  Surely in his class students will find Christ at the heart of Genesis.  One would hope!  However, his take is not distinctly Christian, as far as I can tell.  Here is the course description:

"This study of the book of Genesis will explore some of the Bible's most popular stories..."

I take this to mean that the class will not look at the latest anthropolgical research confirming the historicity of Genesis. The focus will be on narrative and meaning.  If one wishes to take this approach, Robert Alter's Genesis and his The Art of Biblical Narrative are unsurpassed.

The course will focus on "moral and ethical concerns" such as "care for the natural world and the maintenance of justice." In other words, Creach will play it safe with the politically correct reading of Genesis which entirely misses the point of the book as a narrative about the origins of Messianic expectation among Abraham's ancestors.

Personally, I wouldn't be the least interested in this course. It would annoy me, but as I said, I'm an old curmudgeon.

Related reading:  Jesus Christ's Resurrection in Genesis; Jesus Christ, The Son of God; Jesus Christ in Genesis; The Kingdom of God in Genesis; Tracing Christ's Kushite Ancestors; The Christ in Nilotic Mythology; Genesis and the True Meaning of Christmas


Anastasia Theodoridis said...

You rock, old curmudgeon!

Alice C. Linsley said...

Anatasia, thanks for reading. You rock too!