3 Insights about Genesis You’ve Probably Never Heard

“If we all followed Genesis as our collective compass, the world would be a better place.”

This is one of the last quotes in Roadmap Genesis, a documentary by a filmmaker turned rabbi. In it he argues that the ills plaguing society today find their cure in the wisdom of Genesis.

And he gathers a wide array of perspectives to do so. Conservative governor Mike Huckabee, creationist Ken Ham, former Archbishop of Chicago Cardinal Francis George, Jewish lawyer Alan Dershowitz, and many others lend their voices from varied ideological corners to herald one unified message: we desperately need Genesis today.

Here are just three insights from the film that you may appreciate knowing next time you open Genesis.

1. God creates so uniquely that he gets his own verb

Early in the documentary, a Bible scholar Dr. Marc Brettler points out that the second word in Genesis 1:1, the verb barah (“to create”), is only ever used in biblical Hebrew with God as its subject. “The fact that you can have a word in Hebrew that has only God as its subject seems to suggests that the way in which God creates is fundamentally different than the manner in which humans are able to create.” He says if he were asked to translate the verse, he’d say something like, “In the beginning of God’s creation… (That is the best word that I can fathom because this word is never used about humans when they create or fashion anything)… of the Heavens and the Earth.”

God creates what others cannot. What he does in creation is unique—too powerful and beautiful for humans to emulate. He is the creator par excellence. This should give us profound appreciation and awe for creation and the created order. What God calls good we cannot even create. How might that influence us to embrace all that he has made, and all the ways he has told us to live?

2. Genesis 5:1 is one of the most important verses in the Bible

Gen. 5:1 reads, “This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God.”

Does this sound like one of the Bible’s most important verses? Perhaps not on the face of it.

But rabbi Elazar Muskin says that many rabbis point to it when debating what the Bible’s most important passage is. This is because it gets at the common ancestry of mankind; it teaches that “we all come from the same book of creation.” Or as one scholar succinctly puts it, that “we are all family.”

Whether it’s the most significant passage in the Bible is besides the point (and, if there is one, Matthew 22:35-40 may lay claim). The point is, the verse cuts to the heart of derision and division in the world today. As Mother Theresa famously said, “If we have no peace, it’s because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” Genesis teaches that we are family, which means all conflict is infighting.  

3. Genesis is the story behind the 10 commandments

At one point in the film, Alan Dershowitz, renowned lawyer and Harvard law professor, makes this bold statement: “If I were stuck on a desert island and had one FedEx box and could get one book to teach the students who were stuck with me on the island, I would order the book of Genesis. I can’t imagine a more relevant book for today’s life—it talks about everything.”

Dershowitz says it is “a brilliant law book… precisely because it’s a narrative.” He explains that the 10 commandments are based on the narratives of the book of Genesis, which of course preceded the law. “So from a lawyer’s point of view,” he says, “the book of Genesis is the common law, the origins of the law, the law before statutes, the law before the commandments.”

Genesis is the law illustrated. In it you see the goodness of God’s order and the evil of going against it. Should the 10 commandments ever be questioned, one must simply point to Genesis and say, “Show me a tragedy, and I will show you a broken law.”

Genesis has no shortage of benefits. As interviewees in the film say:

“Genesis is a roadmap for life.”

“Genesis is insight into the human condition.”

“Genesis is a reminder that no man or woman is an island.”

These are the themes that pop up over and over in Roadmap Genesis. For those who already know and love Genesis, it is motivation to take a second look and glean more wisdom. For those who consider Genesis a dusty old story with no relevance today, it is an outright rebuttal.

The documentary renews confidence in conventional wisdom and kinship, poking holes in our individualism and overconfidence in modernity.

As one scholar put it, “There is something to be said for a text that has been authoritative for communities for over 3,000 years.”

It may be the world’s oldest story, but it needs retelling today.

Watch Roadmap Genesis free with a 30-day trial of Faithlife TV Plus. You’ll get instant access to the documentary and the entire Faithlife TV Plus catalog, including more Bible-centered documentaries, miniseries, biographies, and kids shows. Start a free trial today.

Comments

  1. Wayne Baker says:

    Another insight that one may not have heard or thought of is:
    What is the fundamental, bare bones requirement for God to have Created the universe? Once you answer that, you have a second insight:
    What is included in Genesis (and later) that adds to the fundamental needs for Genesis to be true?
    The answer to question one, Genesis seems to assume, does not in any way attempt to verify or prove. The answer to question two, is obviously given. So now we have question 3:
    Why did God provide the answer or answers to question 2? What would be the intent of the answers he gave? What is the import of the answers? What coud be the symbolic and or cultural meaning of the answers? What insight do these answers give, that is essential to be included?
    So what are the answers. The answer to question one is simple, but so simple and obvious it is often overlooked, and as already mentioned, Genesis and the Bible simply assumes the answer.
    The fundamental requirements for Creation of anything is:
    The Creator must exist outside of, independent of and before that which is created, or the Creator cannot have created the creation. Genesis 1:1-2 says 1 In the beginning{a} God createdb the heavens{c} and the earth.{d} 2 Now the earth was formless{e} and empty,{f} darkness was over the surface of the deep,{g} and the Spirit of God{h} was hovering{i} over the waters.

    The New International Version. (2011). (Ge 1:1–2). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
    Now either the water was created in verse one, or it was in existence from before Creation. Dr Russel Humphreys posits the universe was created from the water, which could work in either interpretation. Point is clearly God is stated as existing before the universe and earth.
    The Creator must be in a place he can create, have the ability, decide and act on the decision to create. Genesis one follows through on this, and is the record of the fulfillment of these final bare bones requirements for Creation.
    Do you see any other bare bone, fundamental requirements?
    Question 2 is answered by Genesis one as well, at least in part. The Creator took six days to Create his Creation; the universe, earth and life. The remainder of Question two is answered in Genesis 5:1 and passages which continue the genealogical answer, providing the age of the earth. From these we get the universe, and earth is six thousand years old, approximately, which agrees with Dr. Humphreys, and a prediction he made based on this was in fact shown as accurate by NASA.
    Other extras is given in Genesis two and three, the story of the Garden of Eden, and the story of the first sin. These are all additional information, beyond what is required for Creation to be real and true.
    Now comes the third question.
    Problem, can there or is there some symbolic meaning that justifies the inclusion of this additional information, without them being historically true? If there is I would love to hear the answer. However if they are historically true, as I would suggest, then there may (and I believe is) some significance in there inclusion in the Bible. The reasons are as Fundamentalists claim, the fact they are the foundations for so much of our Christian Theology. Perhaps these qualify as an insight into Genesis, an insight often overlooked and ignored.

  2. Bette Drummond says:

    Very interesting and seems ‘right on’. I wish you could send it in Spanish as my pastor does not speak or read English. Bette Drummond

    • Wayne Baker says:

      Unfortunately I speak English only. However if you copy into word, I think you can have it translate it into Spanish or some other languages.

    • Wayne Baker says:

      I speak and communicate in English only. I am sorry to be unable to comply with your wish. However I believe MS Word can take the blog and translate it into Spanish for you.
      I noted I used “there” instead of “their” in the opinions I expressed above.In the last paragraph, twice, some significance in there (should be their) inclusion in the Bible”
      As to reasons to include the six day time frame and Creation occurring six thousand years ago, we have perhaps a scientific test that can be used, is the universe and earth only six thousand years old? If it is, guess what, it passes the test. The Bible would be true.
      Starlight taking thirteen billion plus years to arrive at earth, Psalm 90:4 says to God a day is a thousand years, even a night watch is a thousand years. Now a night watch is four hours. This means there are six night watches in a twenty four hour day. Now multiply the distance light travels in one year (one light year) by six thousand years per day by six thousand years, by three hundred sixty five point two five years and you get something over thirteen billion years. Albert Einstein, in a theory clearly accepted in science, says there is something called “Time Dilation”, this passage just gives a specific rate for the time dilation. It is not just something we can be accused of saying well this is just “how God works…” there is a scientific theory, proposed by Einstein, and generally accepted in science, I am just using a verse in the bible for the rate of the dilation. There are other scientific theories that would even lessen the distance the light had to travel! That is science, not theology!

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