Old Testament Survey - Lesson 2

Literary and Cosmic Foundations of the Old Testament

In this lesson, discover the foundations of the Torah, particularly the Pentateuch, revealing its broader narrative beyond mere legalistic directives, emphasizing its role in conveying God's grace. Learn about its structure, thematic focus on divine covenants, and its interpretation as instruction rather than strict law. Dr. Block highlights the significant theological themes within the book of Genesis, from creation to the patriarchs. 

Daniel Block
Old Testament Survey
Lesson 2
Watching Now
Literary and Cosmic Foundations of the Old Testament

I. Introduction to the Pentateuch

A. Definition and Significance

1. Meaning of "Pentateuch" and "Torah"

2. Difference between "Torah" and "law"

B. Composition and Structure

1. Misleading nature of categorizing Genesis as law

2. The artificial division into five books

3. Continuous narrative of Genesis through Numbers

4. Distinct literary unit of Deuteronomy

II. Thematic Overview of the Pentateuch

A. Dominant Theme

1. Emphasis on God's grace rather than legalism

2. Grace demonstrated through covenants and blessings

B. Function within the Scripture

1. Role as a prologue to the First Testament

2. Establishing the context for Israel's history and salvation

III. Detailed Examination of Genesis

A. Literary and Historical Value

1. Genesis as a collection of well-crafted narratives

2. Historical insights beginning from Genesis 12

B. Structural Analysis

1. Use of "Toledot" formula to structure Genesis

2. Division into twelve sections

C. Content and Theology

1. Primeval and Patriarchal history and their theological implications

2. Role of major patriarchal figures and their theological portrayals

IV. Specific Focus on Genesis 1:1 to 2:4a

A. Narrative Style and Genre

1. Discussion on whether Genesis 1 is poetry, myth, or historical narrative

2. Elevated poetic style as a form of catechesis

B. Theological Themes

1. Glorification of God through creation

2. Contrasting biblical creation with pagan myths

3. Adam as the climax of creation and his role as God's image

V. Implications for Understanding the Role of Humanity

A. Adam's Creation and Function

1. The concept of being created in the image of God

2. Implications for human dignity and responsibility

  • Learning about the First Testament's language, geographical, and cultural contexts, and how these factors contribute to its frequent misinterpretation and underappreciation in modern times.
  • Gain insights into the literary and cosmic foundations of grace and glory in the Torah, understanding its role as more than law.
  • Learn that to be made in God's image entails embodying divine qualities and functioning as His representative on Earth, which extends a universal dignity upon all humans and shapes a theological ethic that influences how you treat others.
  • Genesis 1-3 frames human response to divine creation, emphasizing human dignity, work's moral role, free will's consequences, and the persistent grace amid sin.
  • This lesson reviews the Israelite covenant, understanding its stages, implications, and its role in God's redemptive plan.
  • Gain insights into Abraham's covenant with God, exploring his faith and God's promises.
  • Learn how the Exodus from Egypt marked Israel's transformation from a family to a nation under Yahweh.
  • Understand how the covenant at Sinai transforms Israel from slaves into a treasured nation destined for a divine mission, fulfilling God's ancient promises.
  • This lesson covers the covenantal expectations at Sinai. The covenantal agreement provided a constitutional and ethical framework for societal living, focusing on community rights and responsibilities.
  • In this lesson, you gain insight into how the tabernacle was both a physical manifestation of God's presence and a profound symbol of His grace, emphasizing the holiness and detailed guidance He provided to the Israelites for worship and daily life.
  • Gain insights into Deuteronomy, recognizing its focus on teaching rather than legislation, and understanding Moses' role as an instructor of Yahweh's will.
  • In this lesson, you explore how to interpret the First Testament's historiographic writings, emphasizing the divine inspiration and literary artistry that guide the selective storytelling and theological themes.
  • Learn how the books of Joshua and Judges illustrate the fulfillment and failure of Israel's covenant with Yahweh, highlighting divine promise, cultural assimilation, and the cyclical nature of faith and apostasy.
  • The Book of Ruth, highlights divine providence, social justice, and personal righteousness while exploring the role of Boaz as a pivotal figure in maintaining the lineage of King David.
  • Samuel had a significant yet complex role in Israel's history; judge, priest, prophet, and crucial figure in establishing monarchy.
  • Learn of David's central role in the Bible, understanding his unique portrayal and the extensive attention he receives compared to other figures.
  • Learn about the Davidic covenant's role in shaping biblical history and theology, emphasizing its eternal impact on Israel and beyond.
  • The books of Kings and Chronicles use historical events to underline theological themes, highlighting the role of scribes in documenting Israel’s history.
  • In this lesson on 1 and 2 Kings, review the downfall of Israel through kings' forgetfulness of God's covenants.
  • Learn about Solomon's temple's historical and theological significance, its divine design and purpose, and its role in Israelite worship and communal life.
  • Gain insights into the transformation and resilience of the Judean people during their exile in Babylon from 586-539 BC, exploring their struggles and adaptations in a new socio-political and religious context.
  • Learn about Daniel's exemplary life in Babylon, his integrity, and his prophetic visions, which highlight divine sovereignty and the vindication of the faithful amidst calamities.
  • Review the Persian period's impact on the Jewish diaspora, analyze the Book of Esther's literary and theological significance, and reflect on divine providence and cultural identity.
  • Explore the crucial roles of Ezra and Nehemiah in reconstructing the Jewish community and faith post-exile, understanding their historical significance, source materials, and theological insights.
  • Gain insight into the roles and significance of prophets in ancient Israel, learning about their historical context, and their critical function in guiding and correcting the nation through direct communication from Yahweh.
  • Learn about the lives and ministries of prophets Amos and Hosea, their calls for justice and return to divine covenant amidst Israel's political and spiritual turmoil, through prophetic books that blend personal biography with national prophecy.
  • This lesson reviews Jonah's struggle with divine grace and Micah's advocacy for justice and the messianic hope.
  • In this lesson, you learn how Isaiah's vision portrays the Messiah as king, servant, and conqueror, emphasizing his divine roles and global mission.
  • Learn of the political and social contexts of Jeremiah and Ezekiel's exile, including Babylon's rise, Jerusalem's fall, and the crisis of faith portrayed in Lamentations, emphasizing hope amid despair through God's faithfulness.
  • Learn about Jeremiah's life and prophetic ministry, navigating challenges with kings, themes in the Book of Jeremiah, and profound passages on true religion and a future covenant, offering lessons on prophetic burdens, God's faithfulness, and spiritual transformation.
  • Explore Ezekiel's life as a priest in exile, his bizarre actions, and profound messages revealing Yahweh's passion and eternal promises of judgment and restoration.
  • Learn about Nahum and Joel's prophecies on judgment, hope, and Yahweh's character. Explore the day of the Lord and the expansion of the covenant community.
  • Explore Obadiah, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah's prophecies. Discover themes of judgment, faith, and restoration in God's plan.
  • Gain insight into Haggai's role in motivating temple rebuilding during the Persian rule. His brief yet impactful ministry fosters hope and action amid community disillusionment, recoginizing God's presence and reign.
  • Gain deep insight into Hebrew poetry: its forms, parallelism, acrostics, and emotional depth. Explore its celebration and lamentation of Yahweh's glory.
  • Gain insight into Psalms which reflect diverse emotions and experiences. Structured into five divisions, attributed to various authors, their interpretation involves understanding Torah context, literary devices, and applying timeless principles to life.
  • Explore biblical wisdom's depth: from practical skill to moral insight, rooted in the fear of Yahweh. It contrasts with secular knowledge, emphasizing God's order and universal application.
  • Engage with Proverbs to unravel its diverse wisdom, from aphorisms to discourses. Understand its practical guidance for righteous living and leadership.
  • Discover the Song of Songs, a rich exploration of love's nature. From its allegorical interpretations to its celebration of covenantal love, it examines human relationships with wisdom and depth.
  • The book of Job offers insights into faith and suffering, exploring theological themes and character dynamics. It emphasizes trust in God amid life's most difficult trials.
  • Uncover Ecclesiastes' profound journey from despair to hope. Koheleth's existential ponderings contrast with the narrator's faith, urging a shift from worldly pursuits to finding fulfillment in God's sovereignty.

This Old Testament Survey course offers a deep exploration of the Old Testament's literary structure, divine covenants, and historical context. Lessons cover the Pentateuch, emphasizing its narrative over legalistic interpretations, and extend through key biblical figures like Abraham and Moses. Topics such as the covenant at Sinai, the concept of imago Dei, and the tabernacle rituals highlight the continuity of God's grace and the ethical implications of divine laws. The course critically addresses common misconceptions, the role of the Torah as instruction, and the portrayal of God’s plan, underscoring the relevance and complexity of these ancient texts.

Dr. Daniel Block 
Old Testament Survey
Literary and Cosmic Foundations of the Old Testament
Lesson Transcript


In this session, we want to lay the literary and cosmic foundations for the message of grace and glory. That is, we want to see how God laid the literary and cosmic foundations for the message of grace and glory by introducing the Pentateuch, which is the first five books of the Bible. And we'll end this session with a quick look at Genesis 1, 1 to 2, 4a.

First of all, by way of introduction to the Pentateuch, why do we call it the Pentateuch? Well, that word simply means five books. In the Hebrew canon, this is called the Torah, which does not mean law. It means instruction, which opens us up or opens it up to all sorts of different kinds of literature, and that's what we find here.

It's called the Torah of Moses in my understanding because this is what the book of Deuteronomy was originally called, and that name was then applied to the entire collection. By people who read the last part of this Pentateuch, it colors their understanding of the whole thing. Technically, the Torah of Moses in Deuteronomy refers to the speeches that Moses gave to the Israelites in his farewell moment in the book of Deuteronomy.

The Torah of Moses there is clearly the actual speeches of Moses. That name was extended then to the book of Deuteronomy, which is the collection of the speeches, and then to the rest of the books of the Pentateuch. Why do we call this in our Protestant tradition? Why do we call this the law? The law, the histories, the poetry, and the prophets.

Well, although this part of the first testament is generally called law, the law, this is quite misleading. Genesis is not law except for chapters 12 to 13. Exodus 1 to 19 is not law.

Exodus 32 to 40 is not law. These are instructions on how to build a tabernacle. It's a one-off deal.

It's like the instructions that we get when we go and buy some furniture at Ikea. Read the manual. This tells you how to put it together.

We don't call that a law of Ikea. Numbers 1 to 2, 10 to 14, 20 to 26 are not law. These are historiographic texts, narrative texts.

Even Deuteronomy declares itself to be instruction and is cast as a series of sermons, not legislation. The Torah is more the story of God's grace than the record of God's law. It's the story of God's grace.

Well, we need to understand the place of the Torah, the Pentateuch, in the whole first testament. The Torah, the first five books, functions as the prologue to the first testament. This Torah begins with a magnificent declaration of the creative power of God, and it ends with a declaration of his salvation.

I love the way Moses' last words come out celebrating the grace of God in salvation in Deuteronomy chapter 33 at the end of the blessing of the 12 tribes. The Torah focuses on God's grace toward humankind in general, and after chapter 12, Israel, Genesis 12, Israel in particular, demonstrated in the series of magnanimous covenants and blessings and promises. Fourth, the Torah begins on the verge of human history on earth.

It ends with Israel on the verge of their history in the land of Canaan. What can we say about the structure of the Torah? Well, the division of the Torah into five books is actually quite artificial. Now, Deuteronomy is clearly a separate literary unit consisting largely of the text transcripts of Moses' final addresses, but it's different from the rest.

Genesis, through numbers, are composed as a single continuous narrative. It's a single story. Now, although it is preferable to study this material according to its natural literary divisions, for our purposes we will actually take one book at a time, but this is artificial.

So, we have Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, the four books. That's really one big book complete with the reflections in Deuteronomy on it. What is the theme of the Torah? In my conversation with you throughout these lectures, I will tend to refer to the Pentateuch as the Torah as it was used in the days of Jesus, though remember Torah does not mean law.

It means the instruction on God's grace. The theme of the Torah, in my understanding, is God's grace toward humankind expressed in a series of magnanimous, gracious blessings and covenant promises. That's the theme.

Why is it important that we look at the book of Genesis separately, the value of the study of Genesis? Well, there are lots of reasons. One is from a purely literary point of view. Genesis is filled with fascinating stories, well written literarily.

I mean, what can be more dramatic than Genesis 22, the whole chapter of 22? It begins with, Now after these things the Lord tested Abraham, saying, Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go and offer him as a whole burnt offering. That's the beginning of a very tense episode in the life of Abraham. It's dramatic in its conclusion.

The book of Genesis has value from a historical perspective. In this book, we encounter all kinds of characters and nations from the ancient world that are helpful for us to know about in order to understand the history of the world, but especially after chapter 12, the history of Israel, which begins with the call of Abraham. There are historical values.

There are practical reasons for reading the book of Genesis. For instance, Abraham becomes a model of righteousness whom we should emulate. Not perfectly, he doesn't.

It's an up and down kind of story. Some of them are very, very negative, actually. But in the end, this man of faith is an inspiration to all who follow in his genealogical train as well as in his spiritual train.

How about the structure of Genesis? Well, the structure of Genesis is signaled by a formula that appears 11 times. These are the generations of X. This is the key, and it divides the book into 12 sections. You have the document of the cosmos 1-1 to 2-4a.

Well, the chapter and verse divisions in the Bible are not original to the text, and it's obvious that in some instances, the kind bishop responsible for dividing the books into chapters and divisions was doing his homework on the way to church, and the horse stumbled just as he was putting a mark at the end of a section, and it lands up in the wrong place. So, follow those signals in the text of where beginnings and endings appear. So, 1-1 to 2-4a, this is the document of the cosmos.

2-4b to 4-26, this is the document on the origins of humankind. I use the word document. Usually, it's translated, this is the book of the generations of.

There were no books in the ancient world. Books weren't invented until the second or the last third of the first millennium BC. There were no books in Abraham's day, but there were written documents.

The Hebrew word sefer means simply a written text, and so I prefer to call this the document of the cosmos, the document of the origins of humankind, the document of Adam, the document of Noah 6-9 to 9-29, the document of Shem, Haman, Japheth 10-1 to 11-9. You will notice they're not of equal length. Some are longer than others.

Then you have the document of Shem 1-10 to 11-26, the document of Terah 11-27 to 25-11, the document of Ishmael 25-12 to 25-18, the document of Isaac 25-19 to 35-29, then the document of Esau's household in 36-1 to 8, and the documents of Esau's descendants, the Edomites in 36-9 to 37-1, and finally the document of Jacob 37-2 to 15-26. That divides it into 12 sections. That's quite appropriate, actually.

We have 12 sons of Jacob. They're not related to the particular sons of Jacob, but the number 12 here shows up as quite, shall we say, coincidental or providential. Now that's the internal structure.

How about the content? On the basis of content, the book of Genesis divides into two big parts, but uneven. The first is the primeval history and theology 1-1 to 11-26. Then you have the second part, patriarchal history and theology 11-27 to 50-26.

I add theology here to remind us that biblical authors were always preaching theological messages. They are not writing stories simply so we can reconstruct historical events. They're writing so that we learn something about God and how he relates to his universe and how he relates to his chosen people.

In the first part, you have two sub-parts, the primeval history, the Adamic blessing and vassal age. That's 1-1 to 6-8. This is on the basis of content.

Then you have the Noachian blessing and what I call the Adamic covenant. We'll talk about that some more later. This is 6-9 to 11-26.

But the patriarchal history and theology is bigger and longer. It involves four main, three main characters, Abraham, the father of the promise 11-27 to 25-18, B, Isaac, the son of the promise 25-19 to 28-9, C, Israel, Jacob, the nation of promise 28-10 to 35-29. These are the three big sections of the second book.

And then, of course, we have in between Esau, a byline to the promise, and then finally Joseph, the preserver of the promise, chapter 37, 1-50, verse 26. These are the breakdowns of the narrative based on the principal characters as opposed to the literary signals. Before we move to the first section, Genesis 1-1 to 4-26, I should remind you that you can download the lists of things that we've included here and the diagrams and they will be there accessible for all of you as you listen to the oral presentation and you watch the video.

Let's turn our attention then to the first part of this entire section, the Adamic commissioning and blessing and the need for the divine covenants. This topic actually takes us all the way from 1-1 to 4-26, but for the purposes of this lesson, we will only go as far as 2-4a, and we'll pick it up in lesson three then when we return. So, the Adamic commissioning and blessing, 1-1 to 4-26.

This provides the cause in 1-1 to 2-4a, the narrator has provided the cosmic context of the Adamic commissioning and blessing. This is 1-1 to 2-4a. To understand this passage, we need to see its place within the whole Bible and within the Torah and within Genesis.

Before we get going on that one, though, we need to recognize the First Testament functions as the prologue to the whole Bible, which climaxes in the New Testament. We've mentioned something like that before. Second, the Pentateuch functions as the prologue to the rest of the First Testament.

It begins with a magnificent catechetical declaration of the creative power of God, Genesis 1, and ends with a declaration of his saving power, Deuteronomy 33-26-29. Genesis functions as the prologue to the Pentateuch. Genesis 1-1 to 6-8 functions as the prologue to Genesis.

This is the story up until the flood narrative is picked up in chapter 6 verse 9. Genesis 1-1 to 2-4a is the prologue to Genesis 1-1 to 6a. You can see I'm just breaking it down into smaller pieces, and then when we come to Genesis 1-1 to 2-4a, Genesis 1-1 functions as the prologue to Genesis 1-1 to 2-4a. We can do this whole process the reverse direction.

Genesis 1-1 is a prologue to Genesis 1-2-4a. 1-2-4a is the prologue to Genesis 1-6-8. Genesis 1-6-8 is the prologue to Genesis.

Genesis is the prologue to the Pentateuch. The Pentateuch is the prologue to the First Testament, and the First Testament is the prologue to the gospel in Jesus Christ, of course. So, let's talk about the literary style of Genesis 1-1 to 2-4a.

There have been debates of whether or not this is poetry, or whether this is myth, or whether this is historical narrative. Well, the fact is that this is an elevated style of poetry. You recognize readily that when we read Genesis 1-1 to 2-4a aloud, and then we shift into 2-4b and the rest of chapters 2 and 3 and 4, those are two different kinds of writing.

In 2-4a and the rest of chapter 2 and 3 and 4, you have narrative where God is personally involved in the story. He takes a piece of dirt, and he breathes into it his breath, and it comes alive. This is a very vivid narrative.

But Genesis 1-1 to 2-4a is different. It is schematic. It is, shall we say, propositional.

It is catechetical. It is a higher register of narrative for a higher register of experience. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Oh, by the way, the earth was formless and empty and dark, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the ground. And then you've got the six days of creation, which are quite rhythmic in their style and formulaic as well. This is almost, I call it the catechism.

It's easily memorized, and it's easily recited in celebration of the God who creates the universe. It's not myth. It's not poetry in the sense that you can interpret it merely as figurative language.

The author is making factual comments about the world as it came from the hands, and should we say, from the mouth of God. Let's go back, backtrack a little bit as we look at structure of Genesis 1.1-2.4a. 1.1-2 is the prologue, which consists of the thesis statement. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Notice a couple of things. One, God was there at the beginning. It's not in the beginning of God.

It's in the beginning of creation. Second, notice the earth, the heavens and the earth are not eternal. They were not eternally existent or extant.

They were created at some point in time. So verse one is a thesis statement. Verses three to the end of the chapter are an elaboration of that thesis, but the narrator inserts a description of the preliminary state of cosmic matter in 1.2, which we in Hebrew language, we call this a series of circumstantial clauses, which means they're parenthetical.

They're not part of the main, shall we say, plot. They are necessary information to understand the rest of the plot, and that's why in my translation I say, oh, by the way, as it came from the hand of God, the stuff of which the cosmos is created was unformed, it was dark, and it was empty, or I reversed the latter two in order. It was unformed, it was empty, and it was dark.

This is part of the thesis because the function of the days that follow, the function is to resolve the issues. Now, they're not problems. It's not chaos.

It's just that at that phase stage in creation, we've got to deal with three issues. One, the world is not formed, that is created form. Second, it is empty, and third, it is dark.

The six days of creation deal with those three issues. Notice he starts out with light and darkness. He solves the third problem first.

Second, then he divides the upper and lower waters. Day three, the dry land and vegetation. Day four, he creates the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Day five, it's the water and sky life. Day six, it's land life, land animals, and climaxing, of course, in the creation of humankind. You will see in this structure that day one corresponds to day four, light and darkness, and then he creates the sun, moon, and the stars to regulate light and darkness.

Day two relates to day five, upper and lower waters are created and divided, and then he creates water and sky life, and then day three, dry land and vegetation, which corresponds to day six, in which he creates land life, humankind, and the rest of the critters. It's a very deliberate, artistically crafted catechesis that we have here. But our question in this session is, what is the point of this text? What's the theological agenda driving Genesis 1 to 2 verse 4a? The first big point is, the point is to glorify God.

In the second, to challenge pagan views of cosmic origins, and third, to celebrate Adam as the climax of creation. You have three big agendas here. Let's look at each of these a little bit more closely.

First, to glorify God. That's the point. If there is such a thing as doxological narrative, this is it.

By doxology, we mean something that praises God. We sing, praise God from whom all blessings fall, and we call that our doxology. Well, this is a doxology on the Creator God.

The opening statement affirms the divine origin of the universe. It had a beginning. It is not eternal.

God created it. Second, the hovering presence of the Spirit of God over the waters. This guarantees the perfections of the product of divine creation.

The Spirit of God supervises everything. Third, the announcement of the six days highlight the creative power of the divine word, Psalm 33 6. By the word of the Lord, the heavens were created, and so Genesis 1, and God said, Let there be light, and there was light. And so, in each of these days, God speaks, and things happen.

Fourth, the universe God creates is permeated by structure and order. For example, the heavenly bodies are servants of light and symbols of cosmic stability, Jeremiah 31 36. Animals and plants are created after their kind, and so they reproduce.

This is all part of the order built into the universe. And five, the creation of Adam as the image of God and the assignment of representative and deputy status to him. This is, in fact, the climax of the week of creation.

F, the divine rest on the seventh day when the universe is complete becomes the paradigm for human activity whose seven-day rhythm celebrates the creative and providential power of God. This notion of 6 plus 1 equals 7, this rhythm, is not part of Israel's cultic liturgical ritual system. It's built into the universe as we see it in this text.

So, this is a text that praises God. What else does it do? It challenges pagan views of cosmic origins. It was not written to challenge modern theories of evolution, the theories of a world created by chance would have been deemed folly by all ancient peoples, the Phoenicians, the Canaanites, the Babylonians, and the Egyptians.

They all assumed that behind everything was a God, but it's written in response to their views of God. First, the seven-day structure recalls the seven tablets of the Enuma Elish, the Babylonian story of creation, but in this instance, Yahweh, the God of Israel, defines each day himself. Nobody else does.

Second, the creative power of the divine word contrasts with the crassly physical nature of the neighbor's accounts in which the universe is created from the body of Tiamat after Marduk has defeated her. It's a totally different picture of creation. Third, the singularity of God contrasts with the polytheistic worldviews of the neighbors where the world is created after the have had a conflict, and the victor creates the world.

It's quite a different story. Fourth, the tohom provides the context in which God works. Unlike Tiamat, the word Tiamat and the Hebrew word tohom sound similar, but in Tiamat, this was a divinity in her own right whom Marduk defeated, but here tohom is God's playground.

Five, the order built into the universe, specifically the reproduction of plants and animals after their kind, contrasts with the Babylonian omen text in which creatures give birth to all kinds of bizarre forms. The biggest singular genre of texts that scholars have discovered from ancient Babylon are omen texts, and they imagine every conceivable scenario. If your goat gives birth to a kid that has an alligator's head, you know this is going to happen.

If your goat gives birth to a kid that has a dog's head, then that will happen. There are all kinds of bizarre forms, and sometimes I think this, the order built into the universe here, is specifically addressing those kinds of chaotic situations. Six, the heavenly lights are specifically created by God and appointed their places in the heavens to govern cosmic affairs as servants of light in contrast to pagan views in which they become divinities in their own right.

People worship the moon god, the sun god, the star god. They worship them all, but not so here. Here, these are servants of the creator God himself.

So, we've got here challenges to pagan views of cosmic origins. The creation of humankind to be the image of God contrasts with other accounts in which species, the species, human species, was created to function as the slaves of God. To be the image of God, we'll talk about this some more later, to be the image of God means high status of being God's deputies and his vice regents governing the world as opposed to the slaves of the gods.

And then finally, the final rest of God contrasts with a perpetual restlessness of the gods in pagan mythology. When I read the pagan myths, I get really tired because everybody's always squabbling. It sounds like modern family systems.

Everything is dysfunctional, but in this world, everything is functional, and it ends with God declaring it is very good, super good, and God resting. But there's a third reason for this story, a third lesson, and that is the biblical view of humanity that it is proclaiming. Well, it's very obvious that in this creation story, the creation of Adam, humankind, is the climax of creation.

Adam was created last. Adam was the product of divine deliberation. We hear God talking this over in his head.

Let's make man in our image and after our likeness. That doesn't happen with any other part of creation. The description of the creation of Adam is more intensive and extensive than any other detail in this chapter.

The verb used to describe the creation of Adam is barah, which always involves a special creative act of God. We have it in verse 1, in the beginning, God barad the heavens and the earth. Well, now we have, and God barad humankind.

It highlights the significance. Once Adam was on the scene, the Lord pronounced the created world extremely good. At the end of each of the six days, and God saw that it was good.

But when Adam is there, it's tovmold, super good. It's the superlative good. It is perfect.

And then Adam was expressly created as the image of God. We will have a lot more to say of that later when we talk about the Adamic covenant. By my understanding, this means basically to be the image of God is to be created to function as his regent and his deputy in governing the world.

An image in the ancient world always represents a concrete three-dimensional representation of something. This is confirmed in 126 of Genesis by the pairing of tselem, image, and demuth, likeness. It is humankind's status as image that distinguishes this species from everything else God has made.

And so we read Psalm 8, O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is your name in all the earth. When I consider the heavens, the works of your fingers, and all the big things you have made, what is man, Adam, that you have created him, or the son of man, humankind in their weakness, that you should bother with him? And then he goes on to celebrate, yet you have made him a little lower than God, and have crowned him with glory and majesty, and set him over all things. This is our place in the world.

But there's one other note we need to make here, and that is this dignity involved in imageness extends to both man and woman. Adam is male plus female, so that when we come across the word Adam, A-D-A-M, in the scriptures, we always have to ask, is this a proper name? Capital A, Adam versus Eve, sometimes it is. Is this a name for a man, a male, as opposed to female? Sometimes it is.

Or is it a reference to humanity general? God created Adam, male and female, he created them. It's very clear that this status of imageness extends to all human beings, regardless of status, or gender, or whatever else. But we should interpret imageness primarily in functional terms.

To be the image of God is to be his deputy and representative, not representation. I mean, when you get on the plane these days, you have to go through security and show your ID with a photo of yourself. Well, if you actually feel like you look on that picture, you're too sick to travel.

But that's a representation of you. We are not representations of God, we are representatives of him. We are here in his place doing his business for him.

Adam's status as image determines the special sanctity of human life. We learn this in Genesis 9-6. Whoever sheds human blood by a human shall his blood be shed.

For as the image of God, he created him. This is the foundation for that principle of ethics. In Hebrew thought, the notion of imageness is completely democratized.

All members of the Hebrew race of Adam are images of God, not just the big boys, not just priests, not just kings, but everybody. This contrasts with the Babylonian picture. While the fall, chapters 2 and 3, affected men and women's ability to function as the image, the dignity associated with this status is retained even after the entrance of sin.

And again, we already quoted Psalm 8 or Proverbs 14-31. Whoever abuses the poor reproaches his maker. For as the image of God, he created him.

The special status of all members of the human race as image of God provides the basis for a distinctly biblical ethic. We've spent a little time talking about the implications of Genesis 1 and its function as glorifying God, and secondly, as offering an alternative to pagan views of creation. But there's one topic here that really deserves separate exploration, and that is what does this passage tell us about human beings and a biblical anthropology? Particularly, what does it mean to be the image of God for us personally and for humanity as a whole? We will pick up this topic in the next lesson and give it separate attention.