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Read: Genesis 2

The second chapter in Genesis points to several key concepts which continue to shape Christian thinking.

Discussion Themes and Questions:

  1. Sabbath. Genesis 2 opens with account of how God blessed the Sabbath. In a sense, the Sabbath is a bridge between the creation account of Genesis 1 and the one in Genesis 2. How does this focus on the Sabbath differ from the Sabbath commands in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5?
  2. The human as “a living soul.” Genesis 2 includes the kind of “personal touch” at the creation of humankind which is not evident in Genesis 1. How can our lives be enriched by the picture of a God who shapes us from dust and mud and breathes into us the breath of life?
  3. The relationship of humans to the animal world. How do the following points illustrate the “superiority” of the human within the animal kingdom?
    1. Only humans, not the animals, are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27)
    2. In Genesis 2, humans are given special attention, standing at the center of the account rather than at the end of the sequence as in Genesis 1. Not only does Genesis 2 describe the creation of “man” (2:7) before the creation of the animals (2:19), it also portrays God himself as personally breathing the breath of life into the “man,” something he doesn’t do for the animals. It also describes how God gave the “man” authority to name the animals.
    3. Psalm 8 is a celebration of the greatness of God because he has given so much honor to human beings. How does this psalm echo the dominant themes of Genesis 2?Note: As the Adult Study Guide points out, the Hebrew phrase for “living soul” (nephesh hayyah) is used for both animals and human kind. Thus the “soul” is not that which distinguishes human life from animal life. In Genesis 1:27, humans are made “in the image of God.” Indeed, both male and female are created in the “image of God.” The Hebrew word Adam is not only the name of our first parent, but is also a generic word for human beings. Thus it includes both male and female. In that sense, it is like the German word Mensch which includes both genders. The English language has no precise equivalent.
  4. Work. A literal reading of Genesis 2:6, 15 suggests that God created human beings to “serve” the earth, not just to “till” it. How could this concept shape our understanding of our calling in today’s world?
  5. Male and female. How does the story of the creation of woman in Genesis 2 relate to the story of the fall in Genesis 3 and the references to equality in the New Testament (cf. 1 Cor. 7:1-5; Ephesians 5:21-33)?

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