What Are the Most Perplexing Mysteries at the Bible's Beginning?

We’ve done a number of these “Bible mystery” posts on Sundays the past few weeks where I pose a question and open it up for debate across religious and theological readers.

Here’s what we have so far:

* What Terrible Thing Did Ham Do to Drunken, Naked Noah?

I think I’m going to try and make a regular series of it for the new year, as part of my New Year’s Resolutions. I think it best to start at the beginning, with untangling some of the challenging questions about the book of Genesis. Some of the authors I’ve studied the past few years — Maimonides, Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Douglas Rushkoff, and Gerald Schroeder — have offered a variety of concepts helpful for grasping ideas about how to make sense of the often challenging metaphoric and poetic language. Here, from page 220 of Heschel’s The Prophets, is a revealing footnote about the significance of two different names for God appearing in Genesis and why we should seek to grasp them in the Hebrew:

“Maimonides saw the theological literal-mindedness of his peers as a form of idolatry, too.” – Douglas Rushkoff, page 142 of Nothing Sacred: The Truth About Judaism:

From The Lonely Man of Faith by Soloveitchik, page 83, the idea that the conflicting names and aspects of God have the intentional effect of forcing man to perpetually oscillate between different natures and tendencies, continually growing:

From page 195 of God According to God by Gerald Schroeder, on how the two natures and the two first names of God mirror matter and energy in nature:

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What debates would you like to have about Genesis first? Which passages confuse you the most? I don’t have the answers, but I’d like to explore to try and find them with you. Send me your ideas on Twitter @DaveSwindle or via email: [email protected] and I’ll try and plan out a schedule of topics for Sundays in January.