For our Epiphany small group Bible study this year of 2020, we will read through the first creation story found in Genesis 1:1-2:3. For our first lesson, we will have an overview of the entire story and then spend the remaining six weeks in Epiphany digging deep into this story. Our study will culminate in seeing how the New Testament, primarily in the writings of John and Paul, see Christ and the Christian story as the fulfillment of Genesis 1.
Outside of the story of Jesus’ Passion and Resurrection, there is no other Biblical passage that I read more often than Genesis 1. Within my spiritual walk, the story of creation provides an endless resource of unfathomable depth to contemplate the great mysteries and questions of our faith. My goal during Epiphany is to introduce you to and bring you along on my contemplative journey through Genesis 1. Among other topics, we will be discussing the nature of God, the work of the Trinity, the nature of time, how to read the Scriptures, the (non-)existence of evil, who we are, the nature of salvation, and our responsibilities to creation. The story of Creation opens up each of these topics for our consideration. Ultimately, however, the story of Creation is the story of our salvation in Jesus Christ. It is the story of each of us being brought out of darkness into light, being formed and filled in the Word and Spirit, and being recreated in the image of God so that we can all come to that blessed eternal sabbath rest.
If you want to begin looking deeper into Genesis 1, I will be using The JPS Torah Commentary on Genesis and will attach the relevant excerpts for your review. If you have time this week, please read over this commentary. The great meanings of the text originate within its Hebrew origins, not our English translations. I have also attached Book (Chapter) 13 of St. Augustine’s Confessions. St. Augustine (354-430) converts to his mother’s religion of Christianity because of his contemplation of Genesis 1. He ends his “Confessions” (the story of his conversion) with the most profound and sublime interpretation of the story of Creation ever written. As we walk through Genesis 1, I will have shorter excerpts from the “Confessions.” There is no requirement that you read Augustine.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.John 1:1-4