Knust’s Lecture on Genesis

Professor Knust held a lecture in September of 2011, of which the Core is belatedly releasing the concluding minutes. While it related to The Book of Genesis, which is studied in CC101, the Core feels that the questions raised here are important, and relevant to many other works.

In the end, I’m not sure what I think about this God, about this book, or about these ancestors. What about you?
Let’s think about God first. Lets see — what does God do? Makes a beautiful Creation, only to destroy it by a flood. This God is so jealous of human achievement that He has to scatter them whenever they accomplish something of significance. He picks a trickster younger son over his more staid elder brother. He favors one line of genealogy over others for no apparent reason. He punishes entire cities for the behavior of a few men living there. He demands such a high degree of loyalty that a willingness to execute one’s own son on his behalf is regarded as an exemplary demonstration of good faithful behavior. He makes promises to humanity knowingfull well that they will misbehave, kill one another, and exploit what has been given to them.
What about the ancestors? They regard the women in their lives as property, to be disposed of at will. They treat their male slaves the same way. They take slaves into their household and use them to breed children who can then be kicked out of the house. They get rewarded for their arrogant dreaming, and their sense of their own indisputable importance. They dream dreams and keep hoping they will have a land of their own. They try to keep their family alive. They set out on adventures without knowing how it will turn out. They fight with their brothers and sisters over who is the best and who should get the most stuff.
Perhaps we can appreciate the difficulty of understanding why the Gods and the ancestors behave the way they do; perhaps we too wonder if the destruction of some some people for the flourishing of others can have some explanation. And we find out that the explanations are woefully lacking. Perhaps the people of Israel knew something about a capricious God, untrustworthy neighbors, and the disastrous consequences of family squabbling, famine, and barrenness. Perhaps they especially knew it when they sat down to make Genesis one of their national books. And perhaps we do too.

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