FAITH QUEST

ADAM AND EVE

Workshop Leaders’ Bible Study

This workshop leader’s Bible study is a historical, theological, and contextual introduction to the  “Adam and Eve” rotation of Kirk of Kildaire’s Faith Quest workshop rotation program.  It is intended to provide workshop leaders with:

·        A historical context for understanding the Bible story.

·        A Biblical context for reading and teaching the story.

·        The theological basis for the concepts to be taught to the children.

In Kirk of Kildaire’s Faith Quest program, workshop leaders attend a one-hour Bible study two weeks prior to the start of a new rotation.  This Bible study helps workshop leaders understand how the concepts to be taught to the children are derived from the Bible story and how the lessons in the rotation fit together to reinforce the concepts.  It also provides an opportunity for the workshop leaders to grow in their own faith and understanding of the Bible.

It will be helpful to have a chalkboard, whiteboard, or flip chart for writing down questions or observations during the Bible study.

Note:  This is not a comprehensive study of the text, but only a few notes to help provide context and background for workshop leaders.  Consult titles cited in the reference list at the end of these notes for more information.

 

Scripture:

Genesis 3

Memory verse for this rotation:

            Psalm 139:23-24 (CEV) “Look deep into my heart, God, and find out everything I am thinking.  Don’t let me follow evil ways, but lead me in the way time has proven true.”

Concepts:

1.     When we disobey God, it hurts others and us.

2.     Sins are actions that separate us from God, but God always comes to look for us.

3.     Sometimes we want to hide from God, but God always comes to look for us.

4.     God judges us, but God also helps us do better next time.

5.     Even when our lives seem hard and unfair, God still cares for us.

 

Prayer Concerns & Prayer

·        If workshop leaders do not know each other, give them an opportunity to introduce each other and say which workshop they will be leading.

·        Begin the Bible study by praying for God’s guidance as teachers begin a new rotation.

Reading the text

Ask a workshop leader to read the text aloud.  Since this rotation focuses on an entire chapter, you might want to divide the reading among three or four workshop leaders.

Ask the workshop leaders what questions came to mind as they heard the story or read it before the Bible study.  Write down any questions that arise and will need to be answered during the Bible study.

 

Historical, Theological, and Biblical Contexts

Background on Genesis

Genre

What is Genesis?  Is it history?  Does it attempt to give an accurate account of the earliest age of the world?  Or is it myth?  Does it tell a largely symbolic story with little correspondence to actual people, places, and events?  Perhaps it is an altogether different genre: “theological, kerygmatic narrative.”  Genesis is neither history nor myth, but a story written by and for people with a specific theological purpose¾to help understand who God is, how God relates to the created order, and how we are to relate to God and to the created order¾and kerygmatic purpose¾to proclaim what the community of faith understands about God.[1]

Structure

Genesis can be divided roughly into two parts:[2]

·       Chapters 1-11 are the community of faith’s Primeval History,[3] or prehistory.

·       Chapters 12-50 are the ancestral history.

Our lessons for this rotation on chapters 1-3 are part of a “rhythm” of creation-disruption-recreation that repeats a couple of times in chapters 1-11:[4]

Creation: something is created or begun

Disruption: a sinful act implicates or has consequences for individuals, family, and the larger world

Catastrophe: the sinfulness has catastrophic consequences

Recreation: God intervenes to recreate or restore creation

The world is created (1:1-2:25).

Humans disobey the one prohibition God gives them: human sinfulness is propagated first among the family and then among the rest of the world (3:1 – 6:7).

God floods the earth and wipes out all but a small remnant of humankind (6:8 – 8:19).

This small remnant receives a blessing and a promise and the chance to begin again (8:20 – 8:22).

A new beginning (9:1-17)

Sin again disrupts the family (9:18-10:32) and the larger world (11:1 - 4).

God scatters the people and confuses their language (11:5-9).

God chooses Abram to set out from home and begin a new life, and God blesses him (12:1-3).

 

The creation and fall stories are a part of this first rhythm of creation, disruption and recreation.  Within these two larger cycles of creation-disruption-recreation are smaller sets of recurring patterns of sin, judgment, mercy, and punishment:[5]

 

Sinful Act

Judgment

Act of Mercy or a Blessing

Act of Punishment

Humans eat the forbidden fruit (3:6).

God curses the humans and the snake (3:14-19).

God makes clothing for the humans (3:21).

God sends them out of the Garden of Eden (3:22-24).

Cain kills Abel (4:8).

God curses Cain (4:10-12).

God gives Cain a mark of protection (4:15).

God sends Cain to Nod, “the land of Wandering” (4:16).

Angels marry the beautiful daughters (6:2).

God limits humans’ lifespan (6:3).

 

 

Everything humans think and plan is evil (6:5)

God purposes to destroy creation (6:6-7)

God warns one family (6:8-22).

God floods the earth (7:1-8:22).

Ham sees his father naked (9:22).

Noah curses Canaan, Ham’s son (9:25)

 

 

Humans build a tower that reaches to the sky (11:3-4)

God “catches” their purpose (11:6).

 

God scatters the people and confuses their language (11:8-9).

 

Themes

Terence Fretheim sums up Genesis 1-11 by characterizing what God does throughout the narratives: God “promises and blesses, elects and saves. . . . God acts to free people, indeed the entire world, to be what they were created to be.”[6]  Throughout this narrative of God’s creative, liberating work in the world, we can see the following themes:[7]

·       Judgment and mercy: God is present and active in every sphere of life¾among both the chosen and nonchosen¾to judge and save.  God both judges human sinfulness and is gracious with it.

·       Blessing: Both God and humankind engage in the creational activity of blessing humankind and nature.

·       Relationality: God is deeply concerned with kinship and family (or perhaps more broadly relationality) especially for the purpose of reconciliation.

·       Concern: God shows concern for the life of God’s people¾economies, agriculture, political and governmental life¾through which God is at work for blessing.

·       Shared power: God intends for humans to have an active role in God’s purposes.  Humans are to be instruments for God’s purposes.

 

Genesis 3:

Overview

The story of the intrusion of sin into God’s good creation has 4 parts.[8]  They fit together almost like a “whodunit.”

3:1-7

The temptation (the crime).

3:8-13

The inquest (the trial).

3:14-19

The sentence.

3:20-24

The expulsion (the punishment).

Traditionally, we called this the story of “the fall.”  But Terence Fretheim questions this language.  Is it a fall down?  From where?  This would imply that humans originally possessed a degree of perfection that the text does not claim.  Is it a fall up?  A grasping for a level of wisdom and power that is beyond humans?  This works against the theme of human participation in the further development and improvement of creation.  If God wants humans and creation to mature and grow, why punish them for reaching?  Fretheim suggests that this is a story of a “falling out,” a disruption of the relationality for which humans were created.  It results in separation, estrangement, alienation, and displacement.[9]

Themes

How are the themes listed in the introduction to this study carried out in the narrative of the creation?  We see them mostly in disruption in the story of the intrusion of sin:

Judgment and mercy

God is present and active in every sphere of life¾among both the chosen and nonchosen¾to judge and save.  God both judges human sinfulness and is gracious with it.

 

3:14; 21-23 “cursed are you” . . . And the Lord God made garments of skins for the man and for his wife, and clothed them.  Then the Lord God said, "See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever.”  Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden.

Blessing

Both God and humankind engage in the creational activity of blessing humankind and nature.

 

4:1Now the man knew his wife Eve, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, "I have produced a man with the help of the Lord."

Relationality

God is deeply concerned with kinship and family (or perhaps more broadly relationality) especially for the purpose of reconciliation.

 

3:12-13 The man said, "The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate."  Then the Lord God said to the woman, "What is this that you have done?" The woman said,  "The serpent tricked me, and I ate."

Concern

God shows concern for the life of God’s people¾economies, agriculture, political and governmental life¾through which God is at work for blessing.

 

3:8-11 They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, "Where are you?" He said, "I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself." He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?"

Shared power

God intends for humans to have an active role in God’s purposes.  Humans are to be instruments for God’s purposes.

 

4:1 Now the man knew his wife Eve, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, "I have produced a man with the help of the Lord."

What new themes are introduced in this story?

Human Freedom

God gives to humans in this story considerable freedom: They are allowed to eat the fruit of any tree in the garden¾even the tree of life¾except for the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

 

Workshop Summaries

Ask each workshop leader to summarize his or her workshop.  As they do so, point out the concepts that each lesson reinforces.  Ask workshop leaders if they have any questions about the logistics or practical application of their lesson.

Overview

When we disobey God, it hurts others and us.

Sins are actions that separate us from God, but God always comes to look for us.

Sometimes we want to hide from God, but God always comes to look for us.

God judges us, but God also helps us do better next time.

Even when our lives seem hard and unfair, God still cares for us.

Review Questions

Return to the questions that were gathered at the start of the hour.  Have they been answered?  Are there any further questions about the Bible story or about the lessons?

Closing Prayer

Close the Bible study with a prayer.

References

 

Brueggemann, Walter. Genesis Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1982.

Fretheim, Terence E. “Genesis.” New Interpreter’s Bible, vol. 1.  Leander Keck, et. al. editors.  (Nashville, Abingdon Press, 1994), pp. 319-674.

O’Day, Gail. “John” New Interpreter’s Bible.  Leander Keck, et. al. editors.  Nashville, Abingdon Press, 1995.

Sloyan, Gerard S. John. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1988.

 



[1] Fretheim, “Genesis,” p. 326.

[2] Fretheim, “Genesis,” p. 328.

[3] Throughout this Bible study, when you read “history” think more along the lines of “story.”

[4] Fretheim, “Genesis,” p. 337.

[5] Fretheim, “Genesis,” p. 336.

[6] Fretheim, “Genesis,” pp. 328-329.

[7] Fretheim, “Genesis,” pp. 329-330.

[8] Fretheim, “Genesis,” 361 – 365.

[9] Fretheim, “Genesis,” 367-368.