The text we’re studying for Sunday, September 16 is Genesis 1:26-31 and 2:4-7, the initial creation of humankind in God’s image/from the dust of the earth. Here are a few questions we might want to consider discussing in class.
[Warning: it seems to me that we could spend more time than we ever have discussing any single one of these questions.]
In v26, God proposes making humankind “in our image and according to our likeness.” What do we, ourselves, understand “the image of God” to mean? How has our understanding of “the image of God” been formed, and how has it changed over time? Who has helped us understand what that means? What features of humankind seem to be included in “the image of God,” based on how we think of that? What difference does it make how we answer this question? Why?
A purpose stated for the creation of humankind is to “let them have dominion” over the other animal creatures. What do we understand “dominion” to entail? (For instance, we might think of “sovereign authority,” “power,” “control,” etc.) What actions vis-à-vis other creatures are appropriate, given the way we understand dominion? Why? What actions are inappropriate to the way we understand dominion? Why? How does human dominion over other living creatures relate to God’s dominion over creation? (That is, what features do they share, what features do they not share, do we think?) Why do we think this?
In v28, God blesses and speaks to the newly-created humankind. How do we hear God’s words to humanity here (for instance, as a command, as a blessing, as an opportunity, …)? Why do we hear God’s words this way, do we think? Could we hear them any other way? Why or why not? Does it make a difference how we hear these words? What difference does it make?
How do we understand the relationship of Genesis 2:7 to Genesis 1:26? Why? (That is, from what do we get that impression? From something in the text, from teaching we have had or read, from sermons we have heard, … ?) What are the possibilities for how these two texts are related? What difference will it make how we answer this question? Why?