The text we’re studying for Sunday, September 23 is Genesis 2:18-25 and 4:1-2, God’s specific creation of the first woman as distinct from the first man, and the birth announcement of Cain and Abel. Here are a few questions we might want to consider, on our own or together in class:
What is our past history with this text? (That is, have we studied it before? With whom, when? What lessons did we learn about it? How authoritative were those? What effect(s) did they have on us, personally? …) How has that affected what is at stake for us personally in this text?
What is at stake for us personally in this text? How does that feel? Why? What impact does that seem to have on our study of the text? Why is that, do we think?
When we think of the newly-created human or man in v15-18, what image or images are in our minds? (For instance: do we imagine the person at a particular age? What does the surrounding environment look like? Etc.) Where do those images come from? What assumptions about the human’s or man’s situation do they make? Do we have any sense of the person’s experience? What is it? Why? How would we like to have that experience? Why?
In v18 God says “it is not good for the man to be alone” (NRSV). Why, do we think? Do we see this as related to the purpose given in v15? Or to something else? Why, do we think? Have we had experiences of being alone? How do those inform our reading of this text? How do our answers to the previous question inform our reading of this text?
In v18 God says “I will make him a helper as his partner” (NRSV). What do we understand by the word “helper”? Why is that? How is our idea here similar to or different from the way the word “helper” is used elsewhere in the Bible? Why is that, do we think? What do we think the text is trying to tell us about God’s project here? Why do we think that? How does that relate to what is at stake for us in reading this text?
[Do we want to do some thinking about language?] Is there an understanding of language implied in vv19-20? If so, what understanding is that? Or are vv19-20 compatible with more than one understanding of language? Which ones? How similar to or different from our own language and the way we use language is the way language is being used in these verses? How did the person acquire this language, do we think, or is language just now being invented as he goes along, and if so, does that imply anything about this language? What is this language for? What difference does it make how we answer these questions?
What elements of the story told in vv21-22 seem important to notice, and meaningful? What do those elements mean to us? Where do we get those ideas, do we think? (That is, do we find those meanings in the text? Where in the text? In our study of the words? What has that study been? In the way we use the words today? When and where do we use those words or ideas? …) What difference does it make how we answer these questions?
Is this a story about God’s intention for creation, do we think? Why do we think that? Why wouldn’t we think that? What difference does it make how we answer this question?