Have you ever wondered where the word Genesis comes from? Maybe not, but perhaps you are now that I’ve asked. Genesis is a Greek word that means “origin”. The Greek version of the 1st book of the Bible is entitled Genesis Kosmou, meaning “origin of the universe”.
What is the Genesis Kosmou? You have to read it to find out. How does it begin?
“In the beginning, God created…”
Has it ever occured to you that this is a really strange way to begin a story about the creation of the universe? Maybe not, since today we are not familiar with very many narratives about creation. If you had lived in the days of the Romans, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians and Hebrews you would have recognized that this is a weird way to begin the creation story. Why?
Look at how other creation narratives begin:
Egyptian: In the beginning, Re defeated the Great Serpent…
Babylonian: In the beginning, Ea defeated Apsu…
Persian: In the beginning, Ohrmuzd defeated Ahriman…
Greek: In the beginning, Zeus defeated the Titans…
What is the difference between these narratives and Genesis? Rather than creation beginning with a great contest between supernatural forces, Genesis begins with God being and creating. God, whose name is “I AM”, begins this story by existing. He just was.
In those other narratives how does order come out of chaos? The god who becomes the ruler of all others wins a great victory and through that introduces order.
In Genesis, how did God bring order out of chaos?
“God said…and there was…”
There is no narrative telling how He became God over all others or how He had to win a great battle to bring order out of chaos. He simply spoke and there was order and creation. Then, how is it that God interacts with His creation? Through His word.
In the New Testament, how does John’s Gospel begin?
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.”
What is John saying? He is making sure we do not miss Jesus’ identity. Where does the Word first show up in the Bible? In the beginning, when God spoke. Who is Jesus? God’s word.
“I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.
If you really know me, you will know my Father as well.
From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
— John 14:6-7