To think that Genesis 1 is a text about power and I hadn't noticed—and it was there in my face all along. It's not just about power, of course, but it certainly is about power, and significantly so. All this giving and blessing, all this sharing of power... it does speak of a Creator who is for us, a "creation founded in love" (Middleton).
Would it be true to say that if it wasn't for this and other biblical texts this would have been unheard of? A creation founded in love is a universe in which love is the norm: to be for the other. Could such a vision have emerged out of our experience of the world? Perhaps, if we had noticed the law of love at work in creation. But given the historical record of animals and humans' self-seeking behavior, my guess is no. Not back then, at the crossroads of world powers in the ancient Near East, or today, in a culture that encourages and runs on competition.
What a moment in world history this must have been, the day this text was conceived. I can only imagine the vision, the ethos or sense of place—the universe the author inhabited as he crafted this text. I assume the Spirit fed him the details, but I'm sure he already lived in the world he's describing. Clearly, there's nothing outside "the heavens and the earth," so the writer is himself a character in the Story he's telling. And so are we.
What story are we telling? In what world do we live? I have to ask because "the whole creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed" (Rom 8:19). I know it has to wait until the Lord himself is revealed (Col 3:4); but if indeed we have his Spirit, it should already be getting a glimpse.
Sources 1. J. Richard Middleton, “Creation Founded in Love: Breaking Rhetorical Expectations in Genesis 1:1-2:3,” in Sacred Text, Secular Times: The Hebrew Bible in the Modern World, ed. Leonard Jay Greenspoon and Bryan F LeBeau (Omaha, NE: Creighton University Press, 2000).
2. Andy Crouch, Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2013).
3. William P. Brown, The Ethos of the Cosmos: The Genesis of Moral Imagination in the Bible (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1999).
4. Iain Provan, The Reformation and the Right Reading of Scripture (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2017).