The Book of Genesis and Oneness in Judeo-Christian Culture

The second set of readings for the #ArtsOne course was the Book of Genesis and Kant’s Conjectural Beginning. The Book of Genesis translation which we were assigned to read was Robert Alter’s 2004 version.

As I was reading Genesis this morning, I kept stumbling upon this tension between unity and individuality. I noted evidence of this tension in Kant’s commentary on Genesis as well.

Here are some of my notes pertaining to instances where I think there might be a move away from unity/oneness towards individuality in Genesis:

1:26 – “our image” – god creates humans in “our image” not in his image, which leads me to believe that he is creating humans in this image of “the good”, as all his creation before (plants etc. etc.) had been deemed “good” by the creator. “Our” implies that others are part of the creation process – meaning that all that he has created is also part of his image, and humans, made in his image, are part of everything else he’s created as well. The pronoun “our” suggests an inter-connectivity.

Around 1:27 – Alter notes that there is controversy over the translation of the pronoun representing Adam. Could Adam be androgynous before his rib is used to make Eve? The transfer of the rib is itself a hint at a sense of oneness, and the idea that Adam is androgynous before this (which Alter seems to reject under the pretext that it unleashes “dizzying paradoxes”) would mean that much like the way god divides in Book 1 of Genesis (in all honesty a lot of the first chapter of Genesis should be mentioned here), the creation story is about a crumbling, or falling apart of a unity.

2:18 the use of the word “sustainer” – suggests a sort of loneliness inherent in humans – they are not really part of the inter-dependency of the animal world.

9:? Following the Fall, further indication of humans being separated from the oneness of creation becomes apparent. I noted that in chapter 9 Alter suggests that the way that humans move towards a carnivorous diet suggests that humans are exercising a sort of inner violence upon the animal kingdom – the notion of ruling over the animal kingdom is also apparent, Kant notes, in 8:114.

Chapter 10 – The Tower of Babel is a pretty well-discussed instance of human dis-unity. Once united under a similar language, humans loose that sense of collective when they are punished for trying to build a tower to the heavens. Babel could be seen as the real end of unity – humans are isolated individuals

The Fall can really be seen as the turning point between unity and individualism. I think that this tension and sense of duality should be examined further considering that a lot of what modern spiritualism promotes is re-aligning oneself with the oneness of the universe. Many stories in the Bible have this inherent individualism that I’m sure makes many skeptical. – I’ll explore this more in my essay

Just some thoughts, nothing to be taken too seriously. nothing should ever be taken too seriously relaly.