Flood Stories

Water over Rocks, by Holly Chaffin

Last week I read the flood story from the Gilgamesh Epic aloud to the class, then each of us with a partner read the Yahwist flood story that lies behind part of the biblical account. We then talked about the similarities and differences between these stories.

Tomorrow we will look again at the Yahwist version, then read the Priestly version of the story that is interwoven with it in the story that we find in the Bible. We will discuss how these stories are combined in the biblical text and what early Israel may have been asserting in this combined narrative. What key theological claims are being made? How does the combined story set Israel apart from its neighbors?

I look forward to seeing all of you at Binkley at 9:30 tomorrow morning.

Presentation on the Hagar Stories

I have uploaded the presentation I used this morning in the class on Hagar. You can access it here.

Some of you asked where you could get a copy of the poem we read. I have to acknowledge that I misspoke in attributing the poem to Edmond Lewis. It was written about her, inspired by her statue of Hagar.  Tyehimba Jess published the ekphrastic  poem under the title “Hagar in the Wilderness” in Poem A Day, a digital poetry series containing over 200 poems by contemporary poets. You can read “Hagar in the Wilderness” there (Just click the title of the poem to get there).

If you would like to read more about Edmonia Lewis, you can find short overviews at either biography.com or wikipedia.com. The Smithsonian also has a nice short article on her. Encyclopedia.com contains a slightly more detailed treatment.

I look forward to seeing all of you again next Sunday. Allen Davidson will be leading the discussion.

Hagar and the Naming of God: Genesis 16:1—16 and 21:9—21

Hagar in the Wilderness
Hagar and Ishmael in the Wilderness, Francesco Cozza, 1665

Genesis tells the extraordinary story of an Egyptian slave woman thrown out of the home of Abraham and Sarah. She encounters God in the wilderness and is the only character in all the Bible who gives a new name to God. Why? What is the significance of this story of mistreatment, grace, and deliverance?

The story of Hagar can inspire us to think in new ways about the nature of God and our language about God.
Those of you who attended the class on feminist readings of scripture two years ago led by Susan Rogers, Velma Ferrell, and Micheal Palmer will recognize this story. Feel free to contribute your reflections on its implications for today’s church.