Wednesday, 11 April 2007


We are created to wonder and wonder about the created. Consider the ant, the Scriptural Sage advised. Consider the heavens, reflected the Psalmist of Psalm 8. Consider. Ponder. Wonder. The Bible gives us much to ponder and encourages us to ponder much.

There are different ways to ponder but it generally involves asking questions. The Philosopher asks why. The Historian asks when. The Scientist asks how. The Textual Critic asks what. The Geographer asks where. The Theologian asks who.

When it comes to pondering Scripture, its important to know which questions are being answered first. Certain passages are very locational and invite the Geographer's question. Other passages are mysterious and invite the Textual Critic to ask his question before we can begin to ask the questions of others. Some passages, like Genesis 1 and 2, on the surface appear to be the domain of the scientist when in fact they are the Theologian's foundational answers to his lingering question.

The Theologian's question of Genesis 1 and 2 appears to be what the text is answering. "Who" is creating everything? The Theologian answers this question with minimal effort. Genesis 1 and 2 immediately disappoints the Scientist though. It doesn't mention "how" the Creator created in terms other than theological- "Then God said...". The Textual Critic is given the day off when it comes to this passage because the text is plain: God created everything. The Geographer is left clueless because he is not told where God first created. We are told that God brought Adam to Eden, but from where? the Geographer asks- but the text is silent- therefore it doesn't want us to know. The Philosopher is less disappointed. He hears the text answer his question- the Creator created for His pleasure. The Historian assumes that since "Genesis" means 'Beginnings' his question will be answered first. But he is quickly lost in the absence of any geographical reference.

Creation is wonderful. We can wonder endlessly about the Biblical account of the Creation event unless we recognise that there appears to be a hierarchy of wonder that the text invites. Even though He is never named in the Text, the passage begins with "In the beginning God" leaving us in no doubt that it is about to answer the "Who?" question rather than the "When?" question. It continues to refer to this God over and over again. "Then God said", "And God saw", answer the Theologian's question not the Historian's.

To ponder the wonder of the Creation Event it appears that the Sacred Text invites us to ask these questions in this order-
1. Who?
2. Why?
3. What?
4. When?
5. Where?
6. How?

Before we argue with another wonderer of this event about the "How?" and the "When?" it might be advisable to answer the more pressing questions first: Who is this God? Why did He create (and particularly, Why did He create me)? What is it that the Text plainly says about Him in this event? Yet, many people are prepared to make the last three questions the top three questions and thereby completely miss what the Text answers. The challenge for this wonderer is to persist in the midst of the pressure from How-Where-When-ers who seem bent on reversing the hierarchy of wonder and convincing everyone else that their questions are the test of faith. But I seem to recall that Jesus placed the Who? question as the first question to be answered: Who do you say I am?

When we read Scripture, including Genesis 1 and 2, it seems that the Who? question always needs to be answered first. Who is this God? Why is He doing what He is doing? What does this Text tell me about Him? Answering these questions helps us to wonder about the One who is called Wonderful in whose image we have been wonderfully made.

Andrew Corbett