Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Covenant in the context of chaos

Karl Barth has an interesting, creative, and inspiring exegesis of Genesis 1:20-23:
20And God said, "Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens."21So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22And God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth." 23And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.
Barth puts this passage in the context of the chaos and fear associated with the air and the sea, areas man cannot inhabit.
It is in these spheres--surely the least expected--that the life of autonomous creatures begins by creative fiat.... In the depths below and the heights above He begins His work on and with such beings. So great is His mercy! So much is He the Lord and Master of all things, including these regions! So thoroughly did He see to it that even these regions cannot be more than threatening signs of His wrath; that chaos is controlled, and life is made possible in its immediate vicinity! Where man imagines he can see the open jaws of death, God causes things to swarm and to fly,.... The spectacle offered in these spheres is one to inspire confidence....
In God's blessing of the fish and birds we really transcend the concept of creation and enter the sphere of God's dealings with His creation. What we have here is the beginning of its history, or a least an introductory prologue which announces the theme of this history, i.e., the establishment of a covenant between God and His creation which moves independently like Himself and renews itself by procreation after its kind. .... there is to be a God-like creature ordained for fatherhood and sonship and continuing its existence in the relationship of fatherhood and sonship. It is not to strive against Him but to be at peace with Him; not to live in impotence but in power; not in its own arrogance and strength but in the strength of His blessing, authorisation and promise, living and active in fruitful begetting.
Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics 3.1, p. 168ff

No comments:

Post a Comment