Israel's Story of the Creation of the World
This chapter examines models for how the ancient text, which reflects its ancient cultural context, came together. Many of the creation stories use water as a metaphor for both creation and its opposite, chaos. In the ancient world, access to fresh water was essential for survival, yet in many of these hot and arid lands, it was often hard to come by. All humans, signified by the merism “male and female” are created in the “image and likeness” of God, a phrase in the ancient Near East that means they have responsibility for the world as God’s representatives. In the ancient Near Eastern myths, serpents represented a variety of concepts, including healing and eternal life, the sun, wisdom, and death/chaos. Ancient Israel was primarily an oral culture. The production of physical texts required economic resources that were scarce in a subsistence economy. The curse on Adam reflects the economic reality of ancient Israel.
The Christian Theological Tradition, 4th ed.