The first chapters of the Book of Genesis provide the opening written statement of what it means to be human. The oral traditions handed down through centuries surely took on characteristics of their own as different cultures and diverse authors reflected on their human condition and proposed how the God of Abraham related to them. In fact, there are four written sources that have been identified in the first chapters of Genesis, plus two differing creation accounts. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Documentary_hypothesis#:~:text=The%20documentary%20hypothesis%20posited%20that,to%20the%20Solomonic%20period%20(c.
Suffice it to say that Genesis is not as simplistic as you might think. For me, this book points out archetypal characteristics of what it means to be human and how humanity is essentially good but wounded by the sin of Adam and Eve. I think of it as the Genesis Effect in my view of reality. Here are some characteristics:
What is the nature of humans? The writers of Genesis had various ways to express what it means to be human. At the core of humanity is the ability to reason and free choice. What you choose can either be helpful or hurt you. Adam and Eve discovered the consequences of their choice were dying, having to work, the pains of everyday living such as childbirth, the awareness that they were naked, the consequences of jealousy and envy in the murder of Abel by Caine, the confusion of languages, and having to struggle to believe that God is God and that you are not God.
God is seen through anthropomorphic representation. Humans can not define God because their nature is not divine but human. What they do comprehend must be consistent with their human nature and experiences. The Garden of Eden’s context is that of a grand gardener hiring humans to tend it and care for it. Still, jealousy, envy, covetousness of materials things, and pride caused Adam (from the earth) and Eve (mother of humanity) to choose themselves rather than God as their center. Today, we have the completed Scriptures with centuries of commentary about what is true and what is not. Humans, even in the Old Testament encounters of Moses, the Judges, the Kings, and Prophets all experienced God through events, natural phenomena such as lightning at the top of the mountain, ending with Christ and the Word becoming flesh so He could be of human nature and relate what God’s love for us is. Genesis is a commentary on wounded human nature and our search for fulfillment. As John 20:30-31 says, these stories are to give you the opportunity to believe that Jesus is Son of God, Messiah, and that by believing in Him, you might have everlasting life. In is only very recently that we have Scriptural experts that parce the words and meanings with various points of view, often contradicting each other as they point out the contradictions contained in the passage of evolution from one understanding of God in the OT to a deeper fulfillment in the NT.
The Genesis Effect is most evident today. What was true for those keepers of the traditions handed down to them from previous generations is also true today. St. Paul stresses the relationship of Adam as the first man through what Jesus did as this second Adam died for our sins, released us from the hostage of death as the purpose of life, and allowed us to become sons and daughters of the Father. It is the Garden of Eden in its fullest sense once again. It is the New Jerusalem changed from tribal religion to a global one. It fulfills the purpose of human existence to have reason and make choices based on that reason. It fulfills the longing in the human heart to be present in the heart of Christ. It fulfills our destiny as human beings, both individually and collectively as Church Universal.
I need to begin each day seeking God in where I am and as I am. I need to practice good works (Chapter 4 of the Rule of St. Benedict) consistently and pray Lectio Divina each day. https://christdesert.org/prayer/rule-of-st-benedict/chapter-4-the-tools-for-good-works/
The Genesis Effect reminds me that I am a pilgrim in a foreign land (earth) and that I must struggle with Original Sin’s effects to keep myself center on Christ. Because of Original Sin, my commitment to Christ will begin to rust if I don’t keep myself focused on Christ (with the help of the Holy Spirit, of course).
Read Chapter 4 of the Rule of Benedict each day and pray that you become what you read.