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Introduction, Workshop 8: Creation

In "Wisdom from the Hebrew Scriptures," a Tapestry of Faith program

We covenant to affirm and promote respect for the interdependent web of existence of which we are a part. — Unitarian Universalist Association Seventh Principle

This final workshop presents the very first story that appears in the Hebrew scriptures: the creation of the world. This passage was one of the later additions to the body of scripture, included after the Jewish people had returned home from their exile in Babylon. In this story, God is no longer the God of a particular people, but is rather the creator of all of the earth and sky, and of humanity itself. It is an extraordinary text in both its theology and poetic beauty. This text tells us that we are indeed kin, one to another and to all of creation.

This text is born of a time when the Jewish people, returned from exile two or three generations after the conquest of Jerusalem, sought guidance in their own history and traditions to reconstitute their society. It was an age when interpreting the text supplanted prophecy as a way to understand how to live in accordance with the Jewish covenant with God, a time in which the interpreters—scribes, priests, and others—turned to the text to find meaning and order for their society. Tasked with creating social order, they brought stories found in the cultural and religious traditions of the region into their own canon, adding stories that chronologically preceded the Abraham sequence. This creation story not only establishes our kinship one with another, it provides the scriptural basis for the central Jewish practice of keeping the Sabbath.

This workshop invites participants to appreciate the power and wisdom of this ancient creation story rather than deconstruct it in the light of scientific understandings of evolution. It asks: Who is the God that appears in this story, and how is God different from the God in other stories we have explored? What does it mean if we are all related? What wisdom is there for Unitarian Universalists in honoring Sabbath?

Before leading this workshop, review the Accessibility Guidelines for Workshop Presenters found in the program Introduction and make any accommodations necessary for your group.

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Last updated on Wednesday, October 29, 2014.

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