Our readings for March come from Genesis, Job, and Exodus. We will read the first eleven chapters of Genesis, followed by the entirety of Job, then we’ll finish Genesis, and read the very beginning of Exodus.
Genesis has some hard stories in it: the first murder happens in chapter four, a brief discussion on children who have heavenly fathers and earthly mothers and giants for fathers and human mothers, followed by a piece of Noah’s story that you might not be aware of, a few stories about Lot and his daughters, the brutal rape of Dinah and the revenge that her brothers took, and the story of Judah and Tamar to name a few.
Genesis is also where we go when we are curious about how it all started. Mixed in with the violent stories of our ancestors is a larger story about the relationship between creator and creation that the creator creates in their image and calls good.
Job makes us question why bad things happen to good people (theodicy). It is a challenging book because it makes us question how involved God is in our suffering. Job is included in the wisdom books along with Ecclesiastes and Lamentations.
One of the quotes that I came across while reading about Job this week explains why Job is considered a wisdom text and gives us some food for thought about God’s justice is this narrative and in our lives is from Cheryl A. Kirk-Duggan, an elder in the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church and a professor at Shaw University Divinity School, “The wisdom tradition holds in tension divine sovereignty and human responsibility. Job maintains personal integrity. Ultimately, however, the sages offer no conclusive explanations, and God’s ways remain inscrutable.”* Another scholar said, “However, some have described Job as a unique form of wisdom writing, possibly displaying a wisdom conundrum. The story of this righteous sufferer seems to be a direct rebuttal of the traditional idea of ‘you reap what you sow’ found in other biblical texts.”* Scholars argue about the dating and authorship of Job but for the most part agree about Job being the Israelite version of a much older Mesopotamian story about the righteous sufferer.* As we read through Job, I want to caution all of us against looking for the answer to the question of righteous suffering. Chances are you will walk away from Job with more questions than answers, and that’s ok.
*Kirk-Dugan, Cheryl A., “Job,” The People’s Bible, Fortress Press 2009, pg 631.
Davison, Lisa, “Job,” The New Interpreter’s Study Bible, Abingdon Press, 2003, pg703.
Ibid. pg 703-4.
Exodus is a story that many of us are familiar with. Chances are you’ve seen The Ten Commandments and/or The Prince of Egypt. One of the questions that is often asked of Exodus is, did this really happen? The short answer is historians and Biblical scholars have no idea. The general consensus is that something happened that caused a group of workers to leave Egypt, but historically speaking the story didn’t happen as told in Exodus. Don’t let the lack of historical evidence get in the way of reading this story for what it is, a story of hope and redemption.
Below are a few questions to help guide you as you read. There are no right answers to any of these, they are here to help us reflect.
Questions to Guide Us Throughout This Practice
- What stood out to you in the readings?
- What did you notice about God?
- Did anything in the readings make you feel uncomfortable?
- How does what you read impact your life and your faith?
Questions to Guide Us Through Genesis
- Before reading, pick a few of the stories you know from this text and write them out. After we finish reading Genesis, go back and see what changes you would make. What did you learn from reading the text carefully?
- What does it mean to you to be created in the image of God? How might your answer to that question impact how you read not only Genesis but the entire Bible?
- Check-in with yourself (if you partnered up for this with your partner) about how you reacted to the violent stories. Why do you think our ancestors told these stories and later included them in the canon?
- When you’ve reached the end of Genesis, reflect on the relationship between God and creation. Did the relationship change at any point in the story so far? If so, how and why? What might the relationship between God and creation say about God’s relationship with us?
Questions to Guide Us Through Job
- Before you read Job, write down why you think bad things happen to good people. After you have finished reading Job write down why you think bad things happen to good people. Did your answer change after reading Job? How does your answer to the question impact how you live your life?
- Why do you think Job is included in the Hebrew and Christian canons?
Questions to Guide Us Through Exodus
- Before you read Exodus write down your version of the Exodus story. After you read Exodus, write down your version of the Exodus. What changed in your telling of the story after a close reading of the text?
- How does the relationship between creator and creation develop in this story?
- Did you learn anything about the Exodus story that you did not know before reading the text?
Daily Reading and Podcast Links
The hyperlink for the reading will take you to Bible Gateway. The hyperlink “podcast” will take you to the podcast that matches the reading. The hyperlink “YouTube” will take you to a video recording of the Podcast.
March 2 |Genesis 1-3 | Reading | Podcast | YouTube
March 3 |Genesis 4-7 | Reading | Podcast | YouTube
March 4 |Genesis 8-11|Reading | Podcast | YouTube
March 5 | Job 1-5| Reading | Podcast | YouTube
March 6 | Job 6-9| Reading | Podcast | YouTube
March 7 | Job 10-13| Reading | Podcast | YouTube
March 8 | Job 14-16 | Reading | Podcast | YouTube
March 9 | Job 17-20 | Reading | Podcast | YouTube
March 10 | Job 21-23 | Reading|Podcast | YouTube
March 11| Job 24-28 | Reading | Podcast | YouTube
March 12 | Job 29-31| Reading | Podcast | YouTube
March 13 | Job 32-34 | Reading | Podcast | YouTube
March 14 | Job 35-37 | Reading | Podcast | YouTube
March 15 | Job 38-39 | Reading | Podcast | YouTube
March 16 | Job 40-42 | Reading | Podcast | YouTube
March 17 | Genesis 12-15 | Reading | Podcast | YouTube
March 18 | Genesis 16-18 | Reading | Podcast | YouTube
March 19 | Genesis 19-21 | Reading | Podcast | YouTube
March 20 | Genesis 22-24| Reading | Podcast | YouTube
March 21 | Genesis 25-26 | Reading | Podcast | YouTube
March 22 | Genesis 27-29| Reading | Podcast | YouTube
March 23 | Genesis 30-31| Reading | Podcast | YouTube
March 24 | Genesis 32-34 | Reading | Podcast| YouTube
March 25 | Genesis 35-37 | Reading | Podcast | YouTube
March 26 | Genesis 38-40| Reading | Podcast | YouTube
March 27 | Genesis 41-42| Reading | Podcast | YouTube
March 28 | Genesis 43-45 | Reading | Podcast| YouTube
March 29 | Genesis 46-47| Reading | Podcast | YouTube
March 30 | Genesis 48-50| Reading | Podcast | YouTube
March 31 | Exodus 1-3| Reading | Podcast | YouTube