In the 1970’s Alex Haley’s television mini-series “Roots” gripped the nation. In this mini-series the story of the African people’s experience in the United States was told in epic style. As a nation we felt the pain of Kunta Kente as he was trapped and taken from his African village and sold as a slave to European settlers in the United States. Why was this mini-series created? Why did it air in the 1970’s? In the mid-seventies the first generation of young African American people was emerging following the riotous decade of the civil rights movement in the 60’s.
Alex Haley knew that the identity of the African American community in the United States was at a crucial cross-roads. The diligence of the civil rights activists had made a difference in our culture and the African American person was presented an opportunity to emerge from the darkness of racial oppression and take his place at the table of the free American citizen.
Having never experienced freedom like this before, and having been told by society for so long that they were second-class citizens at best, the African American community’s search for identity was a difficult journey. Haley knew that the African American population needed to have stories with which to identify that would connect them to the past, that would give them heroes to emulate, and that would fill their existence with meaning.
Every culture and every people group is the same. Whether it is a family sitting around the table at a family reunion and retelling the stories of their grandparents, or the bard of a village singing the ancient songs of the tribe, every group has its stories that give it meaning.
The people of Israel are no different. As you read the book of Genesis it will be helpful to put it into its correct context. The book of Genesis is to the people of Israel as “Roots” was to the African American population of the United States. In order to fully grasp the context of this epic story we must turn the video tape ahead and look at the book of Exodus. In Exodus we find the story of one of the greatest leaders of all time: Moses. Under the direction and power of God, Moses led the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt. The Israelites had been slaves in Egypt for 400 years, during which time they had known nothing but oppression, humiliation, and subjection to the pagan culture of Egypt. As the people emerged from Egypt and stepped into the wilderness of Zin they were at a similar cross-roads as the African American population in America. Who were they? Where did they come from? Why were they there? Where were they going? How were they to behave? Moses knew that the people needed stories that would unify them, give them meaning, make sense out of the chaos that had been their experience, and give them a trajectory on which to travel.
This video is my presentation of Genesis in Bible Mania
This image demonstrates the major pattern of the entire Biblical Narrative.
God Creates — Humans Uncreate — God Recreates…Repeat.
Genesis is divided into two major sections:
Ch. 1-11 – The Beginning of Everything
The beginning of the universe: Creation. Genesis 1-2
The beginning of pain and suffering: The Fall of Man. Genesis 3
The beginning of the world…again: The Flood. Genesis 4-10
The beginning of the nations: The tower of Babel. Genesis 11
A helpful video from The Bible Project
Ch. 12-50 – The Beginning of Israel
Abraham. Genesis 12-25
Isaac. Genesis 21-27
Jacob. Genesis 25-36
Joseph. Genesis 37-50