Story 1 of 12: BEGINNINGS
Once upon a time… no, wait. Let's back up even before that. Time began when God said, “Let there be light", and... Bang! The universe took shape. As God organized it he called each step of the way "good". But when he created man and woman in his own image, this he called very good.
Adam & Eve
The world and everything in it was theirs to watch over and enjoy, on the condition that they did not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, or they would die. The cunning serpent came along and manipulated the truth, telling them: “You won’t die. You’ll be like God, knowing good from evil”. Tempted by how good the fruit looked, they disobeyed and ate it. As a result, they forfeited their harmony with God, with the world, and with each other. God then placed an angel to guard another tree, the tree of eternal life, so that they would not eat from this tree as well and remain forever in their fallen state. A foretelling of how they could return to unity with God was described as the woman and the serpent forever being enemies, along with their respective seeds (offspring). After this mysterious announcement, they were told to go ahead and populate the earth.
Cain & Abel
The influence of the original sin led to a second when Cain, one of Adam and Eve’s sons, grew jealous over his brother, Abel, when God accepted Abel's sacrifice and not his own. As influential as that first sin was, God warned Cain that he still had a choice not to give in to his anger. In spite of this, Cain murdered his brother in cold blood, and sinfulness continued as humanity spread.
Noah & the Flood
Sin had become so widespread at one point that God brought about a world wide flood to start humanity from scratch, sparing the good man Noah and his family from the flood, instructing him to build an ark to save them along with a pair of each animal to repopulate the earth. (After the flood man would have to now subdue animals, which Adam never had to do.)
The Tower of Babel
In time, men again tried superseding their role as creatures, this time by trying to build a tower in Babel tall enough to touch the Heavens. Seeing through their plans, God dispersed them throughout the world, giving them different languages to confound their efforts going forward. Again humanity continued to spread, with all of the good and the bad.
"The Creation of Adam"
Other Mesopotamian myths of creation present the origins of the universe as chaotic, with man serving the whims of uncompassionate gods. An orderly creation with man as its crowning achievement sets Genesis apart from these other accounts.
The pronouncement against the serpent has been called the proto-evangelium ("first gospel"), the first hint of the good news to come. The woman and her child prefigure a "new Adam" and "new Eve" whose obedience would undo the disobedience of the first man and woman. The second Adam (Christ) would not only make available the eternal life forfeited by the Fall, but would also enable a more intimate relationship with God than the one that existed before the Fall.
What sets Genesis apart from similar creation stories?
When it seems unfair that we should suffer for the original sin of our ancestors, what announcement is made that would eventually be understood as God transforming a bad thing into something even better than what was there before?