For those using the Revised Common Lectionary, the readings are Genesis 2.4b-9,15-25, Revelation 4 and Luke 8.22-25. The gospel reading is very short, and is set alongside two other significant readings that it might be odd to by-pass. I therefore share two reflections I have written on Genesis 2, and two on Revelation 4. The comments on Genesis 2 come from my Grove booklets on Women and Authority: the key biblical texts and Same-sex Unions, the titles reflecting the two key areas where the text of Genesis 2 has become most disputed.
Although there are differences in the order of events with Genesis 1.1–2.3, it seems that we are intended to take these two passages as parallels, reading each in light of the other. That is, their differences are an important means for directing us on how to interpret each one. For example, humans are given authority to ‘subdue’ the earth and ‘have dominion’ over all living creatures (1.28). We could read this as a blanket right to take all we want from creation, except that in 2.15 we read that the adam was placed in the Garden to ‘tend it and keep it.’ These are verbs of protection and nurture, and so we see that subduing is achieved through positive care. Conversely, if we only had Genesis 2.15, we might think that humans have only a lowly role—as gardener and nothing more—when in fact we have dominion over creation. These two accounts, though different in many ways, inform our understanding of what it means to be human and how we relate to the rest of creation.