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A Very Ordinary Redemption – Genesis 5:1 – 6:8

Thursday, April 30, 2015

He wasn’t a policeman or a firefighter.  He had once been a Marine.  But on the clear, bright morning of September 11, 2001 Benjamin Keefe Clark was just a chef.

And then a hero.

Natural instincts to lead took over once the plane hit the tower.  Clark helped make sure everyone on the 96th floor offices of the company he cooked for made it safely to the stairs.  On the way down, at the 78th floor, he saw a woman in a wheelchair.  As his colleagues made their way down quickly, he labored slowly to help the wheelchair-bound woman.  His colleagues made it.  Clark did not.

Our popular imagination rightly reveres those who run into burning buildings when the rest of us are running out, or those who run toward the chaos to restore order and safety.  And in our literary imagination we have endowed heroes with superpowers to bring peace and security to the beleaguered citizens of Gotham.

Jewish biblical scholars have observed that the genealogies in Genesis are easily the best example of how different ancient literature is from this modern literature.  We will begin to grapple with that in this passage.  The hardest part is how we as readers expect narrative will move us from scene to scene, building tension in the conflict until Batman stands up to the Joker.  So when we come here and end up with repetitive, formulaic genealogies it is very tempting to just move along until the narrative captures our interest again. There is a sense in which that is actually a good idea.  But we have to have a little patience here so we can know where to pick things up again.

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