Day 2: Creation
At a Glance
Dr. Ellen Davis, Amos Ragan Kearns Distinguished Professor of Bible and Practical Theology
Genesis 1:2-4a; Psalm 33; Romans 8:18-25; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21
Reflections on the Lecture
Dr. Davis began her lecture by connecting today’s theme to yesterday’s, suggesting that Genesis 1 can be read through the lens of our baptisms. To that end, she proposed a working thesis for the class: since Genesis 1 is typically read like a piece of prose—an exact play-by-play of an event—we would instead read the first biblical account of creation as a liturgical poem. Students discussed the implications of this new way of reading a familiar passage, and then Dr. Davis transported us all to 6th century Babylon, where Israelites—most likely Israelites around the age of our students—were serving as slave labor after the fall of Jerusalem. When viewed through the lens of exiles, the text of Genesis 1 became not only political, but also very hopeful—a justification for rest in the midst of endless toil, and an assurance that the Christian God made humans not as puppets for the deities, but out of divine desire.
“You know, Israelites invented the weekend. And for that we remain truly thankful.”
— Dr. Ellen Davis, regarding the Sabbath, as an aside to a story about the Israelites in Babylonian captivity
“You see, the law and everything it ordained and all our worship consist of what is made by hands, leading us through matter to the invisible God.”
— DYA Artist Carole Baker, quoting St. John of Damascus on the role of the arts in theology and worship
“The weather today was like a warm hug, rather than like being licked by an old dragon.”
— Kelly, an RA, on the delightful return of sunshine to DYA
“Now that we are God’s ‘new creation’…we have been given a new name: Christian. Make it count.”
— Rev. Shane Benjamin in worship
The sun was shining on us as we embarked on our first session with DYA’s artists, first experiencing an “artists’ showcase,” then interacting through small arts village workshops. We enjoyed a delicious meal prepared by students from Urban Hope including African chicken and rice and Italian pastas. The Rev. Shane Benjamin and the Asbury Temple United Methodist choir led worship – there was much singing and dancing!
Tomorrow Kate Bowler, a Ph.D. student at Duke and recent appointment to the Divinity School faculty, will teach us about covenant. In the afternoon we’ll head off campus to service sites around Durham – a great chance to offer our hands and hearts in gratitude to God and for one another. In the evening we’ll welcome the Rev. Jenny Copeland and the Rev. Bill Lamar in worship.