Monday, February 2, 2015

Reading Genesis Dispassionately?

Can one ever read Scripture dispassionately as some scholars would want us to do? I can't imagine reading Genesis dispassionately. I have returned to the first book of the Bible often in recent years. The stories of Abraham, Jacob and Joseph, the 3 main characters of Genesis never failed to amaze me. God spoke to me often through these narratives of our forbears. When I first went to Auckland for theological education, it was Abraham's life and obedience that spurred me to step out in faith. I did not even know where I was headed when I landed in Auckland, being in two minds either to go south to Dunedin or remain in Auckland. My move back to Sabah late last year was inspired by the Jacob's return to Canaan after a period of work with Laban that did not end very well but Jacob was self-sufficient enough at that time to return home with his belongings.
Now I am back in Sabah and the economic wizardry of Joseph and his soft heart towards his brothers become a template for me to look out for my fellow brother pastors. I spoke in church how I was saddened to see most of our pastors being poor and cannot afford the buy the cheapest car in Malaysia. Owning a car is not a luxury and in most cases a necessity for travel and ministry. I have plans for a pension system, a kind of retirement fund for pastors and also to upgrade theological education in Sabah. Joseph is an inspirational leader but totally devoted to his family. As Robert Alter writes, "Joseph is at once the intellectual, dispassionate interpreter of dreams and central economic planner, and the man of powerful spontaneous feeling." The Five Books of Moses (p. 292).

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