Another Kind of Vision: Forgiveness in Genesis (Marilynne Robinson, February 27, 2024, Commonweal)

The book of Genesis begins with the emergence of Being in a burst of light and ends with the death and burial of a bitter, homesick old man. If there is any truth to modern physics, this brings us to the present moment. Disgruntled and bewildered, knowing that we derive from an inconceivably powerful and brilliant first moment, we are at a loss to find anything of it in ourselves. God loved Jacob and was loyal to him, no less for the fact that Jacob felt the days of his life, providential as they were, as deep hardship. […]

Genesis can hardly be said to end. In it certain things are established—the nature of Creation and the spirit in which it was made; the nature of humankind; how and in what spirit the Creator God enters into relation with His human creatures. The whole great literature of Scripture, unfolding over centuries, will proceed on the terms established in this book. So Genesis is carried forward, in the law, in the psalms, in the prophets, itself a spectacular burst of light without antecedent but with a universe of consequences. This might seem like hyperbolic language to describe a text largely given over to the lives of people in many ways so ordinary that it is astonishing to find them in an ancient text. This realism by itself is a sort of miracle. These men and women saw the face of God, they heard His voice, and yet life for them came down to births and deaths, love, transgression, obedience, shame, and sorrow, everything done or borne in the course of the characterization of God, for Whom every one of us is a child of Adam, made in Hisimage. God’s bond with Jacob, truly a man of sorrows, is a radical theological statement.