Abram & Sarai- Genesis 12

History, Story or Theology?

History – We can not date Abram & Sarai. Various attempts have tripped over too many inconsistencies. The date of text is anywhere from c750 (Josiah) to c500 (Exile) 

The sources at least 3 different texts that have been combined – each text has own style & emphasis. The text we have is aweaving of earlier text, with editorial control/comment.

Story – uses a storytelling form to create an ancestral history – distinct from the primeval history of Genesis 1-11. These are family stories, to answer the question of “Where do we come from?” But don’t be concerned with use of the word story – these are narratives packed with truth – for people are people.

Theology storytellers and editors want to say something about God’s relationship with humanity through the eyes of a specific people. Commentators reflect their own context and experiences and how these ancient tales impact on their understanding of God

We come at it as 21st Century, western people who have found our way into this church community. What do we learn about God from these texts? What do we learn about ourselves, our relationships with one another and our relationship with God? What do these texts have to say to our context?

Barrenness & Promise

We are immediately told that Sarai is barren, the family line is coming to an end. But hopelessness is the arena for God’s life-giving action

Time for adventure – 12:1-2  – God calls the hopeless ones into a community of promise … calls the fixed ones into pilgrimage 

“with closed eyes … until having renounced thy country, thou shalt have given thyself wholly to me.” (Calvin)

12:4 So Abram went …  setting out in faith –  how does that feel?

Residing as Alien

12:10 residing as an alien – fearful, uncertain, 

Confronting Empire

In Egypt Abram lies about his relationship with Sarai and passes her off as his sister. When God intervenes, Pharaoh is furious and throws them out. At the same time Sarai loses her name, she becomes an object subject to the intrigues of the men and is referred to as “wife”. Yet, “Everything hinges on Sarai, Her condition threatens to negate the future, the continuation of genealogy, even while Yhwh calls Abram to relinquish his past and present. Let there be no misunderstanding Sarai the barren wife is the human pivot in this patriarchal narrative. She counts. (Phyllis Trible in Hagar, Sarah and their Children)