1 So the heavens and the earth and everything else were created. 2 By the seventh day God had finished his work, and so he rested. 3 God blessed the seventh day and made it special because on that day he rested from his work. 4 That's how God created the heavens and the earth. 5 no grass or plants were growing anywhere. God had not yet sent any rain, and there was no one to work the land. 6 But streams came up from the ground and watered the earth. 7 The LORD God took a handful of soil and made a man. God breathed life into the man, and the man started breathing. 8 The LORD made a garden in a place called Eden, which was in the east, and he put the man there. 9 The LORD God placed all kinds of beautiful trees and fruit trees in the garden. Two other trees were in the middle of the garden. One of the trees gave life—the other gave the power to know the difference between right and wrong. 10 From Eden a river flowed out to water the garden, then it divided into four rivers. 11 The first one is the River Pishon that flows through the land of Havilah, 12 where pure gold, rare perfumes, and precious stones are found. 13 The second is the River Gihon that winds through Ethiopia. 14 The River Tigris that flows east of Assyria is the third, and the fourth is the River Euphrates. 15 The LORD God put the man in the Garden of Eden to take care of it and to look after it. 16 But the LORD told him, “You may eat fruit from any tree in the garden, 17 except the one that has the power to let you know the difference between right and wrong. If you eat any fruit from that tree, you will die before the day is over!” 18 The LORD God said, “It isn't good for the man to live alone. I need to make a suitable partner for him.” 19-20 So the LORD took some soil and made animals and birds. He brought them to the man to see what names he would give each of them. Then the man named the tame animals and the birds and the wild animals. That's how they got their names.
None of these was the right kind of partner for the man. 21 So the LORD God made him fall into a deep sleep, and he took out one of the man's ribs. Then after closing the man's side, 22 the LORD made a woman out of the rib.
The LORD God brought her to the man, 23 and the man exclaimed,
“Here is someone like me!
She is part of my body,
my own flesh and bones.
She came from me, a man.
So I will name her Woman!” 24 That's why a man will leave his own father and mother. He marries a woman, and the two of them become like one person.
In The Beginning
The Bible is actually a collection of many dozens of books and letters and poetry anthologies. They are collected together into two large sections, known to Christians as the Old Testament and the New Testament. The books contained in the New Testament, the second portion of the Bible, are distinctly Christian since they were written about Jesus, by his followers. The books contained nearer the beginning of the Bible in the Old Testament are also important to the Jewish faith, and the fact that they are included in the Christian sacred book is a reminder of the Jewish roots of the Christian faith. We will talk a little bit more about some of the links between the two faiths later.
Each of the books in the Bible is given a name – sometimes because of the person who wrote it, because of the person it is about or because of its subject matter. Our first reading will be from the very first book of the Bible which is called Genesis. Along with most of the other books of the Old Testament, it was written in Hebrew, the language spoken by the people whose story is the central focus of this first part of the Bible. The original name of the book was taken from its first three words “in the beginning” which is really what the book is about. For many centuries the most widely read version of the Old Testament was not in the original Hebrew, but a Greek translation in which this first book was titled genesis which means “origin” or “birth.”
When typesetting and printing first made books like the Bible more widely available, it soon became necessary to be able to refer somebody else to a smaller portion of text within a larger book, so even within the Bible, each book was divided into numbered chapters, and each chapter was divided into numbered verses which correspond roughly to small paragraph breaks. The actual numbering isn’t particularly significant, except to find your way around. Our first reading for instance will begin with verse 1 of chapter 1 of the book of Genesis and will stretch to verse 24 of chapter 2.
The very first words of the Bible had always been well known, but they became absolutely iconic when they resonated from space on December 24th, 1968. Aboard Apollo 8, the first space mission to take man far beyond the edges of the earth’s atmosphere, from almost 200,000 miles away in the black emptiness of space, the voice of astronaut Jim Lovell read from the beginning of the book of Genesis.
To find our first reading, turn to the book of Genesis at the very beginning of the Bible. (For other books that are less easy to find you can consult the Table of Contents that should be included near the beginning of your Bible and that lists the page where each books starts.) Once you have found the book of Genesis, begin reading at verse 1 of Chapter 1, and read until the end of verse 24 of chapter 2. When giving a Bible reference this would be abbreviated as Genesis 1:1–2:24.
Contemporary English Version Copyright © 1995 American Bible Society. British usage edition. Anglicisations © 1997 British and Foreign Bible Society