Duck-Rabbits and Other Ways to Transform Perception
In these well-known optical illusions, on initial observation the observer sees one or the other of the two possible figures in the image. At first, one sees either the duck or the rabbit. When the observer who sees a duck is told to look for the rabbit, they must begin to identify rabbit features to reframe their perspective. The duck’s bill becomes the rabbit’s ears. Similarly, with the old/young woman, one must focus on a particular feature and reinterpret it or see it as something else.
It is not possible to see both simultaneously. The brain switches back and forth between the two possible interpretations.
In a somewhat analogous way, something similar happens when we look at other creation accounts in the Christian Scriptures. And yes, you read that correctly. There are other portrayals of creation beyond the two that are most familiar to us in Genesis 1-3. (See for example Job, Psalm 77, 78, passages from Isaiah, John 1, Colossians 1, etc.) Moreover, it may be that these other biblical creation accounts pre-date those we find at the beginning of our Bibles. That is, they may have existed as part of the oral culture and worship practice of Israel and may even have been committed to papyrus before Genesis 1-3. (Of course, dating of texts is often difficult.)
As the title of this post suggest, the two events that Israel often described coincidentally and in overlapping images are the establishing of the cosmos and the establishing of Israel. Both events are seen as the creative acts of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. These events are so closely associated for the biblical authors that it is frequently (and, perhaps, invariably) the case that they find they cannot speak of one without speaking of the other.
Let’s look at an example from Psalm 89. Continue reading “How to Teach Genesis 1 (Part II): Psalms: Creation or Exodus”