Severian and Bede on Gen 1-3

Do you remember Mystery Science Theater 3000? It’s where Joel and the “bots” would riff B-movies. Well, the first half of this volume is kind of like that. While Severian of Gabala had some insights, he had trouble with coherently finishing a sermon on point. And the editor (Robert Hill) lets you know that in the footnotes. And the footnotes are a laugh-riot. Here are some examples:

“Severian feels that he has done justice to the Genesis account of the first day and that he has achieved profundity. The goodness of creation has escaped his attention, however” (Hill 30 n44).

“He [Severian] is going to great trouble to vindicate all the details of the Genesis account instead of leaving it be and moving on” (41 n16).

“Again Severian has made a rod for his own back by being aggressively literalistic” (50 n13).

Obviously, Severian is no John Chrysostom but he is not without use. While it’s easy to ridicule Severian for his flat-earth cosmology, he perceptively ties it’s dome-like structure to the tabernacle-imagery. As modern scholars now realize, the Mosaic Tabernacle was a microcosm of the universe (Beale 2004: 189). But does this entail a belief in flat-earth cosmology? Not necessarily. The earth is flat and heliocentric from an observational point of view (like using phrases as “sunrise”).

Bede the Venerable is a different class of commentator. He is the opposite of Severian: focused, mature, and restrained. His actual commentary is more or less a riff off of Augustine’s work on Genesis. Bede adds to the discussion with his Six Ages of Man. Rather than allegorical excess, Bede gives a profound typology, as seen below.

>>Age 1: From the Fall to the Flood (p. 135). The The end of Day 1 anticipates the “Waters” of day 2, so at the end of Age 1 is the Flood.
Age 2: Day 2 is about the waters of the flood, so the second age sees humanity in the ark. The end of this day sees the nations of Genesis 10 (70 = nations, figuratively).
Age 3: Day 3 has the dry earth and vegetation appearing, so Age 3 sees the dry earth after the Flood. Also the calling of Abraham, which is the separation of the faithful from the unfaithful. Also typologically anticipates Israel’s casting off the Law and the defiling in slavery. Ends in King Saul.
Age 4: On Day 4 the heaven receives its luminaries. In the 4th age we see the Kingly lights of David and Solomon. As the day turns towards evening, this age turned toward darkness and ended in Babylon (p.136).
Age 5: Day 5 sees the waters bringing forth fish. Bede sees Babylon as meaning waters, so the children of Israel are living in the waters of Babylon.
Age 6: God created man on Day 6. In age 6 the New Man, the Word of God. The Church (Eve) is taken from his rib. Antichrist will appear in the evening of this day. This evening will be darker than the rest (p. 137). After Antichrist’s appearing will be the Tribulation.<<


2 thoughts on “Severian and Bede on Gen 1-3

  1. Pingback: Bible Commentary Survey | Kingdom Authority

  2. Pingback: A Patristic Linkstorm | The Tents of Shem

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