Quakers on Genesis

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April 16, 2018

The way Friends interacted with, thought about, and used Scripture over the years frequently challenges our contemporary sensibilities about what the Bible is and what it does. I think this challenge can be healthy in that it prompts us (if we let it) to think about how we read the Bible and what we do with it – to uncover our assumptions about the text, to help us more honestly engage the text. This is why we’ve designed Illuminate Bible study curriculum, starting this fall, to include a Quaker quotation that relates to the Scripture passage each week. Here are a few of the quotations we’re including for the study of Genesis that starts in September:

“The Lord God of the whole earth, who lives forever, even the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; whose throne is established in righteousness, who rides on the heavens and shines forth in his eternal excellence from the firmament of his power, is manifesting himself as in the days of old, and is revealing his righteousness as in the years past; and is pouring out his Spirit on his sons and daughters, according to his promise; and of the blessing of the everlasting hills.” – Francis Howgill (1618–1669)

“Towards the latter part of the women’s meeting, I found it right to revive the language of Esau, which had been uppermost with me nearly ever since taking my seat in the meeting — ‘Bless me, even me, oh, my Father!’ I told them that I had feared, and greatly feared, that there were those present whose situation resembled Esau’s, who were crying out for the blessing, but who had not regarded their birthright; but when that nature which was appointed to die, was in great distress and hunger; they had for something to satisfy this, sold their birthright, and were now charging their leanness and distress to others who were not the cause thereof. That it would be well for such to recur, and return to first principles, lest the day come when this would be the language of their hearts — ‘The harvest is passed, the summer is ended and we are not saved.’” - Ann Branson (1808–1891)

“Joseph was a son, though no more of a son than Benjamin, but his path to the kingdom lay through the pit and the prison, with only gleams of sunlight between. His sufferings are remarkably typical of the sufferings of Christ, and largely so of His followers.” - David B. Updegraff (1830–1894)

“Did not the jailer there in Egypt, to whom Joseph was committed as a prisoner; did he not see that God was with Joseph, and how that God prospered whatever he did; and was not his sight beyond all you priests, that say you have not known God, unless scripture had declared it to you. And so are you not as dark as all your fellow-high priests, that could not see Christ when he was come, but persecuted him? And what scripture had the jailer, or what rule to see by, that God was with Joseph, and how God had prospered whatever he did? Was not this something of the divine light, both in Joseph and in the jailer, which is testified by scripture?” - George Fox (1624–1691)

“And in vision, there opened before me the appearance of a bright rainbow that extended from one side of the horizon to the other, through the zenith from the northwest to the southeast, and in a seeming soft language, it revived on my mind, this is the token of the covenant that God made with his people, that he would not again destroy the world with a flood. Great Babylon was now brought into remembrance before God and her cup was full and her fall was near at hand, and that the Lord is now arising and will give her, her due.” – Elias Hicks (1748–1830)

Eric Muhr

P.S. In this tenuous year of transition, Barclay Press must raise $25,000 in order to remain a going concern. So far this year, we’ve received $16,230 in donations and $3,600 in pledges, getting us 79 percent of the way to where we need to be by the end of the year. Thank you for your continuing prayer, for your words of encouragement, and for your support.


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