James Pittinger – Post 1

In the first two chapters of Genesis, God puts the world in motion. In verse (1:22) God tells the creatures to “be fruitful and multiply”. The way he says this is still open to debate today – Is this a command? A request? A blessing? And how do these all differ? This sets the natural world in motion in accordance to natural law. What this tells up about reproduction and kinship is that the cultural pattern provided is one that men and women are mode to procreate and populate the earth, not only humans but all of animal kind.

When comparing the Jewish and Christian uses of genesis Professor Seeman’s article is very helpful. Historically, the central idea of childbearing in Jewish faith is that becoming married and given children is a command. It is expected. Like we talked about in class on Tuesday, Hebrew has command forms of verbs, and this is how it is understood. It is a command to “be fruitful and multiply”. In the Christian faith being married and bearing children is considered a blessing, not a command. Most languages that have practicing Christians do not have this command form of verbs and interpret the verse “be fruitful and multiply” as a request of sorts, and not a command. The Bible can be subjective at times and open for interoperation. This open interpretation leads to another interesting point of “dominion”. While all humans have this authority over other forms of life, there is bound to be different sects and subsections among these humans leaving to more and more divisions.

An ethnographic approach, as seen in Kahn’s work explores how religion plays driving forces in both cultural and even political sectors. Many things can be learned by reading text, but what is more important is how these texts, ideas, and concepts and integrated into daily life. The general gist of this this post is the open interpretation of texts. While everyone has different thoughts, it’s not expected for people to understand passages in the same way. That is why Kahn’s work sheds such an important light on how these interoperations are put into practice.


 Book of Genesis, chapters 1-2

Susan Martha Kahn, Reproducing Jews: A Cultural Account of Assisted Conception in Israel(Duke University Press, 2000).


Don Seeman, “Ethnography, Exegesis and Jewish Ethical Reflection: The New Reproductive Technologies in Israel.” In Daphna Birenbaum-Carmeli and Yoram S. Carmeli editors, Kin, Gene, Community: Reproductive Technologies Among Jewish Israelis(Berghahn Books, 2010), pp. 340-362.


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