Our course Book of Genesis is discounted for a limited time.

In April, I travelled to Oxford to help with filming Prof. Wright’s upcoming course, ‘Selections from the Psalms’. Following COVID protocols, I quarantined in a rented flat. I knew what to expect during my time of isolation because I had quarantined for 14 days in October 2020, when I was there for the filming of the courses ‘Surprised by the God of Hope’ and ‘The Book of Genesis’ with Prof. Wright.

Last fall, one of the biggest surprises, for which I was totally unprepared, was on day 15. It was my first day out after two weeks and I was overjoyed at being able to go for a run. My daily exercise routine had been restricted to yoga indoors and rope jumping (‘skipping’ as they say in the UK) in the garden in the back of the house. 

After a five-mile jog around the city on a lovely trail near the canal boats, I was heading for ‘home’. I located Church Street, which I knew to be the house address, but couldn’t make out the house numbers from the road. After an extra mile of jogging around and up and down the road I realised suddenly that I had no idea what the outside of the house looked like! Additionally, since I had spent the last two weeks looking out the windows on the upper floor, it occurred to me I had no street-level vantage point. I must have run right past the house several times without recognising it at all. I was totally lost.

Thankfully, I had my very smart phone with me that helped me navigate to my destination and informed me, ‘You have arrived’, when I was standing outside the house (which was still unrecognisable to me). After spending two weeks inside in an unfamiliar house and city, I still was not sure if the house I was about to enter was the right place!

This spring when I again travelled to Oxford and quarantined, I was far more prepared. I recalled the importance of having a look around at my surroundings and identified a few landmarks to make sure I was more familiar with the general landscape.

Similarly, you might find that Prof. Wright’s course on the ‘Book of Genesis’ can prepare you for the upcoming course on Psalms by locating and learning key points of interests. Exploring the foundations of the story that the Bible is telling will prepare you to navigate and ‘have a look around’ the Psalter in ‘Selections from the Psalms: Part One’.  

Here are just a few highlights:

  • Genesis foregrounds God as Creator, who longs to dwell with his creation from the beginning.
  • Genesis is the book to which the people of God turn as they look back to their earliest origins.
  • Genesis gives shape to the story of Israel and the twists and turns of the narrative.
  • Genesis records how it all went horribly wrong and God’s promise to put things right.
  • Genesis tells of the men and women of deep faith who were also deeply flawed. 
  • Genesis reveals God the Creator as the ultimate source of hope for rescue when all seems lost.
  • Genesis celebrates the goodness and beauty of God’s creation and his faithfulness to humanity. 

Consider one of the course’s featured psalms: Psalm 105

Psalm 105

God’s Faithfulness to Israel

O give thanks to the Lord, call on his name,
make known his deeds among the peoples.
Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wonderful works.
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Seek the Lord and his strength;
seek his presence continually.
Remember the wonderful works he has done,
his miracles, and the judgments he has uttered,
O offspring of his servant Abraham,
children of Jacob, his chosen ones.

He is the Lord our God;
his judgments are in all the earth.
He is mindful of his covenant forever,
of the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations,
the covenant that he made with Abraham,
his sworn promise to Isaac,
10 which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute,
to Israel as an everlasting covenant,
11 saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan
as your portion for an inheritance.”

12 When they were few in number,
of little account, and strangers in it,
13 wandering from nation to nation,
from one kingdom to another people,
14 he allowed no one to oppress them;
he rebuked kings on their account,
15 saying, “Do not touch my anointed ones;
do my prophets no harm.”

16 When he summoned famine against the land,
and broke every staff of bread,
17 he had sent a man ahead of them,
Joseph, who was sold as a slave.
18 His feet were hurt with fetters,
his neck was put in a collar of iron;
19 until what he had said came to pass,
the word of the Lord kept testing him.
20 The king sent and released him;
the ruler of the peoples set him free.
21 He made him lord of his house,
and ruler of all his possessions,
22 to instruct his officials at his pleasure,
and to teach his elders wisdom.

23 Then Israel came to Egypt;
Jacob lived as an alien in the land of Ham.
24 And the Lord made his people very fruitful,
and made them stronger than their foes,
25 whose hearts he then turned to hate his people,
to deal craftily with his servants.

26 He sent his servant Moses,
and Aaron whom he had chosen.
27 They performed his signs among them,
and miracles in the land of Ham.
28 He sent darkness, and made the land dark;
they rebelled against his words.
29 He turned their waters into blood,
and caused their fish to die.
30 Their land swarmed with frogs,
even in the chambers of their kings.
31 He spoke, and there came swarms of flies,
and gnats throughout their country.
32 He gave them hail for rain,
and lightning that flashed through their land.
33 He struck their vines and fig trees,
and shattered the trees of their country.
34 He spoke, and the locusts came,
and young locusts without number;
35 they devoured all the vegetation in their land,
and ate up the fruit of their ground.
36 He struck down all the firstborn in their land,
the first issue of all their strength.

37 Then he brought Israe oult with silver and gold,
and there was no one among their tribes who stumbled.
38 Egypt was glad when they departed,
for dread of them had fallen upon it.
39 He spread a cloud for a covering,
and fire to give light by night.
40 They asked, and he brought quails,
and gave them food from heaven in abundance.
41 He opened the rock, and water gushed out;
it flowed through the desert like a river.
42 For he remembered his holy promise,
and Abraham, his servant.

43 So he brought his people out with joy,
his chosen ones with singing.
44 He gave them the lands of the nations,
and they took possession of the wealth of the peoples,
45 that they might keep his statutes
and observe his laws.
Praise the Lord!

Psalm 105 tells the story of God’s people and celebrates God acting faithfully on behalf of his people. At the conclusion, the psalmist remembers God’s promise to Abraham and how he rescued his people unfailingly, bringing them out with great joy (vv 42-43). The foundation for the story begins with the story that unfolds in Genesis, the beginning of the beginning.

Four Themes that Recur Throughout the Psalter

The course on the ‘Book of Genesis’ focuses on four themes, which recur throughout the landscape of the Psalter:

  • God’s Purpose
  • God’s Promise
  • God’ Presence
  • God’s Provision

Psalm 105 celebrates God’s promise and provision: they asked, and he brought (v40). Again and again, we see Israel calling upon God, lamenting human failings, crying out for deliverance, believing in God’s faithfulness, and singing with thankful and expectant hearts.

Genesis 4:26 records, And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved—the only solution given to mankind since the fall. We invite you to study Genesis with N.T. Wright Online in preparation for the course, ‘Selections from the Psalms’. We believe Genesis will orient you to the story of God’s people and attune you to the voices within the Psalter—songs of God’s people crying out in praise and petition and with lament and thanksgiving, to our God and King who was and is and is to come.

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Jennifer Loop

Jennifer Loop is Content Developer for the Wisconsin Centre for Christian Studies. Currently, she is working towards her doctorate in the study of practical theology at Durham University, centering her research on forgiveness. Jennifer has served as a leader in Celebrate Recovery, a Christian 12-step recovery program. She is married to Gary and they live in West Bend with their twenty-year-old cat, Caleb.