How to Make a Man
Yes, it's easy to imagine a divine snapping of the fingers and abracadabra, Man! But even (especially?) the Bible doesn't make it that simple.
In particular, the creation of man is preceded by five earlier ages of creation. Man could not have been created first, because, among other reasons, there would be no place to live and nothing to eat.
And, far from snapping his divine fingers, the Creator utilizes the available material -- the stuff he made on day three -- to fashion Adam, which of course means "of the red earth."
Nor is this the end of it, because a person without other persons is not a person. Rather, persons -- like their creator -- are intrinsically relational -- so the Creator completes the process by using the same personal substance to create the male's horizontal complement, AKA female.
Why a rib? There are many theories -- closest to the heart, a foreshadowing of Jesus' side being pierced on the cross, that woman is "made of human" instead of dirt, and therefore more civilized. Who knows? It's an arresting image, made more arresting by its unsaturated peculiarity.
A few posts backed we alluded to the fact that man is not just animal plus X -- or at least no horizontal X. However, it might be acceptable to say that he is animal plus a vertical Y.
This would go to Genesis' account of man being made of primordial matter, like any other animal, but then inspYred by God. We are animals into whom God has breathed the breath of life (inspire, spirit, and respiration are all cognate).
Truly, our inspiration is God's expiration. Indeed, now that I think about it, his ex-piration on the cross must be the last Word in in-spiration, and isn't it provocative that each gospel makes a special point of it (Matt 27:51), Mark 15:34, Luke 23:46, John 19:30)? I never considered it from this angle before, but it must be a parallel to Genesis 2:7 -- a new breath of life, a blast of fresh air, for the new-and-improved man.
Not only does man summarize the six days of creation, but the seventh day, you might say, is created for the contemplation of this strange-but-true fact. To paraphrase Rabbi Steinsaltz, man contains all the forms of existence, in that he is made of material substance, grows like a plant, moves like an animal, and communicates through language. One might add that he relates like a God.
Why? For what purpose?
"Man is human because he has a task in life to relate to the world, to raise it up and give it meaning and purpose. Otherwise the universe is an endless repetition, a question without an answer, a movement without a goal" (Steinsaltz, emphasis mine). A dead, because closed, circle.
In doing his cosmic duty, man elevates himself (and everything else), is "lifted up out of the earth," such that "hidden sparks of holiness are released" to become "part of a higher level of reality" (ibid.). This is the "Kingdom of Heaven," which you might say we orthoparadoxically enter by co-creating and co-create by entering.
You could say the same of hell, which goes to the purpose of Democrats.
About our material substrate. We are not immaterial (angelic) beings. Rather, "the Divine soul of man had to be fastened to something firm and steady like the earth," for "man is also the lever and the hoist of all of creation, the factor that can raise the essentially inert parts of the world" (ibid.).
Yes, just like God. For what is artistic creation but essentially raising up inert parts of the world, whether color, sound, or rhyme? Man creates beauty, discovers truth, and embodies -- incarnates -- virtue and love. This is called "why we're here."
"A circle is thus formed; the end meets the beginning. Indeed, it would seem that the end and beginning have something in common that is of the very essence of the whole," for purpose "requires the simultaneity of both the end and the beginning. The end of the matter is in the nature of the beginning. The original idea contains the result; the final result contains the initial notion" (ibid., emphasis mine).
Which is of course the point of the riverrunning circularity of pp. 266 <--> 6 of the book. And that circularity is itself the whole point, a fractal of the expanding spiroidal cosmic movement which occurs at every moment:
The circle unbroken, by and by. A Divine child, a godsend, a bloomin' yes, and all that. It's happening now! Our common source without center or circumference, blissfully floating before the fleeting flickering universe, stork naked in brahma daynight. Who is? I AM. A wake!
I have less time than usual this morning, so we'll get back to the main thread tomorrow -- of just how one goes about making a man.
One becomes aware of a vast arc, curving from the divine source to oneself, which corresponds to the question, Where am I going? And within this great circle... each person can discover the special lines of his own direction. --Adin Steinsaltz