Genesis 8

Go ahead – check your timeline and the math of 7 days, 40 days, 150 days, from the second month to the tenth month. This is not a historic account of facts. God remembers the ark load, and returns the sphere of order amid the chaos of the deeps and beyond the heavens. This is epic, legendary scale.

Add another 40 days, then send a dove – which returns unable to alight anywhere. Send another a week later – and it returns with an olive branch, the symbol and image of peace-making in our time. Months later, over a year from the first rain, the occupants of the ark may re-inhabit the earth.

In post-exilic times, the idea of a small diaspora acting as the preserver of life, and the breeding and seeding base for re-claiming the earth. God makes peace with the land, relieving its curse, and with the occupants of the ark.

The passengers offer sacrifice of the ‘spare’ clean animals, and God promises relief, and accepts a lower standard from humans, revealed as prone to violence, violating the relationships intended among humans and creation.

The promise asserts ‘nevermore’, and we cling to that hope. The good creation is not malevolent and threatening, nor is God barely restraining abusive anger. This is more of God’s self-limiting, kenotic or self-emptying to make room for relationship with free humans with agency.