But Genesis is another story.
Genesis isn't the whole story--it's one story in a 5-part series called the Pentateuch/Law/Torah (like The Hobbit in The Lord of the Rings series). The whole story of the Pentateuch is about the God of Israel, the one who is Creator and the one who calls/redeems His chosen people, Israel. It's about the Law and the land, and the struggle against the God who gave both to His people. Over half of the Pentateuch takes place at Sinai, but Genesis prepares the path with profound theology and striking foreshadowing.
When we study Genesis, it isn't just a story--it's an ancient story. It was written by ancient Israelites to ancient Israelites. It wasn't written to American Christians. Many read the Bible (and Genesis in particular) as if it were written to directly speak to our context. But that's the opposite of reading in context; that's inserting our context. The task of the Bible reader is to read the text in its context, allowing it to speak to ours. To do so we must read with ancient eyes. We must get into the heads of people who were very different from us in how they lived, spoke, and thought (especially in regard to history, science, theology).
Just how ancient is Genesis? This hotly debated topic is actually very complicated because the OT (and Genesis specifically) has very old oral and written materials which Israel used and sometimes adapted into the forms we have now. Most scholars now agree that "the Old Testament in its final form is a product of and response to the Babylonian Exile" (Walter Brueggemann, Theology of the Old Testament). I'll assume this mainstream view throughout the series, that Genesis (in the form we have it) was a product of Israel during the Second Temple period, after the events of Babylonian Exile.
Imagine the crisis of faith/nationality/theology Israel underwent during Exile! It's no surprise that as we read Genesis through the lens of Exile we see reminders, glimpses, pot shots, and theological critiques of their former oppressors. Israel is clarifying, refining, and announcing their theology in light of deep wounds--from both YHWH (or Yahweh) and Babylon. But even through the wounds, Israel clearly proclaims their faith in their unique and uniquely sovereign God, YHWH.
All this stuff about contexts, history, and emphasizing the ancient may sound to you distant and irrelevant; I think it's anything but. Because Genesis is also my story. Reading Genesis in context isn't an academic exercise to me. By allowing the text to speak for itself as it was intended, we allow Genesis to speak into our own world (instead of us speaking our world back onto theirs). This is crucial because Genesis--when it's allowed to speak for itself--has tremendous truths and challenging insights for people struggling with God. Genesis is about the God of Israel, and the people who are constantly wrestling against him, sometimes quite literally. We are still the people who wrestle with God! I wrestle with him and how/whether/why He created. I wrestle with that sin crouching at the door. I wrestle with God's justice--and, yes, sometimes His injustice. I wrestle with His call and His commands. I wrestle with His promises, and sometimes I try to find my own way to them. I wrestle with wonder, and I why He even bothers to wrestle back.
All of this, and so much more, is the story of Genesis. It's Israel's story. And I hope it becomes clear, it’s my story too.