In our first Bible for Bluffers session, we were looking at the Creation stories in Genesis and contrasting them with the Babylonian creation story (notes on our blog here).
Familiarity breeds contempt and it's possible not to realise how radical the Jewish stories are. Stick them next to the Babylonian myth and the effect is astonishing. The Enuma Elish is full of violence: the Earth is made from the blood of murdered gods (I'm awaiting the ITV adaptation) and humans are created at the end as mere slaves.
By contrast the ancient Jewish stories want to persuade us that the world is a place of relative order and safety that can be trusted and enjoyed, and in which we have freedom to join in the creation process.
The Jewish (and Christian) stories imagine that God is not someone to be feared, to be enslaved to (or to rebel against), but rather someone who approaches us generously with an offer of friendship.
Several thousand years later the medieval mystic Julian of Norwich wrote: 'He who is highest and mightiest, noblest and worthiest, is also lowliest and meekest, most friendly and most gracious'.
I'm rather thankful that the ancient Hebrews got us off to such a good start...