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Professor Wenin on Benediction in the Book of Genesis

Alain MADINUNGA, SJ | Director of Communications, ITCJ

The renowned Belgian biblical scholar, Professor André Wenin of the Catholic University of Louvain, gave a brilliant public lecture on 8 March 2019, at the Institut de théologie de la Compagnie de Jésus (ITCJ). The lecture, title “Récit de la bénédiction et ses enjeux dans la Genèse” (the Story of Benediction and its Implications in the Book of Genesis), marks the end of Professor Wenin’s one-weeklong visit at ITCJ as visiting professor.

The school’s amphitheater where the event took place was well packed with not just the students and teachers of ITCJ but also those of other ecclesiastical learning institutions in Abidjan. The lecture further emphasis that ITCJ gives a privileged place to biblical studies.

The choice of this theme was motivated by the fact that benediction is one of the major themes that runs through the Genesis. From the blessing of living beings beginning from their creation (Gen 1:22, 28) to that which Jacob gives to his sons before his death (Gen 49:28), blessing is intimately linked to the project of life of God portrayed in Genesis. While mankind is threatened by lust, which results to malediction, God calls Abraham and make him an instrument through which His blessings reaches all the clans of the Earth. According to Professor Wenin, the original meaning of blessing stems from Genesis: Elohim blesses them by saying: “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth” (Gen 1:22, 28). Thus, in the biblical sense, only God who is the author of life can be a Source of blessing. Several narratives have been developed in relation to the implication of blessing in Genesis (Gen 1-11; 12-24, 26; 25, 27 – 36; 37 – 49).

In his conclusion, Professor Wenin emphasized that blessing is an important theme in the Bible. From the opening of Genesis, one finds the initial meaning of blessing. From the beginning, blessing appears as a great project in Genesis. The God of Genesis is the God of life; and it is the flourishing of life that he aims to foster through His blessings. And the horizon of God’s blessings cannot but be universal.