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1689 Reformed_Baptist

Genesis ch. 1-11 Historical or metaphor?

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1689 Reformed_Baptist

Hello all,

This topic is meant to be directed at those who claim to be Christians or to believe the Bible, yet do not believe that Genesis 1-11 is an historical account. Others are welcome to comment if they stay on this topic. This is not meant to be a discussion of whether or not Genesis 1-11 is true or false, rather it is a discussion over what the original author actually intended to say when he wrote it. Thus it is a discussion of biblical hermeneutics or the principles of interpretation we use to understand Scripture.

I obviously take the stance that Genesis chapters 1-11 are written in a historical grammatical format. Thus, the original author is setting forth what he says as true history. According to Genesis 1-11 the earth was literally created in 6, 24 hour days (with God resting on the 7th); the earth is about 6,000 years old according to the genealogies; Adam was created from the dust of the earth and given his wife Eve as the founders of the human race; there was a literal global flood that wiped out everyone but Noah and his family; and the Tower of Babel caused language and ethnic/culture barriers to be put in place as humans spread throughout the world. I will put forth my interpretative defense for this view and then people can comment accordingly :)

In Genesis chapters 1 & 2, the word "yom" is used in the Hebrew for the word day. In the Hebrew language, yom means a literal, 24 hour day when it has at least 1 of the following context: when it is paired with the words "morning" or "evening," or when it is used with either a cardinal number (one, two, three, etc.) or an ordinal number (first, second, third, etc.). The Genesis account of creation has all of these so it is clear that what is meant by "day" is a literal, 24 hour day.

The genealogies, when read naturally, give evidence to an earth that is only about 6,000 years old. It is true that some genealogies in Scripture contain gaps such as Matthew 1. However, this does not mean the Genesis genealogies do. There is a discrepancy regarding Luke 3:36, but I'll wait to see if anyone brings that up because, though I believe there is significant evidence to refute the supposed gap in the genealogy old earthers try to use this verse for, it could still only add about 30-40 years in the genealogy which would be of no use to old earthers. Those who try to insert gaps into the Genesis genealogies have a great hermeneutical problem when it comes to the word "beget." The Hebrew word is "yalad" is translated in the KJV as beget. There is no known exception of when this word indicates anything more than a direct parent-child relationship in the Old Testament. (Remember, the New Testament was written in Greek, so though there are exceptions to this in the New Testament, it uses a different word.)

The old earth interpretation of Genesis 1-11 also creates a number of theological difficulties. If millions of years occurred before Adam sinned, then there was death, disease, and suffering while God was calling all things "good." Thorns and thistle would have existed before God says they did (Genesis 3:18). However, all these things were a result of Adam's sin according to Scripture (Genesis 1:29-30, 2:16-17, 3:14-19; Romans 5:12-21). Also, the Bible clearly states that Adam and Eve existed in the beginning of creation, not millions of years into it. Mark 10:6 and Matthew 19:4 state, "But from the beginning of the creation, God 'made them male and female.'" Clearly millions of years cannot be inserted into the Genesis text without thoroughly compromising the truth of all Scripture.

In regards to the flood, it must have been a worldwide flood. Genesis 7:18-20 tells us that the flood "waters prevailed fifteen cubits upward and the mountains were covered." If the mountains were covered, that means it's impossible for this to be a local event. Water will level itself out so even if the flood started in just Mesopotamia, it would have gone worldwide as soon as the mountains were covered. Genesis 8:5 implies that the highest mountain was what the ark landed on since it was another 2 1/2 months before other mountain tops were seen. Besides that, no local flood has ever lasted for 371 days. The sheer length of the flood testifies to its global character.

Yet, the strongest evidence in my opinion that Genesis records a global flood is the promise of the rainbow given in 9:12-17. God promised that he would never again send a flood to destroy all flesh again. If what occurred was a local flood, God has broken his promise many times. Genesis plainly teaches a literal, global flood.

So, that is a very concise defense of Genesis being an historical narrative. A lot more could be said, but I'll wait to respond to arguments.

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1689 Reformed_Baptist

The book I used for most of the information in my OP was Old-Earth Creationism on Trial: The Verdict is In by Tim Chaffey and Jason Lisle.

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karmakazi

In Genesis chapters 1 & 2, the word "yom" is used in the Hebrew for the word day. In the Hebrew language, yom means a literal, 24 hour day when it has at least 1 of the following context: when it is paired with the words "morning" or "evening," or when it is used with either a cardinal number (one, two, three, etc.) or an ordinal number (first, second, third, etc.). The Genesis account of creation has all of these so it is clear that what is meant by "day" is a literal, 24 hour day.

Genesis was dictated to Moses by God. So God is explaining to Moses (and therefore all who follow and read the book) a description in terms that they can understand. As such, God may have expressed it as a literal day but have known there was more to the concept. In other words he would have simplified it so that humans at that time could understand. To us, a suggestion that these processes would have taken millions of years is easy to grasp, but to Moses and his people it would not have made any sense.

Though the literal terminology used in the book points to the transcription of a literal day, it cannot peer into the mind of the one who dictated the story in the first place. I believe it is possible the 7 days are an analogy to a longer process.

I had also read - and I am kicking myself for not having kept this link - on a website explaining the Hebrew written language that "in the beginning" could also have been translated "in the house of god" or something along those lines? Unfortunately this is kind of useless without knowing where I got that information from or if it is correct.

The old earth interpretation of Genesis 1-11 also creates a number of theological difficulties. If millions of years occurred before Adam sinned, then there was death, disease, and suffering while God was calling all things "good."

I had always thought "good" meant "well made" rather than "no potential for harm or suffering"

In regards to the flood, it must have been a worldwide flood. Genesis 7:18-20 tells us that the flood "waters prevailed fifteen cubits upward and the mountains were covered." If the mountains were covered, that means it's impossible for this to be a local event. Water will level itself out so even if the flood started in just Mesopotamia, it would have gone worldwide as soon as the mountains were covered. Genesis 8:5 implies that the highest mountain was what the ark landed on since it was another 2 1/2 months before other mountain tops were seen. Besides that, no local flood has ever lasted for 371 days. The sheer length of the flood testifies to its global character.

This is one of the most interesting things in the bible - 15 cubits of water is not much at all (a cubit is roughly the length of the forearm) and it is not enough to cover any mountains that I know of. In fact, I'm not sure how the ark would have floated in 15 cubits as the ark itself was 30 cubits high and large boats are often at least half submerged.

Yet, the strongest evidence in my opinion that Genesis records a global flood is the promise of the rainbow given in 9:12-17. God promised that he would never again send a flood to destroy all flesh again. If what occurred was a local flood, God has broken his promise many times. Genesis plainly teaches a literal, global flood.

I've heard people speculate that the outer portion of the atmosphere was water (or water vapor) prior to the flood, and that this "fell" upon the earth. Prior to that time there would not have been rain and probably no direct sunlight as it probably would have looked like a solidly overcast day (just further out into the atmosphere). The end of this story could be read as an explanation: now that it rains and it is possible to see rainbows it means there is no longer that outer atmosphere which can come crashing down and flood everything.

However, findings about earlier stages of the atmosphere don't seem to support this, to my knowledge. If the chronology of the bible were correct we'd be more likely to find evidence of such a significant event.

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RavenHawk

I believe that Genesis is historical but on a casual story level (not literal or allegorical). The Documentary hypothesis, which comes from a study of writing styles, claims that there were at least four different authors of Genesis and that Moses played the role of editor. Possible authors could have been Adam (perhaps even Eve), Noah, Shem, Terah, etc., and perhaps Moses. Or the authors could have been contemporaries of Moses going off of earlier works from those former authors. Much of the early work wasn’t written down but passed on through storytelling. I recall a Biblical movie in which the lineage was carved into the staff. And the lineage was the history. Well, you can run out of room on one staff and you can break or lose staffs, so history can be lost. But by the time of the Babylonian captivity of circa 538 bce, the Genesis that we know today took form. For sure, the writing of this Genesis was influenced by the Enuma Elish. Since both Babylonian and Hebrew origins are similar, the Jewish scribes were probably using the Enuma Elish to fill in holes. It’s clear that the people of then had the faintest idea of what a boson is, but Genesis 1 is Adam’s observation of creation (through visions from GOD) and thusly, evolution. Definitely not enough to build a scientific model from, but just the acknowledgement that it exists. Please read my post on the subject (http://www.unexplained-mysteries.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=212773&st=0). There were some very good replies. Oh and please note that Adam and Eve were not at the beginning of creation (especially if they were created on the sixth day). Genesis 1 is a chronological list of events and Genesis 2 is more of a topical version. This is also proof that there were at least two separate authors. I always return to this, but on talk.origins, there is a list of cultures that have a flood story in their mythology. BTW, I think the implication is 15 cubits above the highest peak. There are over 260 flood stories. That certainly implies the same origin. Does this imply a global or a local flood? If local, it probably did wipe out 90% plus of the population. What would it mean if a person of a family group survived other than Noah? It doesn’t affect who GOD is, but it does affect on how accurate man can record history. And the bottom line is, does it matter? In the 1660s, a Bishop Ussher sat down and came up with the chronology of Genesis and the Bible. There is no indication anywhere that the Bible was intended for this. All it is an intellectual exercise. No one from the early Councils till then thought this had merit. The Bible that we know today was created in the 1400s?? I think that at some point between 325 and 1660, the concepts of lineage and genealogy changed. “begat” had a slightly different meaning. In earlier times, it was all about the “house” or tribe. One was of the House of David, not necessarily a son of David. Today, it’s more like the son of.

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CommunitarianKevin

It is important to understand the context of Genesis. What the people thought of it during that time is different than what people think about it today. For example if it was written to be literal did that mean the people thought it was true or even that it needed to be true? Did they think of it simply as a myth, knowing it was not true, but an important part of their beliefs none-the-less? This goes much deeper than literal v. metaphor.

Edited by HuttonEtAl

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karmakazi

It is important to understand the context of Genesis. What the people thought of it during that time is different than what people think about it today. For example if it was written to be literal did that mean the people thought it was true or even that it needed to be true? Did they think of it simply as a myth, knowing it was not true, but an important part of their beliefs non-the-less? This goes much deeper than literal v metaphor.

We have some insight into the context, as Exodus talks about Moses. Moses was supposedly in direct contact with God and he was attempting to establish the lineage and law of the Israelites, as they worked their way towards the promised land. From this it seems that the stories attributed to Moses were likely a mix of metaphor and history.

The geneology recorded amidst the story seems to indicate that when it was compiled, it was intended or accepted as recorded history. Whether the "facts" were recorded, embelished or made up, ... there's really no way to know.

However - the analysis of the text contradicts the commonly held idea that Moses wrote the Torah as it shows signs of multiple authors. It is still possible that he compiled it or wrote portions, but again we cannot know for sure.

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CommunitarianKevin

We have some insight into the context, as Exodus talks about Moses. Moses was supposedly in direct contact with God and he was attempting to establish the lineage and law of the Israelites, as they worked their way towards the promised land. From this it seems that the stories attributed to Moses were likely a mix of metaphor and history.

The geneology recorded amidst the story seems to indicate that when it was compiled, it was intended or accepted as recorded history. Whether the "facts" were recorded, embelished or made up, ... there's really no way to know.

However - the analysis of the text contradicts the commonly held idea that Moses wrote the Torah as it shows signs of multiple authors. It is still possible that he compiled it or wrote portions, but again we cannot know for sure.

That is not context.

Moses' Death is discribed in the Torah.

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Jor-el

That is not context.

Moses' Death is discribed in the Torah.

So that MUST mean he didn't write the Torah?

Some people fail to realize that Jreemiah didn't write the book of Jeremiah, his scribe did that, Psalms were not written by David, only some of them were.

And just because someone wrote an epilogue to a book, does not mean that the author did not write it.

As a matter of fact, I believe alot of the Torah was actually written by Joshua rather than Moses. He , like most others had scribes to do his work for him and compile the books of the Torah, and if one reads between the lines, we notice Joshua was Moses servant and scribe.

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CommunitarianKevin

So that MUST mean he didn't write the Torah?

Some people fail to realize that Jreemiah didn't write the book of Jeremiah, his scribe did that, Psalms were not written by David, only some of them were.

And just because someone wrote an epilogue to a book, does not mean that the author did not write it.

As a matter of fact, I believe alot of the Torah was actually written by Joshua rather than Moses. He , like most others had scribes to do his work for him and compile the books of the Torah, and if one reads between the lines, we notice Joshua was Moses servant and scribe.

That is your opinion and that is fine. You are entitled to it. All I am saying is a dead man did not write about his own death nor compile the books that speak of it.

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Jor-el

Hello all,

This topic is meant to be directed at those who claim to be Christians or to believe the Bible, yet do not believe that Genesis 1-11 is an historical account. Others are welcome to comment if they stay on this topic. This is not meant to be a discussion of whether or not Genesis 1-11 is true or false, rather it is a discussion over what the original author actually intended to say when he wrote it. Thus it is a discussion of biblical hermeneutics or the principles of interpretation we use to understand Scripture.

I obviously take the stance that Genesis chapters 1-11 are written in a historical grammatical format. Thus, the original author is setting forth what he says as true history. According to Genesis 1-11 the earth was literally created in 6, 24 hour days (with God resting on the 7th); the earth is about 6,000 years old according to the genealogies; Adam was created from the dust of the earth and given his wife Eve as the founders of the human race; there was a literal global flood that wiped out everyone but Noah and his family; and the Tower of Babel caused language and ethnic/culture barriers to be put in place as humans spread throughout the world. I will put forth my interpretative defense for this view and then people can comment accordingly :)

Hi,

Personally I would disagree with your viewpoint.

There a re quite a number of reasons why I do disagree, one of which is the fact that the earth is billions of years old and not 6000 years old. 2nd is the fact that the chronologies of the bible are not complete, they only list the major Patriarchs in the line, where there are gaps of generations between each Patriarch named.

We can see this when we compare the times of those Patriarchs with known historical events.

As for the flood, it didn't have to be a worldwide flood to flood the entire world... a number of major tidal waves would have done the same thing without the need to have the entire land covered in water.

Returning now to the 1st and major point. We have no literary evidence that we are talking of physical days, although they could be physical days. The text is loose enough that literal days is just one possible view.

Another item that people don't think about, the Genesis account does not HAVE to to be seen as the original creation of the universe. It could very well be referring to the restoration of the earth, something that has happened a number of times.

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Jor-el

That is your opinion and that is fine. You are entitled to it. All I am saying is a dead man did not write about his own death nor compile the books that speak of it.

Ok but how can you demonstrate the validity of your argument?

The fact that scribes were regularly used is a well known fact, the author is not the scribe who wrote it. The man who dictated it is.

Edited by Jor-el

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CommunitarianKevin

Returning now to the 1st and major point. We have no literary evidence that we are talking of physical days, although they could be physical days. The text is loose enough that literal days is just one possible view.

How do you figure?

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CommunitarianKevin

Ok but how can you demonstrate the validity of your argument?

The fact that scribes were regularly used is a well known fact, the author is not the scribe who wrote it. The man who dictated it is.

Listen you really don't want to get into this with me. If you do you should probably PM me. I only posted here to suggest looking at context. That is one thing that is done in history, looking at context.

But to address the validitity of my argument I will give you this. There is no proof that Moses actually existed. No other text supports that claim. Also do I really need to demonstrate that a dead man cannot write or compile?

Don't give me the whole author/scribe thing. I do not make the claim that Moses was the author, scribe, or compiler of the texts.

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Jor-el

Listen you really don't want to get into this with me. If you do you should probably PM me. I only posted here to suggest looking at context. That is one thing that is done in history, looking at context.

But to address the validitity of my argument I will give you this. There is no proof that Moses actually existed. No other text supports that claim. Also do I really need to demonstrate that a dead man cannot write or compile?

Don't give me the whole author/scribe thing. I do not make the claim that Moses was the author, scribe, or compiler of the texts.

Hmm, well proof is double edged sword, because if we use it for one point, we must by necessity use it on others of the same kind. By this order of thought, Babel did not exist... until it was found, Troy did not exist until it was found, My great grandfather, who never had a single document registering his life, did not exist, yet here I am.

The lack of proof is not the proof of truth.

And I wholeheartedly agree with you, a dead man cannot write anything, but he could dictate while he lived, and others could have added after he died. I know of a number of cases, of just such a thing, but it invloved Wills written by the deceased.

One last thing I would like to add here, context is very important, but context can also be one sided if you don't actually have it all.

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CommunitarianKevin

Hmm, well proof is double edged sword, because if we use it for one point, we must by necessity use it on others of the same kind. By this order of thought, Babel did not exist... until it was found, Troy did not exist until it was found, My great grandfather, who never had a single document registering his life, did not exist, yet here I am.

The lack of proof is not the proof of truth.

And I wholeheartedly agree with you, a dead man cannot write anything, but he could dictate while he lived, and others could have added after he died. I know of a number of cases, of just such a thing, but it invloved Wills written by the deceased.

One last thing I would like to add here, context is very important, but context can also be one sided if you don't actually have it all.

And when we find proof of Moses I am on board. Historians just do not deal with things that have yet to be proven. But ovbiously things get discovered and it changes history. That does not mean I am taking Greek mythology or the Hebrew Bible as fact. And honestly I strongly question your claim of the tower of Babel. We found a structure that fits the discription and that could be what the story is based on but that does not validate the story, only that the structure actually exists.

The key is if we are at least trying to understand the context. We still do not know why many things happened in history, we only have guesses but one thing is for sure...if we look at it through the lense of today we will never understand or find the answer.

Also I want to add that I am trying to be more ambigious because I really do not want to argue about religion. I am not here to hurt people's feelings or wreck their faith. I only want to suggest things.

Edited by HuttonEtAl

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1689 Reformed_Baptist

Genesis was dictated to Moses by God. So God is explaining to Moses (and therefore all who follow and read the book) a description in terms that they can understand. As such, God may have expressed it as a literal day but have known there was more to the concept. In other words he would have simplified it so that humans at that time could understand. To us, a suggestion that these processes would have taken millions of years is easy to grasp, but to Moses and his people it would not have made any sense.

Thank you for your interesting thoughts! :)

I'm glad to hear that you believe Genesis to be God breathed as the Bible claims in 2 Timothy 3:16! You're right in saying that God wanted the account in Genesis 1-11 to be understood by its audience - firstly, its immediate audience, the Israelites and secondly, all those afterwards, especially since the 1st advent of Christ. Thus, I think God plainly expresses (and thus means to express) that the days talked about in Genesis 1 & 2 are literal days. When we allow the Bible speak for itself, it clearly supports young earth creationism. Even if we can grasp an idea of millions of years being inserted into the text, that does not make it the proper hermeuntic - the meaning of the text has not changed since the Israelites' day. It is eisegesis (inserting meaning into a text which is not there) to say that a long period of time is meant. The text simply does not read this way. If God wanted to express that He created everything in long periods of time (which many claim is millions of years) - He would have.

For example, why does no one question whether the Israelites marched around Jericho for 7 days or 7 thousand years in Joshua 6:14-15? It's because the context demands that yom is referring to a 24-hour time period. So does Genesis 1 & 2.

Moreover, this is re-emphasized in Exodus 20:11. In Exodus 20, God gives the 10 commandments and the 4th one is the Sabbath. God tells them to do no work on the 7th day and the reason given proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the days talked about in Genesis are regular, 24-hour days. It reads "For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day..." Here we are given the basis of a 7 day week. It's because God created everything in 6 days and rested on the 7th. The Bible clearly allows for no other interpretation other than 7 literal days.

Though the literal terminology used in the book points to the transcription of a literal day, it cannot peer into the mind of the one who dictated the story in the first place. I believe it is possible the 7 days are an analogy to a longer process.

I think the only proper way to establish what the author means is from what the author wrote. Therefore, if it looks like the author is talking about a literal day, he must be and you would need substantial evidence from the writing itself to prove otherwise. We cannot import our own ideas onto Scripture - Scripture must speak for itself.

I had always thought "good" meant "well made" rather than "no potential for harm or suffering"

The word good used here means perfect. Adam and Eve and all the animals had perfect and non-decaying health. Adam and Eve also had perfection before God, they did not have a sinful nature. But in fact, I don't believe that there was no potential for harm or suffering, because since the fall there has been harm and suffering. However, it is not because God created things as harmful or bad, but because of Adam's transgression of God's commandment to not eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 2:16-17). The Bible makes it clear that Adam's sin was the cause of death, disease, suffering, etc. Romans 5 says, "...sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin...one trespass led to condemnation for all men..." (v. 12,18).

This is one of the most interesting things in the bible - 15 cubits of water is not much at all (a cubit is roughly the length of the forearm) and it is not enough to cover any mountains that I know of. In fact, I'm not sure how the ark would have floated in 15 cubits as the ark itself was 30 cubits high and large boats are often at least half submerged.

I'm glad you brought this up. The passage in question (Genesis 7:18-20) reads in the ESV "The waters prevailed and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the face of the waters. And the waters prevailed so mightily on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered. The waters prevailed above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep." These verses emphasize how great the flood was - so great that it covered every mountain and then some! It was 15 cubits higher than the tallest mountain. Clearly this could not have been local, especially since every mountain was covered.

I've heard people speculate that the outer portion of the atmosphere was water (or water vapor) prior to the flood, and that this "fell" upon the earth. Prior to that time there would not have been rain and probably no direct sunlight as it probably would have looked like a solidly overcast day (just further out into the atmosphere). The end of this story could be read as an explanation: now that it rains and it is possible to see rainbows it means there is no longer that outer atmosphere which can come crashing down and flood everything.

However, findings about earlier stages of the atmosphere don't seem to support this, to my knowledge. If the chronology of the bible were correct we'd be more likely to find evidence of such a significant event.

I've heard those speculations too and I am inclined to agree with them. The earth was watered by a mist that went up from the land (Genesis 2:6). However, this still has no impact on the discussion at hand. Whether or not you believe water vapor covered the earth before the flood does not impact whether or not God promised He would not flood the earth again like He had. Since there have been local floods and the context of Scripture makes it clear that there was a global flood, there is no logical reason to try and make the flood a local flood.

As a side note, this is not meant to be a discussion of the evidence that may support something or not. I think the chronology of the Bible is correct and we find innumerable evidences for it. However, the evidence cannot be dealt with until we actually establish what a text means.

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1689 Reformed_Baptist

I believe that Genesis is historical but on a casual story level (not literal or allegorical). The Documentary hypothesis, which comes from a study of writing styles, claims that there were at least four different authors of Genesis and that Moses played the role of editor. Possible authors could have been Adam (perhaps even Eve), Noah, Shem, Terah, etc., and perhaps Moses. Or the authors could have been contemporaries of Moses going off of earlier works from those former authors. Much of the early work wasn’t written down but passed on through storytelling. I recall a Biblical movie in which the lineage was carved into the staff. And the lineage was the history. Well, you can run out of room on one staff and you can break or lose staffs, so history can be lost. But by the time of the Babylonian captivity of circa 538 bce, the Genesis that we know today took form. For sure, the writing of this Genesis was influenced by the Enuma Elish. Since both Babylonian and Hebrew origins are similar, the Jewish scribes were probably using the Enuma Elish to fill in holes. It’s clear that the people of then had the faintest idea of what a boson is, but Genesis 1 is Adam’s observation of creation (through visions from GOD) and thusly, evolution. Definitely not enough to build a scientific model from, but just the acknowledgement that it exists. Please read my post on the subject (http://www.unexplained-mysteries.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=212773&st=0). There were some very good replies. Oh and please note that Adam and Eve were not at the beginning of creation (especially if they were created on the sixth day). Genesis 1 is a chronological list of events and Genesis 2 is more of a topical version. This is also proof that there were at least two separate authors. I always return to this, but on talk.origins, there is a list of cultures that have a flood story in their mythology. BTW, I think the implication is 15 cubits above the highest peak. There are over 260 flood stories. That certainly implies the same origin. Does this imply a global or a local flood? If local, it probably did wipe out 90% plus of the population. What would it mean if a person of a family group survived other than Noah? It doesn’t affect who GOD is, but it does affect on how accurate man can record history. And the bottom line is, does it matter? In the 1660s, a Bishop Ussher sat down and came up with the chronology of Genesis and the Bible. There is no indication anywhere that the Bible was intended for this. All it is an intellectual exercise. No one from the early Councils till then thought this had merit. The Bible that we know today was created in the 1400s?? I think that at some point between 325 and 1660, the concepts of lineage and genealogy changed. “begat” had a slightly different meaning. In earlier times, it was all about the “house” or tribe. One was of the House of David, not necessarily a son of David. Today, it’s more like the son of.

Thank you for your reply, but it is really off topic. There are a lot of points I disagree with in this, but none of them help to establish the actual meaning of the text. Perhaps we could start another topic about the authorship of Genesis? The Bible's global flood story is far more detailed and scientifically possible than any other account and there is good evidence that other flood stories are based off of it. However, as I've already said, this is not the topic we are dealing with at hand.

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1689 Reformed_Baptist

It is important to understand the context of Genesis. What the people thought of it during that time is different than what people think about it today. For example if it was written to be literal did that mean the people thought it was true or even that it needed to be true? Did they think of it simply as a myth, knowing it was not true, but an important part of their beliefs none-the-less? This goes much deeper than literal v. metaphor.

Hello, thanks for replying :)

You're right this is an important point, but a person's understanding of a text does not change the meaning of the text. When someone writes something, they have a purpose in it. We don't read other literary works from the past and assume there is a different meaning today than there was when it was written due to our increased understanding or something. If the author did not think it was true history, he would not have written it as if it were. You're correct that it is deeper than literal vs. metaphor because even metaphors can relay truth. But when something is written as metaphor, it is understood to be metaphor. When something is written as history, it is understood to be an historical account and Genesis 1-11 is written as an historical account. Whether or not it is true is beyond the scope of this topic, though as you can tell, I believe it to be absolutely correct.

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CommunitarianKevin

Hello, thanks for replying :)

You're right this is an important point, but a person's understanding of a text does not change the meaning of the text. When someone writes something, they have a purpose in it. We don't read other literary works from the past and assume there is a different meaning today than there was when it was written due to our increased understanding or something. If the author did not think it was true history, he would not have written it as if it were. You're correct that it is deeper than literal vs. metaphor because even metaphors can relay truth. But when something is written as metaphor, it is understood to be metaphor. When something is written as history, it is understood to be an historical account and Genesis 1-11 is written as an historical account. Whether or not it is true is beyond the scope of this topic, though as you can tell, I believe it to be absolutely correct.

I am not saying we have an increased understanding. We probably have less of an understanding. The point is times change and we need to understand it in their times, not ours.

Who is to say they saw history the same way we did? Did they have historians at this time?

I do have answers to these things but I would rather you ponder those questions and maybe really look into them with more than just your intuition.

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1689 Reformed_Baptist

Hi,

Personally I would disagree with your viewpoint.

There a re quite a number of reasons why I do disagree, one of which is the fact that the earth is billions of years old and not 6000 years old.

Thanks for your interesting thoughts!

If that's what you believe, it still does not affect what the text actually means, though I think we can hardly call that a fact. Does Genesis 1-11 of its own merit teach that the earth is billions of years old? I would say no, and many old earth creationists would even agree with me. Biology Professor Pattle Pun of Wheaton College said, "It is apparent that the most straightforward understanding of Genesis, without regard to the hermeneutical considerations suggested by science, is that God created the heavens and the earth in six solar days, that man was created on the sixth day, and that death and chaos entered the world after the fall of Adam and Eve, and that all fossils were the result of the catastrophic deluge that spared on Noah's family and the animals therewith" (emphasis added, source: Old-Earth Creationism on Trial by Tim Chaffey and Jason Lisle).

In other words, Pun admitted that the plain, or literal [Not hard-literal that reads poetry as if it is literal, but literal that establishes the meaning of the text from the text itself], meaning of Genesis does not teach millions of years. It teaches exactly what I put forth in my OP. You have to insert those modern scientific ideas into the text because they are not there. This is called eisegesis and it is bad hermeneutics. It makes the Bible a piece of wet clay that we can mold into whatever we want to. Instead, we need to let Scripture speak for itself and not impose our own ideas onto it.

2nd is the fact that the chronologies of the bible are not complete, they only list the major Patriarchs in the line, where there are gaps of generations between each Patriarch named.

We can see this when we compare the times of those Patriarchs with known historical events.

So why does the author of Genesis use the word "beget" which signifies a direct father-son relationship if that is not what he was trying to say? Remember, we are not at this point dealing with the validity of the text, only the meaning. But if you do believe these supposed gaps are true, can you tell me, do they add enough years to the Bible to support the idea that it teaches the earth is not thousands but billions of years old?

As for the flood, it didn't have to be a worldwide flood to flood the entire world... a number of major tidal waves would have done the same thing without the need to have the entire land covered in water.

But the question is, does the Bible teach that it was a worldwide flood or not? I've given my answer, what's yours?

Returning now to the 1st and major point. We have no literary evidence that we are talking of physical days, although they could be physical days. The text is loose enough that literal days is just one possible view.

We have lots of literary evidence. Genealogies in themselves are an indication that what we are reading is actually history. The context indicates that yom meant a literal 24 hour day. It's not loose at all. If I said, "Back in my grandfather's day, it took ten days to drive across America during the day," it's very easy to understand what I mean each time I use the word "day." It's no different in Genesis and it's certainly not less "loose" or open for interpretation. What I meant is the meaning and every other view is wrong.

Another item that people don't think about, the Genesis account does not HAVE to to be seen as the original creation of the universe. It could very well be referring to the restoration of the earth, something that has happened a number of times.

Is there any good reason to assume this? If not, it is arbitrary. The author of Genesis does not indicate that. Genesis says, "In the beginning, God created..." Thus there is no good reason to assume it's talking about restoration. The author is intending to give us the beginning.

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1689 Reformed_Baptist

And when we find proof of Moses I am on board. Historians just do not deal with things that have yet to be proven.

Lack of proof certainly does not disprove something. But you must have a good reason to assume something that you have no proof of - otherwise it is arbitrary which is not allowed in rational thinking. I would argue that we have a very good reason to assume that Moses wrote the first 5 books of the Bible and that's because the Bible claims Moses wrote it (Exodus 17:14; 24:4; 34:27; Numbers 33:1–2; Deuteronomy 31:9–11; Joshua 1:8; 8:31–32; 1 Kings 2:3; 2 Kings 14:6; 21:8; Ezra 6:18; Nehemiah 13:1; Daniel 9:11–13; Malachi 4:4; Matthew 19:8; John 5:45–47; 7:19; Acts 3:22; Romans 10:5; Mark 12:26). Having said that, this discussion is actually off topic, but I would love to possibly start a new topic about it, since it has come up.

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CommunitarianKevin

We have lots of literary evidence...The context indicates that yom meant a literal 24 hour day.

I agree with this.

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CommunitarianKevin

Lack of proof certainly does not disprove something. But you must have a good reason to assume something that you have no proof of - otherwise it is arbitrary which is not allowed in rational thinking. I would argue that we have a very good reason to assume that Moses wrote the first 5 books of the Bible and that's because the Bible claims Moses wrote it (Exodus 17:14; 24:4; 34:27; Numbers 33:1–2; Deuteronomy 31:9–11; Joshua 1:8; 8:31–32; 1 Kings 2:3; 2 Kings 14:6; 21:8; Ezra 6:18; Nehemiah 13:1; Daniel 9:11–13; Malachi 4:4; Matthew 19:8; John 5:45–47; 7:19; Acts 3:22; Romans 10:5; Mark 12:26). Having said that, this discussion is actually off topic, but I would love to possibly start a new topic about it, since it has come up.

I encourgae you to make a new topic for this but if I may, I want to chime in here. (You can post it in the new topic.) One fact is simple. The Torah discribes Moses' death. If this was a historical account written by Moses, it could not include the account of his death. The only want to justify it is to read into it and if you are going to read into it on that point, why not read into it on every point?

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1689 Reformed_Baptist

I am not saying we have an increased understanding. We probably have less of an understanding. The point is times change and we need to understand it in their times, not ours.

Who is to say they saw history the same way we did? Did they have historians at this time?

I do have answers to these things but I would rather you ponder those questions and maybe really look into them with more than just your intuition.

There's not multiple ways to look at history, either something happened or it didn't. Time never changes, so neither does the fact that we have a past. If they put forth their understanding of the past, you would expect them to write it as if they believed it to be past, correct? Therefore, we have no good reason to assume that they did not believe this to be their past. What we need to understand is what the author's intentions and meaning was for a text and then work backwards from that to say, this is what that people believed to be true history since it is written as history. This is meant to be taken as history since it is written in a historical grammatical format.

Also, if you read the Old Testament, it is clear that believed in this as true history. Do you have any evidence that they believed otherwise, since you seem to not accept things you don't have evidence for?

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1689 Reformed_Baptist

I encourgae you to make a new topic for this but if I may, I want to chime in here. (You can post it in the new topic.) One fact is simple. The Torah discribes Moses' death. If this was a historical account written by Moses, it could not include the account of his death. The only want to justify it is to read into it and if you are going to read into it on that point, why not read into it on every point?

Good point. We cannot read into it on every point because Moses claims to have written it within his writings (as well as many other places in the Bible it is attributed to him). Therefore, when we see the conclusion about Moses death in Deuteronomy 34:5-12, we can safely assume that it was added by another author, most likely Joshua. Modern editors do the same thing, though usually in a footnote. But we don't doubt whether or not the book was written by who claimed to write it do we? It's absurd to think the ancient editors would have done it in a footnote but the idea is exactly the same.

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