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1689 Reformed_Baptist

Genesis ch. 1-11 Historical or metaphor?

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Englishgent

1. I fail to understand how anyone can claim that the Earth is only 6000 years old with all the scientific evidence that overwhelmingly states otherwise.

2. There is not enough water on this planet to create a global flood and there is no evidence whatsover that a global flood occured. It is more likely that a catastrophic, but localised flood occured from which this stories eminates. There is plenty of evidence for this where water broke through the Bosphurus from the Mediterranean, into the Black Sea. The biblical people would be well aware of this due to it being close to their region.

3. Genesis talks about a rainbow being a sign from god. This would have to mean that the laws governing the refraction of light did not occur prior to the alleged global flood, which is not possible. Rainbows have occured since the dawn of time (which was a lot more than 6000 years ago)

4. You talk of evidence, yet the only so called evidence you quote comes from the bible. You completely ignore any proven scientific evidence regarding the history of this planet that does not agree with your way of thinking.

5. Please dont tell me this is not ''on topic'' because plainly it is :)

I do respect your views. I am just giving mine :)

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RavenHawk

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.

I beg your pardon? My whole reply is about interpretation and original meaning of those chapters. My reply is very on topic. How can you discuss original meaning if you don’t consider authorship? Genesis 1 provides a different meaning if the author is Adam rather than Moses. Adam experienced the events whereas Moses did not. It’s not that other flood stories are based off the flood story in genesis but all flood stories are based off the original event. Catch the subtlety?

And off topic, I would love to see what you disagree with. I think I show that Genesis 1 may not be more detailed but definitely scientifically possible.

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karmakazi

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.

I disagree, the evidence can help us to understand what a text means.

You cannot discuss something while taking it absolutely, 100% literally. Some individual interpretation must come into play because otherwise we'd just be agreeing with each other and having nothing to say.

So that makes me think you only want to discuss with those who agree with your own interpretation and anyone else is "off topic"

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Paranoid Android

I will suggest my reasons as to why I think Creation and the rest of Genesis 1-11 should not be viewed as an historical and scientific account of how the world came to be.

Reason 1 - poetic structure of creation in Genesis 1

I'll try and summarise the overall structure of the creation story in Genesis 1. In short, the text displays a very stylised account of creation. The structure here is remarkably organised and breaks into three distinct sections - the first three days (1-3), the second three days (4-6), and the final day (7). Moreover, the first three days have a direct relationship to the second three days (Days 1 and 4; 2 and 5; 3 and 6).

Day 1 - God creates light

Day 4 - God creates source of light

Day 2 - God creates the sky and water

Day 5 - God creates fish and birds to live in the water and sky

Day 3 - God creates land

Day 6 - God creates animals (including humans) to live on the land

Day 7 - God rests.

The first three days provide the right conditions in which the actions of the second set of three days can be accomplished, in sequential order. The light is made, and then the source of the light is made on the fourth day. The living conditions for birds and fish are made, and then birds and fish are created on day five. The living conditions for land animals is created, and then on the sixth day the land animals (including humans) are made. This is a poetic device used in Hebrew poetry called Parallelism (link)

The first point of note is that the sun was made only after the light came to exist. This is then reinforced by the repetition at the end of each day which stated, "And there was evening and there was morning, the nth day". Without a sun or moon, evening and mornings do not exist. But they do provide a very good structural basis for poetry - the repetition of the phrase, "And there was evening and there was morning", sets a good touchstone to separate each day of creation – a form of micro-resolution at the end of each day, leading into the next section. While it is true that light can come from sources other than the sun, the author's intentions are clear – day and night are created, evening and morning play prominent roles that do not change even when the sun is created, and light is brought forth.

The second point I would like to raise centres on the purpose of the seventh day in this poetic narrative. So far, each day ends with an act of creation - something tangible and/or physical is made (light, water, land, etc). These are physical things, compared to the seventh day which focuses back to God. It is appropriate that these happen on the sixth and seventh days, which are often contrasted in Hebrew poetry to refer to what is human and imperfect compared to what is God-centred and perfect (Source). In this light, the author ends Genesis 1 not on the sixth day as would be representative of mankind in Hebrew culture, but instead on the seventh day, as symbolically represented of God's perfection/completion. How unfulfilling it would be for the Hebrews to start a book that is written all about God, but ends the creation with a number understood to represent man.

This account of creation in Genesis 1 shows that the author was not intending to write this as an historical approach to HOW God created the world. It is far too stylised and embedded in Hebrew imagery. The point was to convey that God created mankind – the focus is entirely on God's actions as the supreme and only God. God spoke, and things happened.

Reason 2 - theatrical structure of Genesis 1-11

Beyond the structure of Genesis 1, there is also a larger structure based on the first 11 chapters of Genesis. There are two broad sections - chapters 1-3, and chapters 4-11. The first three chapters outline creation and God's people (Adam and Eve) living in perfection in God's kingdom (Eden), under God's rule. Then the serpent is introduced and all of this falls apart. Chapters 4-11 then outline how humankind fares without God in the world, and in complete contrast to the perfection of Eden there is a slide into sin and evil, leading to an ever-worsening scenario for mankind. This section of the Bible is intended to cover many generations of history, but the author chose to document only three specific stories:

Story 1 - Cain murders his brother, Abel.

Story 2 - God sees that the inclination of mankind's heart was "only evil all the time" (quote from Genesis 6:5) and then sends the Flood to wipe them out.

Story 3 - The Tower of Babel, when mankind decides to "build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens" (quote from Genesis 11:4).

These stories were not chosen at random but were instead intended to convey a very specific purpose - these three stories show a progression of the evil of mankind, steadily getting worse. The first story shows only one man rejecting God (by killing his brother). The second story portrays the whole world rejecting God by their continuous evil. The third story marks the total degeneration of the human race - they don't just reject God, but want to BECOME gods themselves. The purpose of wanting to build a tower that can "reach the heavens" is symbolically simple - if they can reach the abode of God, they can become God, supplant God.

I hope you see the progression of events -

* one man rejects God;

* whole world rejects God;

* whole world wants to be God!

In a theological sense, the last is the worst of all since only God can be God. Genesis 11 ends rather abruptly, as if the situation has been left unresolved. Mankind has become totally depraved without a thought in the world for the God that created it in perfection. And no one can do anything about it, it seems. Suddenly the text changes to historical narrative, introducing Abraham in Genesis 12. From here on, Genesis has changed styles, no longer displaying characteristics attributed to Hebraic poetry, but rather a solid historically driven text.

The text is clear to its intentions - Abraham is the one through whom God will rebuild his relationship with humanity. These three stories in Genesis 4-11 combine impressively before chapter 12 to introduce the reader to a world where rejection of God is complete and total. It details a chronological pattern of increasingly evil acts until it seems that nothing could possibly get worse. But God acts to redeem humanity despite the bleak outlook - through Abraham will God's people be known.

As can be seen through documented history, events do not work as is shown in Genesis 4-11. There are periods of peace when things don't go horribly, and when war or evil does break out, it's not in an escalating scenario over generations like we saw in chapters 4-11. There may be micro-scale events that might fit the structure (the term of a pregnancy, for example, from conception to delivery), but not on a macro-scale covering hundreds or thousands of years. Having studied theatre for three years at university, one of the first things we learned was how storytelling through the ages followed a similar pattern, regardless of nationality or culture. Genesis 1-11 fits this storytelling narrative perfectly. This structure again shows the poetic nature of Genesis 1-11, and reinforces the purpose of the author - not an historical account but a theological description of humanity's relationship (or rather lack of relationship) with God.

Reason 3 - the purpose of Genesis 1-11

This is my final evidence on Genesis 1-11 being poetic, and there are two key points I would like to raise. The first concerns the oral tradition of pre-Hebrew (specifically, pre-Abrahamic) history. This one is fairly short, since I have addressed it (in part) already. The purpose of Genesis 1-11 was a written form of their oral tradition, spanning generations of people to draw a theological link from creation to the person of Abraham in Genesis 12, who later became the father of the Hebrew people.

The other point I wanted to raise concerned the culture in which Genesis 1-11 was written. Specifically I wanted to examine the ways that the gods of other nation's were said to have created the world. Many of them revolve around battles between gods, and the earth being created from the spilled guts of the vanquished god. The Babylonian God Marduk, for example, is said to have split the goddess Tiamat in two, with one half of her separated to form the heavens, and the other half forming the land (Source). Marduk then was required to create humans to labour and work, because gods were not meant to "work". Creation in Genesis 1 was written in direct opposition to these stories. God created simply by the power of his words. No magic, no incantations, battles, or rites of passage that are so common in the creation narratives of other cultures. To quote the New Bible Dictionary (21st Century Edition):

"Genesis is implicitly rejecting other views of the gods and their relationship with the world. Here we have no story of how gods fought, married and bore children; there is but one God, beyond time and sex, who was there in the beginning. He created all things, even the sun, moon and stars, which other people often held to be gods in their own right. He required no magic to do this; his word was sufficient by itself."

~ New Bible Commentary, 21st Century Edition. p59

God then created mankind, not to slave and work, as was the case with Marduk, but in order to be God's special creation. In short, the primary intention of the creation narrative is not an historical or scientific approach, but a narrative set in direct opposition to the narratives presented by the other nations contemporary to the Ancient Hebrews.

Reason 4 - the genealogies scattered through Genesis 1-11

Often, the greatest stumbling block to people looking at Genesis 1-11 as a piece of poetry are the genealogies. If there are genealogies, does it not mean that these should be considered historical accounts? There are several points worth consideration here. The first of these is the purpose that these genealogies serve. There are three genealogies in these chapters, and they all perform a similar function to the micro-resolutions I mentioned in Genesis 1. Just as Genesis ended each day with "And there was morning and there was evening, the nth day", so are the three events in chapters 4-11 micro-resolved in the genealogies.

However, this is only a minor point. There is a greater purpose to the genealogies. In short, so far I have been arguing Genesis 1-11 purely from a poetic viewpoint. However, it is not adequate to look at it as complete fable. These events represent the oral tradition of the Hebrew people before Abraham, and as such there very likely were people on whom the events recorded are based. There may have been a Flooding of the known world (not necessarily worldwide) and there may have been a Noah figure on whom the biblical account is based. Likewise there were figures on whom the Adam and Eve story referred to, and these figures had a special relationship with God. There may even have been a paradise of sorts akin to Eden. But was there a particular tree that they couldn't eat from? Probably not, it was the writer's way of bringing the concept of sin and disobedience into the narrative. When these people sinned, they broke their special relationship with God, and now, however long later we require the redemption of Jesus to save us from our sinful desires.

Since Genesis 1-11 was not written with the intention to convey the history behind it, these genealogies provide what is possibly at least some of the forefathers of Abraham, but cannot be used any further than that. It certainly cannot be said to be the entirety of generations right back to the first man. It in historical fact that papyrus was expensive. Thus space was limited for writing. It is also an historical fact that because of this the Hebrews often skipped generations in their genealogies in order to save space - thus only the people whom the scribe felt was important enough made it into a genealogy from generation to generation (even with the term "beget").

One more point I would like to address here is a quick case study on one of the genealogies (more appropriately, a focus on one of those individuals, a man named Enoch). The first genealogy presented in the Bible comes from Genesis 5, and provides ten generations of characters, from the creation of Adam, to the adult-hood of Noah (and the birth of his three sons). The basic layout of this genealogy goes something like this:

Character x had lived a certain number of years, before he fathered character y. After character y was born, character x lived quite another number of years, and had many other sons and daughters. Altogether, Character x lived a certain number of years, and then he died.

The genealogy would then move on to character y and write his genealogy in exactly the same way. Nine times this process is repeated. Nine times in ten generations - "altogether he lived x years, and then he died". "And then he died". "And then he died". There was one genealogy that was different, however. The seventh generation removed from God, Enoch doesn't die. The genealogy sets him apart as different. He "walked with God" according to the text , and instead of dying, God "took him away" (Genesis 5:24). Because Enoch was a man of God, God took favour on him. The repetition of "and then he died, and then he died" echoes in stark contrast to the life and times of Enoch who did not die. And I hope you haven't missed my comment concerning the number of generations that Enoch was removed from God - seven generations removed. Consider the importance of the symbolism of the number 7 in Hebrew culture? As noted in the creation story, it was the sign of perfection. Seven generations from God, a man walks with God and does not die (the only man in the genealogy to walk with God, according to the text). Perhaps it was just coincidence, but it is my assertion that in keeping with the theme of spiritual perfection, this was intended to be another poetic device.

However, to cover my bases, on this last point concerning Enoch, I am not adverse to the possibility of being wrong. This may just be coincidence, and if it is then so be it, I might have read too much into it. Regardless, the point of the genealogies remains as a record of the oral tradition of pre-Abraham history. There likely was an Enoch figure on whom this is based, is the genealogy perfectly accurate? Was it specifically seven generations, or were there likely more? Either way, it highlights the overall purpose of Genesis 1-11 as a theological discourse on the perfection of God and the imperfect relationship humanity has with it.

Concluding thoughts

I hope this gives you some food for thought. Genesis 1-11 is not written as a scientific or historical text, though it does contain some history, blended with poetry due to the nature of oral tradition dating to the time before Abraham. It's purpose is two-fold:

1- to show that God is the creator

2- to outline the relationship between mankind and the creator (the ideal Eden experience, and the depravity of life without God due to sin)

All other considerations are of secondary nature. There are clear textual indicators that suggest Genesis 1-11 is poetic. The New Testament treats Adam and Eve as real figures, so as a Bible-believing Christian I accept that there was an Adam and Eve figure on whom the story of Eden is based. But how much credence does it deserve as far as an absolute historical account? I'd say the bare bone - enough to see that there was a special relationship with God, and that relationship was broken by an act of sin. Of the rest, there is certainly not enough to fly in the face of the scientific community and say that they are mistaken about the details of our past.

In any case, I hope this is of some interest to you, and explains my point of view as a believer in Theistic Evolution, and an old (millions/billions of years) earth/universe.

~ Regards, PA

Edited by Paranoid Android
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Beany

There are some very thoughtful comments here, which I appreciate. I wasn't clearly tracking it, so found this link which others might find as helpful as I did.

community.berea.edu/scienceandfaith/essay01.asp

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Jor-el

How do you figure?

Well, we find a number of ancient views, some of them follow the concept of literal 24 hour days, others do not.

The actual text is sufficiently loose in that a day could be seen as an unspecified period of time, we have a number of instances in the bible where days do not refer to a specific 24 hour day but a time period that in some views could last as much as a actual 1000 years.

Given that the text is written in a semi poetic style in the hebrew, it also stands to reason that some of this text van be seen as a literay metaphor.

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RavenHawk

Rather than specifically address each of your points, I'm going to post why I believe in Old Earth Creationism (to be exact, I believe in Theistic Evolution - the view that evolution works as scientists explain, but it is God who is guiding the process to create his special creation, humanity). So with that said, I will suggest my reasons as to why I think Creation and the rest of Genesis 1-11 should not be viewed as an historical and scientific account of how the world came to be.

You were looking for the full text the last time we were on a similar subject. I see you found it :-) I like it very much. I must admit I like your insight as well as mine. I think they are both very logical and clear analysis into the meaning of Genesis 1-11. Thank you for posting it.

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RavenHawk

Well, we find a number of ancient views, some of them follow the concept of literal 24 hour days, others do not.

The actual text is sufficiently loose in that a day could be seen as an unspecified period of time, we have a number of instances in the bible where days do not refer to a specific 24 hour day but a time period that in some views could last as much as a actual 1000 years.

Given that the text is written in a semi poetic style in the hebrew, it also stands to reason that some of this text van be seen as a literay metaphor.

The final court scene in “Inherit the Wind” is a brilliant presentation and explanation of the discrepancy in measurement of time and hence the meaning of “night & day”.

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Jor-el

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.

Well, that would depend on your translation of the text. One item that should be considered by those who constantly try to put forth the view that these are literal events that happened in a week, should read carefully on how the actual hebrew text is translated.

What happens to that view when suddenly the text you assume to be correct can actually be written in a different form?

2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

Getting back to the 3rd party witness I 1st mentioned, this witness then goes on to describe this extinction event. Verse 2 offers us the clue that we need to understand the rest of the passage, in that they fit perfectly into the sequence of events that would occur, if the earth had to recover from such a catastrophe.

Now the earth was formless and empty

This is a direct reference to the earth as we find it at this time formles and empty, but that unfortunately this is incorrectly interpreted.

There are thre keywords that need to be analyzed in this section, these are

WAS FORMLESS EMPTY

The verb was in the Hebrew is "hayah" and is a form of the verb "to be". Unlike English where different words are used in exclusivity according to time, the hebrew can render the same word in different times depending on the context.

Accordingly, Genesis 1:3 which we'll get to shortly states:

And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.

Both terms "be" and "was" are" translated from the word "hayah". In the same vein in Genesis 1:29 we have an instance of the same verb form in the Future:

They will be yours for food.

We have the same situation with the past tense where היה "hayah" can be translated "Became"...

Genesis 47:20

So Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh, for every Egyptian sold his field, because the famine was severe upon them. Thus the land became Pharaoh's.

Taking this into consideration, the verse can thus be translated:

Now the earth became...

Formless and empty can be taken together as a group. The hebrew rendering of "Formless and Empty" is "tohu wa bohu"

From the outset we can say unequivocally that both words, whether occurring together or singly, are used throughout Scripture in connection with something under God's judgment. Tohu is used of something which has been laid waste (Isaiah 24:10; 34:11; Jeremiah 4:23) or has become desert (Deuteronomy 32:10) or of anything which is the object of false "worship" and therefore displeasing to God, as in Isaiah 41:29, etc. With the Hebrew preposition (lamedh) it becomes an adverb, (Isaiah 49:4) and means "wastefully" or "in vain."

Let us take Jeremiah 4:23 into consideration:

Jeremiah 4:19-26

My soul, my soul! I am in anguish! Oh, my heart!

My heart is pounding in me;

I cannot be silent,

Because you have heard, O my soul,

The sound of the trumpet,

The alarm of war.

Disaster on disaster is proclaimed,

For the whole land is devastated;

Suddenly my tents are devastated,

My curtains in an instant.

How long must I see the standard

And hear the sound of the trumpet?

For My people are foolish,

They know Me not;

They are stupid children

And have no understanding

They are shrewd to do evil,

But to do good they do not know."

looked on the earth, and behold, it was formless and void;

And to the heavens, and they had no light.

I looked on the mountains, and behold, they were quaking,

And all the hills moved to and fro.

I looked, and behold, there was no man,

And all the birds of the heavens had fled.

I looked, and behold, the fruitful land was a wilderness,

And all its cities were pulled down

Before the LORD, before His fierce anger.

Notice the context of the passage, it is one of Judgement and Destruction, In this particular case a judgement and destruction on Judah. The Kingdom of Judah was conquered in 586 BCE by the Babylonian Empire under Nebuzar-adan, captain of Nebuchadnezzar's body-guard.(2 Kings 25:8-21). This event coincided with the destruction of the First Temple of Jerusalem and with the Babylonian Captivity.

Synonyms, translators commonly use for "Tohu" are:

formlessness, confusion, unreality, emptiness, nothingness, empty space, that which is empty or unreal (of idols), wasteland, wilderness, chaos and vanity

For "Bohu", the synonyms are:

emptiness, void and waste

Thus we can put verse 2 into the following form:

Now the earth became waste and empty or a devestated ruin.

This coincides perfectly with the idea that an extinction event took place. An event that literally wiped the earth clean of life. The idea of the earth being reconstructed is not new by any standard. Revelation says much of the same thing regarding the end of the age where the Earth is reformed or restored, initiating a new and eternal era.

You are probably shaking your head, but go see for yourself, the text quite clearly allows this translation.

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?

1st it is well known in biblical study, that there are gaps in the geneologies, these are purposful, they exist because when the geneologies were structured, they were done so with a purpose.

I can give you a few items to think about on this issue.

1. Matthew 1:8 tells us that Joram fathered Uzziah. However, in 1Chronicles 3:11-12 we find that Joram fathered Ahaziah, who fathered Joash, who fathered Amaziah, who begot Uzziah who was also called Azariah. To see that Uzziah was also called Azariah, compare 2Kings 14:21-22 with 2Chronicles 26:1-2.

Matthew knew most of his readers would know Joram was the great, great grandfather of Uzziah.

Matthew 1:11 says that Josiah was Jeconiah's father. However, 1Chronicles 3:15-16 tells us that Josiah fathered Jehoiakim, who begot Jeconiah. Matthew's original Jewish readers understood that Jeconiah was descended from Josiah.

Why did Matthew leave these various ancestors out of his record?

Matthew wanted a genealogy record that was symmetrical. He wanted it divided into 3 groups with 14 generations in each group. So following an understood and accepted custom Matthew left out various ancestors of Jesus as he saw fit.

In Genesis 46:18 we find that Zilpah bore 16 persons to Jacob. How many babies did Zilpah herself physically give birth to?

Just two, Gad and Asher. Genesis 30:9-13. However, Zilpah bore to Jacob: sixteen descendants. Genesis 46:16-18.

2. There are differences in the geneologies when we compare the Masoretic Text and the Septuagint, Two textual traditions, two differing geneologies

See: Genealogies of Genesis

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

Well, if you have time to burn, here is a direct response to this issue that I posted on my Blog some time ago. Since it is quite long, I won't reproduce it here..

See: The Great Flood

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.

Funny, how you just used a perfect example of my argument in your response...

Back in my grandfather's day... So how long ago was that exactly, was it a literal 24 hour day?

The same text can be read in different ways, there is not sufficient literary evidence to say that it was a literal 24 hour day, yes it can be interpreted that way, but it is not the only way that it can be interpreted. Being dogmatic about this issue is like counting soap bubbles. Both sides can have the cake and eat it too. If you don't agree then so be it.

But here is an interesting video, for you to see, if you have the time...

The speaker is a phd scholar in ancient Semitic Languages, thus he knows what he is speaking about.

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.

And how do you know that the very 1st verse is directly connected to the rest of the text?

Again, there is nothing to suggest that it should be connected.

The entire 1st verse can stand alone without further explanation.

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

One can almost sense the distinction between the 1st verse and what comes afterward.

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Jor-el

The final court scene in “Inherit the Wind” is a brilliant presentation and explanation of the discrepancy in measurement of time and hence the meaning of “night & day”.

Very nice, and it goes right to the heart of the matter. So yes it could have been a literal 24 hour day, or it could have been much longer. the text is sufficiently free to accept either view.

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Aus Der Box Skeptisch

This may have been said already but I read the op and it says made in a 24 hour day well OK six of them. Where does it say 24 hours. To get to my point a 24 hour day is based on the rotation of earth around the sun. Which didn't exist until after it was created. Would it not make more sense that everything was created in six of gods days measured by whatever he measures days by? Making it possible that millions or billions of earth days could fit into one of his days?

This could lead into evolution being a part of his creation in order to reach the result of man. But that's off topic and I wont go any further than that. So how did we come up with 24 hours?

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Aus Der Box Skeptisch

Looking on in the topic I do see that this has been broached. Cheers all :w00t:

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Copen

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;

Genesis 1 - 11 is indeed a God breathed account of the beginnings. Problem is Christians read it like a regular book with a beginning, an apex, and an ending. In the present teachings there are so many contradictions that are ignored or explained so weakly that it defies logic. Plus, Genesis can not be fully understood without going further into the Bible and using information given there and applying it back to Genesis 1 -11 much like Shem and Japheth who put a garment, (Strong's Concordance defines that a "mantle." A mantle in the Bible is symbolic of the Word), on their shoulders and walked backwards to cover their father. If you do not apply verses further in the Bible to the beginnings you can never eliminate what seems to be numerous contradictions. There are many naked truths lying there for us to cover; but like Ham it is being made a mockery by Christians.

Example: You said, "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;"

The Bible says the heaven and earth were created in the beginning. We don't know when the beginning was; but it was probably not long before God moved upon the face of the waters and saw that it had become confusion and emptiness and darkness was upon the face of the deep waters. When God does something He doesn't have steps of improvement. First step - confusion, second step completion. The first six days everything was spoken into existence. BOOM! Done from his God breathed mouth. The six days of creation was sometime after God created the heaven and earth, and had placed Lucifer for a covering over the earth, and saw that Lucifer (whom the Bible says is the author of confusion) had changed heaven and earth into confusion, emptiness and darkness.

There are also KEYS to securing truths in scripture. Hebrews says with God everything is twice for a strong consolation. Genesis 1-11 is full of twos of everything. God created out of confusion Day One and stepped back like an artist looking at his work and said, "Light is good." Had nothing to do with sinlessness. Day Two is the only day God say nothing good. He put a reservoir of water above the 2nd heaven for He knew the day was coming when He would use it in a deluge. But He made up for it by creating two things good on Day Six. Not sinless but good for His purposes.

Therefore, God started a six day creation by speaking everything into being. Later, on Day Eight God created Adam out of the dust of the ground with His hand like a potter with clay. Eve was the first clone. She didn't come from a seed or an egg. She came from Adams flesh and bone. Blood is manufactured in the bone. So they had the exact same DNA. No variation. Whatever his skin DNA was, hers was the exact same. Two of the same produce the same. You can't get different races from two of the same. But if Day Six was of Gentiles ("Gen" means beginning ---" tiles" is baked clay) then there is the variation and different races. Two very black couples and two very white couples. Adam is the first Jew. Not called that but Jesus was a Jew and His genealogy goes all the way back to Adam, the first Man. That is why Jesus was called the Son of Man. You have to look at the way words are used in the Bible. They have deeper means than what the dictionary can give. Example "knew." In the Bible it means marital intimacy. It is never used in the Bible when it is not marital. Man most of the time means Jew, men most of the time means Gentiles. By its frequent use in those ways it gives deeper meaning.

Son of Man could not mean God in flesh. There are sons of man mentioned elsewhere in the Bible. In Job and Psalms. But Jesus is the last use of that term.

Why did I say there were two couples of very black skinned people and two very white couples? Because even scientific generated grafts of how ABC and abc genetic codes can produce variations, the bottom line is you can only produce a RACE who are the same very black skin from two couples who are both very black. Only introduction of whiter genes makes a difference.

Now, going further into the Bible and using the verse, spoken by Adam, 'You must leave father and mother' to get a wife; and other scriptures that teach God is 'the same yesterday, today and tomorrow'; and additional scripture that teaches incest is forbidden, the conclusion which eliminates confusion is this:

"When men (Gentiles) began to multiply on the face of the earth and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God (Jewish sons of Adam) saw the daughters of men (Gentiles) that they were fair and they took them wives of all whom they chose."

The name Eve is actually Eva which is the prefix of the word evangelize. In Strong's Concordance shows them together.

Adam named her Eva because she is the mother of all living. She is the mother of all spiritually alive. The word "living" as used concerning the flood narrative means "spiritually alive". "Living creatures" was spiritually alive humans. Not all human flesh and not animals. Two black couples and two white couples were those with the breath of life (spiritual life) and "every living thing" were humans. (I HAVE TO ADMIT. YOU WILL HAVE TO REFER TO THE APOCRYPHA'S TRANSLATION IN CLEAR THAT DIFFERENCE UP.) The only times the word "flesh" is used in the Bible to mean animal---- is when it is on the alter as substitute flesh for spiritually alive humans.

Animals went into the ark in two categories, clean and unclean. Clean went in six females and one male. Unclean went in one female and one male. Spiritually alive humans went in two and two. Two black females and two black males and same for white humans. Noah gathered food on the hoof for them. But he didn't gather food for a whole years supply for all the animals. He couldn't have fed spiders, and lions, and birds, and etc. for a whole year. That's how long they were on that boat.

This is such a lengthy subject, it would take a book to clear up the many contradictions being taught today about Genesis 1-11. As people tend to skim over lengthy computer monitor text, this is long already and only a fraction has been covered.

God bless you in your dialogue on Genesis 1-11.

Edited by Copen

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Paranoid Android

You were looking for the full text the last time we were on a similar subject. I see you found it :-) I like it very much. I must admit I like your insight as well as mine. I think they are both very logical and clear analysis into the meaning of Genesis 1-11. Thank you for posting it.

Glad you found it helpful. For me, it is the most logical conclusion. I know Young-Earth Creationists will disagree, but to me I don't think it is a massive deal. Whether God created the world in literally six days, or whether it incorporates poetic devices and oral tradition, the theological point remains identical - God created the earth, created us to be in relationship with him, and we broke that relationship through sin. At the core this is the exact same theological point/s that all Christians should get from creation and Eden and the Fall, regardless of their specific views of the text.

That is my view of it, at least.

Edited by Paranoid Android

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RavenHawk

2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

Getting back to the 3rd party witness I 1st mentioned, this witness then goes on to describe this extinction event.

Just a quick question. Wouldn’t the formation of Earth from the dark cloud disk circulating around a newly formed sun also fit that description? It wouldn’t necessarily be an ELE? The Earth became formless and empty from the cloud.

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1689 Reformed_Baptist

1. I fail to understand how anyone can claim that the Earth is only 6000 years old with all the scientific evidence that overwhelmingly states otherwise.

Hello there :)

First of all, the discussion is not regarding whether you can understand why someone claims something but what the Bible is actually claiming. Secondly, evidence does not actually state anything. This is the fallacy of reification - the fallacy when a person attributes a concrete characteristic to a conceptual abstraction. The classic example of this is "It's not nice to fool mother nature." Nature is a concept and cannot be fooled as if it had a mind. While reification is perfectly acceptable in poetry, it should not be used in logical argumentation because it is ambiguous and can obscure important issues (Source: The Ultimate Proof of Creation by Dr. Jason Lisle).

2. There is not enough water on this planet to create a global flood and there is no evidence whatsover that a global flood occured. It is more likely that a catastrophic, but localised flood occured from which this stories eminates. There is plenty of evidence for this where water broke through the Bosphurus from the Mediterranean, into the Black Sea. The biblical people would be well aware of this due to it being close to their region.

Again, we are not dealing with whether or not the evidence suggests a global flood. What we are trying to establish is what the biblical author intended to say. If you read Genesis 1-11 without any presuppositions that you want to impose on the text (which is called eisegesis), then you get the idea that he is talking about a global flood. Perhaps the discussion over the evidence for a local flood would be the idea for a new topic, but it is beyond the scope of this one.

3. Genesis talks about a rainbow being a sign from god. This would have to mean that the laws governing the refraction of light did not occur prior to the alleged global flood, which is not possible. Rainbows have occured since the dawn of time (which was a lot more than 6000 years ago)

I did not bring up the rainbow as evidence for anything but the fact that the Bible teaches there was a global flood. Do you believe the Bible teaches there was a global flood? And if not, why not? Those are the questions we are trying to deal with.

4. You talk of evidence, yet the only so called evidence you quote comes from the bible. You completely ignore any proven scientific evidence regarding the history of this planet that does not agree with your way of thinking.

I think you might have missed the point of this discussion. It is not to prove the Bible's validity. It is only to establish what the biblical text actually says. In order to do that, you have to use the Bible. If I wanted to prove to you the president or someone was inside my house, the easiest and most irrefutable way to do that would be to take you inside my house and show him to you. My point is - if we want to establish what the Bible means, the most logical way to do this is use what the Bible says.

5. Please dont tell me this is not ''on topic'' because plainly it is

This is off topic, as I pointed out. I don't mean to be rude, but you are trying to disprove the Bible before we've even established what it means. But I do thank you for your views, I hope you know that mine are meant to be respectful as well :)

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1689 Reformed_Baptist

I beg your pardon? My whole reply is about interpretation and original meaning of those chapters. My reply is very on topic. How can you discuss original meaning if you don’t consider authorship? Genesis 1 provides a different meaning if the author is Adam rather than Moses. Adam experienced the events whereas Moses did not. It’s not that other flood stories are based off the flood story in genesis but all flood stories are based off the original event. Catch the subtlety?

And off topic, I would love to see what you disagree with. I think I show that Genesis 1 may not be more detailed but definitely scientifically possible.

This discussion was directed at "those who claim to be Christians or to believe the Bible." The Bible clearly gives Moses as the author of the pentateuch (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). Therefore, this was not meant to be a point of discussion. Even if you disagree with that, however, you can still show me from Genesis 1-11 itself that it is not talking about a literal 24 hour 6 day creation or a global flood if that is what you believe it says.

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1689 Reformed_Baptist

I disagree, the evidence can help us to understand what a text means.

Do you then believe that the meaning of the text changes based on the evidence we have available to us? Correct me if I'm wrong, but you are talking about scientific evidence (such as the earth supposedly being much older than 6,000 years)? I agree that evidence can help us understand a text, but a different kind of evidence. If I wanted to prove to you that Plato held the same views as say a modern day conservative or something, what would be the best way for me to do that? It would be to give evidence from Plato's writings themselves. Along with that, comes universal standards of hermeneutics that if I follow, will keep me from misrepresenting him. If you used scientific evidence to try and prove Plato meant something other than what it really appears that he said, then you are not proving what Plato's view actually was. Instead, you are presenting evidence that Plato's view was wrong.

This is the same with establishing what Scripture means. Scientific evidence does not shed more light onto what Scripture means. Scripture speaks for itself just as Plato's writings do. Scientific evidence can either support it or not support it - though this, as I've said, it not the purpose of this discussion. The only way to prove what Scripture means is using Scripture itself.

You cannot discuss something while taking it absolutely, 100% literally. Some individual interpretation must come into play because otherwise we'd just be agreeing with each other and having nothing to say.

I'm glad you brought this up, this is a good point. The Bible contains many different literary styles that are not meant to be ignored. For instance, poetry is used a lot in the Psalms, so we do not take everything literalistically (which is an important distinction from literalism). When we read in Psalm 19 that "the heavens declare the glory of God," we do not think they are literally speaking.

I read the Bible in a literal fashion, but this does not mean what many people think it means. To read the Bible literally, is to give reference to the literary context that is established from evidences within that same text and others like it. So when I read the Psalms I understand it is poetry which uses hyperbole, metaphor, anthropomorphism, etc. This is referred to in 2 Corinthians 4:2 as "setting forth the truth plainly."

In other words, I read the Bible in a straightforward manner. By this I can understand that literal history is literal history, poetry is poetry, etc. This is called the historical grammatical method of interpretation. If you wanted to prove my understanding of Genesis 1-11 is incorrect, this is ultimately the method of interpretation you would have to prove wrong.

Genesis 1-11 is in the same literary style as the rest of the book. So if you say the first 11 chapters are allegory or what have you, there's no hermeneutical justification to say the rest of the book is not. It's a wonder to me that the rest of Genesis is not attacked as the first 11 chapters are. Yet all the evidences I've given indicate that Genesis 1-11 is a historical account. Therefore, we can understand or interpret what he says as history.

So that makes me think you only want to discuss with those who agree with your own interpretation and anyone else is "off topic"

Am I not discussing my view with you right now, though you disagree with my interpretation? The things that are off topic are the things that do not discuss the meaning of Genesis 1-11, since that is meant to be the discussion. It is a narrow topic, but in my opinion that is the best way for a discussion to actually accomplish something.

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RavenHawk

This discussion was directed at "those who claim to be Christians or to believe the Bible."

Well, I claim to be Christian. I am definitely not your typical Christian. I am more of a maverick. I am most definitely heretical. A little bit deist and perhaps gnostic. I grew up Protestant but I’m really not that and I am definitely not Catholic. I believe in the Bible but also in the natural world. Whenever a conflict arises between the two, I look for a logical explanation, knowing that is probably the answer and that one doesn’t violate the other. I think that the stories in the Bible are true but not meant to be taken literally in everything. The Bible is a good book in that it gives us guidance on how to live a good life. But it is a history of why Christ came when he came, what his message is, and what he wants for us. And personal choice has a lot to do with it. Since the time of Christ, history hasn’t necessarily been kind or has followed those beliefs but that’s an example when Man drives the bus. Yet, to some degree we can’t just stop the bus and get off. Not yet. So there will still be atrocities committed in the name of GOD yet to come.

The Bible clearly gives Moses as the author of the pentateuch (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).

This has already been mentioned in this thread but just because Moses is credited with writing it, doesn’t mean that he did. It’s like Christopher Columbus is credited for discovering America, but we know that he wasn’t the first. Back in Moses’ day and really all the way up to today, it’s the leader that gets the credit for any accomplishments. That’s just the way it is. It’s usually the leader that creates a conducive environment for those under him to get the job done. And as I said earlier, the Documentary Hypothesis shows that Moses couldn’t have actually written the Pentateuch. He probably commissioned scribes from each tribe to collect the stories from their own tribes and then culled them into a canon.

Therefore, this was not meant to be a point of discussion. Even if you disagree with that,

Well, it has to be the initial point of the discussion. You can’t discuss the meaning unless you know who the author is. Knowing the author will give perspective. I don’t think you need to know exactly who the author is but that his work is distinctive.

however, you can still show me from Genesis 1-11 itself that it is not talking about a literal 24 hour 6 day creation

I think that between PA and myself, we have done that. I do think that it was poetic in nature to allow for easy memorization. The people back then just didn’t have the science to reveal to them the truth so they didn’t care what it meant. Just knowing that GOD created the universe was all they needed to know then. Science has acted like a new apple. It didn’t change the meaning, just the perspective.

or a global flood if that is what you believe it says.

I can see a global flood or a local flood. I can see how it could work with both. I tend to lean toward the local. But I must wonder if this is our “24 hour day” in that we really don’t care. Perhaps there is something in science that we do not yet understand. Maybe in the early Earth, water was caught up in the heavens?? I really don’t think it matters now as if there were any survivors and if it was a local flood, these survivors wouldn’t have even realized that they were survivors since they would have been far from the flood. But those survivors in time, mingled with the House of Noah and those lines eventually died out. That’s why we really don’t have any other different creation stories.

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1689 Reformed_Baptist

Hi Reformed Baptist,

Rather than specifically address each of your points, I'm going to post why I believe in Old Earth Creationism (to be exact, I believe in Theistic Evolution - the view that evolution works as scientists explain, but it is God who is guiding the process to create his special creation, humanity). So with that said, I will suggest my reasons as to why I think Creation and the rest of Genesis 1-11 should not be viewed as an historical and scientific account of how the world came to be.

Hey there, that sounds like a lot of fun :) I appreciate your time and thoughts put into this discussion. For organizations sake, I put your reasons in quotations boxes, but I will bring out things you said to support it within my reply, if that makes sense.

Reason 1 - poetic structure of creation in Genesis 1

In this reason you state that the 7 days of creation follow Hebraic poetry by the use of parallelism. An example of parallelism in poetry is clearly seen in Psalm 49:1: "Hear this, all you peoples; listen, all who live in this world." The two lines of this couplet say essentially the same thing. This is extremely relevant to the discussion. Parallelism is unquestionably a sign of a poetic structure. So if it is found in Genesis 1, then that would make it poetic. However, I want to make the case that parallelism is incorrectly defined and applied in Genesis 1.

First of all, you overstate the case regarding the similarities between the days. It is correct that the creatures of the sea were made on the fifth day, but the water was not created on the second day; it was already there on the first day (Gen. 1:2). Also, you said "The first three days provide the right conditions in which the actions of the second set of three days can be accomplished, in sequential order." The right living conditions for the sun, moon and stars would be the expanse of the heavens correct? However, that is not created until day 2 so it cannot be parallel to day 4.

Secondly, the days of creation simply do not fit into the mold of Hebrew poetry. The idea of parallelism is to express an idea once, then to mirror or expand upon it in parallel or synonymous language. The hallmark of Hebrew poetry is one idea being conveyed in two consecutive lines (as the example from Psalm 49 above points out). Yet you are making an attempt in the creation days to apply this to general concepts that are separated by several verses. You're proving too much. The following examples would also be nullified as history since, according to this standard, they also could be classified as poetry:

Abraham and his son Isaac both had barren wives (Gen. 15:2, 25:21).

Both eventually had children through God's intervention (Gen. 21:2, 25:24)

Both men lied to authorities regarding their wives (Gen. 20:2, 26:7)

Both men faced famine in the Promised Land (Gen. 12:10, 26:1)

Both men made a covenant with the Philistines (Gen. 21:22-34, 26:26-33).

I doubt you take any of these passages as poetic though. The creation days simply do not fit into the mold of Hebrew poetry.

Without a sun or moon, evening and mornings do not exist. But they do provide a very good structural basis for poetry - the repetition of the phrase, "And there was evening and there was morning", sets a good touchstone to separate each day of creation – a form of micro-resolution at the end of each day, leading into the next section.

The problem with these statements is that has no justification in Hebrew grammar. "Yom" when used with a number or the word evening or morning always means a literal day based upon Hebrew grammar. Just because the sun did not exist until day 4 does not mean the first 3 days were not literal days (since the context already tells us they are). "Day" can be defined as "The time taken for the Earth to spin once on its axis; by extension, the rotation period of any planet. The rotation of the Earth can be measured relative to the stars (sidereal day) or the sun (solar day)." What is needed is a source of light. Therefore the summary of verse 5c could be a sidereal day of 24 hours. (Source)

I think you attempt to answer this objection when you say, "While it is true that light can come from sources other than the sun, the author’s intentions are clear – day and night are created, evening and morning play prominent roles that do not change even when the sun is created, and light is brought forth." However, I would agree with this. The purpose of night and day and evening of morning did not change when the sun was created - and they have not changed since. As I've already stated, in Hebrew grammar, these phrases unquestionably refer to a 24 hour day. Thus, the clear and plain reading of the text (the literal reading of the text) indicates that these were 24 hour days.

So in order for what you said to actually be the case, you would first of all have to prove Genesis 1 to be the only exception to the rules in Hebrew grammar regarding the word "yom." Also, you would have to prove that the light created on day 1 is not a proper basis for a 24 hour day for the first 3 days.

The next point you bring up is that numbers in Hebrew represent things. I completely agree with this. 6 is the number of man, 7 of perfection and 8 of recreation are a few I can think of off the top of my head. You imply that the numbers being representative of something else in Hebrew poetry and the fact that the creation days end on a number that points us back to God who is perfect after pointing us to man who is imperfect, supports the idea that Genesis 1 is poetry. While I agree that those numbers do represent those things, it does not support the idea that Genesis 1 is poetry.

Instead, I would argue that Scripture makes it perfectly clear that these representations in the numbers in the days of creation (that are valid representations) are further evidence for the young earth interpretation. Exodus 20:8-11 picks up on these representations, but in no way supports that it is poetic. In fact, the creation week gives us the basis for our 7 day week - clearly the days of creation were not meant to be interpreted other than literal days. Not only that, 6 days we are to work because God worked for 6 days during creation. But on the 7th day, the Old Testament commanded the Israelites to keep it as holy unto the Lord because "the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy." Exodus 20 tells us the purpose of the 7th day, so we do not need to speculate about it.

This account of creation in Genesis 1 shows that the author was not intending to write this as an historical approach to HOW God created the world. It is far too stylised and embedded in Hebrew imagery. The point was to convey that God created mankind – the focus is entirely on God’s actions as the supreme and only God. God spoke, and things happened.

For the reasons given above, I do not think Genesis 1 is poetic at all. There are accounts of creation in the Bible that are poetic however. Psalm 104, Job 38, or Isaiah 40:12–15, for example, are poetic accounts of creation. If you compare them with Genesis 1, it becomes very clear that it is not poetic. "The words and phrases are very different from Genesis, and no one could seriously suggest that the Bible views God as riding on the clouds like a man in a chariot (Psalm 104:3) or stopping the oceans with immense doors (Job 38:8) or weighing the mountains in a gigantic pair of scales (Isaiah 40:12). This language is poetic, and nothing like it is found in the historical Genesis account" (Source).

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msm57

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading thru this. I especially like PA's posts/explanations.

I was going to mention the use of the term "replenish" (as in "do again") when Adam and Eve were told to be fruitful and multiply. However, a few google searches point out that this word may have been incorrectly translated/used, and can simply mean "fill" rather than "refill".

http://www.icr.org/article/replenishing-earth/

(there are others)

I think I need to do some more studying!

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1689 Reformed_Baptist

Reason 2 - poetic structure of Genesis 1-11

Regarding this reason, you bring up the progression of evil through the first 11 chapters. "* one man rejects God;

* whole world rejects God; * whole world wants to be God!" Due to the choosing of only very specific stories, the author had a very specific purpose. While I agree that the stories are meant to show the declining of mankind, this is not evidence of poetry.

I'm actually not sure why you are saying it is Hebrew poetry. Does it show signs of parallelism as you claimed for chapter 1? Or do you think progression in a story is sign of Hebrew poetry? I'm not sure what characteristic of Hebrew poetry you see in Genesis 1-11. You claim the following:

Suddenly the text changes to historical narrative, introducing Abraham in Genesis 12. From here on, Genesis has changed styles, no longer displaying characteristics attributed to Hebraic poetry, but rather a solid historically driven text.

The literary context does not change in Genesis 12. Genesis 11 gives us the genealogy of Abraham, so you can you even believe Abraham ever existed if the genealogy that gives his ancestry is merely poetry? What evidence is there in the text of a literary grammar change? And what characteristic is evidence in Genesis 1-11?

The text is clear to its intentions - Abraham is the one through whom God will rebuild his relationship with humanity. These three stories in Genesis 4-11 combine impressively before chapter 12 to introduce the reader to a world where rejection of God is complete and total. It details a chronological pattern of increasingly evil acts until it seems that nothing could possibly get worse. But God acts to redeem humanity despite the bleak outlook - through Abraham will God's people be known.

This is not an entirely correct description of Genesis 1-12. The world had rejected God beginning with Cain as you pointed out. Yet God had a people before Abraham - it was one of Abraham's ancestors as told in Genesis 11. God's people before Abraham were descendants of Seth. They were the sons of God (Genesis 6:1-2). Enoch walked with the Lord (Genesis 5:24). And of course Noah was a righteous man (Gen. 6:9). God made covenant with Noah - clearly he was a man of God. Then from Noah, we have the descendants of Shem who are God's people (in fact many speculate that the word "Hebrew" originates from Shem). One of those descendants was Abraham (Gen. 11:10-26). If the Bible speaks poetically about God's people before Abraham, how we can know that Abraham is not spoken of poetically as well?

My point is, you cannot use the idea that "Genesis 4-11 combine impressively before chapter 12" as evidence for a change in literary genre. First of all, it does not "combine" in the sense that the "world['s] rejection of God is complete and total" is concluded in the first 11 chapters. It is not concluded, for that is the theme of the entire Old Testament that culminates in the work of Jesus Christ in the New Testament. Therefore your conclusion is faulty.

You said, "This structure again shows the poetic nature of Genesis 1-11, and reinforces the purpose of the author - not an historical account but a theological description of humanity's relationship (or rather lack of relationship) with God." I would think there is no better way to describe to humanity's lack of relationship with God than by actual accounts of human activity, in other words true history. The idea that there is theological truth behind it does not make it poetry at all. If that were true, the entire Bible would be poetry! Besides, that purpose does not arbitrarily change in Genesis 12. The theme of human depravity and God correcting man's relationship to Him is found throughout the entire Bible, but surely you would not say the Bible is all poetry.

On the same account, I could say something like "The amount of abortions in the United States clearly shows the decline of morals in this society." When I say that, I am not being poetical to purport a theological truth. I am using a historical fact (the number of abortions have increased). Therefore, to say Genesis 1-11 is poetic because of theological truths behind it is a faulty conclusion.

Edited by 1689 Reformed_Baptist

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1689 Reformed_Baptist

Reason 3 - the purpose of Genesis 1-11

The purpose of Genesis 1-11 was a written form of their oral tradition, spanning generations of people to draw a theological link from creation to the person of Abraham in Genesis 12, who later became the father of the Hebrew people.

I believe I have already dealt with the idea that the purporting of theological truths does not negate the fact that the context indicates we are dealing with history.

Another purpose you bring up is that the creation account in Genesis was written in direct opposition to other nation's creation stories. This is actually a contention between the Old Earth view and New Earth View of creation. If you interpret historical and scientific evidence with the Young Earth understanding of Genesis 1-11 and the Bible as your ultimate authority, the evidence has a much different conclusion (since all evidence must be interpreted).

The problem with this reasoning is that it begs the question. Do you agree with the following statement?: "YECs are wrong because older creation stories from other nations prove that Genesis 1-11 was shaped by a rejection of those stories, not literal history." If you do agree with it, and I think that's the point you're trying to get across (correct me if I'm wrong), then you are begging the question because YECs do not accept the assumptions that go into dating other creation stories. We have 2 competing worldviews that interpret the evidence. So you have merely assumed what you are trying to prove with this reasoning.

Again, I would remind us that evidence does not shape the meaning of the text in the first place. The meaning of the text - if we accept it to be true - should interpret the evidence. Therefore, whether or not Genesis 1-11 is a historical narrative or not does not depend on what it is a reaction to or other evidences that may be used to change its meaning, but simply on the context and meaning the author gives us. Though I agree Genesis 1-11 does implicitly reject all other views of creation, it does not prove that it is based off of those other creation accounts, especially since the plain reading of the text indicates the author is intending to write about true history.

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1689 Reformed_Baptist

Reason 4 - the genealogies scattered through Genesis 1-11

It's difficult to address these last points since I have already given a number of objections against your interpretative foundation (Genesis 1-11 is poetry) that need to be answered. If your foundation is incorrect, which I believe my objections suggest, then clearly the genealogies are further evidence that Genesis 1-11 is real history. Thus, you correctly state that the genealogies are a stumbling block for people to accept Gen. 1-11 as poetry and I've given the valid reasons for that. You cannot correctly interpret the genealogies if your foundation for interpretation is wrong.

For instance, with your point about Enoch, you would have to prove that number representations are only found in Hebrew poetry because as I've already tried to show, they are not. Also, there is no reason to assume that there are gaps in the genealogies or that they are not meant to be literal history since every reason to assume Genesis 1-11 is poetry proves to be faulty. Theological truths behind a story do not automatically make that story poetic or non-historical. Therefore, saying the events in Genesis 1-11 are meant to represent spiritual truths, does not automatically make them poetry.

Neither of us doubts that one of the major purposes in Genesis 1-11 is "a theological discourse on the perfection of God and the imperfect relationship humanity has with it." What I doubt is that it necessarily makes Genesis 1-11 poetry. All literary genres in Scripture have this as their same purpose.

I think you say on of the most revealing things of why you interpret Genesis 1-11 to be poetical and not historical. And it is not based upon the text. You said:

The New Testament treats Adam and Eve as real figures, so as a Bible-believing Christian I accept that there was an Adam and Eve figure on whom the story of Eden is based. But how much credence does it deserve as far as an absolute historical account? I'd say the bare bone - enough to see that there was a special relationship with God, and that relationship was broken by an act of sin. Of the rest, there is certainly not enough to fly in the face of the scientific community and say that they are mistaken about the details of our past.

[Emphasis added]

The italicized statement clearly shows that you are using supposed scientific evidence about our past to re-interpret Scripture. The plain reading of Genesis 1-11 teaches the YEC view and we don't need to be ashamed of that! In order for any evidence to support a view, it has to be interpreted - otherwise all it is is a bone or a rock. Darwinian evolution rejects Scripture as the ultimate authority and therefore does not interpret it in accordance with Scripture. If you really do believe that "we require the redemption of Jesus to save us from our sinful desires," then theistic evolution cannot be true. For instance, you arbitrarily state that Genesis 12 switches to a historical context. But that's just it - it's arbitrary, there's no good reason to do that because it is written in the same context as Genesis 1-11. If we cannot trust the history of Genesis 1-11, we have no basis to trust the history of Jesus Christ

Theistic Evolution is blatantly anti-Scriptural. It places death before sin, the sun is created before the earth, Satan fell before the end of the creation week, dinosaurs did not live with man, Noah's flood was not a wordl-wide catastrophe, all creation was not "very good," symbiotic relationships were non-existent, and many of the other order of events of Scripture are in direct conflict with theistic evolution.

So in conclusion, if you believe the Bible you must interpret evidence with the understanding the Bible gives - not vica versa. Then we can know that any evidence that contradicts that is wrongly interpreted.

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Jor-el

The italicized statement clearly shows that you are using supposed scientific evidence about our past to re-interpret Scripture. The plain reading of Genesis 1-11 teaches the YEC view and we don't need to be ashamed of that! In order for any evidence to support a view, it has to be interpreted - otherwise all it is is a bone or a rock. Darwinian evolution rejects Scripture as the ultimate authority and therefore does not interpret it in accordance with Scripture. If you really do believe that "we require the redemption of Jesus to save us from our sinful desires," then theistic evolution cannot be true. For instance, you arbitrarily state that Genesis 12 switches to a historical context. But that's just it - it's arbitrary, there's no good reason to do that because it is written in the same context as Genesis 1-11. If we cannot trust the history of Genesis 1-11, we have no basis to trust the history of Jesus Christ

I am afraid you are incorrect in your assessment, as I have demonstrated there are in fact holes in the geneologies of the bible, how can you possibly assume that what is there is all of it when we can plainly demonstrate that they incomplete?

How can you limit the age of the universe, not only the earth to at most 7000 years when evidence demonstrates that this plainly not true, and don't try to hide behind the bible for that, there is not a single verse that supports a universe that is at most 7000 years old.

The best you can come up with is counting down the lifespans of the Patriarchs, when it is evident that begats can refer to intervals of multiple generations.

There are provable gaps in the biblical genealogies, along with differences in the number of generations between the different genealogies listed in the Bible. In addition, the Hebrew word, ab (father) can have the meaning "grandfather," "great-grandfather," etc, and ben can have the meaning "grandson, "great-grandson," etc. The Bible also makes reference to 1000 generations - a period of at least 40,000 years of human existence.

The automatic assumption that something can only be as the bible said it to be in its most literal form, does not give credit to God nor the word of God. The Hebrew language is one of the richest languages in the world for double and even triple meanings. There is much more than the literal version at work.

Theistic Evolution is blatantly anti-Scriptural. It places death before sin, the sun is created before the earth, Satan fell before the end of the creation week, dinosaurs did not live with man, Noah's flood was not a wordl-wide catastrophe, all creation was not "very good," symbiotic relationships were non-existent, and many of the other order of events of Scripture are in direct conflict with theistic evolution.

You have not given this much thought, have you? Have you considered how the world would have been without death? The very nature of our entire universe, from the quantum foam to the largest galaxy is based on death, the very matter the universe is constituted is based on death. The very material universe that God created was built with death in mind, it is not an artificial artifact that was added after the fall of mankind.

Those are exactly the thoughts that christians should adopt, your views are based on theology and hard core traditional beliefs of how things are supposed to be, but when analyzed, they are completely against the bible.

You are following without knowing, St. Augustines greatest heresy... that there was no death before the fall, that there was an original sin.

The sun was indeed created before the earth, it is there in black and white. In the beginning, God created the heavens (that is the entire universe, galaxies, solar systems and planets) and the earth (which we all know happened because the suns gravity accreted enough dust to create the rocky planets of our solar system).

Noahs flood did indeed destroy mankind, but it was also done thorough a natural event that caused massive rainfall, massive tsunamis that literally covered all the land and killed the people there.

So in conclusion, if you believe the Bible you must interpret evidence with the understanding the Bible gives - not vica versa. Then we can know that any evidence that contradicts that is wrongly interpreted.

Unless you are in fact interpreting the bible incorrectly because of some very massive assumptions, none of which are backed by the bible.

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