Is Genesis all literal, all allegory, or somewhere between?

Discussion in 'Sacred Scripture' started by ZachT, Jun 27, 2021.

  1. ZachT

    ZachT Active Member

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    If given the question "Is Genesis an entirely literal history of creation and origin or a complete allegorical fiction" I imagine, given this is an Anglican forum, most people might answer "a combination of both".

    But on what specific passages we read as myths that teach us something meaningful about salvation, and what specific passages we read that are hard, undeniable historical truths, I imagine we all differ significantly.

    For example, I imagine few of us here are 'Six Day Creationists'. The Apostolic Christian view, which is assumed to be representative of 1st Century Jewish thinking at the time (e.g. Philo), was that the six days are an allegory displaying some significance in the order of things, and not literally six 24-hour days. Why would God have operated within the bounds of the rotation of the Earth before He had even created the Earth? This opinion held true even after Christian thinking became much more literalist in the succeeding centuries, contrary to what some fundamentalists others might also have met try to claim. For example Saint Augustine was still arguing against a literal reading in the 5th Century when he wrote:

    It not infrequently happens that something about the earth, about the sky, about other elements of this world, about the motion and rotation or even the magnitude and distances of the stars, about definite eclipses of the sun and moon, about the passage of years and seasons, about the nature of animals, of fruits, of stones, and of other such things, may be known with the greatest certainty by reasoning or by experience, even by one who is not a Christian. It is too disgraceful and ruinous, though, and greatly to be avoided, that he should hear a Christian speaking so idiotically on these matters, and as if in accord with Christian writings, that he might say that he could scarcely keep from laughing when he saw how totally in error they are.
    ~ from 'The Literal Interpretation of Genesis' - St. Augustine​

    But when we move on to Genesis 2 I imagine opinions will diverge significantly on the historical existence of a singular human Adam and Eve, and if their literal existence and participation in literal events matters for the creation of original sin (I think the question is irrelevant, as Augustine who invented the Christian understanding did).

    When we go further into Genesis from the named descendents of Adam, to the flood, to the existence of one family repopulating the Earth, to the literal existence of a Tower of Babel I imagine opinions will again fluctuate from fable, to literal, to fable, to literal and so on.

    I'm curious what the general opinion of the diverse members of this forum on the nature of Genesis is, and to what extent our opinions are similar or disparate.

    Perhaps in vain, I would encourage participants in this thread to remember that the Anglican perspective on Genesis, like the Church Fathers perspectives, is wide and can range from almost entirely literal (St. Basil) to almost entirely allegory (Origen), and that both opinions are held widely by pious and faithful believers.
     
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  2. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    The best book by far that I have ever come across that deals with this subject, is James Kugel’s How to Read the Bible. Kugel is a modern biblical scholar who taught at Harvard for many years, and has since made aliyah and teaches in Jerusalem. He is also a practicing Orthodox Jew. Kugel goes through each part of the OT and covers the ancient interpretations (of both the Christians and the Rabbis), and then contrasts that with the modern interpretations that have arisen over the past couple of centuries. He brings in archaeological and philological evidence as well. It’s truly the most thorough book of its kind. The ancient/modern dichotomy doesn’t map easily onto a literal/allegorical one. If anything, the ancients were far more prone to read certain passages allegorically than we are today. However, the ancients also understood those same passages to be literally true as well. For example, Philo thought there were 6 actual days of creation, and also that this wasn’t the real point of the story at all. Kugel himself favors the traditional approach, but presents modern scholarship with great expertise, fairness, and objectivity. I highly recommend it.

    Personally I favor modern scholarship over the ancient approach in general (and not just with respect to Genesis), but as biblical scholarship is a scientific endeavor rather than a properly theological or dogmatic one, all conclusions are provisional, pending the discovery of further evidence which could either falsify or further refine existing hypotheses. I do not assume that Adam and Eve in the Garden, Noah’s Flood, the Tower of Babel, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Joseph and the Egyptian famine, etc., are real historical figures or events, though at least some may very well have been distantly based on some or other real historical persons or events.
     
  3. Ananias

    Ananias Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I've always imagined Genesis, from the creation narrative to the calling of Abraham, as being orally transmitted by tribal patriarchs to their extended families across a campfire. The great vault of the sky would be overhead, full of stars. The early stories of Genesis have that oral-history feel to them, a certain cadence, a rhythm. It's only with the call of Abraham that the story slows down and starts being an actual history of people and places.

    Should we moderns read Genesis literally? It's the wrong question, a pointless question. A better question is, is Genesis true? Is it God's inerrant Word to his people? If the answer to that question is "yes", then the argument about literalness is a waste of time; if the answer is "no" then one must ask if the skepticism is about Genesis or the authority of the Bible itself (and thus God).

    We should at least attempt to read Genesis in the same way as its primary audience did: the Hebrews of 3000-2500 BC or thereabouts. God gave them the story of his creation in a way they could understand and respond to, with the cosmology and science common to their people. We moderns read the story with the arrogance of a later calendar date, and a vastly increased knowledge of nature and science. We let our skepticism obscure the truth that God was trying to instill in his people: that God created the cosmos and everything in it; that human beings are his creatures, and are subject to God's authority; and that human beings rebelled against God through disobedience and thus became separated from God. But YHWH loves his people, and wants them to return to him, so he reaches out and reveals himself to them by his speech. This is important; YHWH is a God who speaks, who reveals himself. He is not uncovered by any effort of men. Only inspired Scripture reveals God to us.

    The ancients did not understand "history" in the same way we moderns do, not remotely. To them, "history" was not a simple recitations of events and places and people in former ages. History to them was stories, lineages, great sweeping movements of empires and tribes and peoples. The Bible is not the only book of this kind (though it is the only one written by God!). You can view, e.g., Homer's Iliad and Odyssey in roughly the same way. Are they histories, novels, poems, songs, religious tracts, or essays on civil and moral development? The answer is: they are all of these things at the same time. It's only in relatively recent modern times that we've separated our literary works into genres and walled them off from each other.

    The ancients preferred narratives because their narratives were mostly transmitted orally, even into the early Christian era. Narratives were easy to remember. The same goes for poetry, especially the kinds of parallel poetry found in Psalms or Job.

    The Bible is God's word written, but it is structured as narrative and poetry and song because it is often spoken or sung or preached. God's Word is to be heard as well as read. God wants us to remember and transmit his Word through the ages, so in his wisdom and through the action of the Holy Spirit, he gives his word in such a way that we remember it.

    Is Genesis literally true, or just metaphor? My answer is: it is literally true, but "literally" in the context of 2500 BC. Genesis, and the bible as whole, remains true and inerrant for all time and for all people; whether it is "literally" true according to the standards of the day doesn't matter much. Two millennia hence, I doubt our standards of "literalness" will hold up very well to academics of future ages either.

    Read the Bible as literally as you are able to, but always read it seriously, and in context.
     
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  4. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Origen is not a church father. He is just an early Christian (and unclear if trinitarian at that). He shouldn't be our authority, and hasn't been in the Church; his followers were condemned as heretics in the 5th century. So let's make sure that we set the board accurately. Who, then, is the church father that should be considered on the other end from St. Basil on this issue? (I don't know myself, hence why I'm asking.)
     
  5. ZachT

    ZachT Active Member

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    I'm sure there's a better answer, but for simplicity we could say Augustine (who I would say is equal parts side 'literal' and side 'allegory'). Augustine was a lot more moderate than Origen though - his perspective was we should take everything literally until science proves otherwise, and then adjust our interpretation of scripture given new scientific evidence (because to Augustine scriptural truth and scientific truth both come from God. Science is just another way of interpreting God's Word, so if science contradicts scripture we must be reading scripture incorrectly). So in practice he believed many literal truths in Genesis. To reconcile that he could suppose many literal truths that could later be disproved by science he dismissed a literal reading of Genesis as being necessary for extracting the genuine biblical truths required for salvation. For example, Augustine thought that 'civilisation' - not the Earth, but human civilisation - was 6,000 years old, but he would say even now that it's been proven to be older that doesn't change any of his theological conclusions that all could also be reached from an allegorical viewpoint.

    The texts specifically would be the one I quoted above 'De Genesi ad Litteram' (The Literal Interpretation of Genesis) and 'De Genesi contra Manicheos' (Genesis Against the Manicheans), the former being the more on-topic one but both talk about how Genesis is best used allegorically, even if it is also literally true.

    There's probably a Church Father that represents the allegory side better than Augustine, but I haven't read many early church thinkers deeply beyond Basil, Augustine and Ambrose (as well as some non-patristic influential thinkers like Origen, whose opinions I still think are useful).
     
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  6. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    And that was my hunch as well, which is why it was important to clear Origen off the table. Those whom we actually consider the church fathers were not into allegory in the way that Origen had been. Even the least literal of them (let's say St. Augustine) had a passionate intent to embrace the sacred Scriptures at face value; unless reasons prevailed against that. The latter part differentiates us from young-earth fundamentalists, but the former part preserves us from liberalism (ie. infidelity).

    We need to hold as much of Genesis as possible at face value, while allowing that some parts can be poetic. But which parts? That I'll leave to better minds, since my studies lie in a different direction.

    Let me just say this one thing: a part of Genesis which we cannot take as poetic is the existence of a historical Adam. Because without Adam, there is no sin, and therefore no Christ, and no Christianity. Furthermore, such a tenuous hypothesis as a historical "first person" enjoys a ridiculously strong scientific corroboration: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Y-chromosomal_Adam

    Thus, science is slowly catching up. A hundred years ago scientists were content to dismiss all of Bible, certainly Genesis, as a fiction, but then they discovered the Microwave Background Radiation, they discovered the Double Helix and mapped the human Genome. And thus were postulated the big bang, y-chromosomal Adam, and hundreds of other evidences that give atheist scientists terrible nightmares.

    For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance, he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.
    ― Robert Jastrow, God and the Astronomers

    Astronomers now find they have painted themselves into a corner because they have proven, by their own methods, that the world began abruptly in an act of creation to which you can trace the seeds of every star, every planet, every living thing in this cosmos and on the earth. And they have found that all this happened as a product of forces they cannot hope to discover. That there are what I or anyone would call supernatural forces at work is now, I think, a scientifically proven fact.
    ― Robert Jastrow

    Therefore, on the questions of Genesis, I am okay with there still being a few discontinuities between the Scriptures and the (currently incomplete) science. Let's give science another thousand years or so, before they finally gather more evidence and catch up to where the theologians are.
     
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  7. Cooper

    Cooper Member Anglican

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    This is another tough topic.

    For me, I believe Genesis is literary history, allegory, and maybe a whole lot more. Will we resolve this question here at Anglican Forums. Probably not. But I do look forward to the conversation.

    :facepalm:
     
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  8. Fr. Brench

    Fr. Brench Well-Known Member Anglican

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    For the most part this is a perspective I try very hard to oppose. Christians ought to be reading the Old Testament in light of Christ, not simply in their original, historical contexts, otherwise we're in plain violation of our Lord's instructions regarding how to read the Bible (cf. Luke 24).

    That said, the Church has typically taken these christological readings as additional layers on top of the "plain sense" of the text, or what we would normally call "literal" today.

    However, the "literal" meaning, or plain sense, of the text does not always equate to historical or chronological accuracy. The several blips in historical coverage in, say, Kings & Chronicles and the Gospels show us that year-by-year walk-throughs of history just wasn't the pre-modern style. So when we look at the ancient narrative texts, we shouldn't bring us the modern(ist) critical approaches that seek to pick apart what is or isn't "accurate." The point is the story of the history, even if the dates are off, the numbers are exaggerated, a generation is skipped, or whatever other stylistic devices end up being used.

    As pertaining to the book of Genesis itself, an oft-overlooked feature is the fact that it's a prologue to the covenantal material in the next four Books of Moses. It's like a giant preamble, outlining the relationship between God and Israel in a ten-fold scheme of "generations" or "origins", mirroring the ten-fold commandments to follow in Exodus and Deuteronomy. This framing device doesn't all our questions about "which parts" to take more historically and which more grainy in the history department. But it does give us a further layer of interpretation to consider alongside the historical and the christological - a covenantal significance.

    There's also the matter of mythology. Myths can be true stories or made-up stories and have the same effect. Are all the stories of the exploits of Jacob's sons historically accurate in the latter half of Genesis? Did Israel sojourn in Egypt for 400 years (Ex. 12) or 4 generations (Ex. 6)? Was Jericho really a walled "city" during the conquest of Canaan? Did the oldest patriarchs have incredibly long lifespans or are the numbers propped up (as in several ancient cultures) to honor the memory of the "greats" who came before us? Certainly, a lot of people have a lot of opinions on this, but between the covenantal (within the OT) significance and the christological (alongside the NT) significance of these accounts, the historical significance takes something of a back seat in a lot of cases.

    That said, like a couple other folks above, I think it is best to err on the side of charity and assume that the history is generally correct. Very few archaeological findings have ultimately disagreed with the biblical narratives, and our reconstruction of ancient history, especially prehistory, is always going to include guesswork. We might as well be honest and retain the Bible as a significant part of that guesswork ;)
     
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  9. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    I might also help to clarify whether the OP's question assumes either (1) inerrancy or (2) plenary verbal inspiration. Neither doctrine is mentioned in Art. 6 of the Articles of Religion, but many today assume 1 or 2 (or both), and conclude both that (3) a literal interpretation is the only allowable kind, and (4) that this corresponds to the external world, of necessity.
     
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  10. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Regarding the Bible, Article 6 states that the canonical books of the O.T. and the N.T. are authoritative: "of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church."

    Thus, we can take this statement from the N.T. as authoritative:
    2Ti 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
    2Ti 3:17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

    We have here on good authority that all scripture is inspired. We also commonly accept it to be the word of God. Put those two fact together: all of scripture is the inspired word of God.

    In the past, I had created a thread to discuss the inerrancy of scripture. In this thread the majority of posters were inclined to shy away from a characterization of scripture that included inerrancy or infallibility. My proposal to use definitions from the Chicago Statement of Faith was soundly rejected on the grounds that it was 'not Anglican,' (although since that time I've read that J.I. Packer, who later became 'Theologian Emeritus' to the ACNA, was one of the signers of that Statement). There is probably little value in covering the same ground, however. I posted the link to that thread for the benefit of newer members who were not around to participate in it at the time.
     
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  11. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Amen. Thanks be to God.
     
  12. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    Arguably, the phrase "of whose authority was never any doubt" is meant to contrast the shorter canon of the (Jewish) Scripture + the New Testament, with the Apocrypha/Deuterocanonical writings, since the Article immediately goes on to give a precise list of the former, 'canonical' books. The Article as a whole is, in effect, saying "read these books, and you will learn what you need in order to find salvation." It does not go on to specify whether every detail of and within those books is meant to be taken in a certain way. And the overarching purpose of the Article was, as we all know, to differentiate the Reformation understanding of the role of Scripture from that of Rome. Beyond that, it seems a fairly broad range of views is permissible while still adhering to the spirit of the Article (as well as its letter). But I don't necessarily want to open that can of worms if there's already been a separate thread devoted to it. The part about Packer is interesting. Thank you for sharing that.
     
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  13. rstrats

    rstrats Member

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    re: "All scripture is given by inspiration of God..."

    The trick of course is determining what is scripture and what isn't.
     
  14. Ananias

    Ananias Well-Known Member Anglican

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    It's not difficult at all. If it's in one of the 66 books of the Holy Bible, it's Scripture. There you go.
     
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  15. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Whenever we read anything written by anyone, we read it with the assumption that the writer is attempting to communicate facts and concepts of some sort. We also assume that, since the writer's goal is to make his facts and concepts understood (or else why bother writing?), he is doing his best to make them plain and to state them in a manner which he anticipates will be reasonably obvious to the reader. The writer would wish his material to be readily understandable to the reader (or as readily understandable as possible, given the diversity of readership). In most cases it would be counterproductive for the writer to obfuscate or confuse the reader, so the reader should approach the material with the assumption that the writer is making his facts or concepts as plainly evident as he is capable of doing. However, should the context or wording of certain passages prove themselves to be incapable or highly improbable of being understood by their plain meaning, then (and only then) should the reader actively seek a different meaning. (For example, if we read, "the fog tiptoed in on little cat feet," we know that the writer is waxing poetic about the way fog gradually and silently spreads, not that the fog has kitten's paws.) This is a general rule for reading any written work.

    When we read the account of God's creation in Genesis, we immediately recognize the division of "days" in which God created things in stages. Yet our sense of reason tells us that evidence exists to show the age of earth being much older than 6,000-some years (arrived at by adding up genealogies). We also read that the sun may not have been created until stage 4 (even though the creation of plant life is indicated during stage 3), so how would time be measured in our accustomed 24-hour periods? It is all somewhat jumbled and generalized in the first chapter of Genesis. And then we also see elsewhere that, to God, a day can be as a thousand years, so we can reasonably conclude from all this that the six "days" of creation may have been of much longer time length than the 144 hours our minds first assumed.

    When we read the account of God's creation of Adam and Eve, however, the narrative changes in character. It becomes more detailed, and much more susceptible to a plain-sense interpretation. There really isn't much in the account that forces us to back up and say, "Wait, this can't have literally happened in this way." While the Ch. 1 story of creation is very sketchy and 'macro,' the story of Adam and Eve in Chapters 2 and 3 becomes 'micro' and, at times, a 'blow-by-blow' account of what happened. The language employed does not suggest that the account is not to be taken on its face; rather, it sounds quite plain and evident. For example, it is safe to understand that God made literal clothing out of literal animal skins for them to wear; we can spiritualize this and see how the skins are representative of the blood of animals later slain sacrificially for the covering of sins, which in turn foreshadow the far more efficacious shed blood of Jesus Christ for the complete removal of sin guilt, yet none of this negates or takes away from the plain meaning of the event narrative. Furthermore, we have subsequent references to Adam and Eve and to these events in the scriptures, and the fact that the later scriptures refer to them in a literal fashion further support the plain, face-value interpretation of the narrative.

    There are some 'scholars' who, for one reason or another, prefer to believe that the events never literally took place. With this presupposition and mindset in place, they look for reasonings that would match their ideas. They assume things that are not made evident by the scriptures, and they come up with 'deep, hidden meanings' or some such. What are the effects of these new, 'more spiritual' or allegorical interpretations? First, the interpreter makes himself the arbiter of the scripture; he (in a self-gratifying and self-aggrandizing way) is able to perceive something 'hidden' in scripture that others have not previously seen, and this makes him feel (and appear?) incredibly wise and perceptive (to himself at the very least). Trouble is, different arbiters (interpreters) come up with different hidden meanings, which may be totally inconsistent with each other; that is the nature of subjective interpretive methodology.

    A second effect of such an interpretation is that it tends to weaken scripture overall; if a given passage's plain, unadorned meaning may be arbitrarily cast away in favor of a 'surprise' hidden meaning that the average layperson reading it would not have come up with, then by extension this may be done to any portion of scripture. Thus the average Christian no longer can feel confident that he is capable of reading the Bible with comprehension, for if any portion is so easily misinterpreted and the plain sense of any passage might be a wrong and meaningless sense, then the Bible no longer makes any sense to him. Under such circumstances the Bible may as well be relegated to gather dust on a shelf, as it is 'over the heads' of the laity. One may as well pick up a book on modern theology and rely on some 'experts' to tell him what it's all about. And this, my friends, is where I see the hand of our lying adversary at work, undermining the perception of reliability of the word of God by incrementally chipping away at it, verse by verse and section by section. If Satan can get us to stop believing that Adam and Eve literally lived and did what the Bible plainly says they did, then it is only a small step further to get us to stop believing about Noah and the flood, and then by 'baby steps' to stop believing this and to stop believing that, until the Bible has lost all credibility and the very story of Jesus' incarnation, life, death, resurrection, and ascension may be regarded as a mere fable..... which is precisely what a vast and quickly growing segment of the population now believes, thanks in no small part to "modern theology."

    This is why I have stated before, more or less, that if one persists in rejecting the most plain, most obvious meaning of certain scriptures for some small reason ("it seems fantastical," or "it was so long ago, and wise theologians speculate that it never really happened," or "it messes with the way I want to see things," etc.) then this way of looking at scripture has the same effect as if that person were to take scissors and cut out the section he does not want to accept at face value.

    If we reject the authority of the words and of their most evident meaning, are we not treading dangerously close to rejecting the One who inspired the writing of those words? Or at least casting aspersions on His ability to communicate? ("Uh, God, I know it says this, but surely you didn't mean it that way...") :loopy: That's exactly the rationale people use when they conclude that Jesus wasn't serious when He said, Those who believe not shall be damned. It also happens to be the rationale Satan used with Eve when he said, "You shall not surely die..." Incidentally, those who say Adam and Eve and all of that didn't literally happen are in the same camp as the serpent in saying "Did God really say...?" because if that stuff in the garden didn't take place, then by extension God never did say to Adam and Eve what scripture tells us He said!
     
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  16. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    One recent scholar who has written some interesting things about this is John Walton. He suggests that the purpose of the account’s chronology is to root the liturgy required by the Law in a cosmological setting: a “day” is evening (first), followed by morning - the alternation of darkness to light, echoing the first act of creation. And there are 7 days, concluding with the Sabbath, when God “rests”.
     
  17. rstrats

    rstrats Member

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    How do you know that?
     
  18. Ananias

    Ananias Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Because God is the author of it. Did you not read my post earlier? A Christian believes that the Bible is axiomatically true, because if it weren't, God wouldn't be God and none of us would be Christians. To enter the faith is to embrace the axiomatic truth of God.

    I understand that my response is a bit flippant, but then so is your question. What other answer did you think you'd get on this forum?

    A better question, given the nature of this forum, is this: why do you doubt it? Is it only certain parts of the Bible you disagree with, or the whole thing? Have you always had these doubts about it? If so, did you go to your priest or pastor and ask for clarification? If not, why not?

    EDIT: I want to add that critics always say presuppositional arguments are "circular" without admitting that all arguments absent First Cause/Prime Mover initiators are circular. The unmoved mover, the uncreated creator, the unthought thinker, all that. Axioms in all areas of epistemology are implicit when they are not explicit. Christian belief is metaphysics, not physics. If you're going to insist on epistemological rigor in metaphysical arguments, you need to show why your own axioms (for there must be some) are to be preferred over traditionally-accepted Christian axioms.
     
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  19. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    I don't find the arguments compelling. For part of my time in Papua New Guinea I had the opportunity to listen to Stories of Origen from different parts of the country. They were interesting, strange, and always full of holes and left many questions, and always there was a purpose to them in explaining some feature of life as the knew it and accepted it. The opening chapters of Genesis seem to fall into this category of literature, and they account for the ordering of human society, the presence of sin in the world, our role in the world as tillers and tenderers of the garden, the beauty of the world and enmity between peoples.

    One of the things I realised in studying the Epic of Gilgamesh from the ancient people of Ur of the Chaldees, was that there were some great similarities, and some marked differences between the accounts and the accounts of Genesis. Initially I suspected that there had been some plagiarism, but then I realised that as Abraham had packed up his meagre belongings in Ur to travel west, he undoubtedly brought these stories with him, and there presence in Genesis is a validation of the historicity of the Abraham account.

    History is not the only truth. Myth and legend can also be true, and most certainly they can be a vehicle of truth.

    The Genesis accounts of the Patriarchs have some very uncomfortable aspects, and clearly they are not tidy stories and often leave more questions than answers, yet here they are. Yet in these untidy stories of the untidy people we encounter truth.
     
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  20. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    There are definitely parts that could be taken as poetic, for example the fruit from the garden of the tree of good and evil. That may be a reference to some temptation, figured as a fruit, but potentially some human choice as such. So in that scheme, you would have Adam (actual) , who engages with a fruit of temptation (poetic).

    Another place we know for a fact that Genesis involves poetic language, is the shocking revelation that in parallel with Cain and Abel there existed people unrelated to them, living outside of the Garden of Eden all along. Right there in the first chapters of Genesis. Genesis is telling you, look there's more to the story than the literal words on the page.

    I'm convinced there are implied ellipses within the text, that need to be recovered. For example Adam's creation (adam = man) seems more poetic; but then there was a specific dude called Adam, that seems to be historic and literal. What if there was an ellipsis of, oh, 300,000 years, before the poetic Adam and the historical Adam?

    Similarly in the genealogy of the Patriarchs, I see no difficulty in adding ellipses there. If I were a Hebrew scholar, I would spend my research on studying the original Text and its the grammar, looking for places where the implied ellipses should be restored. That way, it may be possibly to completely rectify the timelines of the poetic and the literal Genesis, and allow for its timespan to last for hundreds of thousands of years, instead of only 6000.