The Genesis Myth, Part 4

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, August 22, 2019 0 comments

by Steve Risner

Furthering our discussion of the reading of Genesis—more accurately the creation and Flood accounts of Genesis—there is a great deal more to say. This is the fourth installment in a series of posts concerning reading the book of Genesis, although I also wrote about it in January of 2016 in a post called “The Book of Genesis.” We've covered how the creation account should clearly be taken as a narrative of history and how that was the predominant way it has been taken for thousands of years. You can find Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 at those links. Charlie Wolcott, also a writer for the Worldview Warriors, has written on the idea of Genesis being a myth as well. You can find that here.

I've fairly completely established, at least in my opinion, that the Genesis creation narrative cannot or should not be read as Hebrew poetry. It doesn't actually matter if you want it to be poetry or not since this wouldn't impact the veracity of the historical facts, but the account of creation in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 have little to no resemblance to Hebrew poetry. In fact, it is written more consistently as a historical narrative than many of the books in the Old Testament that are obviously historical in nature (like Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, etc.). Charlie Wolcott mentions this in the above linked blog post but I'll quote him here:

“Some argue that Genesis 1-11 is poetic. However, there is a problem. In Hebrew, there is a very distinctive difference in writing style between historical narrative and poetic genres. The RATE Project comprised of eight years of studying radioactive decay and the dating methods involved there, comparing it to the Genesis account. One of their studies was a statistical analysis of the styles of verbs used in historical passages (such as Joshua, Samuel, Kings, etc) with poetic passages (such as Psalms, Hannah’s Prayer in 1 Samuel 2, Deborah’s Song in Judges 5, etc.) And what they discovered is that Genesis 1 in particular shows more verbs that were used in historical narrative passages than most of the passages analyzed. This can be checked out in the book or DVD Thousands not Billions.”

The case for Genesis having little if anything to do with Hebrew poetry at all is fairly open and shut. Anyone suggesting it is poetic (which, again, doesn't actually even matter to the veracity of the historical facts) needs to study a bit more. Genesis isn't Hebrew poetry, or any other type for that matter. There's no other example of Hebrew poetry like it.

I've repeatedly stated that Genesis 1-11 must be read as it was intended, or the rest of Scripture doesn't have a real/rational foundation. It must be read as an actual history documenting the creation of the world, origin of life, origin of sin (the Fall and Curse), and introduction of God's redemptive plan and the lineage of Jesus, God's response to a world heaped in sin, His promise never to judge sin a second time with water like that, and finally the origins of people groups and languages. Some will scoff at this but there is rarely an alternative offered up in response. There are far too many questions of deep theological impact that cannot be answered consistently if Genesis 1-11 do not represent a real history of the origins of the creation, sin, death, etc. Some of these questions would include the following.

1) If physical death did not result from Adam's sin, a) why did God slay animals and later require the sacrifice of animals so they would physically die in our place? b) Doesn’t this indicate the intimate connection between man’s sin and the death/corruption of all of creation? c) Why did God specifically mention physical death in the pronouncement of the curse if physical death was not what He meant? d) Why did Jesus die physically on the cross if the death described in Genesis is only spiritual death?

2) Why are Adam, Abel, Seth, Noah, etc. mentioned in lists of other people if they weren't real people? No one is suggesting the others in these lists (like those found in Luke, mentioned by Jesus, or in Hebrews) weren't real people. Why include imaginary people in these lists with real people? How can any of the history be taken as real or literal if the imaginary/not literal history is intermixed so readily and seamlessly?

3) If Adam was not a real person, was Jesus real? If Jesus is the Second Man or Last Adam, doesn't this mean He's mythological as well if Adam was? Did Jesus die physically to destroy something initiated by someone who never existed?

4) Why are events, places, and people mentioned with such detail and descriptions if they were not real? Why would God include time lines in Genesis if they were not intended to be taken as actual time lines? What would the point be for giving us such detail if the details were not true? For example, the exact day Noah went into the Ark is recorded. The exact day it started raining is recorded. How long the Flood lasted is recorded. The exact days he released birds, rested on mountains, and exited the Ark are recorded. The ages of many are given to specifically give us a detailed time line from the creation of Adam. God cares about times and events. He created stars and such to keep track of times and seasons. He tells us when the Hebrews left Egypt and entered the Promised Land. The details are a waste of time, especially those concerning time, if they are not real. They give us a sense of distrust of the entire story if we can't trust what's being said. It also casts a little doubt on other writers of the Bible if they reference these accounts as historical but they are not. This is even true of Christ, who referenced creation, the instigation of marriage, Abel's murder, and Noah. He mentions them sometimes to demonstrate something that did happen as compared to something that will happen. If the "did happen" is not real history, doesn't this mean the "will happen" cannot be a real event in the future?

5) Speaking of the future, if death and disease reigned prior to man being here and before man sinned, does this mean (because we can only assume Eden was not a real place) that when God "restores all things" to be like that time that there will be death and disease in His perfect paradise? If the Tree of Life never existed, why is He going to restore a time when the Tree of Life exists? Is heaven not an actual place and are its descriptions embellishments?

6) If God did not create everything in 6 days, why did He say He did? Not only does it state this clearly in Genesis but also twice as God Himself is speaking in Exodus (29:11 and 31:17). These Exodus passages are associated with promises. Are we to assume the promises are folklore or mythology as well? Wouldn’t the ancient Hebrews believe by reading Genesis and hearing His words spoken during the time of Moses that God created the heavens, the earth, the seas, and all that is in them in 6 days?

7) Why do we need a Savior if the sin nature isn't a thing since Adam never existed, the Fall never happened, and man wasn’t created special by God and in His image? The cross has defeated sin while the blood covers our sins. These are two different ideas: sin as a nature vs sins as things we do in disobedience. In fact, I've read some Theistic Evolutionists (and written about them extensively) who basically say that Jesus died to save us from being big meanies. That's exquisitely superficial and makes the Gospel more of a nice thing rather than an essential part of living and eternal life. Do animals need saved? Are they capable of sin? If man is only capable of that disobedience, when did that start if man wasn’t created special on the 6th day? And why?

8) If Adam wasn’t a real person, was the sin nature not passed on to his offspring? If God indicated that Satan (the Serpent) would strike at Eve’s offspring’s heel but her offspring (referring to Jesus) would bruise the Serpent’s head, how does this make sense if none of it happened and Eve wasn’t a real person? Who is God talking to or referring to? Were there other humans at the time that did not sin and, therefore, were not brought under the curse and, therefore, are not in need of a Savior? I would like to hear an explanation for this.

9) If the creation account, talking snakes, huge floods, Babel, family trees, etc. are not real things, what else in the Bible is not real? If these events are discounted by science (which, of course, is impossible) doesn't that mean ALL miracles (every single one) are not to be taken literally? Axe heads can't float, death angels can't kill the first born, no plagues were visited upon the Egyptians, seas and rivers can't pull back and stand in a heap while people cross them on dry land, donkeys can't talk, men can't pray over dry bones or dry lands and cause them to come alive or cause it to rain respectively, 300 soldiers could not beat thousands of well-armed enemy soldiers, food would not fall from heaven every day, water cannot come from a rock, men can't ride flaming chariots, a child can’t kill a 9-foot-tall professional soldier with a small stone, a man dead three days can't come back to life on his own power nor can he ascend into heaven on his own, babies can't be born to virgins, water will never turn into wine no matter how long you wait, crippled beggars cannot instantaneously stand and walk or stretch out their lame hands or have their blind eyes opened with spit, humans cannot foretell future events, etc. You get the idea. What other parts of the Bible are not true simply because so-called "science" has deemed them impossible? I’ve been told that Genesis 1-11 can’t be taken literally because they’re too bizarre. Honestly, I was told this. What’s less bizarre in the Scriptures? Truly, the entire Bible contains some gripping drama, but it also is filled with God working in the lives of human beings. This, by definition, is supernatural and is completely discounted by “science.”

These are just some of the issues that arise from not reading Genesis as though it were history. Of course, the Hebrews took it as history. Of course, the Jews during Jesus’ time (including Jesus) took it as history. Of course, the vast majority of believers for the past two thousand years have understood the text to mean exactly what it says. A child old enough to read could comprehend what this narrative is trying to say. Does it make any difference whatsoever if the text is poetic or organized such that it denounces false religions of the time? The truth is, most of Genesis was likely written long before any of those false religions were imagined by men. That’s for another time. Jesus warned those He spoke with that if they didn't believe Moses, they wouldn't believe Him either.

Tune in next time while we continue this series on reading Genesis.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.