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#101 Chashab

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Posted 15 August 2006 - 10:08 AM

QUOTE(SDG @ Aug 15 2006, 09:49 AM) View Post

FWIW, the framework theory holds that the "six days" of the creation week are a literary structure in which God's creative activity is narratively organized. The theory is not that they are six literal days that could have occurred in a different order.


With respect to literal days, I don't remember anyone else yet quoting the part of the Creation story in this thread where it says:

"So the evening and the morning were the (first, second, third and so forth) day." Genesis chapter one.

Evening = Ereb in Hebrew, meaning "dusk" or "night."

Morning = Boqer in Hebrew, meaning "morning."

Of course, this says nothing about the number of hours in a day. But it does say (And I take this literally; I have no reason to not.) that a "day" was not unlike the day we are presently accustomed to.


#102 SDG

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Posted 15 August 2006 - 10:28 AM

QUOTE(Chashab @ Aug 15 2006, 11:08 AM) View Post
With respect to literal days, I don't remember anyone else yet quoting the part of the Creation story in this thread where it says:

"So the evening and the morning were the (first, second, third and so forth) day." Genesis chapter one.

Evening = Ereb in Hebrew, meaning "dusk" or "night."

Morning = Boqer in Hebrew, meaning "morning."

Of course, this says nothing about the number of hours in a day. But it does say (And I take this literally; I have no reason to not.) that a "day" was not unlike the day we are presently accustomed to.
Yes, literarily we are to understand ordinary, 24-hour days, evening and morning, sunrise and sunset (notwithstanding the absence of the sun for the first three days).

This is what is wrong with the "Day-Age" theory, the notion each "day" of Genesis in fact represents thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of years of creative activity (because "with the Lord a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like a day," etc.). The author is not merely using the word "day" to refer to "ages," he is speaking of days. Period.

In the same way, when Jesus tells us in a parable that a certain man had two sons, or when we read in Revelation that a beast rose up out of the sea, we are to picture a man with two sons and a beast rising up out of the sea. That is what the story tells us. What the story means us to understand as true is something else again. Does Genesis 1 really mean us to understand that there was evening and morning, evening and morning, evening and morning three times before God created the sun and moon and stars?

Incidentally, we cannot posit that the "days" existed as literal days, but in a different order. Genesis 1 clearly orders the days -- "the first day," the second day," etc. That is what the story tells us. We are to picture six successive days of one week, each with its own creative activity. What the picture means is the real question.

Again, please see Jimmy's overview for more info.

#103 Chashab

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Posted 15 August 2006 - 01:42 PM

QUOTE (SDG @ Aug 15 2006, 10:28 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
What the picture means is the real question.


Is this attainable, thus?

--content deleted--

So, how are we to determine for certain what is and isn't literal in Scripture?

#104 SDG

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Posted 15 August 2006 - 02:33 PM

QUOTE(Chashab @ Aug 15 2006, 02:42 PM) View Post
QUOTE(SDG @ Aug 15 2006, 10:28 AM) View Post
What the picture means is the real question.
Is this attainable, thus?
Well, you can probably guess from my repeated linking to Jimmy Akin's overview that I think he does a very nice job in this regard.

I think that Genesis 1 is most plausibly read as an account of the what of creation, rather than the when or the how. It tells us that:
  1. The world had a beginning (it is not eternal).
  2. The world is the product of God's creative work (as opposed to a primeval catastrophe, divine battle, or similar catastrophe or inadvertency, as posited by other creation myths).
  3. God is the maker of heaven and earth, night and day, sea and dry land, i.e., of all that is. (He is not just a desert deity or sun god, say, and he himself has no origin story and no peer, although he does address himself in the plural.)
  4. God planned the world and ordered and organized it meaningfully; it is a work of divine counsel, of divine wisdom.
  5. God's creative activity is sovereign (he speaks and it happens; he faces no obstacles, difficulty, or opposition in carrying out his plans).
  6. God created life, and it is his will that life should continue, should propogate itself and fill the world.
  7. Mankind has a special place in God's creative work, and a unique relationship to God himself.
  8. God's creative work is all good, and the world he makes is very good (not neutral, not evil).
Going on to Genesis 2-3, we see, inter alia, that God has not made evil and death, nor are they the work of an evil god, but they are the result of man's disobedience to God, etc.

In a word, the framework interpretation allows us to affirm pretty much everything that would follow from a literal reading of the text, except for a literal reading of the text.

#105 Chashab

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Posted 15 August 2006 - 02:57 PM

QUOTE(SDG @ Aug 15 2006, 02:33 PM) View Post
Well, you can probably guess from my repeated linking to Jimmy Akin's overview that I think he does a very nice job in this regard.

I think that Genesis 1 is most plausibly read as an account of the what of creation, rather than the when or the how. It tells us that:
  1. The world had a beginning (it is not eternal).
  2. The world is the product of God's creative work (as opposed to a primeval catastrophe, divine battle, or similar catastrophe or inadvertency, as posited by other creation myths).
  3. God is the maker of heaven and earth, night and day, sea and dry land, i.e., of all that is. (He is not just a desert deity or sun god, say, and he himself has no origin story and no peer, although he does address himself in the plural.)
  4. God planned the world and ordered and organized it meaningfully; it is a work of divine counsel, of divine wisdom.
  5. God's creative activity is sovereign (he speaks and it happens; he faces no obstacles, difficulty, or opposition in carrying out his plans).
  6. God created life, and it is his will that life should continue, should propogate itself and fill the world.
  7. Mankind has a special place in God's creative work, and a unique relationship to God himself.
  8. God's creative work is all good, and the world he makes is very good (not neutral, not evil).
Going on to Genesis 2-3, we see, inter alia, that God has not made evil and death, nor are they the work of an evil god, but they are the result of man's disobedience to God, etc.

In a word, the framework interpretation allows us to affirm pretty much everything that would follow from a literal reading of the text, except for a literal reading of the text.


Mm-k. I think I follow all of this and on first (fast) read agree. I clicked on the Akin link but certainly don't have time for that kind of reading now . . . And regardless of how a person parses Gen 1, we won't know when and how precisely . . .

Edit for emphasis

Edited by Chashab, 15 August 2006 - 03:00 PM.


#106 Plankton

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Posted 15 August 2006 - 03:37 PM

I need to check this thread more often. blush.gif

QUOTE
This is what is wrong with the "Day-Age" theory, the notion each "day" of Genesis in fact represents thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of years of creative activity (because "with the Lord a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like a day," etc.). The author is not merely using the word "day" to refer to "ages," he is speaking of days. Period.

In the same way, when Jesus tells us in a parable that a certain man had two sons, or when we read in Revelation that a beast rose up out of the sea, we are to picture a man with two sons and a beast rising up out of the sea. That is what the story tells us. What the story means us to understand as true is something else again. Does Genesis 1 really mean us to understand that there was evening and morning, evening and morning, evening and morning three times before God created the sun and moon and stars?


I simply can't find any literary clues that would suggest otherwise. Jesus' parables were obviously metaphorical; he stated that they had symbolic meanings. Likewise, Revelation is most likely metaphorical; it uses the same kind of "poetic language" that Daniel uses, and the prophecies in Daniel are specifically stated to be symbolic. But like I said, I find nothing to suggest that, apart from the framework theory clues, the account isn't meant to be taken literally.

QUOTE
: OK, listen. The Cambrian explosion is an impossibility for macroevolution.

No it isn't.

: But as far as I know, it is an impossibility, unless they've come up with an explanation for it by now.

There is more than one explanation at the moment. They're called "theories".


OK, I was wrong. There are evolutionary explanations for the Cambrian explosion.

QUOTE
: It just seems that throughout history, the Bible has been a more reliable source of truth than the
: scientific beliefs of the given time; I think that's important to remember.

And the Bible frequently agrees with the myths of its time, too; I think that's important to remember, too.


So what are you saying? That the Bible plagiarized pagan myths? I have read that a possible explanation for the similarities between the Bible and the myths of its time is that the said myths "evolved" from the original creation account.

QUOTE
So, how are we to determine for certain what is and isn't literal in Scripture?


Uh, yeah. We can never know for sure. It seems unlikely that God created plants before the sun, but if He wanted to, I bet he could. We'll only know for sure when (like I recall you said, Chashab) when we see Him face to face.

However, I think we can gain a pretty good idea from the literary elements and usages that are abundant in the Bible.

QUOTE
Plankton wrote:
: I have a feeling, however, that as Jews and personal acquaintances of Christ during His Incarnation,
: they would have got their facts straight.

What does "as Jews" have to do with any of that? Have you ever compared Matthew's use of the Old Testament to the Old Testament itself? He says there were 14 generations of Judean kings, but anyone who has read I & II Kings or I & II Chronicles knows that that isn't true -- not literally, anyway.

And then there is the tangled question of Matthew's relationship to the other gospels; most scholars these days agree that Matthew borrowed and revised material from Mark's gospel (and from other sources), but I don't want to assume that point of view here, since I know that some members of this board are skeptical of that theory (I believe MattPage is one such person, but don't quote me on that).

As for "personal acquaintances", Mark is traditionally said to have gotten his information from Peter; he wasn't there himself. And even if he was, memories can change after three or four decades (which is how long most scholars believe the gap between the life of Jesus and the writing of Mark was).


As to question of being Jews, all Jews had to study the Old Testament thouroughly. I know that they had to memorize the entire Torah. Thus, I tend to think that these guys got their facts straight; there are explanations out there for the supposed "inconsistencies" that occurr in the Gospels (one note; I realize that Luke was a gentile. However, he claimed to be a historian, so I tend to think he would get his facts right, too.). Also, I have yet to hear of any "inconsistencies" that are undisputed; as far as I know, they all have possible explanations.

And remember that the Holy Spirit was guiding all this; I highly doubt that He would have let blatant mistakes occurr in His Holy Scriptures.

#107 SDG

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Posted 15 August 2006 - 04:11 PM

QUOTE(Plankton @ Aug 15 2006, 04:37 PM) View Post
QUOTE
Does Genesis 1 really mean us to understand that there was evening and morning, evening and morning, evening and morning three times before God created the sun and moon and stars?
I simply can't find any literary clues that would suggest otherwise.
Reread my question -- you don't think that IS a clue?

"Morning" and "evening" MEAN particular points in the process of the sun's movement across the sky (or in more scientific terms the rotation of the earth relative to the sun as perceived from a particular point on the globe). The rhythm of day and night as we know and understand them presupposes the sun. To speak of day and night, morning and evening, in the absence of the sun is itself a major clue that this language is not meant in an absolutely straightforward way.

There are also other clues. The stylized, repetitive, singsong rhythm of the language itself: "And God said... and it was so... And God saw that it was good... And there was evening and morning, the first/second/etc. day," etc. Compare this sort of language to any given chapter in historical records such as Kings or Chronicles. Just as literature, Genesis 1 is written not after the manner of a historian, but "after the manner of a popular poet," as St. Jerome noted many centuries ago.

It is also important to note that the Bible is fully human literature as well as divinely inspired (just as Jesus himself is fully human and fully divine), and in that regard the historical records of the Bible are written the same way that other histories are written -- they are based on what people at the time saw and either wrote down or passed down orally for others to write. The writing is carried out under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, yes, but it is still the literary work of man, and as such there is no reason to see Genesis 1 as based, humanly speaking, on eyewitness accounts. Yes, it is possible to suppose that God related the six days of creation to Adam, who told Seth, who told Noah, etc., but the account does not indicate this and there is no compelling reason to take this view.

Rather, like Revelation, Genesis 1 can easily be seen as a divinely inspired reflection on events that no eye has seen and for which no one is in a position to give an eyewitness historiographical-type account.

QUOTE(Plankton @ Aug 15 2006, 04:37 PM) View Post
So what are you saying? That the Bible plagiarized pagan myths?
Why not say rather that Genesis 1 is in a way a divinely inspired commentary upon and critique of pagan myths, as well as a divinely inspired creation myth in its own right? Cf. my eight points above; note how the Genesis 1 account exists in clear contradistinction to pagan creation myths on many points.

#108 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 15 August 2006 - 06:34 PM

Plankton wrote:
: So what are you saying? That the Bible plagiarized pagan myths?

In some places, yes (though I don't know that the ancients would have had a problem with "plagiarism" the way that we do nowadays; just look at how the synoptic gospels quote each other wholesale, or the way Chronicles quotes Kings, etc.).

The first verses of Genesis 6 clearly allude to an existing set of myths about heroic demigods that is otherwise unattested in the Hebrew Bible -- yet is very well attested in, say, the Greco-Roman myths. (I addressed this in a paper I wrote at university 12 years ago on "Giants in the Bible".) And we have already mentioned, in this thread, the mythological sea serpent that is alluded to in some OT passages. Plus, some of the Psalms are very similar to earlier Egyptian and Canaanite hymns to the gods.

: I have read that a possible explanation for the similarities between the Bible and the myths of its
: time is that the said myths "evolved" from the original creation account.

I have heard that too, but I don't buy it. As SDG says, it seems more likely to me that the Hebrew creation myths are, in part, a commentary on the other creation myths of their day. Certainly the insinuation that ALL human beings bear "the image of God" is a radical departure from the pagan norms of the day, in which it was only the king who was said to bear the divine image.

: As to question of being Jews, all Jews had to study the Old Testament thouroughly. I know that they
: had to memorize the entire Torah. Thus, I tend to think that these guys got their facts straight . . .

Even when they plainly didn't? I mean, when Matthew says there were 14 generations of Davidic kings, he is just flat-out wrong -- at least if we are looking to him for historical facts. Now, there is a perfectly good explanation for what Matthew is up to there -- it has to do with 14 being the numerical value of the name "David" in Hebrew -- but Matthew is definitely not applying the OT "literally" there.

And then there are those other passages, where Matthew quotes an OT passage which refers back to the Exodus, and Matthew makes it sound like a prophecy looking forward to Jesus. Or where Matthew quotes a prophecy about a young woman giving birth to a child named Immanuel during an Assyrian invasion, and applies it to the birth of Jesus. Or where Matthew cites a supposed prophecy about the Messiah being a Nazarene, yet there doesn't seem to be any OT passage which actually says this -- if there were, then surely the NIV would provide a reference to this passage in the footnotes! Or then there is the passage where Matthew finally DOES turn literalistic, so much so that he seems to say that Jesus rode two donkeys simultaneously, whereas Mark, interpreting that same prophecy, simply says that Jesus rode one donkey.

There are all sorts of oddities like that in Matthew's gospel. Some of them are more significant than others. But a fair number of them do indicate that, whatever else Matthew might have been, he was not an evangelical or a fundamentalist -- that is to say, a literalist or inerrantist -- when it came to reading and writing the scriptures. And if HE wasn't, then why should WE be?

: I realize that Luke was a gentile. However, he claimed to be a historian, so I tend to think he would
: get his facts right, too.

Ah, but as I said in my last post, to understand Luke's history properly, you have to understand how Gentiles WROTE history. They didn't write it the same way we do. If I, as a reporter, invented a speech and put it in someone's mouth, I would never work as a news reporter again. But it was assumed in Luke's day that historians WOULD do this sort of thing, in the absence of transcripts or whatever.

: Also, I have yet to hear of any "inconsistencies" that are undisputed; as far as I know, they all have
: possible explanations.

Apologists are like Marvel Comics fans seeking "No Prizes"; they can always come up with ad hoc explanations. And some of those explanations are very weak.

: And remember that the Holy Spirit was guiding all this; I highly doubt that He would have let blatant
: mistakes occurr in His Holy Scriptures.

I would rather look at what the Holy Spirit DID than presume what he WOULD do.

#109 Plankton

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Posted 16 August 2006 - 03:56 PM

OK, I've been thinking hard over everthing, and I think that, in relation to the Bible being taken literally or not, I've come to agree for the most part with you guys (I'm addressing SDG and PTC here).

QUOTE
Reread my question -- you don't think that IS a clue?

"Morning" and "evening" MEAN particular points in the process of the sun's movement across the sky (or in more scientific terms the rotation of the earth relative to the sun as perceived from a particular point on the globe). The rhythm of day and night as we know and understand them presupposes the sun. To speak of day and night, morning and evening, in the absence of the sun is itself a major clue that this language is not meant in an absolutely straightforward way.


Yeah, I caught this one before. The main reason I adhere to the framework theory.

QUOTE
There are also other clues. The stylized, repetitive, singsong rhythm of the language itself: "And God said... and it was so... And God saw that it was good... And there was evening and morning, the first/second/etc. day," etc. Compare this sort of language to any given chapter in historical records such as Kings or Chronicles. Just as literature, Genesis 1 is written not after the manner of a historian, but "after the manner of a popular poet," as St. Jerome noted many centuries ago.


Also realized this last night when I was thinking over everything.

QUOTE
Why not say rather that Genesis 1 is in a way a divinely inspired commentary upon and critique of pagan myths, as well as a divinely inspired creation myth in its own right? Cf. my eight points above; note how the Genesis 1 account exists in clear contradistinction to pagan creation myths on many points.


QUOTE
The first verses of Genesis 6 clearly allude to an existing set of myths about heroic demigods that is otherwise unattested in the Hebrew Bible -- yet is very well attested in, say, the Greco-Roman myths. (I addressed this in a paper I wrote at university 12 years ago on "Giants in the Bible".) And we have already mentioned, in this thread, the mythological sea serpent that is alluded to in some OT passages. Plus, some of the Psalms are very similar to earlier Egyptian and Canaanite hymns to the gods.


Yeah, this all makes sense. I definitely wouldn't call this "plagiarism", though.

QUOTE
: I have read that a possible explanation for the similarities between the Bible and the myths of its
: time is that the said myths "evolved" from the original creation account.

I have heard that too, but I don't buy it. As SDG says, it seems more likely to me that the Hebrew creation myths are, in part, a commentary on the other creation myths of their day. Certainly the insinuation that ALL human beings bear "the image of God" is a radical departure from the pagan norms of the day, in which it was only the king who was said to bear the divine image.


I just realized that if Genesis was written as a whole, early pagan myths really couldn't have stemmed from it, because those myths were there long before Genesis was written. So yeah, this makes sense too.

QUOTE
: As to question of being Jews, all Jews had to study the Old Testament thouroughly. I know that they
: had to memorize the entire Torah. Thus, I tend to think that these guys got their facts straight . . .

Even when they plainly didn't? I mean, when Matthew says there were 14 generations of Davidic kings, he is just flat-out wrong -- at least if we are looking to him for historical facts. Now, there is a perfectly good explanation for what Matthew is up to there -- it has to do with 14 being the numerical value of the name "David" in Hebrew -- but Matthew is definitely not applying the OT "literally" there.

And then there are those other passages, where Matthew quotes an OT passage which refers back to the Exodus, and Matthew makes it sound like a prophecy looking forward to Jesus. Or where Matthew quotes a prophecy about a young woman giving birth to a child named Immanuel during an Assyrian invasion, and applies it to the birth of Jesus. Or where Matthew cites a supposed prophecy about the Messiah being a Nazarene, yet there doesn't seem to be any OT passage which actually says this -- if there were, then surely the NIV would provide a reference to this passage in the footnotes! Or then there is the passage where Matthew finally DOES turn literalistic, so much so that he seems to say that Jesus rode two donkeys simultaneously, whereas Mark, interpreting that same prophecy, simply says that Jesus rode one donkey.

There are all sorts of oddities like that in Matthew's gospel. Some of them are more significant than others. But a fair number of them do indicate that, whatever else Matthew might have been, he was not an evangelical or a fundamentalist -- that is to say, a literalist or inerrantist -- when it came to reading and writing the scriptures. And if HE wasn't, then why should WE be?


Well, it does seem that Matthew's Gospel is a tad odd. However, I think it's quite a stretch to say that Matthew wasn't an evangelical or fundamentalist - depending on your definitions of the two. An evangelical isn't the same as a literalist. I'd like more info on the whole subject though; I don't really see how you draw our conclusion from the evidence you give.


A few thoughts: I still tend towards young-earth creationism, simply because I think the scientific evidence is in favour of it. I can see how an evolutionist view is consistent with a Biblical worldview, though. The framework theory explains why there are two apparently contradictory creation accounts in Genesis. And, to really be fair, it doesn't REALLY matter from a creationist evolutionist standpoint whether mutations can add material to DNA or not - after all, God could have divinely added the material. However, it seems to me that this kind of speculation doesn't matter a whole lot; after all, if Genesis isn't meant to be taken completely literally, then God obviously doesn't think that the specific way in which He created is need-to-know info for us. As I said a Long Time Ago, the real "battle" shouldn't be between old-earth creationists and young-earth creationists - it should be between theists and atheists. Even if I believed macroevolution were possibe, I would be comprimising my intellect to think it could have happened by chance. So, let's put this debate in the bin, and go out and argue with atheists instead! biggrin.gif

Ha ha, no, not yet. Still a few things to clear up.

And a question: how does the Sabbath fit into all this? Genesis states that God rested on the seventh day; how can this be read?

I'm also considering the verses in both creation accounts that say that God created Adam from the dust of the ground, as well as how He created Eve. Evolutionary outlook or not, I think these verses indicate that Adam and Eve had a were created specially and separate from animals.

#110 Chashab

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Posted 16 August 2006 - 04:03 PM

QUOTE(Plankton @ Aug 16 2006, 03:56 PM) View Post

And a question: how does the Sabbath fit into all this? Genesis states that God rested on the seventh day; how can this be read?

Hmm, if one's a day-ager, this could be good reason to take loooooong vacations biggrin.gif


#111 Plankton

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Posted 17 August 2006 - 06:09 PM

This whole discussion has really opened my eyes to a lot of things; prior to my posting on this thread, I was under the impression that the day-age theory was the only way to reconcile evolution with creation, or more specifically, to not take Genesis literally.

So, I'd like to thank everyone who's participated in this discussion. It's really challenged (and changed some of) my beliefs, which I think is a good thing (provided the change is for the better).

Like I said on Page 2, a lot of Christians hold those who don't take Genesis completely literally to be heretics, or at best, worldly; and I have a feeling my new unorthodox stance (what DO you call a young-earth creationist who doesn't read Genesis literally? unsure.gif ) won't help things. It makes me sad; a lot of Christians (including myself, prior to my participating in this discussion) really haven't looked at this issue in depth.

Oh well. I bet that some of you guys take a lot more flack than I will.

One thing that's really struck me is how clear-cut the debate becomes when one adheres to the framework theory; we don't know how God created things, so the evolution debate becomes entirely scientific (as opposed to metaphysical).

This is what leads me to the conclusion that many on both sides of the debate have an ulterior motive for defending their position; many six-day creationists just WANT to take Genesis literally, and many atheist evolutionists don't WANT to acknowledge the existence of a Creator.

But the good news is: when the next Dark Age rolls around, nobody will care anymore. biggrin.gif

#112 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 18 August 2006 - 04:15 AM

Plankton wrote:
: OK, I've been thinking hard over everthing, and I think that, in relation to the Bible being taken
: literally or not, I've come to agree for the most part with you guys (I'm addressing SDG and
: PTC here).

Woo-hoo! wink.gif

: I just realized that if Genesis was written as a whole, early pagan myths really couldn't have
: stemmed from it, because those myths were there long before Genesis was written.

Well ... the question of when and how Genesis was written and/or redacted is ANOTHER one of those things that scholars have been debating for the past 200-ish years ... but we can save that for another time. smile.gif (Although it is implicit, I think, in the points I've already made about Genesis having two creation accounts and two versions of the Hagar-in-the-desert story, etc., etc. The reason material is duplicated like this sometimes, most scholars believe, is because Genesis is, in part, a compilation of earlier stories -- and some of those stories repeat elements of other stories.)

: Well, it does seem that Matthew's Gospel is a tad odd. However, I think it's quite a stretch to say
: that Matthew wasn't an evangelical or fundamentalist - depending on your definitions of the two.
: An evangelical isn't the same as a literalist.

An evangelical, no. But a fundamentalist, yes.

: I'd like more info on the whole subject though; I don't really see how you draw our conclusion
: from the evidence you give.

Well, you can get a taste of it, or another approach to it, in this essay from Books & Culture called 'Messy Revelation: Why Paul would have flunked hermeneutics.' An excerpt:
So how can we claim that the Old Testament -- and it alone from all the texts of that pre-Christian age -- is divine communication from God to man? It's an interesting question, but it turns out to be small potatoes compared with the next problem that Enns, professor of Old Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary, sets before us: It seems as though the Old Testament was also puzzling for Matthew and Luke and Paul. In fact, from where we sit, it looks as though the apostles were lousy at exegesis.

Enns gives us a number of startling New Testament passages that use the Old Testament by wrenching the original words violently out of context and even altering them. For example, Matthew 2 tells us with confidence that Jesus' trip down to Egypt as a boy (and his eventual return to Galilee) fulfilled Hosea 11:1, "Out of Egypt I called my son." But Hosea 11:1 is simply describing the Exodus; it is a passage, Enns points out, which "is not predictive of Christ's coming but retrospective of Israel's disobedience." In other words, Matthew is shamelessly proof-texting, in a way that would get any student enrolled in Practical Theology 221 (Expository Skills) sternly reproved.

Or consider Paul's use of Isaiah 59:20 in Romans 11, where he winds up an argument by announcing, "And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: 'The deliverer will come from Zion.' " But Isaiah says something quite different: "The Redeemer will come to Zion," he tells us.

Changing the words of Scripture to suit your own purposes? Paul wouldn't get past the first week of New Testament 123 (Hermeneutics) like that. He is breaking every rule of thoughtful evangelical scholarship, which holds that the proper way to approach inerrant Scripture is with careful grammatical-historical exegesis: painstaking analysis of each word of the Scripture and its relationship to other words, the setting of the sentence in the verse, the verse in the chapter, the chapter in the book, and the book in the historical times of its composition.
I think I cited a few other examples from Matthew in my previous post, too.

: I'm also considering the verses in both creation accounts that say that God created Adam from the
: dust of the ground, as well as how He created Eve. Evolutionary outlook or not, I think these verses
: indicate that Adam and Eve had a were created specially and separate from animals.

Anything's possible, but at the moment I see no compelling reason to believe that humans didn't evolve from other animals. And trust me, I would love to have a compelling reason to believe that.

: Like I said on Page 2 . . .

Side note: Pages are different lengths for different people, so what appears on Page 2 for you might not appear on Page 2 for others.

#113 Gravis

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Posted 18 August 2006 - 11:56 AM

I've been following this thread without commenting, and now that Plankton has changed his mind about reading Genesis literally, I'm all alone out here.

So what do we do with Genesis -- meaning, how do we decide what to take literally and what NOT to take literally?

Once we decide not to take it literally, are we not exposing ourselves to some dangers? Which stories literally happened and which didn't? Was there a real flood? Did Sarah really get pregnant in her 90s?

I realize this could open up HUGE areas of debate, but I am interested in some 'starter' thoughts to stimulate me on the topic.

Thanks all.



#114 Chashab

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Posted 18 August 2006 - 03:06 PM

QUOTE(Gravis @ Aug 18 2006, 11:56 AM) View Post

I've been following this thread without commenting, and now that Plankton has changed his mind about reading Genesis literally, I'm all alone out here.

So what do we do with Genesis -- meaning, how do we decide what to take literally and what NOT to take literally?

Once we decide not to take it literally, are we not exposing ourselves to some dangers? Which stories literally happened and which didn't? Was there a real flood? Did Sarah really get pregnant in her 90s?



I share your fears . . . as some have pointed out in the past, this seems a very slippery slope. And others will say it essentially let's a person "interpret" Scripture to their liking which, as we all here know, many have done and still do.

Alan's suggesting of taking all of the historical narrative literally is an interesting thought, but how do we know what is "historical narrative" in every instance? I'm not convinced of this . . .

. . . but I don't have any better answers. Can you explain why you take this position, Alan?

#115 Plankton

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Posted 18 August 2006 - 03:29 PM

QUOTE
I've been following this thread without commenting, and now that Plankton has changed his mind about reading Genesis literally, I'm all alone out here.


I'd like to point out that I didn't change my mind about taking GENESIS literally; only the creation account. I agree with Alan; I think that there was a literal flood (though I'm not sure about the forty days; that could be figurative, seeing as it's used a lot in the Bible), and that Sarah got pregnant in her 90s. Most of Genesis reads like it was meant to be taken literally; on the other hand, it seems to me (now) that the Creation account isn't, at least, not completely, due to the literary clues (I denied their existence before) that can be found, such as (from SDG):

QUOTE
"Morning" and "evening" MEAN particular points in the process of the sun's movement across the sky (or in more scientific terms the rotation of the earth relative to the sun as perceived from a particular point on the globe). The rhythm of day and night as we know and understand them presupposes the sun. To speak of day and night, morning and evening, in the absence of the sun is itself a major clue that this language is not meant in an absolutely straightforward way.

There are also other clues. The stylized, repetitive, singsong rhythm of the language itself: "And God said... and it was so... And God saw that it was good... And there was evening and morning, the first/second/etc. day," etc. Compare this sort of language to any given chapter in historical records such as Kings or Chronicles. Just as literature, Genesis 1 is written not after the manner of a historian, but "after the manner of a popular poet," as St. Jerome noted many centuries ago.

It is also important to note that the Bible is fully human literature as well as divinely inspired (just as Jesus himself is fully human and fully divine), and in that regard the historical records of the Bible are written the same way that other histories are written -- they are based on what people at the time saw and either wrote down or passed down orally for others to write. The writing is carried out under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, yes, but it is still the literary work of man, and as such there is no reason to see Genesis 1 as based, humanly speaking, on eyewitness accounts. Yes, it is possible to suppose that God related the six days of creation to Adam, who told Seth, who told Noah, etc., but the account does not indicate this and there is no compelling reason to take this view.

Rather, like Revelation, Genesis 1 can easily be seen as a divinely inspired reflection on events that no eye has seen and for which no one is in a position to give an eyewitness historiographical-type account.


It seems likely, to me, anyway that either this was written deliberately as poetry, something to not even be taken metaphorically, but rather to "fill the gaps" ... it was obviously written under the Holy Spirit's guidance, but He didn't seem to think it was necessary that we know EXACTLY how creation took place. There's a Bible verse somewhere (Proverbs? I can't remember) that says something about how God likes to hide things so that man can discover them. This seems to be one of those instances.

On the other hand, the rest of Genesis is written in a historical narrative voice, as opposed to the poetic language of the creation account(s).

And thanks for that excerpt, PTC. It helped clear some things up. (Gravis, I suggest you check out the link. I think you'll recognize the author.)

And here's that verse from Proverbs I mentioned:

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings. - Proverbs 25: 2 (NIV)


#116 SDG

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Posted 19 August 2006 - 02:00 PM

QUOTE(Peter T Chattaway @ Aug 18 2006, 05:15 AM) View Post
Well ... the question of when and how Genesis was written and/or redacted is ANOTHER one of those things that scholars have been debating for the past 200-ish years ... but we can save that for another time. smile.gif (Although it is implicit, I think, in the points I've already made about Genesis having two creation accounts and two versions of the Hagar-in-the-desert story, etc., etc. The reason material is duplicated like this sometimes, most scholars believe, is because Genesis is, in part, a compilation of earlier stories -- and some of those stories repeat elements of other stories.)
It is however worth pointing out that while the stories do bear evidence of drawing on divergent traditions, these divergent traditions have been skillfully woven together into a literary whole that exhibits strong inner unity.

The story of Abraham, for example, is not a loose assemblage of disparate, perhaps contradictory materials slapped together cut-and-paste fashion, like the chronicle of Nennius who reports having "made a heap of all that I found." It is a carefully crafted literary whole that draws on previous traditions as source materials, not entirely unlike the way the creation account draws on various preexisting creation myths including pagan ones, but then subordinates what it takes into a single account exhibiting a unified artistic vision.

One way to see this, for example, is in the carefully crafted chiastic structure of the Abraham story (with one possibly significant departure from the structure):
      A. God calls Abram to leave home; promises offspring (12:1-9)
        B. Sarai as Abram's sister (12:10-20)
          C. Abram and Lot - Sodom attacked, Lot kidnapped; Abram rescues Lot (13:1-14:16)
            D. Melchizedek, priest of God Most High, meets Abram, gives blessing (14:17-24)
              E. Covenant ceremony - God promises Abram children like stars; Abraham believes, is justified (15:1-21)
    X. Hagar and Ishmael - Hagar flees, is met by angel who prophesies about Ishmael (16:1-16)
              E. Circumcision covenant - God renames Abraham and Sarah, promises child of promise by Sarah (17:1-21)
            D. Three men (God/angels of God) meet Abraham, give promise (18:1-21)
          C. Abram and Lot - Sodom condemned, Lot imperiled; Abraham intercedes for Lot (18:22-19:38)
        B. Sarai as Abraham's sister (20:1-18)
    X. Hagar and Ishmael - Hagar flees, is met by angel who prophesies about Ishmael (21:9-21)
      A. God calls Abram to sacrifice Isaac (21:1-8)
Note the elegance of the symmetry, the parallelism -- with one obvious, glaring exception, the twin accounts of Hagar and Ishmael and the flight into the desert. Those two don't fit into the pattern at all; they break up the symmetry, stick out like a sore thumb. I wonder why that is? Hm, perhaps that is part of the artist's pattern too.

Note too that -- leaving out the intrusion of the Hagar-Ishmael pericopes -- the chiasm clearly centers on the two covenant accounts. Chiastic narrative structures often center on what is most important or crucial to the narrative. Similar structures can be found in other passages of the Bible, such as Noah's flood (where the center of the chiasmus is "God remembered Noah"). Back in my seminary days I worked out an incredibly elaborate chiasm with a half-repeat (a sort of Z shape, like A-B-C-D-C-B-A-B-C-D, but much more complex) in the accounts of Elijah and Elisha. Wow, that was weird. I'm sure I still have it somewhere.

QUOTE(Peter T Chattaway @ Aug 18 2006, 05:15 AM) View Post
Well, you can get a taste of it, or another approach to it, in this essay from Books & Culture called 'Messy Revelation: Why Paul would have flunked hermeneutics.' An excerpt:
So how can we claim that the Old Testament -- and it alone from all the texts of that pre-Christian age -- is divine communication from God to man? It's an interesting question, but it turns out to be small potatoes compared with the next problem that Enns, professor of Old Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary, sets before us: It seems as though the Old Testament was also puzzling for Matthew and Luke and Paul. In fact, from where we sit, it looks as though the apostles were lousy at exegesis.

Enns gives us a number of startling New Testament passages that use the Old Testament by wrenching the original words violently out of context and even altering them. For example, Matthew 2 tells us with confidence that Jesus' trip down to Egypt as a boy (and his eventual return to Galilee) fulfilled Hosea 11:1, "Out of Egypt I called my son." But Hosea 11:1 is simply describing the Exodus; it is a passage, Enns points out, which "is not predictive of Christ's coming but retrospective of Israel's disobedience." In other words, Matthew is shamelessly proof-texting, in a way that would get any student enrolled in Practical Theology 221 (Expository Skills) sternly reproved.
FWIW, Peter, I disagree with Enns's analysis.

Certainly I was shocked the first time I began seriously looking up OT citations from the NT and discovered how little obvious applicability the OT passages seems to have regarding to the NT context. For awhile I toyed with the idea that the NT writers were indeed wrenching OT texts bleeding out of context, effectively applying them by dint of their own apostolic authority in a new context wholly unrelated to their original context.

However, over time I've become convinced that the truth is quite otherwise. The NT writers are making artful and insightful use of the OT, use that is not at all "violently out of context" or contrary to the intent of the OT writers.

I was about to launch into a discourse on why this is so, but a cursory Google search just happened to turn up what seems on first glance to be a useful primer on the subject -- one that just happens to lead into the subject with the very citation from Matthew / Hosea mentioned above.

Check it out.

There are certain ways I would finesse the presentation given above, but it's a good place to start.

QUOTE(Gravis @ Aug 18 2006, 12:56 PM) View Post
So what do we do with Genesis -- meaning, how do we decide what to take literally and what NOT to take literally?

Once we decide not to take it literally, are we not exposing ourselves to some dangers? Which stories literally happened and which didn't? Was there a real flood? Did Sarah really get pregnant in her 90s?
Well, here's how I look at it.

I begin with the premise that the Bible is the word of God in the words of men, fully divine revelation and fully human literature, just as Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man.

Because of this, I believe that whatever is asserted by the human author is asserted by the Holy Spirit, and thus sacred scripture affirms what God wants us to know firmly, faithfully, and without error.

I also believe that in order to understand what is affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must first ascertain what is affirmed by the human author, which means approaching the sacred scriptures exactly as we would any other human literature, with full attention to literary genres, styles and conventions at work in the text. (Incidentally, no, I didn't come up with this stuff on my own.)

(This is why the literary unity of the stories in Genesis matters. Exegesis involves attempting to understand the human author's intended meaning. If the text of Genesis as we have it was merely slapped haphazardly together by a careless editor, that would become a very dicey proposition. We might be forced to conclude that the text of Genesis as we have it has no "meaning" as a whole, only the various meanings intended by the presumed authors of source criticism, J, E, P, D.)

In seeking to understand the type of literature I'm looking at, and thus the type of truth-claim being put forward, one of the things I would look at is the proximity of the human author to the events he's writing about. A memoir of events you saw yourself is one type of account; a news story about events witnessed by others you've interviewed is another; a record of stories that have been told in your community for generations is still another; and so on.

The Gospels, for example, were written within living memory of the events they describe, and record eyewitness perspectives on those events. They thus represent a type of account that can be accorded a high level of historicity -- subject to the conventions of historiography current at the time, certainly, but a reliable record of historical events.

The OT histories of the Davidic kingdom and the kingdom of Israel are, I think, in a similar position, representing AFAIK written chronicles that were actually recorded at the time. These too I take to be reliable records of historical events.

It is a bit trickier when you come to the Exodus. I do believe that the book of Exodus attests historical events, certainly, but I don't believe it was written by Moses, or by anyone in that generation, or for generations afterward. Exodus is a record of stories about the exodus that had been passed down by oral tradition from generation to generation.

Now, I believe that oral tradition is one way that God's word has always been handed down, so this doesn't make me skeptical of Exodus. Literarily, though, I don't expect Exodus to be as sober a historical account as Matthew or 1 Kings. I understand that the story of the exodus may have been subject to a level of legendary elaboration over many generations.

I am hardly an expert in this area, so any specifics I might mention here would be very tentative. I would expect, for example, that Egypt really did suffer plagues in the time of Moses, but the exact nature and sequence of the plagues as reported in Exodus might be somewhat legendary. I definitely believe that the burning bush account attests a real revelation of God to Moses, and that God really gave the Israelites a law to follow through Moses, though I would expect the account of that code of law as recorded in the Pentateuch to include anachronistic elements really based in later practice and understanding.

What about the stories of the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? Already in the time of Moses these would have been ancient oral traditions. I do think it's significant that Exodus reports that while the Hebrews had no name to call their God, it was understood that references such as "the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob" would have some meaning; when God says that at the burning bush, Moses didn't answer "Who?"

I believe that memories of the covenants of God with their ancient ancestors survived among the Hebrews throughout their sojourn in Egypt. The word of God was passed down via oral tradition. At some point, under divine inspiration, it was set down as human literature. Under divine inspiration, this literature would not have included anything that God didn't want included. At the same time, the nature of the literature itself remains what such a story would be after so many generations.

In my opinion, it would not be inaccurate to describe Genesis 11-50 as legendary in character, though still attesting real historical events. I believe that God really did make a covenant with a wandering Aramean named Abram or Abraham, though for example the specific form the covenant ceremony takes in Genesis 15 with the divided animals and the floating firepot and torch need not be historical.

To answer the question with which you began, Plankton, I don't know whether Sarah was actually in her 90s when she conceived Isaac -- it's certainly possible, and the account may be historical on that point, and I'm far from skeptical about it. I would expect that Sarah did have a child long after having been presumed barren, and that Isaac was rightly seen as a special, even miraculous gift from God, and definitely as the fulfillment of a divine promise. But the specific age given could be legendary.

Prior to Abraham, i.e., Genesis 1-11, I would characterize the literary form as myth. This doesn't mean I would say that there was no Tower of Babel, or no Noah's ark and flood. However, I would doubt whether we can make any specific historical determinations about whatever events might lie behind these texts.

Certainly there really was a fall, but I don't think we can say anything about where or when it happened, or what it looked like, i.e., whether it had anything to do with a garden, a serpent or a tree. Certainly there really were divine judgments like the Flood, though tempered by grace and providence, but I don't know about a big boat with lots of animals. Again, I'm far from saying there wasn't such a boat -- I just don't think that the text offers enough historical weight to be able to say that there was.

Certainly the covenant with Noah tells us something about God's relationship with mankind after the fall and even in judgment of sin, though the bit with the rainbow can be seen as poetic symbolism. I'm sure the Tower of Babel story tells us something important as well, though I'm not necessarily sure what.

I would not say that I regard the great ages of the primevals -- hundreds and hundreds of years -- as historical; on the contrary, I would view that as one of the indications of the mythic character of these texts.

That's about where I am. Hope that doesn't shake your faith in my comments about the creation account, Plankton! smile.gif

#117 Plankton

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Posted 19 August 2006 - 03:02 PM

QUOTE
To answer the question with which you began, Plankton, I don't know whether Sarah was actually in her 90s when she conceived Isaac


QUOTE
That's about where I am. Hope that doesn't shake your faith in my comments about the creation account, Plankton!


Er, yeah, for the record, I didn't ask the question. It was newbie Gravis. wink.gif I would agree for the most part with what you said; I believe there was a very literal Fall, and a very literal flood (though like you said, they may not have happened exactly as written; certainly both make use of common poetic devices found throughout the Bible).

Also, SDG: I didn't read the whole link you posted, but from what I read, it's talking about the same thing that PTC's link was; typology sounds like the same thing as the "Second Temple" method the NT writers used, and was prevalent in that day and age.

Anyway, all this helps me greatly; it's a fine line to walk between taking a stance like this and being a relativist, or saying, "Well, that bit of Scripture may have applied in those days, but it doesn't anymore," (e.g. the homosexual debate). Of course, Christianity in itself is a fine line to walk, so I guess this shouldn't come as any surprise to me. smile.gif

I wonder if this debate belongs in another thread ... it's been a while since we discussed anything truly scientific, in relation to evolution, anyway (I've still got loads of stuff to throw at people here! biggrin.gif ).

#118 SDG

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Posted 19 August 2006 - 04:51 PM

Oops, sorry for the confusion, Plank & Grav. (Over who asked the question. Any other confusion will have to be apologized for separately.)

QUOTE(Plankton @ Aug 19 2006, 04:02 PM) View Post
Also, SDG: I didn't read the whole link you posted, but from what I read, it's talking about the same thing that PTC's link was; typology sounds like the same thing as the "Second Temple" method the NT writers used, and was prevalent in that day and age.
I'm not familiar with the term "Second Temple method," but I do think that typology is important to understanding the OT in itself as well as understanding its relationship to the NT.

QUOTE(Plankton @ Aug 19 2006, 04:02 PM) View Post
Anyway, all this helps me greatly; it's a fine line to walk between taking a stance like this and being a relativist, or saying, "Well, that bit of Scripture may have applied in those days, but it doesn't anymore," (e.g. the homosexual debate). Of course, Christianity in itself is a fine line to walk, so I guess this shouldn't come as any surprise to me. smile.gif
Of course, it helps even more to realize that God never intended us to walk that fine line with scripture alone as the final authority... but that's a whole nother discussion yet again. smile.gif

QUOTE(Plankton @ Aug 19 2006, 04:02 PM) View Post
I wonder if this debate belongs in another thread ... it's been a while since we discussed anything truly scientific, in relation to evolution, anyway (I've still got loads of stuff to throw at people here! biggrin.gif ).
If Alan or another admin wanted or was willing to branch off the exegetical discussion to the religion forum, I'd support that.

Edited by SDG, 19 August 2006 - 05:03 PM.


#119 Plankton

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Posted 20 August 2006 - 11:08 AM

QUOTE
Of course, it helps even more to realize that God never intended us to walk that fine line with scripture alone as the final authority... but that's a whole nother discussion yet again.


Well, let's get into it a bit, since it is relevant to the current discussion. I know you're a Catholic, and I'm a Protestant, so we're obviously going to disagree to some extent in this area, but what other authorities can we trust besides Scripture?

Historical evidence and science, to some extent, I realize, but it's important to see that they are very fallible human resources, whereas Scripture, though obviously bearing the mark of human writers (and their individual styles and literary devices), is essentially God's work (not to discredit the writers who contributed to its compilation; like you said, it is a human work as well, but as 2 Timothy says, all Scripture is "God-breathed", and the whole thing WAS God's idea smile.gif ).

Edited by Plankton, 20 August 2006 - 11:09 AM.


#120 Plankton

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Posted 20 August 2006 - 12:21 PM

Sorry. blush.gif

But if this is an issue outside of the C vs. P debate, I'd like to know SDG's opinion (I'm not quite sure what he was referring to there).