Taking Genesis Literally.

More
09 Jan 2014 14:46 #132560 by steamboat28
Today, thanks to a Facebook page linking it, I found an interesting post on what "literally" actually means in regards to the nature of Genesis. I'm presenting the link here before I've read the entire article (intentionally), but the text that accompanied the link is something I can agree with:

I read Genesis 1 literally, but what I mean by that is I read Genesis 1 recognizing that the writer’s worldview is pre-scientific but his theology is transcendent.


Thoughts?
The following user(s) said Thank You: Kit

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
09 Jan 2014 15:53 #132568 by Kit
Replied by Kit on topic Taking Genesis Literally.
I was raised on this story, mostly hearing it from Sunday School. I had a HARD time steping back, trying to forget what I 'know' and I tried to read it as if it was a creation story from a culture I didn't know.... It really is a beautiful creation story. I think some of my favorite stories as a kid were creation stories across the world and even in fiction liturature.

I LOVE this guy's art work :D It was really neat hearing from an "At the time" point of view. Between chatting with you, and reading this, it makes me want to go back and read the Bible again with (my best attempt at) a fresh set of eyes and an open heart.

But the author makes a good point. In trying to reconsile the creation story as 'literal', it seems that we beat it into a shape to fit, and compleatly miss the wonder and beauty of the whole story. It makes me wonder how many other stories I was taught in the same manner.

One thing I'm curious about is in this quote:

Gen. 1:26-27 wrote: “Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness . . . .’”


Who is "our"? Or does God say "us" instead of "me" within the whole Trinity thing? I think I remember Him using "I" later.
The following user(s) said Thank You: steamboat28

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
09 Jan 2014 16:00 - 09 Jan 2014 16:06 #132571 by steamboat28

Kamizu wrote:

Gen. 1:26-27 wrote: “Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness . . . .’”


Who is "our"? Or does God say "us" instead of "me" within the whole Trinity thing? I think I remember Him using "I" later.


There is a split of opinion on this, and I'll have to look up the text in Hebrew to get anything close to a "definitive" doctrinal answer, but I've heard Jews state that it's a "royal 'we'", in the sense that God is speaking to Himself in the same manner the Queen is portrayed comedically as saying "We are not amused." The typical Christian standpoint is that it is a nod to the Trinitarian doctrine of three distinct persons in one deity. Technically, the latter includes the former, I suppose, but most Christians don't see it like that.

Later on, discussing with Moses at the bush (who is supposedly also the author of Genesis, according to folkloric accounts), He does say "I" (in the context of "אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה" [ʾehyeh ʾašer ʾehyeh, "I am that I am"/"I will be what I will be"]). This may or may not be related to the common Christian theory that the Christ may have been distinct at this point as "the Angel of the LORD " in the Old Testament.

Anyone with more knowledge of scripture or Hebrew is more than welcome to chime in, because I may be wrong (factually) on some of this.
Last edit: 09 Jan 2014 16:06 by steamboat28.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Kit

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

  • Senan
  • Senan's Avatar
  • Guest
09 Jan 2014 17:02 #132575 by Senan
Replied by Senan on topic Taking Genesis Literally.
I have a similar conversation all the time about the "literal" meaning of the Noah's Ark story. From a modern scientific point of view, it would be impossible for the entire Earth to be flooded for forty days. It would be impossible to put two of every species on a boat, let alone collect them all in one place. It also suggests that all humans are not only descended from Adam and Eve, but also again from Noah's family. Many would say this idea is ridiculous.

I argue that they are missing the point on many levels.

First, from the story teller's point of view at the time, any catastrophic flooding event no matter how localized would be difficult to explain and terrifying. The earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan could be used as a modern example. Without modern science and a world view, the Japanese living there would likely have a very difficult time explaining why this would happen to them. A mythology surrounding the event would certainly help them cope with the devastation. As time goes on, this story may be embellished or modified as it is passed from generation to generation. It doesn't mean the story should be taken literally. It means the story was likely a way to make sense of an event of such grand scale that the knowledge of the time could not explain it.

Second, many people forget that the mythology contained in the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, isn't meant to be taken literally. Most of the mythology is used to convey a specific moral lesson or encourage faith. Don't eat the apple or you're out of Paradise. Trust in God if he says "build a boat" and he won't lead you astray. A David can defeat a Goliath if you believe. Don't be evil or God will smite you with plagues.

It is exactly as this article suggests. It is the theology that should be studied, not the details. The writer of Genesis is seeking to explain the creation of the world in a way that makes sense according to the relative understanding of what he/she is experiencing at that time. At that time, it was entirely reasonable to believe that a god participated in this creation over a period of seven days. Had the neighbor been digging up dinosaurs and studying them, the story might have been different.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
09 Jan 2014 18:13 #132589 by steamboat28
Incidentally, I have a unique view of the traditional Christian scriptures, and as such, I have read Genesis in about 9 different ways. There's even a particular reading (my personal favorite) that showcases the four Classical Elements.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
09 Jan 2014 19:09 #132602 by Kit
Replied by Kit on topic Taking Genesis Literally.

steamboat28 wrote:

Kamizu wrote:

Gen. 1:26-27 wrote: “Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness . . . .’”


Who is "our"? Or does God say "us" instead of "me" within the whole Trinity thing? I think I remember Him using "I" later.


There is a split of opinion on this, and I'll have to look up the text in Hebrew to get anything close to a "definitive" doctrinal answer, but I've heard Jews state that it's a "royal 'we'", in the sense that God is speaking to Himself in the same manner the Queen is portrayed comedically as saying "We are not amused." The typical Christian standpoint is that it is a nod to the Trinitarian doctrine of three distinct persons in one deity. Technically, the latter includes the former, I suppose, but most Christians don't see it like that.

Later on, discussing with Moses at the bush (who is supposedly also the author of Genesis, according to folkloric accounts), He does say "I" (in the context of "אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה" [ʾehyeh ʾašer ʾehyeh, "I am that I am"/"I will be what I will be"]). This may or may not be related to the common Christian theory that the Christ may have been distinct at this point as "the Angel of the LORD " in the Old Testament.

Anyone with more knowledge of scripture or Hebrew is more than welcome to chime in, because I may be wrong (factually) on some of this.


That was going to be my next question: is it the author? :D

Shoot, when I talk to myself I tend to say "We" haha.

On Noah's Ark, I remember hearing there were exact specifications written in the Bible. Why would it be that specific if there wasn't an Ark? (I'm not arguing your point on the fact it is myth, but really am curious)

I read a theory once that said Earth now is not NEAR the same as it was then. That there was this thick layer of water in the air (or it was lots of water IN the air...). I don't remember specifics but they explained this as how people in the Bible could live for as long as they did, why the dinosaurs and plant life of that time could grow to be so large, and may be why carbon dating is so off in trying to date anything older than the flood (changed the amount of carbon in the bodies of living things...). They said that God took all the water from the air (and possibly the water under the earth as well) and dumped it. I vaguely remember that that was why the rain caused such a panic: it had NEVER happened before.

:D just another view! I thought it was a cool idea! I wish I remembered where I heard it from.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

  • Star Forge
  • Star Forge's Avatar
  • Guest
09 Jan 2014 20:21 #132610 by Star Forge
Replied by Star Forge on topic Taking Genesis Literally.
I know for a fact that the first Christians and Muslims didn't read it as literal history, but as allegory, as most modern Christians and Muslims do. I can't speak for Judaism, because it's so old that there is no record of its earliest days, but I know that almost no Jews today look at Genesis as literal history.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
09 Jan 2014 20:24 #132611 by steamboat28

Kamizu wrote: On Noah's Ark, I remember hearing there were exact specifications written in the Bible. Why would it be that specific if there wasn't an Ark? (I'm not arguing your point on the fact it is myth, but really am curious)


I'm a little strange, in that I think the entirety of the Bible is meant to be taken three ways simultaneously:
  1. Literally
  2. Figuratively
  3. Mythically/Poetically

This "literal" interpretation in the original post, for me, falls under the 3rd point (I finally read the article. I'm a bit slow today. lol). In the same way, the common euhemeristic theory of Noah's Ark (that the "global flood" was really just a massive overflowing of the Tigris and Euphrates, flooding much of the area, accounting for a similar tale in other cultures nearby at the time) is an example of the third point: a story written in a poetic way, interpreted mythically, to explain a real occurrence.

That said, if you take the first method--a literal perspective--of the story, you get all these neat measurements. Those measurements yield pretty amazing proportions for a watercraft, something that's been tested a few times and found to be relatively seaworthy (at least, according to various tests I seem to have a hard time locating video evidence of at the moment).

*shrug* believe what you want. It's a book full of words. It's allegory and poetry, figures of power and figures of speech. This place ultimately started from a 1977 special-effects masterpiece, so it's all in the eye of the beholder.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Kit, Senan

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

Moderators: KobosBrickZero