Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Evaluating Truth Claims in Genesis

Some people try to dismiss Genesis as myth containing spiritual truth using elements from the pagan neighbors of the Hebrews. Others say it is misunderstood, as if the Creator of the universe was unable to communicate with us. With closer inspection, we see that Genesis is a historical narrative.

Regarding Genesis 1-3, some people say there was a communication problem between God and us, or that it was myth. A closer look reveals the truth.
Credit: RGBStock / Billy Frank Alexander
The idea that the early chapters of Genesis are mythological should not be accepted by professing Christians, as there are serious problems that result. (One of these is that Jesus, Peter, Paul, and others referred to these chapters as literal history, so by denying this, one is calling them liars!) Also, there are repercussions with the gospel message.

Read some classical mythology, then come back to Genesis and see the difference. Myths are vague and have a different flow, but the Bible is precise. Indeed, even the sequence of creation days is specific — a day itself is defined. Interestingly, many translations have in Genesis 1:5 less accurate by using, "...the first day". The New American Standard, Revised Standard Version, Christian Standard Bible, International Standard Version, and several others have this detail correct.

In The Genesis Account, Dr. Jonathan Sarfati wrote:

The days of Genesis 1 have an interesting pattern in the Hebrew, which is not often reflected in English translations. The first day has a cardinal number (i.e. one, two, three …), yôm echad (יום אחד) Day One. The others have ordinal numbers, which are used to refer, for example, to the order of runners finishing a race (second, third, fourth … ). But in Genesis 1:5, the ordinal ‘first day’ (which would be yôm ri’shôn יום ראשון) is not used.

Also, days 2–5 lack an article (ה, ha, ‘the’) while days 6–7 have one on the number but not on the day. So a literal translation of Creation Week would be Day One; a second day; a third day; a fourth day; a fifth day; a day, the sixth; a day, the seventh. One English translation which correctly reflects the presence or absence of the articles is the NASB. For example, for Genesis 1:5, the ESV’s “the first day” doesn’t reflect the Hebrew as well as the NASB’s “one day”. The LXX also reflects the Hebrew article pattern, except for lacking an article on the sixth day.1

I took the liberty of stressing a couple of points that are not emphasized in the article linked below, which is less technical on Hebrew. The main point is that the early chapters of Genesis are written as historical narrative, and God knows how to communicate.
Many Christian scholars have suggested that Genesis 1–3 was never meant to convey historical truth. Instead, they say it is like one of Christ’s New Testament parables. God merely shared a made-up story to convey spiritual truths. Does the Bible give us any clear guidance to know for certain whether Genesis 1–3 is a parable?

After all, as Christians, we believe that there is only one particular way to understand the Bible. The Bible is God’s Word, His perfect and personal communication to His people for all time (2 Timothy 3:16). Accordingly, we cannot carelessly read the Scripture any way we want. To rightly understand His Word pleases Him (2 Timothy 2:15), but to twist the Scriptures offends Him and can lead to destruction (2 Peter 3:16). God has placed a premium on grasping what He really said.

To read the rest or listen to the audio by an excellent reader, follow "Genesis—The Original Myth Buster".

1Sarfati, Dr. Jonathan D., The Genesis Account: A theological, historical, and scientific commentary on Genesis 1-11. MOBI edition, Creation Book Publishers, October 2015. The Hebrew may differ slightly from this book, as it would not copy well and I had to obtain it elsewhere on the web.

Labels

Stat