Do you know that there are TWO different creation stories in the book of Genesis?
Genesis chapter 1 describes the creation event in the way most of us have heard it: God created the earth in 7 days, “let there be light”, yada yada. The second story, however, which begins in Genesis chapter 2, does not have that 7-day storyline, and instead says this:
“This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created. In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens – “. – Gen 2:4
“The day”, as in ONE day, or maybe “the day” as in “time period” – e.g. “back in the day”.
Additionally, in this second version of the creation story, the order in which God creates things is different from the first. Story 1 reports the order of created ‘things’ in this way: 1) separation of day/night, and separation of heavens/earth, 2) separation of earth/seas, 3) vegetation to cover the earth, 4) lights in the sky (i.e. the sun, moon and stars), 5) living creatures in the waters and in the sky, 6) living creatures on the dry land (including humans, male and female simultaneously).
“So God created man in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created him; male and female He created them”. – Gen 1:27
Story 2, however, orders creation like this: 1) earth, 2) water, 3) man, 4) vegetation, 5) other living beings, 6) woman.
Somehow, over the years, these two stories seem to have blended into a bit of a religious folklore that says “God created the earth in 7 days”, and “God created man first, and then woman second”.
But what the Bible actually says is: “here are two different versions of how this all went down – enjoy!”
Now, of course, these stories have some fundamental agreements – e.g. they seem to agree about the phenomena of 6 separate creation movements, and that God was in charge of the roll-out either way. But they also have some pretty fundamental disagreements – i.e. how long it took, the order in which it all happened, etc.
And while this is all completely fascinating to my inner literary-critic, it’s not really the point I’m trying to make here. The point I am trying to make, however, is that if we set out to read the Bible as a literal account of historical events, our brains are going to explode less than 3 pages into the reading material.
Or, in other words, THE UNFOLDING OF THE BIBLE NARRATIVE ITSELF DOES NOT NECESSARILY ENCOURAGE A LITERAL INTERPRETATION OF THE TEXT.
One thought on “In The Beginning”
If one doesn’t see the Bible as an living, organic document that is best understood when read with a firm understanding of the type and purpose of the text and with an understanding of the stylistic devices as well as the historical, political, regional and cultural conditions the writers were experiencing. Why is it so many believe God continuities to reveal himself through advances in medicine, for example, but the last direct message was when Revelation was included in the Canon in the mid 400’s CE? If that’s true, I am pretty sure he Gave up long ago.
Think of how much more impact the parable of The Good Samaritan makes when you understand the cultural situation at that time. The UCC had a slogan about a decade ago I still love: “Never put a period where God put a comma. God is still speaking.”
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