by JoAnna Hoyt
If you ask a random person on the street what they think about Genesis chapter 1 you’re likely to get one of two responses. Either they believe it is an extremely literal historical account of how God created everything in six days, napping on the seventh; or they think it’s all a fanciful myth with no truth to it. I would like to propose another position. One based on genre.
A common misconception with the Bible is that it was written in the genre of a history book. This is believed by many, both Christians and non-Christians. This is not true. It contains history but is not a history book. Rather, the Bible is composed of numerous types of genre. The Old Testament alone contains narrative, lament poetry, pessimistic wisdom literature, parables, and steaming love poetry, to name just a few. Genesis 1 is no exception. It is not written in the genre of a history book, it is written in the genre of a myth.
Now before some of you attempt to lynch me or others start cheering, please hear me out. Myth here is used in the scholarly sense. By myth genre I refer to a story of the god or gods with no implication of whether or not the story is true. Now, as a Christian I firmly believe that Genesis 1 is a true story of the one true God creating all of creation. But even though I believe it is truth it is still written in a specific genre. You must understand the genre to know how to read it. After all you don’t want to take a modern proverb as a medical textbook, otherwise you’d eat apples when your appendix starts to hurt instead of going to the doctor and having him cut the sucker out.
I believe Genesis 1 was written to convey the truth that God created all creation. But it is also presented in such as way as to serve another purpose…
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