Thursday, November 12, 2009

What happens if you take Genesis 1 as semi poetic

If you happen to study the issue of how a christian is to interpret Genesis 1 you will no doubt find a small number of people who take the genre of Genesis 1 to be semi poetic.
I actually read yesterday on the net that Rob Bell takes the even stronger position of calling it poetic, even though most commentaries point out that it is certainly not Hewbrew poetry as found for example in the Psalms. Have a read of Wenham's Commentary on Genesis 1-15 where this is addressed.
But a few take the supposed lesser position of calling it semi poetic.
Now even though I don't believe it can be taken as semi poetic, after all, finding a few repetitive phrases or even a triadic structure that some see in parallel days of 1&4; 2&5; 3&6 doesn't make something semi poetic, let's for a moment assume they are right and see what follows from taking it that way.
If it is semi poetic then day, morning and evening do not function in the specific and clear way they seem to. Indeed as one advocate of this approach says for example about the creation of Eve from Adam's rib, this is just "a wonderful literary expression of the closeness between the sexes." In that case everything in Genesis 1 is not to be taken literally but poetically, even though it is asserted that this does not deny that Genesis 1 is historical.

Given all that we now meet a methodological problem in that when they get to 1:26f they suddenly switch hermeneutical horses and call that literal, not poetic since they still want to claim man is made in the image of God.
What this tells me is that this issue is very much a hermeneutical issue. And what's more, proponents of the semi poetic view are being arbitrary in their taking of Genesis 1 as semi poetic.
And that is totally irrespective of having to address the issue of the whole nature of poetry being somewhat subjective.
This is a very serious and difficult problem for those who advocate taking Genesis 1 as semi poetic and it is something they have to deal with.

What do you think?

In Christ,


Rob Corner said...

Check this article

Gary Wearne said...

Rob's link is very helpful. Have a read of it.
One major point it makes is that antithesis is found in Scripture. For examle, that the antithesis of right is wrong and so on. Likewise it is impossible for a person when intepreting Scripture to hold two contradictory notions as both true, which is what people are doing when they adhere to evolution and 6 literal day creation as both true.

The second thing which I found helpful is something which follows from the articles comment that "Theistic evolutionists are comfortable with physical death and suffering in the world before sin yet this flatly contradicts Romans 5 verse 12 and the perfect “very good” creation of Genesis chapter 1. It also makes nonsense out of the coming restoration, to a sinless, deathless paradise, through the removal of the Adamic Curse (Rev. 22:3)."
Now no matter how you understand the Isaiah passage - whether amill, or premill, both would say that the fall of Genesis 3introduced a problem between animals in the animal Kingdom. So that when it predicts a restoration in which "the Lion lays down with the lamb", it is acknowledging that the fall introduced animosity between the two - and as we know lions eat lambs!
Perhaps if one argued this more clearly it will be another implication of the literal creation / fall / death scenario?

Gary Wearne said...

Ok let me fix up the obvious error in my quote.
Isaiah 11:6 says "the wolf live with the lamb and the leopard lay down with the goat."
That will teach me to talk of the top of my head :)