Genesis chapters 1-9 A Local Event

It’s my opinion that the events related in Genesis chapters 1-9 are a local event. In these chapters the word “earth” is used over 50 times, this is clearly the setting for these events. The Hebrew word earth can have the meaning of a territory or region of the planet earth. All the geographic references in these chapters are in the middle east, in a very specific region. This is the same region that nearly every other part of the Bible is set–the region in and around Israel. Therefore the flood of Noah is a local event, and the creation in Genesis 1 is the creation of Eden, not the entire planet or the universe.
I do believe that God ultimately created everything we see in the universe, but how?–when?–the Bible is not relating these facts to us. The “beginning” in Genesis 1:1 is the beginning of the Covenant that will come through the descendants of Adam.
This explanation is a very simple one. The words in Genesis are then literally true, but beyond the interference of scientific questioning. To me, this explanation makes everything in these chapters make so much more sense, and agrees with the rest of the Bible in so many many ways. I would very much like to hear others opinions on this idea and appreciate any comments very much. Thank you–God bless!

4 Likes

Well I agree in some ways and in others i don’t.

I believe that genesis 1-11 is a combination of fiction and nonfiction. I don’t think the lines are exactly clear where one begins and one ends. I don’t believe Adam lived to be around 1000. I don’t think Adam was cut in half and one half became Eve. If it’s taken as being literal then it’s completed with the genealogy and when things like agriculture and farming started. I don’t believe there was literally a talking snake.

What I do believe is that it’s real events being told through mythological, hyperbolic , and ahistorical. Same as how revelation is real events told through very symbolic fictional means. Like there is no 4 horsemen or personification of death or sea beasts and giant vampiric women.

So for example I believe that God called forth a man and a woman and arranged their marriage and placed them in a promised land “ garden of eden”. I do believe a miracle existed within this garden which was a fruit or some kind of “pro” Christ tree of life type deal. I do believe God used a natural disaster involving water to wipe out a tribe similar to how the Red Sea wiped out the Egyptians and so on. Since it’s mythological in nature I don’t think everything has a real world representation or was meant to. It was something meant to help set up the patterns of the Torah.

2 Likes

Most of the Bible reads that way… where the earth and the world is a region in space-time only a few thousand kilometers and a few thousand years in diameter. There is no notion of the earth as a planet or of time spanning billions of years. In that regional view of things the earth is a table and floods can cover the whole of the “earth.”

No… I still cannot buy into the idea of God as an ancient necromancer making golems of dust and bone in a garden with magical fruit and a talking snake. It doesn’t even fit with the rest of the Bible where some of these elements of the story such as the snake is treated symbolically. And insisting on such a literal treatment makes the story less meaningful rather than more so.

My thought is a little different in that I feel it is centered not on a local geographic area but rather on the Hebrew people, a somewhat subtle difference.

1 Like

Nice imagery, but necromancy means there was prior life in the body. Maybe you meant golem or robot?

And the snake wasn’t the only animal in scripture to talk. There was a prophet named Balaam and his ass spoke to him.

There is no such thing as either necromancers or golems in the real world. So there is no actual facts regarding either of them. They are just devices used in stories and games and thus it all depends on the game or who is telling the story. In the game called Diablo, for example, the necromancers have the ability to create golems.

According to Christian tradition based on the book of Revelation, the snake wasn’t an animal at all but the angel we name Lucifer, who in Gen 3:15 became our adversary or Satan. And just because Balaam heard his donkey talking doesn’t mean the donkey actually talked. God spoke from burning bush, why not from a donkey? Or perhaps some would prefer ventriloquism or schizophrenia as an explanation. I suppose you might prefer the Walt Disney version where all the animals talk. Very good entertainment for children at which they can laugh – not such a good source for understanding reality though, where animals don’t talk.

From Jesus we can see that God likes to tell stories where things are not taken literally, but where we are expected to use our brain to seek the meaning behind the words. So personally, I like to take the Bible a bit more seriously than these entertainments and look for greater meaning in them than that.

Agreed! It is the best scenario for explaining so many of the contradictions in the pre-history narrative! As one raised as a Young Earther, I always struggled with 24/7 creation.
A Special “Protected Space” for Adam and Eve is certainly in line with Revelation, and the imagery of the New Heaven and New Earth, which goes far beyond the physicality of scientific only cosmology.
I am in the process of writing a blog entitled Fight Club Cosmology: Round 1 John vs Einstein which will eventually get to the protected space of pre-history in later rounds.

As for Adam being cut in half… Notice the words “And a deep sleep fell upon him” is identical to that used for Abraham when he had the vision of the covenant? And the same words used with Peter at the dream canceling kosher foods in Acts!
Certainly meant to be a dream state story and not a literal act. It is only used where a great seminal change is made for a specific reason.

1 Like

I agree. But to me it can be understood as either way. Since it’s a mythology, and the belief of two beings becoming one existed, I tend to lean more towards the image is supposed to express cutting in half. That’s why it said flesh and blood and of the man. I use to try to push the idea that it was just a visit on. Even a few weeks ago in here somewhere I was bringing that up but realized , at least in my opinion, that I was just grasping at straws trying to make the store a bit more literal. But it’s not a literal story.

Our society has such a strong proclivity to accept a physical “scientific” explanation for everything. Even though we love metaphors, analogies, and mythology in music, movies, and fiction, we somehow demand it of religion!
I was already trying to figure out this when Walton came out with “The Lost World…” books which I breathed a sigh of relief!
Just because a religious narrative is couched in mythological terms, does not automatically mean it cannot be true in essence. Otherwise, physicist could never explain anything out of mathematics!

Faith is required where there is no physical evidence.

For me all I was saying is there since genesis 1-11 is mythological, I don’t have a answer for what is and what is not literal. It’s an ahistorical of people and events that we only know about from a mythological story.

So the most I can get from it is speculative loose history based on future events within the Bible. The things that defy natural history I ignore as literal. That’s different from a miracle.

A miracle is something unexplainable by science and logic. A miracle does not undermine natural laws when it can be tested.

But again. Since it’s a mythological tale, I don’t have any definite answers. It’s not wrote to be a guide or deep. It’s meant to be a short highly hyperbolic entertaining tale to accommodate the paradigms of that time.

1 Like

I agree the flood was not planet-wide.

I don’t agree that the two creation stories are literal history, as they literally disagree in the method and order of creation.

1 Like

Interesting idea, @Joe_Rich. I agree that it’s a simple way to remove many of the conflicts.

My main reason for not going along with it is that it means these chapters no longer tell our story. They would still have value – I still value parts of the Bible that tell Israel’s story, after all – but they would be one more place where I am reading another people’s story.

What makes Genesis 1–3 special to me is that, by contrast, it is our story about our world. It tells us who we are and why we do what we do and how we mess up what God has given. Rather than being a history lesson that tells us who to blame, I think the story invites us to point a finger at our own chest as we see ourselves in its few pages.

The story is told from the perspective of people in a certain time and place. That influences how they arrange and describe God’s creation. But even though the writers couldn’t see everything (and so didn’t spend time showing how God made bacteria or tardigrades or extrasolar planets), it’s still universal in scope. I’d rather read these chapters (especially the first 3) as a localized, limited perspective on the world and humanity at large rather than as an omniscient historical perspective on a localized region populated by select people groups.

1 Like

This is a great distinction, and I’ve have to agree with you, even though I can understand the desires behind the original question. I think identifying with the text is very important because, as I’ve been reminded of especially when reading about different cultures, most people groups have had their own creation stories, and over the course of millennia that amounts to an awful lot of stories. If this is just a story about the Israelites, then I think it would be difficult to read it as more than “just another creation story.”

Ok what? Can you site the verse? Thanks

I guess my perspective in this is to try to understand God’s actions. It’s a very big pattern in the Bible that God influences this particular part of the world, with the expectation that His influence will be spread throughout the rest of the world to all people. In that respect it is not the story of Israel. Yes it originates in this region, but the intentions are always for all people everywhere. It’s all one big picture, an old covenant that brought about a new covenant. Jesus–born, lives, dies and is resurrected (and will return) to this specific area of the world. He teaches, gives example and brings salvation, (in this same geographic area of the world), with the hope and expectation that these things be spread to all people everywhere by His followers. Part of the Covenant is the responsibility to share and spread God’s will and His word and His actions and His Gospel.
This fits the descriptions of the kingdom of God --like a mustard seed–something small that is sown, and hopefully will grow…like servants who serve a master who is not present. I think understanding Genesis 1-9 in these terms makes it fit into God’s pattern. That’s the way He does things–and you are right it is not our story–it’s God’s story.

The story about Balaam begins in Numbers 22. This part is Numbers 22:21-33

I think you have an excellent view that simplifies the relationship between the early chapters of Genesis and the rest of the Bible. It is a viable way to blend the real and imaginary elements of the early stories.

I take a more fundamental approach that goes back to what the Bible is and what the Creation is. Human beings had nothing to do with Creation. It came from somewhere and it is here for us to examine scientifically. Human beings wrote the Bible in an ancient language using a man made vocabulary of only 5000 words. To take a literal translation of Genesis as the only way to understand it is to put severe human limitations on God. That may be how the Hebrew people understood it at the time but it must be open to other means of translation or it becomes ancient fantasy.

A literal translation can serve as a template but specific words can be examined for expanded choices for translation beyond the literal. It becomes a scientific rendering for which ancient Hebrew would not have had a better word. The KJV already does this in the case of “firmament” and “sky”. I refer to this process as an epistemic rather than literal translation.

The first 2 verses of Genesis would be translated as follows: “In the beginning God created space and matter. And the matter was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the spirit of God vibrated upon the face of the fluid matter”. There would have been no other way to say this in ancient Hebrew with the available words. The Hebrew language had 2 words for movement, one means linear movement and the other means vibration. The rest of the story and others describing the creation process can be similarly rendered.

Obviously this is complicated and easily dismissed as fabricated but the Bible is worthy of creative thinking. God Bless.

Joe_Rich,
Your analogy of the Genesis story sounds logical to me.
What are your thoughts on the scripture that describes Adam as created from the dust by God, and Eve in part from a rib from Adam?
Literal or symbolic?

This topic was automatically closed 6 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

This is a place for gracious dialogue about science and faith. Please read our FAQ/Guidelines before posting.