How do people reconcile NT author’s seeming to take Genesis literally?
I can see observing Genesis in its ANE context (Jonathan Walton’s cosmic temple, allegorical, or anything along to spectrum) and addressing those core questions and assumptions.
Do people generally also apply this to the NT writings as God speaking to and through people in their context revealing Himself and truth?
I understand the strength of evidence for evolution, not a global flood, different exodus, and other biblical events being theological in purpose and answering the question of how do I walk with God in my current context. It seems desirable and logical for the Paul and others to also take this approach as working on the inner person and for the kingdom.
The inspiration of the bible does seem to not correct fallible understandings of the world and is focused on relationship with God changing us (much less so and correcting imbalances and abuse).
That is a big job! And for the Bible to try to correct the fallible understandings of all people in all cultures and times would be an impossible task, so we are certainly in agreement.
We often say things like, “God meets us where we are.” That represents a common understanding of what is more formally called accommodation, or divine accommodation. God communicates in ways we can understand, and at times that means using our misconceptions and limitations to convey the message.
I really have no problem with it when we apply it to ourselves, but I get pretty conflicted when we look at Jesus’ words and wonder if he was limited by his humanity in the same way we are, dependent on his education and training, and communicating using what he had learned in life. Thus, he thought of the mustard seed as being the smallest seed, because it was in his and in his audiences experience, though there are seeds smaller. And he used it to teach that the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed.
I don’t see them as taking it literally but as authoritative, especially in the lessons that were conveyed. This is one reason that it is critical to grasp the worldview and literary type of any given portion because the lessons fit with those and cannot be understood apart from them.
Something to ponder in connection with this is the matter of John the Baptizer: Jesus said John was Elijah, a statement that plainly was not literally the case, but in his function John was “an Elijah”, as we might put it. So the important aspect of John with respect to Jesus was his function, not his literal identity.
Exactly. Thus while the Noah account isn’t about the entire globe, it is about the known world at the time and thus an entire civilization being wiped out, which is sufficiently universal to make the point.
The same holds for the Exodus, where the iv’ri already living in the Promised Land area apparently – following the archaeology – joined themselves to the thousands who exited Egypt; they were not part of the Exodus but as they were joined to the people of God that story became theirs and their children’s.
I guess the struggles for me mostly persist in a evangelical view of inerrancy and how it interacts with divine accommodation.
Sometimes the authors are straight up wrong (mustard seed, men with long hair, etc), but especially in the case of gendered roles and norms, it feels that a large part of cultural practice was accepted and one could even say codified (slavery, role of women and more) with support from the OT.
Many say that the words are inerrant and Spirit-inspired such that there are no errors and everything is timeless* (with certain exceptions). I have had this teaching from childhood and despite the many many issues within it, it is hard to shake.
I believe that Scripture is inspired and yet no in an inerrant way (1 Cor 2:13: words given by the spirit and explaining things of the spirit) and (2 Peter 3:16: even an admission that Paul teaches things hard to understand). I guess it is in that wilderness and lifelong journey with God that we grow in our understanding.
I look at 1 Tim 2:12 and think 2 thoughts simultaneously:
- blanket prohibition on teaching and authority of women over men (that is not well explained in terms of details and with some challenging verses before
- In a book focusing on protecting the congregation from false teaching, dominating and negatively teaching distorted things such as contrary to scripture (or just using it as an example) to address a specific situation that we can still learn from as the spiritual truth has authority.
This reminded me of the Orthodox view that all priests must have beards because it differentiates them sharply from women, something I find very weird, especially when it leads them to not even trim those beards.
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