My Interpretation of Genesis 1-11

After essentially a year of studying this and praying and getting answers from God to my prayers I think I know what the correct interpretation of Genesis 1-11 is. I think that William Lane Craig is correct in calling Genesis 1-11 Mytho-History. I think that all of the events described within are real local historical events concerning real people in the ancient Near East but cloaked in symbolism, hyperbole, literary flair, and theological messaging.

I think that the characters are both real and archetypal and that though the events are local the theological points being made in the depiction of the events are universal. As for who Adam and Eve were as real historical people, I think they were the oldest common ancestors of the nations listed in the Table of Nations, the peoples of the Eastern Mediterranean, being hyperbolically mythologized as the first man and woman, and they lived in the Persian Gulf Oasis and ruined their easy life in the Garden (which was a paradise for hunter-gatherers like them) by experimenting with agriculture rather than living off the bounty of the Oasis. Their ruining of their hunter-gatherer lifestyle in that ancient Gulf Paradise is conflated with mankind as a whole’s fall from grace by choosing to live by our own definitions of Good and Evil rather than God’s. As I said, both historical and archetypal to humanity as a whole.

This is why Exodus and the New Testament referred to these events as literal because they happened, however, in their referencing these events they are interacting with them in the same way they were written in that halfway point between symbolism, theology, and history. I don’t think that ancient peoples would’ve cared about the literalness of these events and were more concerned with what these events meant theologically. If anyone has any questions regarding this feel free to ask. I think that this reconciles everything rather neatly. When I asked God about this he told me, “You are on the right track.”

He told me to tell you that that track leads through the point that none of that is the point, that it’s all part of a far greater and more arduous journey, but that you had to get to this point to get to that.

Truly? Or are you just being a smart alec? Sincere question. No malice intended. So I assume that you know the point? Tell me. Spare me the long arduous journey.

None taken. It’s entirely up to you if you think you’ve arrived or not. But if you look over that looming rise, guess what you’ll see?

What will I see?

You never been mountaineering?

No. I have never been mountaineering. Not many mountains here.

Ah, over that next ridge is another harder one.

I’ve braved many hard ridges and came out smelling like honeysuckle. I’ll be fine.

Glad to hear it. Let us know when you see it.

I think all of that was Klax’s playful way of telling you not to confuse progress with arrival.

This preview of a conversation involving several online luminaries (where scriptures are concerned) gives enough of an exchange (between Bishop Barron and Jordan Peterson) to highlight the importance of a continual wrestling with the text (actual engagement with it) and how much more valuable that is than treating it as an absolute “solutions manual” to be decoded once and for all. So many Christians start out thinking of it as the latter (perhaps not a bad place to start) - but eventually our continued immersion in it and in the consequential life experiences the Spirit then ushers us through, often cause us to see it more as a life-long companion to draw from and even contend with rather than an information codex which we can presume to “nail down” and thereafter inform everybody else what all the “correct answers” are. To keep the scriptures in that small mental box is to attempt to maintain only a milk diet from them while refusing to chew any meat.

The fact that your discernment from the spirit was that “you are on the right track” is probably a hopeful sign, so long as you don’t confuse it with “Now you’ve got this all nailed down.”

I agree as far as the mytho history thing goes. But I think the evidence also goes towards it just being purely fiction in every way. So when the evidence god either way, into the way I like the most or think it’s makes the most sense. So I don’t think the science shows where the hyperbolic mythologies kick off I just believe we know where they at least start. By that I mean I can accept some guy and his family survived some kind of flood. Maybe he built a boat and brought some animals. Maybe he just fled to a mountain. I just know he and his family were not the sole survivors out of everyone on the world because of a ark that kept him safe while the entire globe was flooded. So I feel like we have a good idea when the fiction starts, but not really sure where it ends if that makes sense.

It’s also impossible to know what and if a Holy Spirit is confirming our beliefs. After all they all do that. Yecist, OECist, IDers and so on. Even atheists have a version of it when they say things like “ I just know I’m supposed to do this or that “‘and chafe some girl to another college to try to keep their relationship alive.

I think it’s a slippery slope to say god is wanting me to do this when it’s outside of definite theology. Like I can say I know God wants me to help take care of the poor and needy because it’s in scripture but it’s harder to say I know God wants me to buy this boat and with this boat I’ll be able to share the gospel to people I may come across in the ocean.

The idea that it is mytho-history resonates with me, though I tend to lean more today to it being more mytho than history. Ultimately, I think its historical character is just an intellectual curiosity, but but the value and meaning is present in the ideas presented, not the historical nature of the characters. Blessings on your journey of study.

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Neither the flood or garden story is historical. Even if there was an actual singular flood that gave rise to the older Mesopotamian myths, Genesis 6-9 seems to come after, and these actual floods are nothing like what Genesis describes. It would have been very localized (e.g. Kish and Shuruppak) if it occurred.

David MacDonald: "The Mesopotamian strata, whether at Ur or at Kish and Suruppak, testify only to a local flood which clearly left behind survivors and significant cultural continuity. The Ur flood apparently did not even cover the entire mound of Ur.

. . . Flood events occurred with frequency throughout southern Mesopotamia, as the two separate early flood levels at Kish indicate. Even more so than the Ur flood, the flood levels at Kish and Shuruppak fail to fulfill the biblical or even the Mesopotamian literary descriptions. In the degree to which those descriptions are “rationalized,” any criteria for distinguishing between the biblical Flood and virtually any other flood disappear. The flood remains at Kish and Shuruppak are hardly imposing."

Genesis speaks of a universal flood. None of the evidence for any of these localized floods does the descriptions any justice whatsoever. There is no real evidence for the flood that Genesis describes even if localized:

A good article to look at: Was the Black Sea Catastrophically Flooded during the Holocene? – geological evidence and archaeological impacts. Valentina Yanko-Hombach, Peta Mudie and Allan S. Gilbert

For Genesis and the Garden story, this thread has a lot of info:

Adam has no more of a claim to historicity than Enkidu and Noah has no more claim to historicity than Utnapishtim.Genesis is recasting common ancient near eastern mythology to reflect Jewish monotheism.

Vinnie

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That is close to my position: symbolism and theology to be sure, but rather than hyperbole, there is simply a change in human awareness of what the world consists of. So no golems of dust and bone brought to life by necromancy and no magical fruit or talking animals. These are symbols representing elements of human life – some made clear in other parts of the Bible. And the world was conceived of as a table shaped thing because it was only a small portion of the planet for the writers of this text.

I think the characters are real and the events are local but with a universal impact. This is not because they are archetypal but because this really is the origin of humanity, because humanity is not just a biological species. We are also have a mind brought to life by the inspiration of God to Adam and Eve, spreading over the earth by human communication.

And I certainly do not think the story was about the change from hunter gatherers, for the story makes it abundantly clear that these events take place after the beginning of agriculture. Nor was it about forbidden knowledge, let alone knowledge of agriculture or ethics. Rather it is about the corruption of the mind by bad habits which destroyed the potential this use of the mind would have given us. And among these bad habits were ones which made our relationship with God do more harm than good. This is the one thing that can sever a relationship between parent and children. The result was spiritual death, and thus the need for both a renewal of the mind and the resurrection of the spirit.

One of the interpretive principles here is to maximize the meaning of scripture in the context of the Christian gospel. Excessive literalism (particularly contradicting scientific findings) and anything which is effectively dismissive of the text are both extremes which detract from the meaning of the text.

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