The Problems with Bill_II's Idiosyncratic View

Continuing the discussion from If creation is unceasing, how are we to understand Genesis 2:1-3?:

I await the list of problems.

1 Like


You are going to have to state WHICH view is to be considered.

In general, it’s @Bill_II’s view that Gen 1-11 should be read in an entirely different manner than Gen 12-50, especially with respect to what can be considered historical. Nevertheless, I agree with you that he should flesh it out, even re-shaping the generalization I just gave it to be more to his liking.

@Bill_II, I like your chutzpah - starting with that title! You are a man worth appreciating.

@Bill_II’s view can be found in comments 122, 115, 109, 101, 95, 89, 77, 60, 54, 39 of the previous thread.

It would be clunky for someone to try to get his view in this way, but I offer them nonetheless.

Don’t currently have the time to fully defend the view, but from what I can see from the above summary (haven’t clicked looked through the thread to see the specifics yet), I’ve held a similar view to @Bill_II for a few years now. It always seemed readily apparent to me that the the first eleven chapters of Genesis were of a different genre than the subsequent ones. Obviously there are still similarities with regards to the long ages, but Abraham’s story feels distinctly more “historical” (in a modern sense, of course) than the stories that precede it.

I know many people who agree as well, so I wouldn’t call this view idiosyncratic in the slightest.


My basic assumptions that got me to where I am.

The Bible is inspired in the original autographs.

The process of producing copies of the originals was not inspired, but this isn’t a major problem as textual criticism allows us to recover the content of the originals.

The process of translation is not inspired.

The interpretation of Scripture is not inspired. There are many difficult problems associated with extracting meaning from Scripture. For one I reject any statement that begins, “A plain reading of X says…” And let me add the Holy Spirit can provide inspiration while studying the Scriptures but that is not divine inspiration in terms of formulating new doctrine.

Theology, which derives from your interpretation of Scripture, is certainly not inspired.


Actually not an entirely different manner. When I read Scripture I compare it to what science and history tells us. Genesis 12-50 conforms fairly well with science and history and needs small adjustments. Genesis 1-11 does not conform with science and history very well and the interpretation needs to be adjusted because of this. When you can take the literal history recorded in Genesis and come up with an age of the earth of 6,000 years you know you are taking Genesis incorrectly.

And as another example of my idiosyncratic view, I completely agree with Dr. Steven Collins’ work on identifying Sodom and even coming up with what destroyed the city. His dates don’t agree with the literal history of Genesis but in this case you just adjust the dates to match. I have also seen a video that shows Jericho was destroyed as recorded in Joshua just not at the time recorded in Joshua. To me this is not a problem.

1 Like

This thread was started to give @Mike_Gantt a chance to throw rocks at me. :wink:

It is fascinating to read about how others view Genesis 1-11. I am committed to a figurative interpretation of these chapters due to issues with the age of the earth, but like @Mike_Gantt, I see that saying “it’s figurative” doesn’t provide a single, satisfying alternative way to interpret those chapters. Were Adam and Eve real people? Who else was present on the planet? Were they all progeny, or were there others? Once committed to a figurative interpretation, it is difficult to call any extension of that interpretation idiosyncratic, problematic, or heretical.


I did not use the word “idiosyncratic” because I thought @Bill_II was the only person who held it, but rather because he described it as a conclusion he had reached on his own without reference to a published school of thought (e.g. “framework hypothesis”).

If you are aware of a label that others have used to describe this view, it would be helpful to our discussion to know what it is. (I invite anyone else reading this to weigh in on this point as well.) One of my limitations in understanding @Bill_II has been my inability to check a published source for details about the view. Thus you see my “clarifying questions” in the previous thread. And while those questions may have seemed voluminous to him, they were not nearly as many as my curiosity was producing. I restrained myself because I didn’t want to be too digressive in that thread. In this thread I expect I’ll end up asking some of those unasked questions.


Here’s the list of problems you asked for. I do not present these as collectively exhaustive or mutually exclusive. In other words, there may be omissions and there may be redundancies. This is just what came most quickly to mind when I asked myself, “What was I thinking when I told @Bill_II that his view had problems which prevented me from embracing his view?” I expect I’ll be able to present a better list at the end of our discussion than I can now. Who knows? Maybe by then I’ll have no list at all. :slight_smile:

  • Seems to be ad hoc solution to solve age of the earth issues
  • “History v Literal History” feels like an artificial and arbitary distinction
  • Conflicts with the view of Gen 1-11 held by other authors of Scripture, most notably Jesus
  • Calling Gen 1-11 “figurative” is vague; need a fuller description of this “genre”
  • Where else is this Gen 1-11 genre employed…inside and outside of Scripture?
  • Is not giving sufficient interpretive guidance; shuts off more interpretation than it opens up
  • Does not provide a clear and consistent way to interpret; lends itself to interpretive abuse
  • Figurative interpretation of parts of Gen 1-11 has always existed, what exactly is new here?
  • Sounds like a “hunting licence” to kill off any interpretation which modern science contradicts



I would say “not necessarily inspired” or “not generally inspired” because I wouldn’t want to rule out the work of the Holy Spirit in a translator’s life and work any more than I would want to rule it out in the life and work of a scientist or school teacher or farmer.

See my qualification on “the process of translation” just above.

Sometimes. Other times, there can be no denying the intended meaning. For example, no one thinks that the New Testament declares someone other than Jesus to be Lord.

I’m not as dismissive of the statement as you are, but I seldom, if ever, use it myself, and while I think it’s an acceptable way for someone to raise an issue, I don’t think it’s an effective way to settle an issue.

I might agree with this statement and I might not; I just don’t fully understand it. I suppose its meaning turns on your definition of “new” and “doctrine.”

See my comments on “the process of translation” above. I think of theology as the body of man’s thoughts about God; the more of God’s thoughts we can make a part of it, the better. Therefore, I don’t rule out the possibility that a theological thought can be inspired.

I hope this demonstrates why I said I shared your assumptions in general terms and would only vary in some particulars.

I’m not here to throw rocks - just to identify and explain the problems I see with this view.

These sentences capture one of the things that makes me most uncomfortable with your view. It sounds as if the changing and conflicting thoughts of human beings are going to set the boundaries for God’s unchanging and unconflicted thoughts instead of the other way around. (By the way, I do not insist that we can always properly understand God’s thoughts, but I do insist that our own thoughts, whether about science or history, cannot be considered eternally fixed and completely reliable.)

With this logic you could deny practically every miracle in the Bible, including Christ’s resurrection. (Note that I said “could,” not “would.”) I am not insisting that the world is 6,000 years old, but to rule out that possibility because it sounds ridiculous is like ruling out the possibility that someone can walk on water, or make a blind man see, or rise from the dead, just because those things may sound ridiculous.

On the one hand, it’s helpful to me when you apply your view outside of Gen 1-11 because it gives me more insight to your view. On the other hand, it confuses me because it seems that you are using some basis for your view other than the different literary style of Gen 1-11 - unless you are saying that “the Gen 1-11 literary style” shows up on occasion in other parts of Scripture (in which case it leaves me wondering how a person who cannot read Hebrew can know how to demarcate them in his English Bible). As you can see, I’m still struggling to have a firm grasp of your view.

A quick response this morning with regards to your second bullet point (I didn’t find much to object to specifically in your reply to me, but it’s early here in my neck of the woods).

It’s helpful to note that “history” as we know it didn’t really exist until at least Herodotus. There’s obviously a lot to unpack there and I know it’s incredibly vague. A book you may find helpful is On the Reliability of the Old Testament by K.A. Kitchen, one of the world’s premiere egyptologists and a devout Christian, to boot! He approaches the text as an archaeologist and historian rather than as a believer or OT scholar.

His main point with regards to early Genesis is that it has a strong sense of mythologized history. Namely, that there is a kernel of historical truth to the tales being told but they are embellished for theological reasons. It’s a helpful book, as he keeps in check both the literalists and the skeptics. His conclusions on Genesis 1-11 are sketchy, but instructive.

1 Like

Most people’s doctrine of inspiration is what their idea of the authority of Scripture hangs on. Although I completely agree that the Spirit can/should be at work in the process of translation, interpretation, and theology formation, I don’t think any one can point to their translation or interpretation or theology and claim it is from God in some kind of ultimately authoritative way that can’t be questioned. I think maybe that is what @Bill_II is getting at with the distinction.

1 Like


Your objection (above) seems to presume that the findings of modern science is some kind of Alternate Reality which can be validly ignored.

This is one of the big reasons that Creationism is not welcomed into the public schools.

As for @Bill_II’s approach… he (and many others like him) hope to perfect an interpretation that acknowledged the eye-witness realities of Science while preserving as much of the message of the Gospel as possible.

I could feel more comfortable about Kitchen’s main point if I were to observe Jesus making the same sort of distinction.

Agreed…except in those cases where support can be found in the Scriptures, for they are unquestionably inspired.

Nevertheless, I spend no time trying to go around and decide which translations, interpretations, or theologies are or are not inspired. I just want to stay aware that God is active and present in His creation and I don’t want to ever find myself thinking He cannot possibly be involved in certain situations lest I end up as blind as the Pharisees.

No, I just think that as the scientist observes realities of the natural world so the exegete observes realities of biblical text. Both are interpreting what they see.