Genesis 1: History or Myth?

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Genesis 1

History or Myth?

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To excuse the account of creation in Genesis 1, some attempt to explain it away as poetry rather than literal history. They call it "the hymn to creation," although this explanation is not supported in Scripture.

Genesis 1 was not written in poetic form. Conservative scholars have pointed out all of Genesis, from chapters 1 through 50, is history written in the same narrative form.

In his Introduction to the Old Testament, Edward Young states about the first chapter of Genesis: "We are not to regard the chapter as the reworking by the Priestly School of a myth that was common to ancient tradition. Rather, the chapter is sober history. Although Genesis does not purport to be a textbook of science, nevertheless, when it touches upon scientific subjects, it is accurate" (1964, p. 49, emphasis added).

When poetry is used in the Bible, it is clear that it is poetry. For instance, in Genesis 4:23-24, Lamech's saying is in poetic form and is set off as such in most Bible versions—yet Genesis 1 is not. The books of Job and the Psalms are written in poetic style and are noted as such. However, Genesis 1 is written in a narrative style, which continues throughout the book. It describes the creation in the same style as the account of Abraham in chapter 12.

If we arbitrarily attribute an allegorical, nonliteral style to Genesis 1—when it is not written in this form—then what is to stop anyone from discounting other portions of Genesis or the Bible in the same way? Ultimately anything can be dismissed as allegory, as was done by some of the misguided early church fathers and in more recent years by liberal critics of the Bible.

Both grammar and style show that Genesis 1 was not written as poetry. Genesis 1 should be taken at face value as the rest of the Scriptures. GN

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