Since Darwin’s Origin of the Species in the mid-eighteen hundreds, Christians have been trying to decide how to interpret the Bible in light of such a “scientific” discovery. Evolution and millions of years are now supposed to be crammed into the Bible if we are supposed to take it seriously, or so we think. In order to take the Bible seriously in light of such a “scientific” discovery, the Christian church as a whole takes Genesis as either poetry or allegory. But we must always ask if we are going to do a proper interpretation of the text what does it say, what is the genre, and what is the historical and scriptural context. Here is a list to determine how to determine it.
- What is the genre? The grammar of the text shows a sequence of events using a Hebrew grammatical construct called the waw consecutive. The text also uses a marker for the direct object that is not typically found in Hebrew poetry. There is also a protagonist and scenes of actions God creating. This internal evidence shows that this is a historical narrative and is meant to be taken as history. Poetry in Hebrew has meaningful repetitious statements, chiasm, metaphors, and simile. These elements of poetry are lacking in the passage.
- What is a day? In Hebrew the word “yom” can mean day, time, or lifetime depending on the context. However, when “yom” is pared with morning and evening and a number, it means a literal 24 hr. day. So there is no room for interpreting the word day as millions of years. When one tries to interpret 2 Peter 3:8 ” With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day”(NIV), they are imposing a meaning that is not there in the text or surrounding context of the passage.
- What is the historical context? Moses is the author of the passage. He is writing to the nation of Israel who has just gotten out of the bondage of Egyptian slavery. he is telling them their origins as revealed by God. The Origin of the World, man, the nations, and specifically Israel and how they arrived in Egypt in the first place.
- How does the rest of the Bible interpret it? The context of scripture shows the the Nation of Israel and Jesus interpreted these events as real history. Jesus goes to the Pharisees and says that marriage was created by God in the beginning. That is why divorce is wrong. Jesus’ death makes no sense if he has to literally die for the sins of a figurative Adam. Moses uses the creation account to show why the Israelites rested on the seventh day.
With all of this in mind, how do we interpret Genesis 1? Genesis 1 is real history. It must be believed that God created the heavens and the earth in 6 literal 24 hr. days. God creates space, light, darkness, water, and land. Then He creates trees for the land, all the host of heaven to be sources for the light, birds to fill the sky, fish to fill the water, animals to walk the land, and man to rule them all under God. Then God rests. God is our creator and sustainer. We need to trust in Him and his Word that he created the world with. We do not need to listen to the myths of evolution and millions of years. They are unobservable, disproven fairy tails. We need to trust the creator. Great resources on biblical authority and disproving evolution can be found at answersingenesis.org and creation.com
I hope this has blessed you. Please feel free to comment in the comment section. Please no profanity or pornography. Please also feel free to look at the resource section for my book series on how to study the Bible. Lord bless you.