Does a literal interpretation of Genesis matter?

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by TheBibleSender, Jul 29, 2002.

  1. TheBibleSender

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  2. Daniel David

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    Only if salvation matters.
     
  3. Rev. Joshua

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  4. Johnv

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    I think a Spirit-filled interpretation matters. All others are secondary.
     
  5. Helen

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    First of all, there is no such thing as a 'literal interpretation.' I guess if there is any phrase that has come to bug me in this 'debate', it is that one. One either reads something for the literal meaning or one interprets it; you just can't have it both ways!

    Genesis is not allegorical, poetic, mythological, or anything else other than straight history as presented by eyewitnesses. This is how it presents itself. It needs to be judged on its own terms, not on terms thrust upon it by people who are trying to force fit it into some manmade paradigm.

    Accept it for what it is or reject it. That is the choice. Twisting it around and reinterpreting it is rejecting it for what it claims to be: straightforward historical material.
     
  6. just-want-peace

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    Rom 3:4 Let God be true, and every man a liar.

    OOPS!!!Forgot about all the "wisdom, advanced education, and scholarly PHD's" we have today that God did not have available when He inspired His word!

    Proper quote should be: "Let God be true, and every man a liar, 'cept sometimes when logic tells us that God did not mean exactly what He said, and did the best He could with the materials at hand!!" :rolleyes: :rolleyes:
     
  7. Baptist Believer

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    From Matthew 5:
    27 "You have heard that it was said to those of old,"You shall not commit adultery.' 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

    Do you have both of your eyes and both of your hands? Are you sure you are accepting the Bible literally?
     
  8. swaimj

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    If you use a non-literal approach in Genesis, would you use that approach elsewhere and, if so, where? If you wouldn't use it elsewhere, then why do you want to use a non-literal approach in just the one place?
     
  9. Helen

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    Perhaps if you did more Bible study than Bible arguing you would know that what was being said here was clearly understood by the listeners.

    Can your eye CAUSE you to sin? Or is it your mind and heart in back of it?

    Can your hand CAUSE you to sin?

    The fact that He specified right hand should be a clue to you. The right hand was always a symbol of strength, and this is known. "If your right hand causes you to sin" means "If your own areas of strength cause you to sin....get rid of them!"

    The eye, "Do you see?" -- it's an idiom we still use. The eye referenced understanding, or using one's own mind. If the things you think you understand cause you to sin, abandon them.

    The lesson is clear and simple even today.

    Genesis, however, is not presented idiomatically. It is presented as straightforward, eyewitness history, replete with conversations and descriptions.

    There is no comparison between Genesis and the idiomatic material you referenced.

    You might also consider that Bible explains Bible, and EVERY author of the Bible who referred to the beginning or associated events, referred to them as literally true events. Jesus also did.

    The implicit claim of anyone who tries to 'interpret' Genesis to mean something other than what it is actually saying is that the Bible authors and our Lord really did not know what they were talking about.

    I'm not in that camp.
     
  10. blackbird

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    This is Blackbird on his perch! I'll pitch my tent in Helen's camp on this one. Jesus began at "Moses and expounded to them" through scripture the things concerning Himself. I believe that when God's word says that Jesus began at Moses--it is refering to Genesis 1: 1. Contrary to Liberal beliefs--Jesus didn't consider the first eleven chapters of Genesis a joke or a hoax--but literal.
     
  11. Baptist Believer

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    Wow... That came across as incredibly hostile...especially for you, Helen.
    You are one of the most interesting and insightful people here - and not
    usually given to blasting people.

    Not to be rude but if you had spent less time blasting me and more time
    paying attention to what I was responding to, I don't think you would have
    written what you did.

    I was actually supporting your contention that there is no such thing as *not* interpreting the Bible when you read and try to understand it. I was not responding to you, but to the post that I quoted.

    I never said that there was...

    They referred to them as true events, but necessarily "literal".

    Not necessarily.

    I'm not either.

    I'm not necessarily against a "literal" interpretation of Genesis 1-11.

    Actually, I don't think I have any problems with a traditional "literal" interpretation of Genesis 3-11, although I do not require it for my faith or for other people. As far as Genesis 1 and 2 goes, I studied the passages very carefully when I was back in seminary and I came to a startling and somewhat obvious conclusion about the "first" creation account -- it bears quite a bit of similarities (in structure) to other ancient cosmogonies. But instead of this cosmogony of Genesis 1 introducing a pagan religion, it introduces God as the Creator in a way that the ancient societies in the Fertile Crescent would recognize. (It would be similar to us beginning a story with "Once upon a time..." or "When I was a boy...") The Creator of Genesis 1 is identified only as "Elohim" (the generic name for God), but when the story moves to the "second" creation story, the Creator God of the first chapter was further identified as being "Yahweh Elohim."

    The two stories tell about creation in a way that can't be reconciled "literally", but they make perfect sense as an evangelistic story that explains that the God of Israel is the Creator of the entire universe. The stories also explain the relationship of humankind to God. I went into my of the passages prepared to defend the "literal" view but found myself having to change my views because of the content of the texts.
     
  12. Baptist Believer

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    How do you know? It could be referring to one of the other books of Moses onward. In context, Jesus was not trying to explain authorship of the first five books of the Bible, but simply making reference to the commonly accepted term for the first five books of Moses.

    NOTE: I do not disagree with the Mosaic authorship/collection of the first five books of the Old Testament, but I'm simply pointing out that you are trying to make Jesus say something that He did not necessarily mean.
     
  13. John3v36

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    When I was a new Christian, someone showed me the apparent contradictions between the creation accounts in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. According to Genesis 1, God made the trees on day three, the birds from water on day five, and the animals on day six, all before man. But Genesis 2 records the creation of trees, animals, and birds from dirt on day six, all after man. This apparent contradiction disappears when one reads in Genesis 2 that the events in that chapter describe the events regarding the creation of the items in the Garden of Eden only. God knew Satan could come and say he had created all things if Adam did not actually witness God’s creative power. God made Adam on the sixth day, put him in the garden, made some trees to grow before Adam, then made 1 more of each of the animals so that Adam could name them and select a wife. The rest of the world was already full of plants and animals from earlier in the week.
    Another apparent contradiction appears in I Kings 7:23 and II Chronicles 4, the description of the large bowl called the brazen laver. According to both passages, the laver measures 10 cubits (elbow to fingertip, about 18 inches) across and 30 cubits around, a ratio that does not equal pi (3.14159…) and appears to be not mathematically valid. However, the 10 cubit measurement spans the outside of the bowl; the handbreadth thickness of the brass is included in the diameter which balances the ratio to equal pi very neatly. There are no contradictions in the Bible.

    Many scoffers have sited I Kings 4:26 "And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen" and II Chron. 9:25 "And Solomon had four thousand stalls for horses and chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen" as a contradiction. There is no contradiction. He had 40,000 stalls for horses yet only 4,000 stalls for the chariots. They had 10 men and 10 horses per chariot in case they got a "flat tire." See II Sam 10:18 "And the Syrians fled before Israel; and David slew the me of seven hundred chariots of the Syrians," and I Chron. 119:18 "But the Syrians fled before Israel; and David slew of the Syrians seven thousand men which fought in chariots," to show the same point. The men of 700 chariots would be 7000 men.

    Numbers 25:9 tells us, "And those that died in the plague were twenty and four thousand." Yet, I Cor 10:8 says, "Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand." Scoffers who cannot read well see a contradiction here also, but it is obvious that 1000 died later of the same plague.

    Aristotle's dictum stated that when a critic criticized a document, the benefit of the doubt goes to the document not to the critic. No one has ever proven a contradiction in God's Word though thousands have tried. The Bible is the anvil that has worn out many hammers. :D
     
  14. Helen

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    Baptist Believer, I apologize. I had you confused with someone else who has seemed to make it a point to disagree with me every time I turn around and I was anticipating. I'm really sorry. Thank you for your gracious response. Sometimes I just go too fast and don't catch what should be caught. God bless you.
     
  15. Baptist Believer

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    No problem. It was uncharacteristic of you and I figured you had either made a mistake or was having a *really* bad day. [​IMG]

    In any case, I did the same thing to someone else here just the other day. I wrote my own apology this evening. :D
     
  16. Robert J Hutton

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    Warm Christian greetings!

    If you are on a journey and you deviate slightly at the beginning, the chances are that within a short space of time you will be well away from your intended destination.

    If you have doubts about the historical accuracy of Genesis then it won't be long before you start denying other things. Eg. the fall of man, the literal nature of the miracles of Exodus, or Daniel - where will it end. My advice to those who are struggling with Genesis is to simply accept it as God's word.

    This book has been attacked more than any other, the reason being that the Devil knows it lays the foundation for the rest of the Bible. It is such a shame that he uses professing Christians to achieve his aims.

    Kind regards

    Robert J Hutton
     
  17. Baptist Believer

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    Of course that assumes you have no leadership and do not make any course corrections.

    The "slippery slope" is a false premise. It assumes that the person has no other beliefs that hold bind them to truth.

    I certainly hope you are not pointing the finger at me...
     
  18. TheOliveBranch

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    Robert J,
    I agree with you. If you have a faulty foundation, you may go in any direction. The problem in this type of scenario is that the leadership is usually the one teaching the deviations. There are many that believe, but so many follow blindly.
     
  19. just-want-peace

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    To Baptist Believer:

    OK! I accept my chastisement humbly! [​IMG]
    My comments re: interpreting literally were a bit flippant, if not actually rude! Forgive me.

    I do hold the "literal" view, so no compromising here; just clarification, OK!? [​IMG]

    Helen stated very adequately my view in her response to you; that she didn't mean for you. :confused:

    I have so stated many times that I accept the Word literally UNLESS the context and/or the Word tells me to do otherwise. In the examples of the hand & eye, the context tells me that these are idioms and not to be taken literally; as per the very good explanation by Helen.

    My post was the very type of post that irritates me when others post thusly; ie: just some "cutesy" reply with no substance.

    Also, just to show that I agree with your reply, I used to use the exact arguments against literalism. Now I was arguing against a "literalism" that allowed NO deviation from the written Word; just as your reply stated.

    Not to be mis-understood, however, I still feel that much of the problem in today's Christianity stems from people "educated beyond their intelligence" telling God what He really meant instead of accepting that there just may be parts that THEY don't understand and waiting for the H S to give the insight!! Unfortunately, much of this type interpretation is primarily to assure that a certain life-style fits the Scripture, rather than just not understanding. :mad:

    Again, my apologies to you, BB, and to the others who probably were irritated by my not-so-humble post!!

    MARANATHA!!
     
  20. vanagon

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    Hi John3v36,

    In response to your post in this thread dated July 30, 2002 01:14 AM,

    [You said:]
    I am sure some may disagree with this exposition, but I find compelling Ross' commentary on the issue, found Here. From the link,
    Blessings, -Van
     

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