Is Genesis 1-2 Poetry? A Bloggable Thought from the Bible Faculty Summit

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Bible Faculty Summit (here’s their brand new website, made last night real late and not quite complete…), held this year at Baptist Bible College in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania. Here’s just one bloggable thought coming out of the many extremely stimulating and edifying discussions I enjoyed at the Summit.

Phil Brown of God’s Bible School and College mentioned that one reason (among many) to read Genesis 1-2 straightforwardly is actually found in Exodus. In Exodus 16, God tells the people the rules for manna:

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.” (Exodus 16:4-5)

And in case they thought God meant day-ages or placed hidden gaps between these “days,” God demonstrated that He had been quite serious and, well, literal:

But they did not listen to Moses. Some left part of it till the morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them. Morning by morning they gathered it, each as much as he could eat; but when the sun grew hot, it melted. (Exodus 16:20–21)

So how would these same Israelites have understood God’s use of “days” just a few weeks later when He said at Sinai,

Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Exodus 20:9-11)

The argument of not a few evangelicals today is that we have to understand Genesis 1 as its original audience of ancient near-easterners would have understood it. We bring a modern scientific frame to the text that ends up distorting it. But it seems the Israelites were fully capable of understanding a six-day creation story quite literally.

Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.

1 Comment

  1. Duncan Johnson on August 8, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    Thanks Mark. Interesting connection.

    As far as that other website goes, I’m very happy to see it, but hope that it gets filled with content soon. 🙂 I’m now a subscriber in Feedly.

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