Re: [asa]The Barr letter( request for some resources)

From: David Campbell <>
Date: Fri Jun 15 2007 - 13:03:47 EDT

As far as I know, qualifications of those advocating a framework or
other symbolic interpretation of the days of Genesis 1 are solid.

Major problems include a) did the ancient Hebrews even care about the
date and physical geography of these events, as opposed to who and
theologically why? If not, then the writer of Genesis probably was
not intending to convey such information. b) how does one distinguish
between belief in a "global" event (or rather, whatever the equivalent
would be without knowledge of the shape and size of the earth) and use
of "global" imagery to convey the magnitude of an event known to be
local (or of unknown geographic extent)? Genesis 1:2 refers to the
earth as formless and void, and references to the Flood sometimes
depict it as a return to such primordial chaos (e.g., II Pet. 3:6).
This sounds like a global event, but so does "I looked on the earth,
and behold it was formless and void; And to the heavens, and they had
no light", which in Jer. 4:23 portrays the coming destruction of
Judah. Likewise, "all that breathed" were wiped out in the Flood and
in Joshua's invasion of Canaan. (Kitchen points out that Joshua's
tactic of raids on major cities, leaving escapees to be dealt with
later, divided the Canaanites into the quick and the dead. )

"Commentators universally understood Genesis in a straightforward way,
until attempts were made to harmonize the account with long ages and
then evolution."

In addition to the implicit claim that YEC is the straightforward
reading and that such reading must be correct, this is historically
incorrect. Long ages do not seem to have been an issue behind the
more figurative approaches taken by early Christians such as Origen or
Augustine. Rather, they were trying to harmonize Scripture with
Scripture and with their theological presuppositions. Origen (and
similar exegesis) is widely regarded as having been far too quick to
go for symbolic interpretations of the OT whenever he had a problem
with it, but there's certainly no excuse for claiming that he was
swayed by geology. Of course, the popular YEC definition of evolution
to include anything they don't like makes it easy to then, e.g.
attribute evolutionary views to Augustine.

Dr. David Campbell
425 Scientific Collections
University of Alabama
"I think of my happy condition, surrounded by acres of clams"
To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Fri Jun 15 13:04:10 2007

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Fri Jun 15 2007 - 13:04:11 EDT