Re: [asa] Re: Reading Genesis theologically NOT historically

From: Pete Enns <>
Date: Sun Oct 04 2009 - 12:04:47 EDT

I was just pointing out where the kinds of questions contemporary
scholars are asking. They have left the Genesis question, by and
large, far behind.

Pete Enns

On Oct 4, 2009, at 9:09 AM, Merv Bitikofer wrote:

> Pete Enns wrote:
>> Allow me to add, too, my general voice of assent to the direction
>> this discussion has taken.
>> An eminently defensible thesis is that Gen 1-11 is an act of self-
>> definition of later Israelites, placing their story in a primeval
>> context. It is tangentially about universal issues and primarily
>> about Israelite beginnings: "we were there from of old." The
>> presence of other humans already in Gen 4 suggests that the "Adam
>> line" is about one particular subset of humans, i.e., Israel. The
>> story of the "first humans" foreshadows Israel: God's special
>> people who disobey and suffer exile, with a little background noise
>> of grace (new clothes for Adam and Eve, Cain's mark, Noah's
>> escape). The apparently anti-Babylonian polemic (Gen 1 and 11)
>> frames the story and suggests an exilic/postexilic final form.
>> However one cares to parse the details, What Gen 1-11 is not is an
>> "account" of human origins that can be in reasonable conversation
>> with modern historical inquiry.
>> For what it's worth--and I am not suggesting this is directly
>> relevant for us here--contemporary OT scholarship has more or less
>> come to the conclusion that the events up to the monarchy are
>> essentially mythic (in the case of Gen 1-11) or legendary
>> (Patriarchs, Exodus, Conquest), the latter being connected to some
>> viable historical memory but as it stands not fundamentally a true
>> historical record (something like King Arthur or Robin Hood).
> <snip>
> While I can appreciate (& even agree with) the general direction
> here, I think we can go too far in our enthusiasm to disavow
> ourselves of any literalist tendencies. Care is in order if you
> want to suggest that events such as the Exodus are on par with King
> Arthur or Robin Hood. If the Exodus didn't actually occur, then
> there is a problem with God taking credit repeatedly and
> thematically throughout Scriptures for making the event happen.
> This isn't to suggest that the details of the written account must
> all be accurate in the modern historigraphical sense. But that the
> main event did literally happen -- denial of that seems
> theologically problematic, to say the least. Perhaps I should be
> taking greater care to unpack what you mean by the words "mythic" or
> "legendary" with any different nuances of meaning those words have.
> But in a nutshell, I'm inclined to apply the brakes if one suggests
> the Exodus substantially didn't literally happen.
> --Merv

To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Sun Oct 4 12:05:43 2009

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Sun Oct 04 2009 - 12:05:44 EDT