Some apt words on the interpretation of Genesis 1
Richard Phillips has a few appropriate words to say about interpreting the Creation account, prompted in part by the novel views of the Dutch Old Testament scholar Ellen van Wolde, reported in yesterday's Daily Telegraph. (Interesting how van Wolde is convinced that no one ever understood Gen 1 until she came along!) Needless to say, Phillips' comments make much more sense than those of van Wolde. While most evangelicals will point out the liberties that van Wolde is taking with Scripture, Phillips points out that evangelicals often want to take their own liberties with these very same verses. He writes:
Is declaring a new meaning for a basic Hebrew word like bara much different from declaring that Genesis 1 is poetry (despite the fact that it bears all the marks of historical narrative and virtually none of poetry), and therefore that the theology may be divorced from the "messy" historical facts presented in Scripture? Is it much different from our frameworks and analogies, all of which have the effect of giving us control of the text's meaning rather submitting ourselves to the text? No doubt Professor van Wolde hopes to make a splash with worldly academics through her novel approach. What are our motives in taking our liberties with Genesis 1?
The conclusion: beware of the slippery slope!