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Aug 31, 2005


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will spotts

Obviously, the two stories are different. And yes, the narrative structure is different between them -- suggesting they have differing source materials.

I'm not sure I agree with the scholars on the degree of difference between them, however. For example, the creation order is not reversed. This is describing the making of the garden of eden clearly in the context -- because the same unit speaks of the tree of life and the tree of the kowledge of good and evil in the midst of the garden. It is not a retelling of the creation of the earth.

I realize re-telling begs the question because scholars regard the 2nd story as far earlier than the first. Again, I'm not convinced by that argument either. (It strikes me as extremely speculative to try to auger from the presumed social conditions that would make such a story desirable.)

I agree with you that there are poetic elements, and that it is not history in the sense that we would choose to write it. I tend to think too much is read into this -- people use the narratives and figures of speech of their own time, focusing on issues that are important to them, or are able to be understood by them. (As a side note, this in no way indicates that God did not guide the writing of the accounts. Just that they were spoken in a particular idiom.) Again, the difference between cultures is not such as to render these unreadable or incomprehensible. It is not a case that we are so much more intelligent or even scientific. We're not. We just have more technology and different ways of expressing ourselves.

Michael Kruse

Yes. I think you anticipate where I am headed. The Gen 1 story is laying out a chronolgy and the Gen 2 to story is a non-chronological description of how God provided and cared for humanity by making the garden. This doesn't place the stories in conflict. The two stories have different purposes.

If had you over for dinner and you liked the main dish, you might ask how I made it. I might give you a chronological description of what ingredients I used and tell in what order I added them. Or, I might just say a list of things I threw in and then heated it up. That isn't a conflict. It is two different ways of relating the same factual information.

I will write more in a couple of days.

will spotts

Yeah, I think we're probably thinking in similar terms here.

I tend to go off on what I perceive as contempt for past cultures (and for segments of our own culture). There is a tendency -- in spite of being "post-modern" functionally, to regard ourselves as having a priviledged position -- i.e. we can spot the flaws that more primitive people might have missed.

Does any scholar really think that over the course of several thousand years people didn't notice that the accounts in Genesis 1 and 2 differed? Yet apparently there is considerable thought that people were just too stupid to notice this and come to some understanding of it . . . that is, in the dark, ignorant, and brutish past.

Michael Kruse

You are articulating what I have heard among a number of Emergent Church (EC) types. We have hit on some ways EC are critical of conservative Christianity. This is an area where I see strong EC criticism of liberal Christianity.

Thinking critically about scripture is crucial to gaining understanding. I have a friend who engages in what he calls lower criticism as opposed to higher criticism. He thinks critically about scripture but he does it from position beneath scripture as authoritative. Much of higher criticism places us in authority as we look down on scripture to see if there is anything useful.

This is part of what Grenz and Franke are getting at with foundationalism. Liberal Christianity starts with an assumption of a common universal human experience of God. That is the foundation. That is my authority for interpreting all else. Scripture becomes a subordinate voice to the experiential framework I have perceived in humanity and discerned through my personal insight. “I think. Therefore I am.” It all starts with me and my “objective” perceptions.

will spotts

Lower Criticism. I love it.

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