Recap of where we left things last week
Anne K: The ultimate question in my mind is: What is the most honest and satisfying position on the "Page One of Genesis" problem, and is there a position that deserves / earns a consensus among Christians? For what I wrote in my original post and what I'm writing here in the comment thread, that is ultimately the purpose and context.Also from Joe, with the two different quotes being on the same topic from different points in the comment section:
Joe H: Being honest and up front about what seems true. I have studied volition that seems true. What seems untrue is a literal interpretation of Genesis because it rules out scientific truth,ig taken literally.
Joe: Let me ask you this,if these sophistical aspects proved to be unhistorical would that destroy all of Christianity?
If any major point could be proven facile,such as no six dray creation? no Adam and Eve no garden. This is theoretical.
In keeping with this being a no-BS conversation with an old friend: I have to admit to not being directly invested in the historicity of much outside the four gospels. (That's not my last word on it, but the points are made in a certain order.) To clarify: I don't assume everything else is false, I just find it less directly relevant to me. For example, I'm reasonably sure Abraham was a real person who had sons who had a significant place in the history of religion and, through that, in the history of the world. Still, even if we assume that the events of Abraham's life happened more or less as recorded in Genesis, I'm not sure how much the details matter to me outside of the fact that eventually Jesus came from the line of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
So why would I advocate for the historicity of more things besides the four gospels? First of all because there are solid reasons to believe there is genuine history recorded there. To be clear, if I didn't think anything else was historical, I'd have gotten myself one of the Gideon's Bibles that basically whittles down the Old Testament to the book of Psalms. (And bonus points if I could find a version that skipped Psalm 137, seriously.)
Given that I think there's real history to be found there, there are parts that become relevant. Sticking with the example of the life of Abraham as mentioned before: it does show God's faithfulness, God's providence, and God's continuing relational presence with his people. It does show that God didn't metaphorically wake up one day and decide to send Jesus after neglecting the planet for all the ages of the world til then. God's continuing presence in the world and compassion for the world are important points, and we have historical reason enough for me to find it likely that it actually happened. Coming back to the prior point: Abraham may not be relevant to me apart from Jesus, but through Jesus it becomes part of the history of how God interacts with the world. So the life of Abraham has more importance than I'd otherwise give to the life of someone who lived not-quite-4000 years ago, rounding up to the next whole millennium.
I think that's enough for one installment. So Joe, if this is to be a conversation -- a two-way street -- I'd like to hear your thoughts on some things:
- In the books of the Bible that are traditionally understood to have historical content, what are your thoughts about which parts of the Bible are historical or are not historical?
- Let's assume for the discussion that the content of revelation is God's presence with us and for us -- really, literally, you and me and the rest of us, in the world where we live. If "God's presence with us" is the content, then how well does the "event model" of revelation/inspiration mediate that specific message of God's presence with us in our world? (For anyone reading along, Joe has recapped several different views of inspiration, and the "event model" is one of several different-yet-compatible, complementary understandings of how God communicates with us. The "event model" is roughly how God communicates with us by events: by taking historical action in the real world.)
- When you say that the Bible contains mythical material that is not historical (e.g. you floated maybe Adam and Eve and the garden), it sounds like there would have to be an element of make-believe at some level in crafting a story and adopting a story, e.g. talking snakes and specific conversations that are part of that account of the fall. What are your thoughts on that, on the relationship of myth and make-believe and revelation?