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Essential: Literal Hermeneutic, Part 3

Posted by Matt Postiff March 22, 2011 on Matt Postiff's Blog under Creation 

Finally, given the principles I outlined in the previous two posts, we can draw some conclusions as to the way we should interpret Genesis 1–2.

Beyond reasonable dispute, Genesis 1-2 should be understood as narrative in form. Both Boyd's statistical analysis (p. 675), and McCabe's grammatical analysis (pp. 33–37) demonstrate that this is the case. Since the text is narrative, there are no clues given to the reader that there is any other sense that is plainer than the literal sense.

Some may object that the genre of Genesis is exalted prose. “Exalted” is a code word that leaves room for a figurative interpretation. The problem with this understanding is that it confuses the exalted content for an exalted form. Rather, God through Moses used an essentially normal narrative form to convey exalted content.

A smaller minority may suggest that the genre of Genesis 1–2 is poetry, so that it can be taken figuratively. But the text has none of the markers of poetry, including the Hebrew device of parallelism. Others claim that the text is strictly mythological. This view, however, cannot be squared with a conservative, Biblical view of inspiration and inerrancy.

In the end, it is most natural to understand the text as a narrative. I could refer to it as a structured narrative to make clear that I understand the text was composed in seven units—each unit covering a day of God's creative work—but this does nothing to undermine the genuine narrative form of the text. As a narrative, it should be read as a straightforward, non-parabolic account is intended to be read, and that is literally. This way, the days are understood in their plain sense and young earth creationism naturally comes out of the text.

The other essential elements of YEC really hang in the balance of hermeneutics. Reading the text literally demands that Genesis 1–3, Exodus 20, Genesis 5 and 11, Genesis 6–9, and Romans 5 be taken seriously to express that God created directly in six 24-hour days about 6,000 to 10,000 years ago, that death only came after the fall of the real single man Adam, and that some centuries after the creation, the world was destroyed in a global deluge judgment.

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