Your Genesis Literary Style

Understanding Genesis’ Literary Style

Come to the Bible on its own terms

One of the significant problems in our world is misunderstandings. People have prejudices about many things. We determine things about other people before we have full knowledge of them. Prejudice also will cause a person to look for facts that either support or ignore the truth to enforce their prejudice. This is not only true for people, but it is also accurate for prejudice towards the Bible.

The writing of the Bible took about 1500 years to complete, and it was finished about 2000 years ago. It was written in ancient languages among cultures who dealt with things very differently than we do today. So admittedly grasping what it is all about is not easy. Still, it is not impossible for even the modest of minds. The best way to understand a different culture is to immerse yourself in the culture. 

Before the age of enlightenment (which has not always enlightened), people spoke of their world in different ways. This was especially true when it came to things like creation or past history. Analyzing evidence was not as important as knowing how creation and history affected their lives. Part of this communication was the telling of myths. Ancient writings are full of myths. Today we think of myths totally different than they did in the past. When we hear the word myths, we think of something untrue, but that is not necessarily true. A myth is not the same thing as a fable. A myth was more of a literary style.

1a traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people or explaining some natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events

Probably most myths were false in some way, but then many theories have been found to be false. Myths had a different purpose than a theory, and so they are misunderstood. If we could go back to the days myths were popular, we might find there is some significance to them that we are unaware of today. 

The existence of God wasn’t an issue — but rather, how many gods were there and who controlled what? What is the sun made of was much less important than will it rain on our crops and will we survive the next storm? Our questions today are the result of the most recent centuries of thinking framed by the scientific process — getting to the bottom of how things work.

When reading the Bible and especially the early part of Genesis, we must realize we are not as smart as we think we are. I am thinking about how little we know of quantum physics. I don’t even want to begin to try to explain this. All I know is things appear to be in different places at the same time. I bring this up because thinking we can understand how the creation processes took place would be like saying we fully understand the deep things of God. In the first part of Genesis, the spiritual world and the physical world were perfectly overlapped.