Should We Take Creation Stories in Genesis Literally?

Finding multiple truths in Biblical myths

garden-of-eden-fall-of-man

What purpose did creation stories in Genesis serve? Were they Biblical myths? Pictured here is The Garden of Eden with the Fall of Man (c. 1617) by Flemish painters Peter Paul Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Elder.

Were the creation stories in Genesis meant to be taken literally?

Maybe not, says Biblical scholar Shawna Dolansky in her Biblical Views column “The Multiple Truths of Myths” in the January/February 2016 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.

Our world is very different from the world in which the Biblical authors lived over 2,000 years ago. The ancient world did not have Google, Wikipedia and smartphones—access to information on human history and scientific achievements developed over millennia at the touch of their fingertips.

Many scholars believe that the ancient Israelites had creation stories that were told and retold; these stories eventually reached the Biblical authors, who wrote them down in Genesis and other books of the Bible. Creation stories in Genesis were etiological, Shawna Dolansky and other Biblical scholars argue.1 That is, the creation stories in Genesis served to provide answers to why the world was the way it was, such as why people wear clothes and why women experience pain during childbirth.
 


 
In the free eBook Exploring Genesis: The Bible’s Ancient Traditions in Context, discover the cultural contexts for many of Israel’s earliest traditions. Explore Mesopotamian creation myths, Joseph’s relationship with Egyptian temple practices and three different takes on the location of Ur of the Chaldees, the birthplace of Abraham.
 

 
Creation stories in Genesis were among the many myths that were told in the ancient Near East. Today we may think of myths as beliefs that are not true, but as a literary genre, myths “are stories that convey and reinforce aspects of a culture’s worldview: many truths,” writes Dolansky. So to call something a myth—in this sense—does not necessarily imply that it is not true.

Scholars argue that Biblical myths arose within the context of other ancient Near Eastern myths that sought to explain the creation of the world. Alongside Biblical myths were Mesopotamian myths in which, depending on the account, the creator was Enlil, Mami or Marduk. In ancient Egyptian mythology, the creator of the world was Atum in one creation story and Ptah in another.

shawna-dolansky

Shawna Dolansky

“Like other ancient peoples, the Israelites told multiple creation stories,” writes Shawna Dolansky in her Biblical Views column. “The Bible gives us three (and who knows how many others were recounted but not preserved?). Genesis 1 differs from Genesis 2–3, and both diverge from a third version alluded to elsewhere in the Bible, a myth of the primordial battle between God and the forces of chaos known as Leviathan (e.g., Psalm 74), Rahab (Psalm 89) or the dragon (Isaiah 27; 51). This battle that preceded creation has the Mesopotamian Enuma Elish as its closest analogue. In Enuma Elish, the god Marduk defeats the chaotic waters in the form of the dragon Tiamat and recycles her corpse to create the earth.”

In what other ways do Biblical myths parallel ancient Near Eastern myths? What can we learn about the world in which the ancient Israelites lived through the creation stories in Genesis? Learn more by reading the full Biblical Views column “The Multiple Truths of Myths” by Shawna Dolansky in the January/February 2016 issue of BAR.
 


 
BAS Library Members: Read the full Biblical Views column “The Multiple Truths of Myths” by Shawna Dolansky in the January/February 2016 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.

Not a BAS Library member yet? Join the BAS Library today.
 


 

Notes:

1. For example, see Ziony Zevit, “Was Eve Made from Adam’s Rib—or His Baculum?” BAR, September/October 2015; Mary Joan Winn Leith, “ReViews: Restoring Nudity,” BAR, May/June 2014.
 


 

Related reading in Bible History Daily:

The Adam and Eve Story: Eve Came From Where?

The Creation of Woman in the Bible

How the Serpent Became Satan by Shawna Dolansky

Love Your Neighbor: Only Israelites or Everyone? by Richard Elliott Friedman
From the September/October 2014 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review

The Animals Went in Two by Two, According to Babylonian Ark Tablet
 


 

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  1. Veli says

    Well, reading literally Gen 1 does not speak of the creation of the world or of the universe. Ancient people thought that when the flood is over, the land is created, and when the clouds disappear, the skies are created etc. Genesis 1 is just fine when taken literally as a local chain of events. Much later it was interpreted metaphorically without understanding the original figure of speech, and now we have a problem.

  2. Joe says

    Jesus affirmed creation accounts, he affirmed the marriage of Adam and Eve, the garden of Eden, the lie of the serpent, Noah and the Ark, the destruction of sodom and gommorah, just to name a few. He created creation John 1,
    Is Jesus Christ the truth?

  3. Mike says

    If God came to, say, an evolutionary biologist, or, say, and astrophysicist, and provided a direct God-to-a-man data dump on the truth of God, the truth of God’s omnipotence, and the truth of God as the true Word, and the truth of God’s creation and God-the-creator, our scientist would, as did Moses and Abraham and the earliest Israelites who began to know and call on God, tell us as best he could about this truth.

    In doings so, he’d try to explain, as best he could, how God went about creating his creation.

    Moses used the mechanisms of his day to explain the details of creation: voids, sky, earth, days, water, floods, rains, darkness, light.

    Our biologist would use the mechanisms of cell structure and mitochondria and DNA and carbon atoms and the like.

    Our astrophysicist would use subatomic particles and heat and energy and time and space and quantum events and strings and the like.

    Both would get it “wrong” in the details. In 100 years, our understanding of microbiology and our understanding of particle physics will make the explanations of our biologist and physicist sound silly, in the same way that modern principles of empirical science make the creation stories of Genesis 1 and 2-3 and the flood sound silly.

    The mechanics of God’s creative methods will never be understood by humans. But we are capable of understanding, either by direct contact (Moses, Abraham, our biologist, or physicist) or through faith in holy scripture, that it is the God of the Hebrew Bible who did the creation and God of the Hebrew Bible that owns and holds power over the earth and universe and man his offspring.

    Is it really more accurate to say “God grabbed a pinch of raw energy and formed five carbon atoms, which he then twisted into a DNA helix,” than it is to say that “God grabbed a pinch of dirt from the ground, breathed on it, and out popped Adam?”

    Is it really more accurate to say that “God applied heat energy through a vacuum of space-time, circling what became an induced boson, then multiplied this effect until gravitational forces collapsed time….” than it is to say that “God placed the stars in the sky and called them by name?”

    The Bible’s explanation of creation of space and time and earth and man is sufficient. And it is not particularly relevant. The important things is that God did it. God created the universe. God created man. Man is different from the beasts. Man and woman are separate things. God owns everything. Man is given authority. Man is a sinner — seeking his own God-like authority. Man fell. Man therefore dies and is dead. There is however, a means to return to life. See this happen in Revelation 21 and 22. How? Read those four books the Christians call gospels. They are pretty short, and you get four tries to “get it.”

    Science is very good at peeling back the layers of the onion. It is a very good human endeavor that we do so. But we will never prove or disprove the existence of God by peeling the onion, as science will never, ever, get to the center core of the onion. This is a little trick God is playing on us. The onion is infinite.

    Read the actual Bible for yourself. Accept it. Reject it. But don’t live your entire life without reading the actual thing for yourself.

  4. Michael F. says

    Creation stories were astrological. Adam (Leo) and Eve (Virgo) the serpent (Hydra-at foot of Leo) the tree and its fruit (Corvus/Crater) the flaming sword (Regulus). Creation stories were typically stories which centered around the summer solstice. In fact the fantastic stories of the OT (and NT) are astro-myths.

  5. john says

    Surely the purpose of Genesis’ creation stories is to tell us WHO made everything. That is an unchallangeable and unchangeable truth beyond man’s knowledge and wisdom. It is only by direct divine revelation that we can know this. Which, after all, is the purpose of all of scripture. As such, this article is quite out of place in an evidence based journal; it only airs the author’s speculations.

    “In the beginning, God created …”

  6. Francois says

    I just subscribed to your magazine “Biblical” Archeology, but after reading this biaised, one-eyed denigrating article on the sacred text stating Genesis is full of myths, I regret doing that.

  7. Kevin says

    Interesting take on the creation account. My feeling is that the bible was never meant to be a science book. That bein said, I don’t think our contemporary society has the faintest of ideas as to how everything came about to be, and that the creation of everything is far more fantastic then we’ve been led to believe…

  8. Don says

    One must understand that Jesus’ references to the creation myths do not affirm their historical authenticity. He can just as easily be using them as originally intended, not as historical narrative but as story, myth with a purpose. His reference to them affirms not their use as history but their use as myth. If I make a reference to or allude to a Greek myth in a speech or piece of literature I do not affirm the historicity of the Greek myth. My listeners understand my meaning. The literal reading of these stories misses the point of them and bogs people down in endless self defeating controversies. This childish approach, (not child like) is what is destroying the current generation of evangelicals who go to college and in large part jettison belief as they find the literal interpretation of Genesis to be untenable with undeniable observable truth about the earth and it’s history. A literal view of genesis places the Noah flood solidly in the old kingdom of Egypt which of course would be impossible since Egypt has a continuous culture that would not have survived a flood as envisioned by fundamentalists. For any fundamentalist please read and become familiar with your own bible. In John Jesus dies on the preparation day for passover and in the synoptic gospels he dies on Passover. Such discrepancies are not at all an issue for story written for a purpose but they cannot be reconciled with the way fundamentalists read the bible.

  9. laura says

    Right on Mike.

  10. MR says

    Faith alone supports a literal belief in the Old Testament and the stories from Genesis. That is Faith is in the Lord,
    who has spoken through the writings of those ancient Israelis or Hebrews, and if one chooses to believe in the
    scriptures, that belief is firm and will always declare Genesis to be The Truth, every sentence.
    But suppose that doesn’t matter? My belief may not be yours, but we both hold our understanding of Creation and all that followed to be true and those are the basis of our spiritual lives. Other versions of creation, the
    findings of contemporary science, are equally valid, and if one believes in God, it might be that the Creator just
    took a lot more time than those ancient writers could imagine. Or, if one has no spiritual basis of the way the
    Universe was created, well, that’s their belief. So why argue about it all? Fact is, we are here by the hand
    of the Lord, or of the infinite universe, and we still have a hell of a mess to deal with on our tiny speck of
    earth, fire and water. Hold onto your beliefs, my friends, they are desperately needed in times of chaos.

  11. Deborah says

    I guess I don’t understand why an article like this one is so threatening to belief. I love the old stories but understand that the stories are within a historical context that I don’t live in. When we as Christians become fearful of solid academic research, then we limit God; making Diety very small,

  12. Deva says

    I am also thinking on same lines as Francois comment above.

    You can have this article but why mock the story, it’s so simple, the authors shared Creation story from God’s point of view in Genesis 1 and Man’s point of view in Genesis 2–3, we basically drop down to Day #6 as it’s of utmost import to look deeper.
    So there is not contradiction whatsoever here…
    And you mentioned fleetingly below verses without even saying what they are talking about: Can you please read below verses quoted in above article and tell me what it has about Creation controversy?
    Psalm 74 Psalm 89 Isaiah 27; 51

    Comeon we can do better than this, please don’t put something just because it would look different. Are you expecting Creation story to be told in 2016 style and format, remember this is written 4000 years ago to people who can understand in that setting and everything written only Glorified God by attributing Creation to Him but not primordial soup :)

    Please review the article in details and correct where you think needs attention.

  13. Candace says

    Simple: the Bible is the Inspire Word of God. I’ll take it as literally as the Spirit says. End of discussion.

  14. brady says

    I am interested in whatever ACTUAL ARCHEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE that you happen to find in various sources, but i am sick and tired of you finding people who claim to be educated in various liberal theological strains they chase after, who come up with their own theories of why we should not believe the Bible, as it is plainly written. Either get back to actual archeology or I will have to unsubscribe.

  15. Joseph says

    Sorry, but this is yet another erroneous and clichéd article that represents the uniformed response of academics who’ve either haven’t studied the ancient texts, or who parrot the party-line of secularists who say “it’s all just a myth, but that’s ok because it has meaning.”

    I am NOT right-wing or conservative. I believe in climate change and progressive values, but unlike those who write these kinds of articles, I have studied the Enuma Elish and compared it to the Genesis account, and the two reveal huge, fundamental differences between their narrative and themes. In brief, the Enuma Elish is about the establishment of the ruling class and their so-called divine right to rule based on violent conflict (embodied in Marduk’s overthrow of Tiamat and the creation of man from the spilled blood of the god Kingu). Genesis presents the very opposite scenario, elucidating God’s right to rule based on the love and integrity embodied in his created works.

    Certainly there are portions of the Hebrew and Christian Bibles that are meant to be read metaphorically, but anyone claiming that Genesis was a borrowing of ancient mythic sources is not only barking up the wrong tree, but standing in the wrong forest. That this is considered the de-facto “truth” of the Genesis account is a testament to the lazy, unscientific, anti-religious thrust of modern secular academia, who think that by repeating something over and over again it will make it true. It won’t.

    For anyone interested in a deeper exploration of Genesis vs the Enuma Elish, there’s an excellent book by Walter Wink called The Powers That Be, which is a fascinating exploration of the myth of redemptive violence and its origins in ancient Babylon.

  16. Joseph says

    This forum needs an edit button: first paragraph should say “who either haven’t studied the ancient texts, or who parrot…”

  17. Kirby says

    Science? It was invented by Christians who saw God’s design in creation and sought to “think His thoughts after Him”. You look for evidence and follow where it leads. You theorize and test it. Why are we finding soft and liquid tissue in dinosaur bones? Why are the oldest living Bristlecone Pines only 4,000 years old? If you extrapolate current trends between the Earth, Sun, and Moon forward or backward in time, life becomes impossible outside of a relatively small timeframe. Earth cannot be as old as it is currently supposed. Indeed, the 19th century writings of early evolutionists indicate that their intent was to supplant the God of Moses and reject His laws. A long period of time would make any process plausible. They didn’t know how long. Our people still don’t when pressed. The only reason for not believing the God of the Bible is that you do not wish to be subject to His instruction. I assumed “Biblical Archaeology” meant He was respected here. Was I incorrect?

  18. Guy says

    I am historian with a special emphasis on Religious Studies from Regis University and Arizona State University, and a graduate of a religious seminary. The life-long study of the Bible from both theological (doctrinal) and historical (scientific) viewpoints based on ancient manuscripts, cultural tradition, archaeology, and the study of ancient languages has given me a clear insight into Genesis and the Bible. The Book of Genesis was not a series of myths handed down generation to generation as many have been taught to believe. Moses was the author of Genesis, which he wrote after God showed him in vision the history of the earth from its very creation to its final end, making it much more accurate and literal than skeptics would care to believe. The book as we have it today is a diluted version filled with errors, mistranslations, and blatant omissions by scribes over the past 3,500 years, which leave many with questions over Adam and Eve, The Flood, the age of man, and doctrinal teachings no longer found in it, but are found in other texts. However, as pointed out by another comment, Jesus and his apostles did verify many aspects of accounts in Genesis as being true. How would they know? Again, the key is revelation from God through the Holy Spirit. God has spoken many times over the ages to men and women whom he chose to reveal his mysteries and will to, often to re-state truth formerly provided but lost through human error and willful apostasy from the truth. The Bible is full of accounts by many of these prophets whom God called for his special purposes to teach those who would listen the true word of God and obey it. What the world needs is fewer skeptics and more believers. Such belief is unpopular among liberal scholars, atheists, secular humanists, and others more interested politically correctness than divine truth, and they go great lengths to undermine that truth to maintain the establishment agenda of academia. Even though many have seen evidence to support the truth, they have no interest in letting the rest of the world know about it, allowing them to maintain control over what people believe and who they should follow. Anything or anyone who attempts to refute the truth of the Bible is either ignorant of the truth or is doing the bidding of a another master to deceive mankind.

  19. Mark says

    Uhm another “myth” advocate. I find it difficult to know when the myth stuff turns to true stuff. Like is the creation story a myth but the Abraham’s offering his son a myth or true. Is the flood a myth but David’s temple a myth it truth. Did the Israelites captivity to Babylon actually happen or is it a myth. What principle guide lines a inherent in the text to plainly show what is and what isn’t?
    I also have difficulty with genealogies. Are they myth, or truth. Is the nt genealogies true or myth? If myth, at what person does the mythical list become true. Rather than give an explanation to secularism, stating this is myth but then at this point to turns true but then these are mythical figures but then next one is true etc makes scripture a joke, but worse unbelievable. But after all that us probably the intended purpose for this line of thought.

  20. Rick says

    I will unsubscribe after this comment.This is pure speculation and trash.

  21. Kobus says

    “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll. He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”
    ‭‭Revelation‬ ‭22:18-20‬ ‭NIV‬‬
    http://bible.com/111/rev.22.18-20.niv

    Very disappointed, people take portions ofwhat they want to believe so they don’t have to be accountable to God. This comes from a lack of an intimate relationship with God. They don’t know HIM. Get to know God read the Bible, pray and listen you might get some wisdom.

  22. William says

    The Mesopotamian is more myth than truth and it is not even truthful to say that the Biblical story of creation was drafted or gleaned from the Mesopotamian or Near East creation myths. I want to remind you that there are some significant differences between the Near East creation myths and the Biblical creation narrative.

    1.) The Near East creation myth involves multiple gods, who create, fight and kill one another in jealousy and anger, where the Biblical creation narrative is ONE all powerful, all knowing GOD, who needs no help in doing his creation work, and he does ALL of it alone!!

    2.) Only the Biblical God of creation creates and looks back to examine his work and declare that it is “GOOD!”, this is not true of the Near East creation myth (Mesopotamian or Babylonian).

    3.) The God of the Biblical narrative RESTS on the seventh day, and commands that we do the same, there is no such “resting” on the part of the Mesopotamian or Near East creation myths.

    4.) The gods (little “g”) of those Near Eastern nations (Mesopotamian, Babylonian, Akkadian, people from Ur and others) DO NOT EXIST, because of the absolute TRUTH of the Bible has made those mythical gods—NULL AND VOID!

    5.) Moses was the writer of Genesis and this many, many years after the occurrence and with that come hundreds of generations who verify it’s as truth! Those other Near East myths have no such confirmation of thousands of years as we do now, because those myths DO NOT EXIST, but the truth of the Biblical creation as well as the whole truth of the Bible lives on!

    These are just a few of the countless differences between the Near Eastern myths and the Biblical narrative of creation

    I know these things because I have been a student of ancient Mediterranean history and archaeology for the past 45 years and I am working on a couple of books which are in progress about them.

  23. Nancy says

    So pain in child bearing is literal? Wow, what a genius to figure that out.
    It also doesn’t require a genius to figure out that heavens & earth, plants, sun, animals, people, etc. – are also literal – last time I checked.
    The only reason why “scholars” don’t interpret Genesis 1 in a normative sense is b/c it will lead a person to a young earth which doesn’t concur w/ the majority of scientists. As for me & my house, the Bible is our presupposition.

  24. Brent says

    Why do atheists profess to have a better understanding than those of faith? If you don’t believe Genesis then you don’t believe in the suffering and sacrifice that Yehoshuah/Jesus made to free us from the burden of sin. Genesis 1 differs from Genesis 2 – 3 because the author is giving us more information on the same subject. Any Bible scholar with the smallest amount of theological knowledge realises that this is how the Bible is structured, all the Bible, “Here a little there a little.” The Genesis story was written with inspiration from a higher source than you can even dare to imagine. It is a literal history of how everything was made including us. Hebrews 11:3 “By faith we understand the universe to have been formed by the word of God, so that the things being seen have not been made from the things being visible.” Ever heard of this before in your science textbooks before the 18th century? The Greeks understood it and that was over 2300 years ago and gee how far we have come, not. Scientists still don’t know how everything is held together. String theory is still just a theory. Maybe Robin Ngo, Shawna Dolansky and the other Biblical scholars should change their jobs or at least study something equivalent to their obvious ability to understand like, Dr Suess’ “The Hat in the Cat.” And maybe you should change this website to Skeptical Biblical Archaeology

  25. Robin says

    Very interesting. This is a controversial subject for many. I have read Augustine’s and Calvin’s commentaries on the creation sections of Genesis. I have read others as well. Some commentators suggest that the biblical creation story was told in rebuttal to the other ANE accounts since they were polytheistic and various things that Genesis is not. Augustine seemed to think that the Day in Genesis was God-designed and not 24 hours……which should please no one. It is all interesting. But one thing remains: the Universe is old, but it was designed and planned and created by God……Beyond all that, surely lots of good insight here.

  26. Nancy says

    in order to align the Bible w/ the majority of scientists, ?Christian scientists dis simple, normative meanings & tweak the Bible. For example, they wave the magic wand called, “metaphor,” which enables them to redefine simple words like “day” & “dust.” Such hoop-jumping doesn’t convince “fundamentalists” – or atheists.

    P.S. Old Earthers can never answer the [atheists’] question: “If animals were attacking & devouring one another for millions of years, i.e., “red in tooth & claw,” how could God call the cheetah’s sinking his teeth into the zebra, ‘very good?’” Only Young Earthers can correctly answer that question: “The cheetah began sinking his teeth into the zebra only after the vice-regent, Adam, sinned.”

  27. Kevin says

    Could someone please direct me to a website about Biblical archaeology? I seem to have stumbled into a site for mythological theorists by mistake.

  28. Jeanne says

    Oh my…..what a big to-do about such a simple truth…..GOD created. All the study, name-calling, arguments, puffed-up self appointed knowledge is silly. God gave us a brain to search for knowledge and understanding of our earth, its creation, and its creator. I am a teacher of genetic biology and the scientific facts I know and teach confirm and explain, to my understanding, how God created. If literal belief of the Genesis story confirms and explains, to your understanding, how god created, then rejoice in it. Please don’t condemn other believers…..it just may be you with a log in your eye.

  29. James says

    Shawna Dolansky proves that her human wisdom and foolish speculation about taking the Bible literally are nothing more than extrabiblical, thus her opinion is pure fiction. Either a Christian takes the Word of God literally, or he/she errs (sins) by adding to or subtracting from the Scripture.

    In today’s world, we Christ followers must test all teachings against the Scripture itself so that we may expose false teachings, and false teachers. And, we must pray for the leadership of the Holy Spirit to guide us in discerning the truths within the Scripture.

  30. Al says

    Really, it never ceases to amaze me…As I have said to my sister on several occasions, the comments are far more interesting, informative and entertaining than many of the articles themselves. When an article pertains to specific archaeological discoveries, excavations, ruins and other such tangible artifacts, I read the article intently. On the other hand, when an article is posing an erroneous digestion of theological subject matters, I generally give it a cursory glance and head straight for the comments. I will never understand why some seemingly well educated people will try so fervently to draw correlations and conclusions between the contents of the Bible and their own convoluted opinions of how their explanative assumptions pursue some sort of alignment to their own personal views…Sophistry, pure and simple. While most commenters here are highly intelligent and very well versed in many fields of study that conveys dedication to the pursuit of knowledge and understanding, there are some commenters that betray their lack of knowledge and understanding by being priggish and puerile…Remember, you will never be able to reason someone out of a position or opinion that they reasoned themselves into…
    I will NOT unsubscribe to BAR because there is too much to learn, too much insight to gain and too many doors to be opened by way of discussion and analysis that would otherwise be closed if one chooses to ignore them…

  31. Christopher says

    Dear Robin Ngo,

    Please call out to Jesus and await him. Shut your door and call out privately. You have been mislead. By writing this article you are misleading others.

    Sincerely,

    Christopher Dalton

  32. Bart. says

    This is the shallowest analysis of the Bible I have ever read.

  33. Willard R. says

    I enjoyed the article about the Creation Myths by Robin Ngo, and for the most part agree. However, Ngo seemed to have ignored the 800 lb gorrilla in the room — the Canaanite gods El, Baal, etc. It is well and good to compare the Yawhist cult to similar Babylonian and Egyptian cults, and their creation myths. But the Canaanite myths are well documented now that texts from ruins on the coast of northern Syria have been deciphered and compiled. And it appears that to a great extent, the Yawhist cult merely subsumed the Canaanite cults, and only later borrowed from Babylonian and Egyptian sources. In fact, Yaweh as a revamped El-Baal composite is the best way to account for the alternate name for Yaweh — Elohim, or “the gods” plural (Heavenly host might be a better but less literal definition). W. Ron Hess, Winder, GA

  34. Willard R. says

    Deliberately I wrote my reply to Ngo’s excellent article without reading all the prior replies. Now that I’ve read them, I see that all but a few are absurd “faith-based” emotional replies along the lines of “how dare you to think for yourself, rather than to believe what you’ve been taught without question.” Such a pity that adults choose to behave like bratty children that way! Usually, as adults, we become more interested in reality and facts, not the “shut up and vote for me” mentality that is now dominating one of our major political parties. I suggest that most of the tantrum throwers should be welcomed to unsubscribe, as they claim they will. Biblical Archaeology should be devoted to just that, and not to merely Biblical Fanatic Mythologism. W. Ron Hess, Winder, GA

  35. JOHN says

    For me it is quite simple. Either 2 Tim 3:16 is true or it is false. If the account of Genesis 1-3 is a myth then we have no basis upon which to base either the Jewish or the Christian faiths. Jesus never refuted a single word of the OT.
    So, either God the Holy Spirit imparted divine knowledge to the 40 or so authors of the various books of what we call the Bible, or He did not.
    I know without any doubt which story i believe. And it is certainly not Ms Dolansky’s, with due respect to her. She makes claims that neither she nor any other created being can do, because she simply was not there when it all happened. But Jesus was.

  36. Paul says

    Shawna and the unnamed “Biblical scholars” who believe the creation and other accounts as recorded in Genesis are just etiological, providing a reason/meaning as to why and how things were, are quite simply wrong.
    Such a position is fully in the camp of the atheists who posit that all religion and the Bible account itself is just a “god of the gaps”, explaining things as “god did it” because they don’t have enough knowledge or understanding to explain it properly/scientifically. That is implicit in the statement the article makes “The ancient world did not have Google, Wikipedia and smartphones—access to information on human history and scientific achievements developed over millennia at the touch of their fingertips.”
    No, the ancient world did not have these, it had something better – the Word of God given by the Holy Spirit so that it could be trusted as completely true (2 Tim 3;16; 2 Pet 1:21).
    Too, and unarguably, they are wrong because they stand in direct disagreement with the Lord Jesus Christ who believed the literal text of the Genesis account as evidenced in His statements and teachings in the Gospels (Matt 10:15; Matt 12:40-41; Matt 19:3-6; Matt 24:38-39; Mark 10:6; Mark 13:19; Luke 4:25-27; Luke 11:50-51; Luke 13:14; Luke 17:28-32; John 3:14; John 5:45-47). Each of these references by Jesus to Old Testament events are used literally and not allegorically, showing that Jesus, the living Word of God believed literally the written Word of God including all the record of Genesis.

  37. Alan says

    A resounding YES! The calendar from the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) PROVES that! The sun, moon, and stars were created on the fourth day for signs, seasons, days, and years, and the DSS calendar commences on the FOURTH DAY OF THE WEEK! See http://www.haderech.info/DSS/Calendar/QumranCalendar.pdf.

    These false teachers must turn from their sins or be judged in accordance with Torah on the great and terrible Day of the Lord (Judgment Day) on a future Yom Kippur. All those judged will be found GUILTY! Only Yehoshu’a, the Lamb of God, will judge and only He provides Grace (i.e., a judicial pardon from sin). All we must do is believe in Him as ALL (except Him!) have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of Eloah. Shema Yisrael!

  38. Brad says

    In the end, belief is the foundation of our interpretation. We have faith in God (Yahweh) or we have faith in something that is not God. There is plenty of factual evidence to support God’s accounts as written down by men through the inspiration of the Spirit (Ruach), but through which lens is it interpreted? Do you believe the One who is the perfect infallible creator of everything or do you believe men who make mistakes?

    It is academically irresponsible and deceptive to propose theories on baseless conjecture. Take a look at this paper highlighting research on the statistical analysis of the Hebrew in Genesis. http://www.icr.org/i/pdf/technical/Statistical-Determination-of-Genre-in-Biblical-Hebrew.pdf

  39. Jill Gwendolyn says

    I’m with Al. I definitely won’t be unsubscribing any time soon

  40. Gregory says

    If the Genesis account is not literal then how did sin came into the world? Is original sin real? Why did Jesus die? And why did Jesus took the Genesis account as literal?

  41. Gregory says

    And did the authors of the bible took the Genesis account as literal?

  42. Al says

    GOD is the creator, He is the progenitor of all things in the Heaven and of the earth. And Jesus is the image of the invisible GOD…As it says in Colossians 1:16… “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.” Through Jesus, GOD has given us His Word as he has also given us the tools to use in the quest for knowledge and understanding. GOD has also given us all the sciences to which we may better understand His Word…For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who do not believe, proof means nothing…

  43. Al says

    GOD’s Word is GOD’s law, and GOD’s law is the law of mankind, these are His Commandments, these are our commandments. His laws are also the laws of nature, the laws of physics and the laws of gravity. He has given us these certainties to discover for ourselves in order that we may better understand His being and his purpose. Regardless of the how, what, when and where these stories of creation originated, they may not be taken too literally but they should all be taken as truth. Truth as told by those who first recorded them, truth as seen through their eyes and truth as understood by their place in history and their ability to comprehend them…

  44. Johnny says

    The author of this article, Robin Ngo, is obviously very bias in her reporting. A side from the number of scientific, historical and other scholary works she has purposely ignored to slant this article shows that the she is not biblical scholar herself. She states “Scholars argue that Biblical myths arose within the context of other ancient Near Eastern myths that sought to explain the creation of the world.” This gives the impression that all biblical, historical, scientific and other scholars view the Creation Account in Genesis as being a myth – this is no where near the truth.

    Robin has also misused the quotes that she applied here in this article. One person that she quotes multiple time is Shawna Dolansky. Ms. Dolansky work boarders on atheistic view (read several of her articles to see what I mean) and should not be classified as a “biblical scholar” and is a poor source to use.

    This article by Robin also degrades billions of people who belong to the three “Abrahamic Faiths” of the Jews, Chrisitans and Islam. Each teach that Genesis is correct and that God created the Cosmos in six days and rested on the seventh. If we take the stand that God is the author (God breathed, man wrote) of the Torah, Holy Bible and the Q’ran then Robin is also calling God a liar as well as billions of people. A rather smug statement to belittle the faith of billions. It is a shame that Biblical Archeology would publish this article.

  45. Eric says

    This is an article based upon Biblical Scholarship disciplines and not Faith Based studies. In fact, this whole web site is dedicated to Biblical Scholarship and Archeology related to Biblical age subjects. It is not a faith based endeavor. Any discussion between the two methods is fraught with discomfort, and dangerous schisms. Don’t even try. Most, but not all, Faith Based students of history tackle faith as truth and therefore fact, and pick amid the ruins of the ages for convenient confirmations. Biblical Scholarship is research and science based and leaves faith behind. There are many positions and discussions that ensue on almost any point of Biblical Scholarship because the truth is forever revealed but never overtaken. Faith based studies hold truth in both hands and stride forthright into the fray. Those who practice Faith Based reasoning will not like this online magazine. Biblical Scholars roll their eyes at Faith Based dicta. This is a site for for Biblical Scholars by Biblical Scholars. Tote thy Faith to more receiving hands.

  46. Jane says

    All Scripture is God breathed period end of discussion.Don’t waste my time!

  47. Jane says

    The wisdom of man is foolishness to God!

  48. wiffin says

    Shawna is one of those ‘scholars’ that I’m beginning to dislike.

  49. Megha Chandra says

    It will be very wrong to consider such writing as ‘Biblical Scholarship ‘based writing. Because such study or writing has nothing to do with the intended meaning or purpose of the original author of the Bible. It is just what such a person thought, it is just an opinion of a writer about creation apart from the biblical narrative which is the only truth. Therefore, such opinion should not be considered as ‘biblical based scholarship.’ Of course, such writer is entitled to her or his own opinion, but never consider him or her as ‘Biblical Scholar, but he or she can be considered as secular academician. ‘ For biblical scholars always interpret the Bible from the viewpoint of the original authors of the Bible.

  50. Roger says

    Shauna is wrong and Jesus is right. Shauna is a scholar? Not in my book! One either believes in the inspiration of Scripture, or falls prey to this kind of misrepresentation of God’s word.


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