Just the other day, I mentioned a new book by Dan Kimball called How (Not) to Read the Bible: Making Sense of the Anti-women, Anti-science, Pro-violence, Pro-slavery and Other Crazy-Sounding Parts of Scripture. There is no doubt that Genesis has always been one of the most misunderstood and debated books of the Bible. Kimball offers some helpful insights when he says the following:
These are the questions the audience of Genesis would be interested in:
· Are we going to survive here in the desert? Are we safe here?
· Is there really only one God? What about all the Egyptians gods? Are they angry we left Egypt?
· Is this God who rescued us still here, or are we alone?
· What do we have to do to please this one God so we will have crops that won’t fail and have food for our families?
· Should we worship the sun? Should we worship the moon like the Egyptians?
· Or worship like the Canaanites, who are now nearby?
· Is the Egyptian story of how the world was made the true one?
These are some of the common questions they were probably not asking:
• Was it in six literal twenty-four-hour days or six long periods of time that God made everything?
How old is the earth? Six thousand years? Six billion years?
• Does the lack of major transitional forms in the fossil records disprove evolution?
• Could primitive nucleic acids, amino acids, and other building blocks of life have formed and organized themselves into self-replicating, self-sustaining units, laying the foundation for cellular biochemistry?
• Was there really a talking snake?
• Were there dinosaurs on Noah’s ark?
• If God created Adam as the first person, did he have a belly button?
As Kimball says, “These are all interesting, great questions. But these questions wouldn’t have made any sense, or even have been asked, by the original audience of Israelites God was communicating to. Today, you and I may want to know the answers to these questions as we read Genesis through a modern lens, but the original audience would not have had these questions. God wanted to teach them other things that were equally important.” – Dan Kimball, How (Not) to Read the Bible: Making Sense of the Anti-women, Anti-science, Pro-violence, Pro-slavery and Other Crazy-Sounding Parts of Scripture, pgs 167-169.