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Original Readers of Genesis (Part One)


Genesis 3:23-24

“Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.”


One common tactic that is currently used by theistic evolutionists in their quest to marry Genesis with evolutionism is to ask “How did the original readers of Genesis understand the book?” The former Bishop of Durham, Dr. NT Wright, uses this question in a number of videos on the BioLogos website. In one, he suggests that early readers of Genesis, in captivity in Babylon, would have recognized the story of Adam as their story; that Adam’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden would be recognized as Israel’s expulsion from the Promised Land.


Deborah Haarsma, the President of BioLogos, adopts this approach as she analyzes the different approaches to interpreting Genesis. In her essay, entitled Comparing Interpretations of Genesis 1, she lists the biblical 6 x 24-hour day reading as merely an interpretation, alongside, for example, the Day-Age theory, whereas biblical creationists point to the fact that the six-day creation view is not an interpretation at all; just an acceptance of what God says.


Haarsma, like Wright, favors the Ancient Near East mythology approach. She says “a combination of the Ancient Near East Cosmology, Kingdom and Covenant, and Creation Poem Interpretations come closest to what the original audience would have heard.” What we need to assert is that the BioLogos opinion is based on the belief that the original readers of Genesis were the Jews in Exile. But this is not the case. The original readers of portions of Genesis would have been contemporaries of the patriarchs, and close to the events being truthfully described.


Prayer: We acknowledge the truth of Your Word, Lord God, and we thank You for giving us that first-hand account of Your wonderful creation. Amen.


Ref: Haarsma, D., Comparing Interpretations of Genesis 1, < >, accessed 2/23/2018. Image: Babylon’s Ishtar Gate, Pergamon Museum, Berlin, Germany; Adobe Stock Images, licensed to author.


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