Part one of this paper set out the philosophy and history that lay behind a new trend in conservative Christian efforts to dehistoricize Genesis 1. Part two will examine in detail the literary devices that Genesis 1 is mooted to contain and see if their presence perfunctorily rules out its being historical prose.
At the end of the first part of this paper1 it was noted how one academic and theologian challenged the historico-grammatical approach to Scripture by claiming that Genesis 1 is replete with literary devices and that these, in and of themselves, negate any possibility that Genesis is historical prose.2 What follows is a detailed examination of this claim.
This is arguably the most perplexing of all devices putatively forming an integral part of Genesis 1 and is confounding for no other reason than vagueness. It is tempting to respond to this rather jejune assertion by asking, “Just how long is that intricate piece of string?” Attention is drawn to its clear subjective nature by the omission of any formal calculus of the assumed necessary connection between intricateness and ahistoricity. And with regard to this relationship, how does one assess the degree to which history is undermined by complexity, and at what point does a passage move from historicity to ahistoricity based on an objective calculator of intricateness? Is it an all or nothing measure or does one invest some historical truth depending on degrees of intricateness? In other words, what exactly constitutes intricate structure? How and why does this indicate ahistorical material, and to what extent?
Another indication that intricateness is in the eye of its beholder is the conflicting conclusions that different commentators arrive at when assessing Genesis’ structure. For example, one author judged Genesis 1 as both primitive and naive with its language “unornate, its method … stiff and precise and … repetitious.”….3
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