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Is Genesis 1 11: Myth Or History?

1226 words - 5 pages

Genesis 1-11: Myth or History?"Genesis 1 - 11 is either myth or history. That section of Scripture is not, and cannot be, a third thing: mythical history, or historical myth." In his article Genesis 1-11: Myth or History? Engelsma presents us with the question about the historicity of Genesis 1 - 11. Engelsma tries to defend Genesis 1 - 11 on the assumption that if Genesis 1 - 11, "the foundation of the doctrine of justification by faith alone and the source of the gospel of grace" is myth, the message of Scripture is abandoned. The events of Genesis 1 - 11, according to Engelsma, happened historically as it is recorded. It will not be argued that what is contained in Genesis 1 - 11 is not ...view middle of the document...

Myth may more appropriately be defined as a traditional story of ostensibly historical events, it's role being to offer an explanation to a belief or natural phenomenon. NuttingRalf makes it clear that in this definition of myth is "not commenting on the truth or falsity of the content of the myth" but the form of the literary genre of myth3.One can in fact argue that Genesis 1 - 11 is history the key to doing this lies in ones definition of the word and or how loosely one applies it. Hegelian definition sees that history "includes in its aim the narration of the accidental circumstances of times, of races, and of individuals, treated impartially partly as regards their relation in time, and partly as to their content."4 A standard desk dictionary will give a similar definitionHistory: n 1 that branch of knowledge concerned with past events. 2. A record or account, written and in chronological order, of past events. 3. A connected or related series of facts, event, ect.. 4 past events in general. 5. Something in the past. 6. An unusual or noteworthy past. 7. A drama depicting historical events. 8. A long narrative or story.5In the former definitions of History the idea of history being something in the past is paramount. We see also, emphasis on history as being a record of written past events, the problem here is that is also possible to see an oratory tradition of past events as being history as cited in Burke 6. The later definitions "a drama depicting historical events" and "a long narrative story" seem more subjective but using any of these definitions it seems that Engelsma is correct in saying that Genesis 1 - 11 is an account of history as none of these definitions questions the historical7 truth of the events.Myths are stories of our search for meaning, it offers an allegorical or symbolic explanation for the way things are. We tend to believe that our own religion myths are historical facts8 but Campbell makes note that to get the symbolic meaning of a myth it is imperative to examine other people's myths as well. The creation story of the Bassari people of West Africa has great similarity to the Genesis story:One day Snake said, "We too should eat these fruits. Why must we go...

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