In the Beginning…We Misunderstood

In The Beginning... We Misunderstood: Interpreting Genesis 1 in Its Original ContextIn The Beginning… We Misunderstood: Interpreting Genesis 1 in Its Original Context by Johnny V. Miller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very quick, easy read and quite compelling arguments for how to interpret Genesis 1. The important thing when reading the Bible is to read with the original audience in mind. What was the intent and meaning for the original audience? That is the lens by which we need to interpret Scripture. Don’t remember who said this but “it cannot mean what it never meant”.
The authors’ argument is that Genesis 1 was not written as a scientific treatise on how the earth was created. Rather it was written in a theological framework for the Israelites leaving Egypt and the worldview that they had developed while living there. The Egyptian worldview was of multiple gods creating the world. The intent of Genesis 1 was to show the Israelites that God was the sole Creator and only god in the universe. He alone had the power to rule the world, not these other gods that they had been exposed to.
Recommended read – important context for when Genesis 1 was originally written.

“The question, however, is now, ‘How can I trust the Bible if it does not mean what it says?’ What this question is really asking is, ‘Can I trust the Bible if it does not mean what I thought it meant from my context when I initially read it, before I understood what it would have meant to the original readers?’ We have already established the principle that the authority and reliability of God’s Word is based on what it affirms. Affirmation must be understood in light of what God said through the original author to the original audience – how they would have understood its meaning. We cannot force the text to say what we want it to say without doing violence to God’s intent and the medium of normal human communication. Our job is to discover the meaning that God intended for the original audience, so that we can apply it truthfully and fruitfully to subsequent audiences in all ages (2 Tim. 3:14-17). Then we will know that we are hearing the Word of God, and we can trust his intended message. This message will not be different from what the original audience would have understood.” (Emphasis mine)

“It is a natural, understandable tendency to import our cultural expectations into our reading, rather than to see through the eyes of the original audience. But to be accurate biblically, we need to put ourselves into the original audience’s sandals, try to hear with their ears, and try to listen with their expectations and perceptions.”


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