The Fathers of the Church and the Creation Stories

No one interested in the history of Biblical interpretation can ignore the role of the Fathers of the Church. It seems clear that many (though not all) of the Fathers of the Church interpreted the narrative of Genesis literally, as sequential history, and that accordingly most of them regarded the world—including the sun, moon, and stars—as no more than about 6000 years old. They also believed that the sun revolved around the…

The Creation Stories in their Cultural Context

In my last blog piece, I suggested that the first thing one must do before reading a book is to recognize from which library shelf it came—that is, its literary genre. Or, put another way, one must ask oneself how the original readers of an ancient text would have understood it. In the case of Holy Scripture one must also continue to mine the text for meanings not originally grasped by the…

In the Beginning: Lessons from Genesis

The first thing one must do before reading a book is to recognize from which library shelf it came—that is, its literary genre. For example, if one is reading a satire one will misunderstand its contents if one takes it for history or politics. (Thus Swift’s A Modest Proposal For preventing the Children of Poor People From being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, which proposed that poor Irish peasants might…