Since the late 1800’s, biblical scholars have favored a mythological view of Genesis 1. In spite of their attempts to promote this view of the Creation account, many Christians hold fast to a literal reading of the text. God created the heavens and earth in six, 24-hour days. The two opposing interpretations have caused a host of problems . . . especially in American culture . . . all related to the subject of time!
What if we are missing the point? Suppose neither interpretation has cornered the market on truth with a capital “T.” Is this possible?
Our eyes are failing us!
When reading the text of Genesis 1, we focus our attention on black letters against a white page. We focus on Hebrew words rather than created images. We delve into the idea of original cultural context rather than universal spiritual appeal. We concern ourselves with the ways in which this text compares with other Creation stories written around the same time in ancient near eastern history. We dig our heels into the soil of human opinion regarding the length of a “day” and conclude that it can only be 24-hours in duration because that is the length of a day! The Bible doesn’t lie. Moreover, the debates over Genesis 1 are defended from highly intellectual positions which erroneously pit science against religion, and intellect against faith.
Are we missing the point of this text?
Our eyes fail us because we do not come to this text with the eyes of a child!
If we did, we would discover that the literary structure of this ancient text follows the color order of the visible spectrum of light.
That’s right! The entire story of Creation is built upon six colors in the rainbow, plus a purple day of rest. Why have we missed the fact that the words, “Let there be light” literally point to physical light? Why does the literary structure of Genesis 1 follow this particular color order? What does the order teach us? Why does the account begin at the darkest end of the spectrum? Why do the colors, orange and red, represent the living creatures? Is the account of Creation rightly divided between 7 entities on Days 1 through 4, and 7 entities created on Days 5 and 6? What happens after the 7th Day?
Does a circle of light silently appear as the words, “Let there be light” reveal the first day of Creation? If so, does a circle of time support the literary movement of the words, “And there was evening, and there was morning”? If so, then the day is not a literal 24-hour day. Nor is it a symbolic day with no intentional movement through time. Rather, each day is a journey through time and light with a defined beginning and a defined end.
And suppose the text of Genesis 1 was inspired in such a highly ordered way that it followed the journey through time and light on each of the remaining 5 days? Then, we’d have a text that looks like this:
Why does this perspective of Genesis 1 matter? Because the opening text of the Bible points to the literal Creation in order to teach spiritual truths. God’s voice speaks through nature and the Jerusalem priesthood heard God’s voice! If we miss this wheel of light, the spiritual foundation of the Judeo-Christian faith is also missed.
We must not be satisfied with a literal or mythological reading of Genesis 1. The text deserves a more complete explanation!
Thoughts along the way,
SUBSCRIBE Carol Wimmer is the author of the acclaimed poem When I say I am a Christian, and three books entitled: The Net—An Organizational Vision for the Church of Tomorrow; The Clock—A Timekeeping Tool for the Church of Tomorrow; and The Key—A Spiritual Language for the Church of Tomorrow