Rightly Dividing

Bullet One – Narrative Genre

The bulk of the book of Genesis is in the narrative genre. “Narratives are stories, purposeful stores retelling the historical events of the past, that are intended for a given people in the present” (Fee and Stuart, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, 90). Moses is telling a story, but it is a non-fiction story, an historical record of actual events at specific times in particular places with real characters.

Nothing in Genesis smacks of myth or fable, with fanciful, fictional events. There are no potions, no princesses, and no magical golden coins. Instead, this is a matter of fact account. Even if Genesis one were considered poetry, as a few current scholars suggest, that wouldn’t change its truthfulness. Though I think Genesis one is prose anyway, it wouldn’t make an exegetical difference, since the Psalms aren’t make-believe.

If Genesis one does not describe real events and real days, when does the pretend story stop? If chapter one is figurative, then reality can’t materialize until at least after chapter three, after the story of the fall, of Adam’s sin, and the coming of death. Evolution demands death, the “survival of the fittest,” creatures evolving in order to survive harsh environments and predators, which means that for evolution to take place, death must have also been occurring during those millions of years. So at least the first three chapters of Genesis are untrustworthy. When can we start depending on the straight stuff? If Moses isn’t (always) reporting actuality, and since he gives no indication of switching back and forth between what’s figurative and what’s fact, then he is a great deceiver, and by implication, none of Scripture can be trusted. The truth is, theistic evolution doesn’t stand in light of the narrative genre.