I would be interested in hearing your notes / commentary on Genesis 1-11.  From my research, there appears to be a lot of interpretation going into the transalation of our English language bibles. A superficial reading of our English language Bibles in Genesis would seem to support a young earth and a global cataclysmic flood phenomena. But upon further investigation there seems to be problems with both. Personally, at this point in time, I believe in an old earth explanation and a cataclysmic regional flood with global impact.

About for Genesis 1-11, I am not sure it is as much of a translation issue as an interpretation issue.  For example, there is no doubt that the best translation of yom in Genesis 1 is “day.”  The context demands this translation.  Any other translation would be rather obviously reading into the text.  That the “days” are metaphorical I have little doubt.  Even such Jewish commentators as first-century Philo believed that they represented the ages over which God worked.  Early church fathers such as Origen and Augustine agreed with this interpretation.  Western Christians tend to look at Genesis 1-11 through Western eyes, which is not surprising as we are Western!!!   I think of Genesis 1-4 as the most brilliant theological treatise ever written.  The subject is God and the immediate material for this discussion is the creation of the universe (Ch 1), of man (Ch 2) and the fall of man (Ch 3-4).  Personally, I believe that there is historical content here–that God created the things described and that he created them in the order it says he did so–but the theology is the focus.  Near Eastern people expect theology to be expressed through story and this is what the Genesis writer (or writers) does.  Yet, the story is a true one.  I believe that there was an original couple specially created with the image of God as we clearly have his image and his image certainly could not evolve.   I agree with you that the literal approach is not helpful.

About the flood, I lean strongly toward the conclusion that there WAS a flood–a cataclysmic one.  Here as well, it is not principally a translation issue.  The writer uses the Hebrew word for “all” many times and I do not believe this is a question of translation.   The extent of the flood and of the destruction is something to be discussed and debated, but God has a way of using actual events as prefigures and foreshadows and I cannot help but notice that Jesus and Peter (2 Pet 3:1-13) believed that it really happened, and the fact of the flood is assurance of the fact of Jesus’ return.

I am attaching notes and PPT from a recent class I taught in Miami on Genesis 1-11.  Let me know if you find these helpful.   Genesis 1-11 Notes     Genesis PPT

John Oakes

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