What is the truth about the Genesis creation story? What are the alternatives to the scientific and creationist approaches? The thing with the creation story is that the way it has been popularly literally read may be the one which is in itself wrong. Well, as a matter of fact, we never read every text in the Bible strictly literally. I will give an example.
The hermeneutic of Revelation
Perhaps the one outstanding occasion where we never read a text anyway literally is with consideration of how we normally read the thirteenth chapter of Revelation. In chapter thirteen of the biblical book of Revelation we read about a certain mythical beast coming out of the sea with seven heads, ten horns, ten crowns on each horn, and upon each head the name of blaspheme. As the specifications continue the beast is said to have been like a leopard, its feet as those of a bear, and having the mouth as that of a lion. Then in Daniel 7:1-8 the author wrote a similar story about four great beasts which came from the sea diverse one from another. The first looked like a lion; the second like a bear and another was like a leopard. But later in the book of Daniel the author tells us that ‘these four great beasts are four kingdoms that shall rise out of the earth.’ (Daniel 7:17.)
Now, because of this unsurpassed similarity between the beast of the apocalypse and Daniel’s beasts, some readers have been hijacking the meaning of Daniel’s beasts to get the full meaning of Revelation’s beast. Since the four beasts of Daniel represents the entire world governments that are determined to rule before the end of time they can easily argue that the beast of Revelation stands for all the world governments that will pre-exist the end of time since it is composed of all the defining features of the beasts of Daniel.
Though, this phenomenon whereby some peculiar words and phrases of the Apocalypse are given nonliteral meanings elsewhere in the Bible is not only limited to the beast of the thirteenth chapter. The last book of the Bible is wholly characterized by those peculiar words, phrases and pictures that are however given other meanings at other parts of the Bible. The number seven, in addition to the fact that it has a very peculiar appearance in Revelation, is also widely used elsewhere in the Bible in such a way that it suggests some nonliteral meaning. Isaiah 30:26 tells that when God redeems his people, when they come to dwell in Zion, the moon will shine like the sun and the sun will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven full days. In Genesis 4:15 God decreed that whosoever slays Cain vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. Here we may not think God meant that any vengeance act was to be repeated on the murderer of Cain for seven rounds. If Cain’s murderer’s punishment was death penalty how could that punishment been instituted sevenfold? Thus we can understand this saying to suggest that the murderer of Cain was to be punished fully; i.e. without any mercy and forgiveness. The list is endless. Also, you may see Ruth 4:15, Mt.12:45, 22:25, Dan.4:14, Gen.41:1-7. Generally, people have come to the agreement that this number may be used to signify perfect-ness, fullness or completeness.
Basically, how we normally read the Apocalypse therefore can be hijacked to envisage an alternative nonliteral manipulation of the entire Bible. In a nut shell, the Bible unlike any other ancient text, may be viewed as specially containing its own inherent language which cannot be found elsewhere. Though, it is just unfortunate that our criticism of the Bible or Christianity have not up to this point looked into this aspect of the Bible.
Genesis and The Apocalypse
But, how does the Genesis creation myth differ from the apocalypse? At the outset what you learn is that once closely evaluated, the Genesis creation narrative turns out to be that text which--like we at times do with some portions of Revelation--we must understand nonliterally. My issue basically is that, not unlike Revelation, most of the important ideas, mythological figures, words and phrases in the creation story are also throughout the entire Bible given alternative meanings. Then, once Genesis contains words known to bear other meanings elsewhere, we are biased--if not dishonest--on how to understand it once we depend strictly on its literal meaning.
But, my more robust argument comes from the unparalleled relationship between the creation narrative and the Apocalypse where the one book quite diametrically opposes the other. What you may have observed is that the first three chapters of the Bible could be viewed as the direct antithesis of the book of Revelation because when Genesis recites the story of creation Revelation on the other hand details the destruction of the very same things said to have been created in the first book. Most of the wording and phraseology found in Genesis chapters 1-3 appears systematically in the different parts of Revelation. The trees, grass, rivers, luminaries and other aspects of the visible universe are the hallmarks of the beginning and the end of the Bible. There is a very peculiar reference to Euphrates, paradise, the serpent and the tree of life in these passages. Moreover we see as we read these two opposing books an equal amount of mythology. The Genesis characters of trees that can transmute people into evil beings, animals that must help people, humans who existed many centuries and the reasoning snake immediately bring to mind the dragon, the beasts and those mythical and human-shaped scorpions with the teeth of lions found in Revelation.
Indeed there is no way we can escape the stunning nearness between the composition of the creation story and the book of Revelation. But this admission excites yet another profound question. If Genesis is the very direct antithesis of Revelation and there have been some practices of reading Revelation through getting the meaning of its symbols and pictures elsewhere in the Bible, do those particular readers draw a similar conclusion with the creation account? Once we say Revelation and the creation account belong to one genre of writings then we are also saying they have to be read the similar way. If the apocalypse could be read non-literally so should also be the case with the creation account.
The way forward!
The discussed way Revelation may be read can also be recalled to describe this book of the Bible as bearing a code. In fact, there is no novelty in the view of the Bible as bearing a code. In our contemporary times the idea was well popularized by Michael Drosnin through his best-selling book The Bible Code first published in 1997. However, the thing with all other Bible code practitioners is that they tend to put forwards very complicated methods of deciphering the Bible which could only be understood by them alone and which we may not all easily agree upon. Usually those methods may not be what can be found in the Bible.
The way I differ from everyone is in that I am relying on a method that anyone can easily fix from the Bible. What I am popularizing is the practice of deciphering the meaning of texts and some ideas in the Bible through intelligibly manipulating the use of figuration in the entire Bible. The Creation Code basically is my investigation on the figurative meaning of the Genesis creation myth.
Now, here is what will be happening. I have divided the whole story of creation into more manageable sections that I will regularly post at different times, starting with the first verse up to the last. A section opens with a verse, two or a few more from the creation chapters of Genesis (chapters 1-3). There will follow a short introduction, a body and then sometimes a closing part. The introduction is a short overview on the selected verses. This is also where those words or statements in that particular selected passage suspected to bear other meanings are identified and listed down. The body is the main area of discussion. This is where the attempt to know what any word may figuratively mean elsewhere follows. The body may be divided into several topics depending on how many words suspected to bear nonliteral meanings are identified. The closing part, if included, just closes the section.
Basically, this study should be more or less the investigation on the nonliteral language in the Genesis creation narrative. Even if you don't take my idea of the creation code you will still benefit from learning the rich usage of figuration and nonliteralism in the Bible. The Bible used here is strictly the King James Version of the Bible. Figuration which would be displayed here would be according to the author's understanding of the text of King James. However, at certain rare occurrences, when the text invites several understandings, reference would be made to other bibles and sources for comparison.