Genesis 1–11 A Plea For Hermeneutical Consistency -- By: Todd S. Beall

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 29:2 (Spring 2016)
Article: Genesis 1–11 A Plea For Hermeneutical Consistency
Author: Todd S. Beall

Genesis 1–11
A Plea For Hermeneutical Consistency

Todd S. Beall

In March 2010, BioLogos released an interview with Bruce Waltke in which he stated that for Christians to deny the reality of evolution would “make us a cult, some odd group that’s not really interacting with the real world.”1 His remarks, actually taped during a November workshop, sparked a flurry of repercussions, culminating with Waltke’s resignation from the faculty of Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando on April 6, 2010. That resignation sparked outrage from many in the evangelical community who denounced RTS as being too narrow-minded on this issue.2

The interpretation of Genesis 1–11 has always been a contentious issue, a point which Waltke’s forced resignation underscored. There have always been a variety of interpretations of these chapters. But in the past 20 years there has been a noticeable shift in evangelical scholarship from a largely literal understanding of these chapters to a more figurative understanding, such as Waltke’s, that would allow for theistic evolution. This shift (or retreat, as I would probably label it!) is especially notable among professors in my discipline of OT studies.3

What is especially troubling to me is the statement or implication that those who read Genesis 1–11 in a literal fashion are simplistic, naive, and unscholarly. Sometimes the person framing their current view begins by saying, “I used to believe that the Bible was talking about a literal 6-day creation, but….” In the light of the person’s new understanding of the genre of Genesis 1–11 or the ANE parallels, he or she now “sees the light,” and abandons the literal understanding for a figurative one. One can now join the mainstream of academia (both religious and scientific), uttering nice platitudes about how the Bible and evolution are not contradictory at all, and looking down upon those simpletons who haven’t yet reached that blessed stage of enlightenment.

Bruce K. Waltke (born August 30, 1930) is a Reformed evangelical professor of Old Testament and Hebrew. He has held professorships in Old Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary, Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia, Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida, and Kno...

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