The Principles Of Interpreting Genesis 1 And 2 -- By: Allan A. MacRae

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 02:4 (Fall 1959)
Article: The Principles Of Interpreting Genesis 1 And 2
Author: Allan A. MacRae


The Principles Of Interpreting Genesis 1 And 2

Allan A. MacRae

President, Faith Theological Seminary

I have been asked to discuss the principles that should govern our interpretations of the first two chapters of Genesis. The first of these I would like to state as follows:

1. These Chapters Are A Portion of God’s Word.

When we take up something that we are sure is God’s Word we must have a different attitude toward it than we would toward something that is merely the word of a man. What a man writes may be true or false, depending on the integrity of the man and also on his opportunity of having correct knowledge of the facts with which he, deals. Some men intentionally deceive; others very sincerely lead us astray, since they themselves are mistaken.

When we examine a writing that we know to be a part of God’s Word there can be no question as to the integrity of the author, nor as to his complete knowledge of everything with which he deals. Therefore we must approach it reverently and humbly, since we who ourselves are finite are approaching that which is absolute truth.

This does not mean there may not be problems in dealing with the Word of God. When the finite mind attempts to explain that which has come from the infinite, there will naturally be depths he will be unable to penetrate, and there may even seem to be contradictions which he is not yet prepared to solve. In such a case he should face the problem promptly and openly, holding the particular matter in abeyance until God chooses to give light from other portions of His Word as to the correct answer.

We must not jump to conclusions about a statement of God’s Word. It is very easy to read our ideas into it. We must approach it with humility, with earnest effort, and with a sincere desire to know the mind, of God. We must not deal lightly with God’s Word.

The second principle that should govern our interpretation of this passage is this.

2. These Chapters Occupy A Very Important Position in God’s Word.

This we can note in two regards:

a) These chapters occur at the very beginning of the Bible. All of God’s Word starts with the presentation of the account of creation. This sets the foundation, lays the scene, and establishes the background for all the events that occur later. We can be sure that anything that God has put in so important a place is of great importance. We must be very careful that we treat it aright, and that we do not explain away anything that is clearly stated.

b) A second reason to feel that this occupies an important position in God’s Word, is the later Biblical references to it. Just to not...

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