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Is Genesis 1-11: Myth or History?

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Is Genesis 1-11: Myth or History?

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  • May 26, 2003
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Genesis 1-11: Myth or History?

"Genesis 1 - 11 is either myth or history. That section of Scripture is not, and cannot be, a third thing: mythical history, or historical myth." In his article Genesis 1-11: Myth or History? Engelsma presents us with the question about the historicity of Genesis 1 - 11. Engelsma tries to defend Genesis 1 - 11 on the assumption that if Genesis 1 - 11, "the foundation of the doctrine of justification by faith alone and the source of the gospel of grace" is myth, the message of Scripture is abandoned. The events of Genesis 1 - 11, according to Engelsma, happened historically as it is recorded. It will not be argued that what is contained in Genesis 1 - 11 is not history, historical or truth, but that it is possible that Engelsma's augment of the historicity of Genesis 1 - 11 falls short in his definition of Myth. In regard to weather or not Genesis 1 - 11 is (in my own opinion, from my own findings) history or myth it will be argued that either definition may be applied as neither definition questions the historical truth of these chapters. Though it will be proven that the Genesis 1 - 11 does suit the mythical literary genre rather then the historical.

Engelsma places emphasis on the untruth of myth in defining it as

"a story that explains an important aspect of human life and experience. Often the story is of a theological, spiritual, and religious nature. But a myth is a story that never happened. The storyteller casts the myth in the form of events, events that occurred on earth among men. Usually these events involved the gods and their relationships with men and women. But these mythical events have no reality in actual fact; they are unhistorical. If read or listened to for entertainment, the myth is fictitious. If taught as the factual explanation of a certain aspect of human life, the myth is a lie." 1

In Engelsma's definition of myth there is a focus on the more common understanding of the myth being something...