The Bible’s Old Testament: Genesis part II: Slight embellishment?

So Genesis begins with the creation of the galaxy in general and our world specifically.  And on the seventh day, God rested. Given all that he accomplished, I can understand why. Though if you believe the Bible (meaning you use the Bible to support decisions and beliefs), how does this first part stand up?

Thousands of years ago, it might make sense that when someone inquired about light and darkness and how they came to be, someone offered: God did it.  Okay, but now we know that we get our light from the sun and our portion of the planet goes black when the Earth rotates us away from the sun: darkness. Examining details like this should realistically cause at least one Bible enthusiast to say, okay, we found a hole.  And if one thing is inaccurate, can’t there be others?

Let’s take the story of Noah and his 450 ft-long ark. Based on the first set of God’s directions, Noah filled it with pairs of every animal known to man (including birds) and his wife and three sons.  In the alternate version of directions, Noah had seven of each animal, a mix of male and female. In either version, that’s some ship. How a single person builds this thing, complete with multiple levels, etc., is beyond me. I appreciate the inspiring angle: one man, based on belief, accomplishes something seemingly impossible.  There is worth in such a story. This is how people get inspired. But the story should be plausible, yes?

However, even suggesting that happened (building of the ship), let’s look at the great flood— God flooded the whole world with 40 days and 40 nights of rain, creating flood waters that lasted 150 days.

Crazy rains and floods do occur, but maybe the “world” was an exaggeration. Perhaps their world was small—how much of it could they really have known about? Is it possible that the world to Noah was only the world he could see? Perhaps there was a great flood that covered a great area, but the whole planet? So is this a case of an event being recorded as it happened or one that was embellished by the person who wrote it?

And if people say, well, that is an exaggeration, how does that not apply to ALL the Bible?  Where does one draw the line? Isn’t it possible that a volcano destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah (as the text states) due to a natural chain of events setting off the eruption and not because God made it so?

About virgowriter

Brad Windhauser has a Master's in English from Rutgers University (Camden campus) and an MFA in creative writing from Queens University of Charlotte. He is an Associate Professor (Teaching/Instruction) in the English Department at Temple University. His short stories have appeared in The Baltimore Review, The Santa Fe Writer's Project Journal, Ray's Road Review, Philadelphia Review of Books, Northern Liberty Review, and Jonathan. His first novel, Regret (a gay-themed thriller set in Philadelphia) was published in 2007. You can read more about (and buy) it here: His second novel, The Intersection, is being published by Black Rose Writing September 2016. He is one of five regular contributors to On his solo blog, he is chronicling his experience as a gay writer reading the Bible for the first time: Follow his work at:
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2 Responses to The Bible’s Old Testament: Genesis part II: Slight embellishment?

  1. Michael says:

    I hope that when you are done with the Bible, you will start on the Babylonian myths. Not only do they show that the stories are MUCH older than the “time of the Bible”, but it’s interesting to see what writers (or recorders) changed between the versions (well, based presumably on a previously-existing oral tradition) and what that might tell us about cultural differences and changes in cultural practices.

    • virgowriter says:

      As I am unfamiliar with Babylonian myths I will check them out. I enjoy noting these types of differences and what might compel a person (or a society) to make these alterations. Joseph Campbell’s work with mythologies is great for noting these kinds of things.

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