Dr. James J. S. Johnson
Sanctify them through thy truth; Thy word is truth.Johns 17:17, quoting the Lord Jesus Christ
Genesis is Not an Ancient Myth ‘Sanitized’ by Jews.
Years ago, while teaching night college, a non-Christian student chided me for treating the book of Genesis as true history. With fake flattery, the sarcastic student (who was a cult member) said, “I’m surprised, as knowledgeable as you are, that you treat the Genesis myth as if it was real history that actually happened.”
The implied assertion was that all truly “knowledgeable” professors understand that Genesis is just backdated Jewish literature, forged from ancient myths adopted from Israel’s pagan neighbors. The challenging student also balked at the books of Moses being written by the historical Moses. How would you answer that criticism of the Bible’s integrity?
Referring to John 5:44-47, I admonished the student that no one was more “knowledgeable” than the Lord Jesus Christ, yet He Himself treated Genesis as reporting genuine history, recognizing Moses as Genesis’s human co-author.(1)
To this the skeptical grad student countered, “Jesus was only accommodating the common beliefs of His culture, to avoid offending His audience in a way that would distract from His main message”.
The student further alleged that Christ mixed ancient mythology (such as false ideas about creation and the Flood) with His teachings about morality, in order to avoid sidetrack controversies. This is like saying that endorsing minor falsehoods is “okay”, if you do so to prevent listener distraction, while you teach “greater good” virtues, like honesty and morality.
But such slander—against Christ’s recorded teachings, as well as against other teachings in Scripture—is nothing new, as pseudo-scholar Jean Levie illustrates:
Scientific ideas current in those [biblical] days, but which have now been abandoned, may enter into the formulation of teaching [i.e., main message] which alone the inspired writer wishes to assert. It is, moreover, of little consequence [sic] whether he did or did not believe in the ideas current in his time, for they are not what he is claiming to assert.(2)see Levie cite [footnote 2 below]
However, worldly-“wise” scoffer Jean Levie is not alone in his denial of Scripture’s inerrancy. More recently, another such Scripture-scoffing skeptic, Peter Enns (whom BioLogos promotes), has added sophistic suggestions that Genesis incorporates ancient creation myths, acceptably, by sanitizing those pre-scientific pagan myths into stories with the Jewish God portrayed as the Creator.(3)
This history-denying “accommodationism” insultingly mischaracterizes the Lord Jesus Christ, as if He “accommodated” erroneous thinking (of His supposedly “pre-scientific” audiences), by some kind of “end-justifies-the-means” rationalizations.
So, disagreeing with the challenger’s bluff, I replied: Christ refused to accommodate false teachings of His generation, regardless of how much He offended His audiences, as He clashed against their popular fallacies. In fact, Christ sometimes went out of His way to do the opposite fo accommodating incorrect thinking of His audiences.
To force conflict, Christ purposely and provocatively healed on the Sabbath.(4)
Likewise, He prioritized time with children, conspicuously clashing with Pharisaic teaching that conversations with little children, like talking to ignorant commoners, wasted valuable time.(5) Christ spoke to a Samaritan woman, despite cultural rancor between Jews and Samaritans.(6)
Violently knocking over Temple money-changer tables, to shame such religious scam-thievery, was not very “accommodationist” to the religious charlatan-fraudfeasors!(7) The list goes on.(8)
Genesis is not myth. Jesus taught it as true history—and He never tried to “accommodate” falsity. References
- (1)Henry M. Morris. Christ and the Writings of Moses. Days of Praise (May 18, 2004). https://www.icr.org/article/christ-writings-moses . Notice that the Lord Jesus repeatedly treated Genesis as real history: Matthew 10:15, 19:3-6; 24:38-39; Mark 10:3-9; Luke 11:50-51, 17:28-32; John 5:44-47; etc.
- (2)Jean Levie, The Bible, Word of God in Words of Men (NY: P.J. Kennedy & Sons, 1961, translated by S. H. Treman), pages 216-217, as quoted in John Warwick Montgomery, “The Approach of New Shape Roman Catholicism to Scriptural Inerrancy: A Case Study for Evangelicals”, Bulletin of the Evangelical Theological Society, 10(4):209-225 (fall 1967).
- (3)Skeptic Enns alleges: “The reason that [Genesis] account is different from its ancient Near Eastern counterparts is not that it is history in the modern sense of the word and therefore divorced from any similarity to ancient Near Eastern myth. … God adopted Abraham as the forefather of a new people, and in doing so he also adopted the mythic categories within which Abraham—and everyone else—thought. But God did not simply leave Abraham in his mythic world. Rather, [sic] God transformed the ancient myths so that Israel’s story would come to focus on its God.” Peter Enns, Inspiration and Incarnation (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2005), pages 53-54, as quoted in G. K. Beale, “Myth, History, and Inspiration: A Review Article of ‘Inspiration and Incarnation’ by Peter Enns”, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 49(2):287-312 (June 2006).
- (4)Luke 6:1-11; 13:10-17; 14:1-6.
- (5)Pirkê Abôth 3:10 (Dosa ben Harchinas), discussed in James J. S. Johnson, “When Jesus Took Time Out to Bless the Children”, Biblical History, 1(3):50-55 (October 1987).
- (6)John 4:5-27.
- (7)Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-18.
- (8)See generally Bill Cooper, THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE BOOK OF GENESIS (Portsmouth, England, U.K.: Creation Science Movement, 2011), 9-130.
- [NOTE: this article was originally written June 13th A.D.2019]