One of the biggest struggles that my course has set up for me is the assertion that the first 11 chapters of Genesis are myth. They are, according to my prof, a metaphor for the history of God’s people, using stories that were already known by those ancient people as a base.
Now, I must admit that I always did wonder about the flood story, but didn’t someone find bits of the ark on top of some mountain somewhere? I had, over the years worked through my beliefs about the first 3 chapters of Genesis and come out the other side as an intelligent design creationist. But now, the scab is off the sore and I am examining the whole thing again.
We have studied the Babylonian story of the god Marduk and the creation story that comes with him. The first chapter of Genesis is viewed as a creed that sets the god of the Israelites above that of their captors. It clearly states that theirs is a god who values mankind and desires to have a relationship with the creation. In the Marduk story man is created to serve the gods and little else.
The story of the flood has a strong resemblance to the more ancient story of Gilgamesh. This epic story includes a flood, an ark, and a sacrifice at the end of it all. It misses the covenant promises of a god who wants to try again with man, a god who desires a relationship with his creation.
It is good to have to think about your beliefs from time to time. These last weeks have jarred some of my “givens” pretty hard. Our prof does an excellent job of bringing God’s grace out of each of these stories and pointing to God’s continued faithfulness to His people. His little sermons help me to realize that these are pictures of God.
I just need to work out for myself how I should hold on to the stories that I learned in Sunday School. Are they fact or do I open myself up to looking at them all as strictly metaphors for the way God works with his people?
The adventure continues.