Stories from the Hebrew
Scriptures (a.k.a. Old Testament)
We hope to expand this section to include most of the main stories in the Hebrew Scriptures. For now, it will just deal with a few stories
-- most from the first part of Genesis. These include: origin of the Earth, its species and the rest of the universe, the story of the fall (or rise) of humanity, the great
flood, and other genocides.
As is our custom, we will compare and contrast conservative and liberal interpretations of these stories. Most Christians may well hold beliefs that are
intermediate between these two extremes.
Genesis contains two stories which describe the creation of the world, the
rest of the universe, and all of the forms of life, including humans. The first
story is found in Genesis 1:1 to 2:3; the second in Genesis 2.4 to 2:25. Elements
of an alternative, ancient eastern Mediterranean belief about the creation
of the world is found in two passages of Psalms.
There is a long-standing
conflict between creation scientists, and most geologists and biologists. The former
interpret Genesis and the rest of the bible as
inerrant when interpreted literally. They date the origin of the earth,
its animal and plant species, and the rest of the universe as happening
somewhere between 4000 to 8000 BCE. In excess of 99% of earth & biological scientists
believe in the theory of evolution, and date the age of the earth at about 4.5 billion years ago,
when the surface crust of the earth coalesced.
Genesis also contains an account of the creation of Eve from a rib of Adam to become his partner and co-worker.
This story is found in Genesis 3. Historically, this chapter has been
interpreted as the fall of humanity due to Adam and Eve disobeying an
instruction from God. This was viewed as the event that caused sin to enter
the world. The sin placed a gulf between God and humanity that could only be
overcome -- and then only for certain individuals -- as a result of Yeshua
of Nazareth's (Jesus Christ's) death on the cross. Many conservative and
mainline Christians generally hold these beliefs today. However, some
religious liberals and secularists interpret this chapter as the rise of Adam and Eve from proto-humans to
full human status.
Starting in Genesis 6:6, the Bible records that God was concerned about the
level of violence and other evil behavior among humans. He "was sorry that He had
made man on the earth..." 1 It says that God decided to destroy almost the entire human
race, in the first, largest
and most thorough act of genocide in history. Only Noah,
his three sons and their four wives were to be saved in an ark of their own
construction. The rest of the human race, the land animals and birds were
said to have drowned in a world-wide flood. Again, most conservative Christians
believe that this story is literally true. Essentially all liberal Christians,
biologists, geologists, linguists and anthropologists consider them to be
religious myths -- often with spiritual significance event if they did not
happen in reality.
Genocides ordered or initiated by God: The Passover event in Egypt, the invasion of
Canaan, the near-elimination of the Tribe of Benjamin, and the future mass
extermination described in the book of Revelation
Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), Genesis 6:6. American Standard Version.