Hi @swamidass, @John_Harshman, @Eddie, @Chris_Matthew and @RonSewell,
I just dug up this article by creationist Jonathan Sarfati, which I remember reading several years ago: Genesis is history! (6 July 2015). It succinctly summarizes Boyd’s research. Here’s what Sarfati has to say about parallelism in Genesis:
So what would Genesis look like if it were poetry? Hebrew poetry, such as the Psalms, has a different style.(10) The defining characteristic of Hebrew poetry is not rhyme or metre, but parallelism. That is, the statements in two or more consecutive lines are related in some way. For example, in synonymous parallelism there is one statement, then it is immediately followed by another statement saying the same thing in different words. Psalm 19:1–2 nicely illustrates this:
The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
In antithetical parallelism, the first statement is followed by a statement of the opposite, as in Proverbs 28:1 and 7:
The wicked flee when no one pursues,
but the righteous are bold as a lion.
The one who keeps the law is a son with understanding,
but a companion of gluttons shames his father.
In synthetic or constructive parallelism , the first statement is extended by the next one, e.g. Psalm 24:3–4:
Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false,
and does not swear deceitfully.
However, parallelism is absent from Genesis, except where people are quoted, e.g. Genesis 4:23–24. However, they stand out from the rest of Genesis—if Genesis were truly poetic, it would use parallelisms throughout.(11) In fact, the Bible has a poetic celebration of God’s creative work of Genesis: Psalm 104―so if we want to see what a poetic account of creation looks like, that’s where to look. For example, Psalm 104:7, 11 illustrates parallelism perfectly:
At your rebuke they fled;
at the sound of your thunder they took flight.
They give drink to every beast of the field;
the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
Also, Hebrew scholar Dr Steven Boyd has shown that different types of verb (perfect and imperfect) are frequent in Hebrew poetry, but not in historical books. So from his verb analysis, he found that the probability that Genesis 1:1–2:3 is narrative (not poetry) is 0.99997.(12)
I must say that I think Boyd has a point, on purely literary grounds. Whatever else Genesis 1 may be, it’s not poetry. Nor is Genesis 2. There certainly seems to be a kind of structural parallel between the first three days of creation and the last three in Genesis 1, but that doesn’t make the chapter a poem. Genesis 2 looks even less like one.
As for the patterns of sevenness: it’s reasonable to infer that they serve a didactic purpose, spelt out in Exodus 20:11:
For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
You could, if you like, see Genesis 1 as a piece of propaganda dressed up as history: God rested on the seventh day, and so should you. But poetry it ain’t. It doesn’t read like a poem, but a story. The real question is: to what degree did the writer intend his story to be historical? I don’t know the answer to that question. All I know is that even those ancient commentators who favored an allegorical interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2 also believed that it contained a historical kernel. Perhaps “mytho-history” might be the best term. Thoughts?