Eddie and Paul Price on the Bible and Theology

So if Jesus says the mustard seed is the smallest of all seeds, he is teaching that as a scientific fact? And if it turns out that there are smaller seeds, Jesus teaches an error?

Not on any specific passage, but on 40 years of study of Scripture, much of it in Greek and Hebrew, and of consideration of narrative styles, genres, etc., alongside simultaneous study of other ancient literary and religious texts, and parallel considerations. Certain portions of Genesis don’t have the smell of “report” about them. I could argue that in great detail, but it would involve writing two or three books, and the web isn’t the place for that. But there is plenty of work out there on Biblical narratology. A good introduction to it, though not specifically about Genesis, is Alter’s The Art of Biblical Narrative.

As for Jesus, his uses of Genesis are incidental, and not systematic, and it is very difficult to generate any broad hermeneutical principles from studying his use of the Old Testament. Overwhelmingly his approach, as far as we have it in our current Gospels, is homiletical rather than scholarly. Certainly he vouches for the historicity of parts of the the Law and the Prophets in a general way, i.e., he speaks as if Moses was a real person who wrote the Law, and he refers on occasion to isolated points of Genesis 1-11 (not very often!), but there is no way of proving that he would have endorsed a modern literalist hermeneutics, and it seems most unlikely to me that he would have done so.

I don’t think that affirming the historicity of the Flood story is at all important for Christian faith. The Flood story doesn’t make it into any of the historical Creeds of the Church. In fact, almost nothing from Genesis 1-11 makes it into the Creeds, beyond a general notion of Creation. Fundamentalism is obsessed with discussing Genesis 1-11, and the importance it gives to those chapters is all out of proportion to the importance it had for the early Fathers and Councils.


There’s a difference between taking words in context, and simply making up your own “teachings” that contradict what the text says. You’ve taken a case of reported speech where Jesus was speaking of the smallest of all seeds (known to the audience). We speak the same way today. That is not an excuse to claim hyperbole anywhere in the text of the entire Bible. Genesis 6 is history, not reported speech, in any case.

Not on any specific passage, but on 40 years of study of Scripture, much of it in Greek and Hebrew, and of consideration of narrative styles, genres, etc., alongside simultaneous study of other ancient literary and religious texts, and parallel considerations.

By your own admission, you cannot even point to a single passage that supports what you’re trying to argue for! 40 years? Try closer to 1900 years. That’s about how many years of church history elapsed before Darwin came along. Can you please point me to a single Christian theologian who supports your exegesis prior to Darwin? And cite?

So I’m supposed to trust your “smell” over what the Bible actually says?

Certainly he vouches for the historicity of parts of the the Law and the Prophets in a general way, i.e., he speaks as if Moses was a real person who wrote the Law, and he refers on occasion to isolated points of Genesis 1-11 (not very often!), but there is no way of proving that he would have endorsed a modern literalist hermeneutics, and it seems most unlikely to me that he would have done so.

Jesus spoke of Adam and Eve as real literal people, also. And he stated that God created them thus from the beginning of Creation.

Peter disagreed. He felt it was so important that he singled the Flood out along with God’s Creation as the two historic events that scoffers in the last days would deny. 2 Peter 3. You have the “smell” of a scoffer yourself, based on Peter’s warning.

That doesn’t surprise me in the least, since that was all just a given back then. Not to mention that the Creeds were designed to give a quick snapshot of the Gospel–not to communicate all the important truths of the Bible in one go. They were also designed to combat the prevalent heresies of their time, were they not?

It wasn’t until the modern, post-Enlightenment culture took hold (and the accompanying shift to a belief in deep time and evolution) that we had to debate and argue about the basic facts that God created and that He flooded the whole earth. The Christian faith is built upon the foundation of the history in Genesis. That’s why Paul had to explain that there is one Creator God to the Greeks at Mars Hill first, before he undertook to share the Gospel with them.

And your definition of a scoffer is anyone who dares to disagree with you.

Drat. That one finished off yet another irony meter. I can’t afford to keep replacing them.

Yet again, @Eddie beat me to the punch. Yes, the mustard seed is perhaps the most obvious example that destroys the claim of @PDPrice.

In rejoinder, I think we will see a link to yet another CMI website article any moment now.

Bingo. There it is. Told ya.

Sometimes the obvious must be restated. Good job, @Eddie. Your patience and your stamina are admirable.

Indeed. But without that obsession, a number of origins-focused ministries could not pay the bills.

Have you investigated any of the scholarship which refutes this popular fad?

Considering the many thousands of Chinese characters, I would call an occasional “hit” totally expected—and unremarkable. Besides, so many sermons and popular orations (e.g., John F. Kennedy) love to cite pseudo-etymologies and imagined stories. Have you ever heard that the Chinese character for crisis is a combination of the symbols for danger and opportunity? (That remains a favorite JFK inspirational quote.) It’s bunk. Face-palm quality bunk.

OK. I’m done. I’m not as patient as @Eddie.


The atheists on this site – and even some of the Christian scientists – would laugh out loud if they heard you say this about me. They have repeatedly belittled me for not accepting so-called scientific consensus, whether or evolution or global warming or other things. They have called me a “creationist” and “fundamentalist” and so on for expressing doubts about the consensus. You perhaps have not noticed my various other postings here.

I’m happy to trust what God tells me through the Bible. The problem is that I don’t agree with the way you interpret the Bible. Has God given you the job of deciding which interpretations are correct, and which interpretations are necessary? Did you get this commission in a dream, or a vision, or how? Can you tell us the date on which you received this authority, and the circumstances?

This may be so, but then you have to explain how the vast majority of people trained in the relevant sciences have failed to notice this overwhelming evidence.

I take it that you agree with me that it is wrong to impute “error” to Jesus if he is merely employing typical Hebraic hyperbole in his expression, to make a teaching point. You agree, then, that even direct statements of Jesus, reported as direct statements by the narrator, cannot always be taken as historically or scientifically accurate. You admit that they have to be read in context, in light of Jesus’s intentions.

I agree that hyperbole should not be claimed without warrant. However, in the case of the Flood story, it’s not hyperbole I’m claiming. It would be hyperbole if the Flood story only meant a great local Flood, but expanded it into a universal Flood because the author got “carried away” in his Hebrew style. But that’s not my view. I think the authors depicted a global Flood not out of hyperbole (exaggerating a real event), but as a deliberate storytelling choice, connected with the point they were trying to make.

How did you establish that the genre of Genesis 6 is “history”? What literary or other criteria did you employ to establish this?

Not specifically about the Flood narrative, but we know that Augustine rejected the 24-hour day reading, and we have Origen’s statements that much of the Old and New Testament is not meant to be read historically. You will of course disagree with Augustine and Origen on these points, but I’m not mentioning them to prove they are right, but merely to show that non-literalist readings have existed and can be found in major theologians. Augustine’s thought is central to Western Christianity, both Catholic and Protestant.

And by the way, my motivation isn’t Darwinian. If you read the rest of this site, you will see that I have taken many bruises for questioning aspects of Darwin’s thought. I read Genesis the way I do for reasons having to do with science or evolution or modern cosmology etc. I read it the way I do as a result of study and personal reflection on the training I received in a very good graduate school. None of my teachers ever suggested that I should read the Bible in any particular way to accommodate evolution or any other scientific view. They told me to focus on the text, not on external matters such as what modern scientists had to say.

I’m not asking you to agree with me; I’m just explaining why I don’t agree with you. I expect you will go on reading Genesis literally, and that is fine with me; you’ll do less harm that way than if you were a modern liberal minister from a mainstream Protestant church. But I don’t hold by literalism any more than I hold by liberalism. A pox on both their houses! And I intend to keep supporting people who are being bullied by literalists, just as I support people who are being bullied by Darwinists.

He appealed to a story well-known to his readers to make a point. Paul and Jesus do the same. In any case, the Church did not think the Flood story to be important enough to incorporate into the Creeds. The only “historical” statements in the Creeds concern Jesus, nothing from Genesis (beyond saying that God made heaven and earth).

Well, yes, I’m not claiming that every single thing in the Bible should be found in the Creeds. But it’s interesting that nothing from Genesis 1-11 (beyond a general affirmation of Creation) makes it into the Creeds. Not even the doctrine of the Fall, which someone such as yourself would think essential and utterly “core” to Christian belief. Don’t you find it odd that it’s not mentioned in the Creeds?

In fact, the Bible itself, and the authority and inspiration of the Bible, are not affirmed in the Creeds (beyond saying that Jesus rose again according to the Scriptures, which meant not our Christian Bible but the Old Testament Scriptures, and even then referred only to the parts pertaining to Messianic prophecy, not to Genesis). One would think that if accepting the truth of the entire Bible as both inspired and inerrant were essential to Christian faith, a statement that the whole Bible is inspired and inerrant would be vouched for in the Creeds – but it isn’t. The Creeds are about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, not about the Bible. “Whoever wishes to be saved”, says the Athanasian Creed, must believe certain things about the Trinity, the Incarnation, etc. It never says that whoever wishes to be saved must “believe in the Bible”. The Creeds don’t ask Christians to affirm or believe anything about “the Bible” as such, though they ask Christians to affirm selected items taught in the Bible – overwhelmingly from the New Testament, not Genesis.

Yet if you removed the Flood story (and the very few later endorsements of it) entirely from the Bible, the core of Christian teaching would remain completely unaffected. Creation, Fall, Prophecy, Incarnation, Trinity, Redemption, and Eschatology would all remain untouched. It doesn’t come into the mechanics of Fall and Redemption. That’s not to say it’s of no importance. But its historicity does not figure in the workings of the central Christian doctrines.

I would suggest that the Christian faith is founded upon the religion of Abraham, as modified by Moses, the prophets, and Jesus. The stories in Genesis help to contextualize that religion in a cosmic perspective, but there is very little evidence that most of the stories in Genesis were important for the day to day life of the average religious Israelite. The Old Testament refers only glancingly to most of the material in Genesis 1-11. Even Jesus and Paul only refer to Genesis in a spotty way. And the narrators of the Gospels seem to be able to state their message with very little concern for what Genesis said. Even the inclusion of Adam in the NT genealogies seems to be pro forma, and in any case only two of the four gospels bother with genealogies, which indicates that the link with Adam isn’t deemed central to the gospel message. The American transformation of Christianity from a Gospel-based religion to a Genesis-based religion is a remarkable mutation in Christian religious history.


Let them laugh. Let’s stick to the topic at hand.

You agree with me that the Bible says the Flood was universal. You simply refuse to believe it. Instead you say it doesn’t “smell” like reporting, and you proclaim that it doesn’t intend to “teach” what it says.

God has given us all the Bible. And he has given ALL believers the solemn responsibility of both believing and defending the truth of this revelation:

“Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” Jude 1:3

The Bible’s meaning is not a matter of personal interpretation, and there are those who claim to be brothers in the church who bring destructive heresies. 2 Peter 2.

No, I don’t. Peter already did, in 2 Peter 3. They deliberately overlook this evidence.

No I certainly do not agree. When Jesus spoke of the mustard seed being smallest, that was entirely accurate in the context in which he said it. It would have been nonsensical and useless for him to talk of some other seed that his audience would not have known. This was an analogy. You are twisting Scripture when you claim you can judge authorial intent apart from the actual text itself. You are making yourself, or those academics you choose to follow, the true authority, rather than the meaning of the text.

Then you deny that the Bible is without error or falsehood. There is simply nothing in the text of Genesis to indicate to the reader that this was a parable, rather than a true historical event. It is connected with all the rest of biblical history seamlessly.

Both internal indicators and the fact that Jesus and the apostles quoted from Genesis as real history.

The Flood is what we’re talking about, specifically. So you admit you’re taking a view of the Flood that is completely unrepresented among theologians for the first roughly 1900 years of church history. Wow!

Yes, but both of these men would still be regarded as YECs, and both, as far as I know, affirmed a truly global Flood. They did have faults, and that can be tied to the oftentimes heretical Alexandrian school by which they were both influenced.

I suggest you let the Bible instruct you, rather than professors who deny it and teach novel ideas that nobody else in the church could think up for nearly 1900 years …

Really? Then why did you bother to make the claim you did earlier, that there is no scientific evidence for a global Flood? If that’s not part of your interpretive process, then better to leave it out of the discussion. You’ve already admitted that you cannot point to anything in the text that supports the position you’re taking. That’s a pretty big problem for somebody who claims to focus on the text.

Then you are making yourself and aid to the scoffers and an enemy of the truth. To stand up for what the Bible says is not bullying, it’s being faithful.

What point, exactly? You seem to have missed it.

No, not at all. I already addressed this. The Creeds, in any case, are not inspired by God! They represent what the Christians felt they needed to affirm in the face of the heresies of their time (not ours). Don’t you find it odd that nobody in the first roughly 1900 years of church history agrees with your position on Genesis? To me, that is a much bigger problem than nitpicking about which doctrines were included in creeds.

That should make you wonder why Peter felt it was important enough to be specifically worth mentioning as an object of the scoffers’ end times attack on the Bible. The answer is given to you right there in 2 Peter 3. The Flood breaks the scoffers’ anti-biblical historical paradigm of uniformitarianism.

Yes, and part of that religion is the history it records (and which you deny, at least in part).

I don’t know what that is supposed to mean. What evidence do you require that the israelites actually believed their own recorded history?

They refer to it as genuine history, as has been shown. Never as a myth. Paul builds his entire doctrine of salvation in Romans on the literal historical truth of Adam as the first man.

Because in the context, that history was already a given. The Gospels are Jewish historical records. Matthew refers extensively back to prophecies from the OT and how Jesus fulfilled them. And all throughout the Gospels, the OT canon is referred to as the Scriptures which cannot be broken.

That is not what Paul taught in Romans. He made it very clear that Adam is central to the gospel. Adam is included in the genealogies right alongside all the other historical figures from the OT, and your hand-waving dismissal of it as “pro forma” is, to put it bluntly, sickening.

This is the historic Christian faith. Yours is the mutation, and by your own admission nobody in the church before Darwin’s time agreed with your interpretation.

I agree that Genesis tells a story about a universal flood.

Refuse to believe what? That the Bible tells the story of a universal flood? No, I believe that the Bible tells that story.

Or do you mean, refuse to believe that a universal flood actually occurred?

No, I don’t “refuse to believe” that, any more than I “refuse to believe” in the Loch Ness Monster. The phrase “refuse to believe” implies an action of the will, but it has nothing to do with the will; it’s completely based on the state of the evidence. I see no evidence – no convincing evidence – that there was ever a universal flood, at any time; and that a universal flood did not happen ca. 3000 BC is as close to certain as any historical statement can ever be. If such a flood had occurred, it would show unmistakable signs to geologists and geographers, and it would correlate with not just a few stray archaeological facts, but with hundreds of such facts. It would also have produced a very different aftermath than what our ancient historical records reveal. So I have to conclude that there was no such flood at that particular time. That’s the most reasonable conclusion based on the evidence. If new evidence comes up, I’ll reconsider. But my conclusion is based on reasoning from evidence, not from any choice or preference of my own, and not from any act of will on my part. There’s no “refusal”, any more than you “refuse” to believe in leprechauns.

Which I haven’t contested.

“The faith delivered to the saints” there does not mean “the faith delivered to the people of Israel in the Old Testament”; it’s clearly a reference to the Christian habit of calling Christians “saints”, i.e., sanctified ones, and it means the faith in Jesus Christ.

What do you mean by that? All texts, not just the Bible, but other religious texts, and even texts as simple as an order for a new pair of boots, require interpretation. The question is whether the interpretation of religious texts belongs to the individual or to the body that has religious authority. For the Roman Catholic or the Greek Orthodox, interpretation in the end belongs to the Church; for the typical “me and my Bible and my conscience” American sectarian Protestant, interpretation belongs to the individual. Indeed, just about every small Protestant denomination in the USA owes its existence to proud individuals who decided that their interpretation was better than the interpretation of the Church that reared them, and broke away to found their own little sects or denominations.

If you really don’t believe that personal interpretation should be allowed, you should return to the authority of the Roman Church, which Protestantism broke away from, and let the priests and theologians teach you the official Church interpretation.

I didn’t say “parable,” and those aren’t the only two options. Again, I recommend you do some reading in narratological theory, people like Alter and M. Sternberg. Your reading background appears to be narrow.

No, not “YECs”, which has a definitely modern referent, though it’s true that most of the Fathers probably thought the Biblical chronology was more or less accurate. But the very fault you find in the Fathers – you say they have too much Greek influence – might give you a clue. Almost none of the Greek or Latin Fathers could read Hebrew. They did not have much feel for Hebrew narrative. We are in a better situation than the Greek or Latin fathers regarding the translation and interpretation of the Hebrew Bible. We know much more than they did about the historical context, Hebrew language, narrative style, etc. So, while I respect the Fathers when it comes to systematic questions, I don’t feel obliged to follow them when it comes to Hebrew exegesis. And in your own Protestant Biblicist religion, you feel free to overrule the Fathers in the name of what you think the Bible teaches, so you can hardly deny me the same sphere of judgment.

I have, and do.

I don’t agree with most professors of Bible. I have the same low opinion of most of them as you do.
But I do think a few of them are on the right track – the ones who have perceived the literary structures and forms of Hebrew narrative, and have thought about those forms deeply. Note that I am not championing the historical-critical approach which treats the Bible as riddled with errors and contradictions. On the contrary, I look for coherence when I read the Bible. Coherence comes more quickly once one gives up mechanical literalism.

But I do leave it out of the discussion – if the discussion is the meaning of the Hebrew text. It’s irrelevant whether or not a global flood happened, if our goal is to determine the meaning of the text. Whether or not a global flood happened is only relevant to Bible study if one accepts that Genesis is trying to write history – which I deny.

It’s bullying when it aggressively tries to make Christians who don’t agree with one’s own interpretation feel as if they are not Christians, but heretics or even unbelievers. If you want to be faithful, state your own interpretation, admit you are fallible and might be wrong, listen respectfully to other Christians who differ, and work from the charitable assumption that they are not necessarily evil, willful, proud, unbelievers or backsliders merely because they disagree with you.

How do you know that? Do you deny that an omnipotent God could inspire his Church, the body of Christ, to adopt the correct creeds? Do you think God stopped communicating truth to his followers the moment the ink dried on the last page of the New Testament? Did the lines of communication with the faithful become broken at that point?

Not really, because Christian theologians were mostly focused on Fall, sin, redemption, incarnaton, Trinity, etc. There is no reason to assume that, with that focus, they would become excellent interpreters of the Hebrew Bible – a book most of them could not read until after the Reformation, because they didn’t know the language. There is no reason to assume that they could see all that is there to be seen if one carefully studies the Hebrew Bible. There is no reason why God could not have left plenty of room for new discovery about the Bible’s meaning for future generations of Christians. The study of the Hebrew Bible by Christians in earnest only began with the Reformation, and did not really get going in a big way – a way that started to affect Christian exegesis and theology – until about the 19th century.

Doesn’t it ever occur to you as odd that Biblical books after Genesis hardly ever refer to the Garden, the serpent, Cain and Abel, Nimrod, the Flood, Babel, etc.? They frequently refer back to Abraham, Jacob, the role of Egypt, etc., but hardly ever to the early stories of Genesis. Yet according to you, the whole Jewish religion (and Christian religion which built on it) logically depends on these early stories. Apparently the Biblical writers didn’t get the memo that they were supposed to be thinking much more often about Genesis 1-11.

No, not the whole canon, which was not fully formed yet, but they frequently referred to the Law and the Prophets, and some (not all) of the Writings.

Even assuming that Paul’s claim is not intended Midrashically, I wasn’t speaking about Paul, but about the Gospels. Why do two of the four Gospels not even bother to give a genealogy for Jesus?

Wooden literalism focused on Genesis and hardly dealing with the Gospels, and focused on bashing science, is not the historic Christian faith. If you want the historic Christian faith, read the Creeds and the edicts of the Councils and the writings of the great theologians of the past. You confuse American sectarian Protestant faith with Christian faith. Not an uncommon error in the USA, but not an error that European Christians tend to make.

Hardly anybody in the Church before Darwin’s time had a clue how to read the Hebrew Bible, so that’s not surprising.

Let me be clear: I’m not trying to get you to accept my interpretation. I’m just trying to help out those who might be intimidated by the way you press your interpretation. I can live comfortably in a Christian environment where your interpretation is one of several on the table. It doesn’t offend me. You’re entitled to it. But you haven’t been appointed by any Christian authority as the arbiter of what Genesis means. You’re a fallible mortal, like the rest of us, capable of making errors of interpretation. As long this is understood by everyone else here – even if it’s not understood by you – I have no problem with your advocacy of your interpretation.


And so you’ll assume it was correct, even though those people may have checked and found the pastor was making it up? Or may not have been Chinese, but Malayan?

Incidentally, this is a very old claim, that most here will have heard amd looked into before. You should look at claimed refutations too, such as here, here, here.

Not definitive, but at least interesting possible evidence of a historical world-wide flood and migration for what would become the Chinese culture soon after it. I was looking it up afterwards and it was on a couple of creationist websites too so now @PDPrice will probably link you. :sweat_smile:


It relates the history of the Flood. It is not a myth or a “story”. Your claim that it is not history cannot be supported by Scripture (I have asked you to support it, and you have said you cannot). Appealing to your sense of “smell” is a denial of the Bible, outright. You are not God, and your “smell” is not divinely inspired. The Scriptures, on the other hand, are. They do not indicate what you claim. The Flood is related in exactly the same genre as the rest of biblical history.

Here you are contradicting your earlier claim entirely. Because before you (as I suspected, dishonestly ) claimed that the scientific evidence (that is, alleged evidence) played no role in your biblical interpretation. You said it was about the text. If you will reconsider what the text means based on alleged extra-biblical scientific evidence, then guess what? It’s not about the text after all!

But there is a refusal . The text of the Bible relates that this flood did happen. Based on what secular scientists are telling you, you are ruling out the plain literal reading a priori . If God is your authority, then let God be true, though every man a liar. Start with God’s revelation, and move out from there. If the secularists are telling you something that contradicts the Bible, then naturally they are in error, even if you personally don’t yet understand what causes the error. This is proper Christian epistemology.

Of course it means that. There is one faith (Eph. 4:5). Jesus is the completion of what God revealed, and Jesus upheld every last “jot and tittle” of that revelation! Matthew 5:17-18.

Jesus Christ is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who revealed the entire Bible. Did you not know?

That’s not the question. Obviously no religious authority has power over the meaning of God’s word–that is made clear in the word itself (i.e. the story of the “faithful Bereans” who refused to believe even the apostle Paul himself until they saw he preached in accordance with the Scriptures).

The question is, is there a sound hermeneutic that allows the plain meaning of God’s word to be accessible to all, or must we submit to the authority of “the elites” who have special knowledge we don’t have, and which allows them alone to properly understand the Bible?

Or in other words, must we trust your “sense of smell”, over the plain meaning of God’s word?

You are behaving as one of them yourself. You claim to have a sense of “smell” (which others like myself do not possess) which gives you the right to proclaim that Genesis is just a “story”, rather than history.

Okay, you deny it’s a parable, and you deny it’s hyperbole. And you deny it’s poetry, right? So what is it? What is the genre? Where are the boundaries of this genre? Where in the genealogies of Luke do you make the sudden jump from mythical person to real person?

But you’re much more educated in Christianity than all of them combined.

You’re twisting what I said. I specifically said those of the Alexandrian school had an excess of Greek influence, not all the early Christian writers. It’s no surprise, then, when modern-day revisionists like yourself perpetually bring up those same examples, while conveniently ignoring that they were an anomaly and were guilty of some serious heresies.

This is a clear denial that God’s word can be understood by all. It is a denial that the meaning of God’s word can be understood in a translation (much like the Muslims say about the Koran).

No. The Christian faith is not subjugated to modern academics who claim a “greater understanding” of the Hebrew context. They are revisionists who deny the plain meaning of Scripture, as you do.

Your judgment is not based on the Bible, but mine is. Otherwise, please show the validity of your position from Scripture, not from extra-biblical claims.

That’s not coherence. It’s just a wholesale abandoning of the plain meaning of Scripture. This coherence you speak of is of your own invention.

That denial, however, seems to be contingent on your understanding of scientific evidence. This is proved by your own statement, quoted earlier, that you “will reconsider” if you see different scientific evidence.

What more can I say? The interpretation you’re promoting is wrong. It’s a recent invention not based on the text of the Bible.

The canon of Scripture is closed. Or perhaps you’d like to add your own posts here on this forum to the canon as well?

You’re trying to have your cake and eat it, too. On the one hand, you are impugning my view on the basis that the Fathers didn’t specifically talk about the Flood in their creeds. But on the other hand, when you are confronted with the fact that nobody in the early church agreed with your position (!) you must write them off as too ignorant to properly understand the Bible.

Not according to me–according to Paul in Romans 5.

No, not the whole canon, which was not fully formed yet, but they frequently referred to the Law and the Prophets, and some (not all) of the Writings.

That’s simply false, as you can read below:

(2) Old Testament quotations by Jesus Christ . In [Matthew 5:17-18] the Lord declared that the Law and the Prophets, a reference that includes all of the Old Testament, then summarized as “the Law” in verse 18, would be fulfilled. This declared it was therefore God’s authoritative Word. Christ’s statement in [Matthew 23:35] about the blood (murder) of Abel to the blood of Zechariah clearly defined what Jesus viewed as the Old Testament canon. It consisted of the entire Old Testament as we know it in our Protestant English Bible. This is particularly significant in view of the fact there other murders of God’s messengers recorded in the Apocrypha, but the Lord excludes them suggesting He did not consider the books of the Apocrypha to belong in the Canon as with the books from Genesis to 2 Chronicles.
7. The Bible: The Holy Canon of Scripture | Bible.org

This, implicitly, denies the inerrancy of Scripture. Your question is totally irrelevant! Paul was revealing God’s truth in Romans 5 just like the Gospels did. Rather than worrying about why two of the Gospels didn’t mention the genealogy, you should consider why you don’t believe the ones that did .

That’s a blatant strawman. Your idea of what constitutes the “faith” is not in line with historic Christianity, by your own admission . You claim to have more knowledge about the true faith than anybody in the first 1900 years of the church. That’s sickening arrogance.

Let’s be clear: you are accusing me of attempting to intimidate people by my appeal to the historic faith. You are not, although you are claiming a greater knowledge of the faith than any of the early Christian Fathers possessed. We’ll let that sink in.

Then you need to show that error from Scripture, not merely assert it.

Are you God?


Then your interpretation of Genesis is no better than anyone else’s. In fact it’s a lot worse since it’s contradicted by a whole planet’s worth of physical evidence.


Then you have your answer. A global flood submerged the entire earth, an open and shut case. We are done.

Given that, why do we need professional apologists? Why bother with this fantastical world building over cracks in rocks, arches, and speeded up nuclear decay, missing solar neutrinos, or hyper speeded plate tectonics? Who needs geology when you have genesis? All that is superfluous.


In order to keep the discussion from growing to infinite size, I won’t respond to every one of your points, but only to selected ones.

First, your remarks show that you don’t understand the hermeneutical principles I’m employing. You’re imputing to me procedures and assumptions which are not mine. Let me clarify:

My view on whether or not there was a universal flood has nothing to do with my Biblical exegesis.

My view on how to read the text of Genesis has nothing to do with whether or not I think there was a universal flood.

Let those two notions sink in, then read the following.

I am not reading Genesis in the way that I do because I think modern science demands it. I am not trying to establish any harmony between Genesis and modern science, whether by concordist readings or any other type of reading. I read Genesis as I think its writers intended it to be read, and I form my conclusions about what happened in the earth’s geological past based on what the empirical facts of nature (and what we know from historical records of ancient civilizations, and from archaeology) seem to say. The two activities are two different kinds of activity. One is a philological, literary, philosophical and religious activity, whereas the other is a scientific and historical activity.

This is how I approach the question of evolution as well. I believe there is a strong prima facie case for common descent, and I provisionally accept it (though not as a dogma never to be questioned, just as the best explanation for the moment of certain facts, an explanation revisable if future discoveries point against it). However, I have strongly opposed the conclusion that evolution is or could be an unguided, unplanned, or undesigned process, and have argued that if evolution (meaning descent with modification) has occurred, there would have to be intelligence behind it. I base this conclusion on scientific fact and general reasoning; I make no appeal to the Bible in my arguments.

When I read Genesis, I am interpreting an ancient religious text. Sciences such as geology, geography, biology, etc. do not supply us with principles for interpreting ancient religious texts. So the conclusions of science don’t come into my reading of Genesis. I’m interest only in determining what the author meant to convey, not whether or not his own notions are compatible or incompatible with what modern science (or for that matter ancient science) has (or had) to say.

The question whether Genesis is compatible with modern science is an interesting and important question, but it’s a question which can be asked only after one has determined what Genesis teaches, or seems to teach, and what modern science seems to teach.

The difference between us, methodologically, is: (i) that you start from the assumption that Genesis could not possibly teach anything factually false about the world and its history, and therefore, if science or history or archaeology appear to say anything different from Genesis, those other subjects must be in error; (ii) that any past-tense narrative statement made in Genesis is meant to be read as “history”, i.e., as past-tense narrative statements in a modern history book or news report are read.

I think both of those are faulty principles of method. The proper method is to determine what Genesis teaches before laying down the law that Genesis could not possibly be wrong, and to make oneself acquainted with the distinction between the form of statements (e.g., past tense narration) and their meaning. The moment one just assumes that a text is meant as “history” and that its meaning is transparent, one has already presumed too much knowledge about the text and the author’s intentions.

Regarding the canon, the usual account said that the Jewish canon wasn’t finally closed down any earlier than the council of Jamnia, which was supposed to have occurred after the destruction of the Temple. There is now dispute over what kind of “council” actually was held at Jamnia, and over exactly what it discussed or settled, but it does appear that the validity of the teaching of at least two books, including Ecclesiastes, was a matter of serious discussion in the late first century.

Jesus was gone from the historical picture by about AD 29, so he taught in a world in which there was still some uncertainty about the status of some of the Nebi’im (the Writings), though the Law and the Prophets were well-established.

The New Testament never quotes from Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. The last two books were reportedly of concern at the council of Jamnia.

As for your claim that “the Law and the Prophets” includes all of the Old Testament, it is sheer assertion. We know that Jesus quoted 24 of the Old Testament books; we don’t have his comments on any of the others. We have no explicit statement on the status of “The Writings” (the third part of the Hebrew canon) anywhere in the Gospels or the New Testament. There is no list, in the New Testament, of which Jewish writings count as “Scripture.” Thus, all statements in the New Testament about believing “the Scriptures” or that “all Scripture is profitable” or the like, cannot be used to establish the Protestant Old Testament as synonymous with “the Scriptures.”

That Jesus regarded most of our Hebrew Bible as having canonical status, there is little doubt. That he regarded as authoritative all of what Judaism would define as the canon (and define only after he was gone), is undemonstrated.

Ironically, you who doubt that God guided the Church in its formation of the Creeds, have no doubt that God guided the Church in its decision to include Ecclesiastes as inspired Scripture – even though there are some statements in Ecclesiastes that seem not easy to square with mainstream Christian thinking. Why you are so certain that the first-century Church was infallible in its judgments, but that the third- and fourth-century Church was not, is unclear.

It’s not a question of belief, but of interpretation. The two Gospels that give genealogies give contradictory ones. (I will not engage in a side-argument here about the various unconvincing attempts to harmonize the two lists.) How do we interpret this fact? If the Gospel lists are “history”, as you claim, then one or both lists contain outright errors, and your inerrant Bible is smashed to smithereens. On the other hand, if the Gospel writers, at least regarding the genealogies, were not writing “history”, but doing something else, the difference between the genealogies may be perfectly acceptable, and not count against the Gospels at all. (Note that I here make no appeal to science, modern scholars, etc., but speak entirely about what the Gospels present, and the implications.)

No, I don’t. I claim to have more knowledge about how to interpret certain aspects (not even all aspects) of the Hebrew Bible than most (not all) pre-modern Christian interpreters. And that’s not a claim for myself alone; it applies to all well-trained Hebrew Bible scholars today. There are things Augustine, Aquinas, etc. just did not know about languages, literary genres, historical context, etc. That wasn’t their fault; they didn’t have access to the archaeological findings, the thousands of new texts that have been found, etc. They also, prior to the Renaissance, had almost no contact with Jews and Jewish scholarship and texts, and thus tended to read things Hellenistically rather than Hebraically. Today Christian scholars can (as I did) study with Jewish professors, and learn about the Talmud, the Mishnah, the midrashic tradition, etc. We simply have more information and more insight about how the ancient Hebrew mind worked than the Fathers did.

That doesn’t mean the Fathers were wrong about everything. In fact, they were right about many things. One of the things they were right about is that the details of Genesis 1-11 were not the focus of the Christian faith.


There’s no point in going any further, in that case. No point trying to hit a moving goalpost. I will follow suit and respond to only selected points, i.e. this one. Thanks for your participation.

This handwave after a dozen paragraphs on exegesis and theology concerning the flood? :roll_eyes:
Participants here have much contended with @Eddie, but one complaint I have never heard is that his posts are too short.


Thanks. I agree that we can’t get much further. Your YEC commitments don’t allow you to budge even an inch, that’s clear.

By the way, I tried to edit my post, but the software wouldn’t let me, because it is in “slow mode” where posts can’t be edited. I wanted to change the erroneous choice of the Hebrew word Nebi’im (which refers to the books of the Prophets) to Ketubim (which refers to the books in the section called the Writings). But you didn’t seem to notice the slip. :slight_smile:


No, I’ve just been around the block enough times to know better than to keep engaging after somebody pulls that one. No point in spending time responding to things if those responses will be summarily ignored.

You still haven’t!

I could say the same for you, actually. But again, my reason for stopping had everything to do with your decision to stop engaging with my points directly. If you change your mind in the future, I’m fine with that. Again, I thank you for your time you already devoted.

To be accurate, I stopped engaging with 100% of the points; I still responded to several. And I gave a good practical reason for limiting the discussion to key points. You may be independently wealthy and have infinite time to debate on the internet, but I am not, and don’t.

In any case, many of your points were sheer assertion, e.g. that the Flood story is meant to be read as history. You can hardly blame me for not taking up sheer assertions. Especially when I suggested to you readings about the literary character of Genesis which might cause you to moderate your stance, and you gave no impression that you either had read them or had any intention of doing so.

From my point of view, you and the modern scholars you complain about are just opposite versions of the same error – taking Genesis as “history” in some narrow sense, and then either affirming it or denying it. You and Ken Ham are just as wrong as the German historical critics and the atheist materialist skeptics that you oppose. And the battles between the two of you are misleading people about what Christianity actually asserts. That’s very sad, that so many people are inclined to abandon Christian faith because they are either repelled by the position of its fundamentalist apologists, or seduced by atheist attacks on a strawman (literal Biblicism) that doesn’t represent Christian faith.


I’ll be waiting for you to back that claim up. You have already agreed that (at least close to) 100% of all Christian theologians disagreed with you about the Flood and the age of the earth (and about the fact that Genesis is history); up until modern times. You have attributed this to a claim that modern people are just more educated in what the Bible really means than ancient people were. This is chronological snobbery. If you can demonstrate your position from Scripture (rather than merely asserting it about Scripture), then maybe we’ll get somewhere.

Its not chronological snobbery to suggest that we have better tools to interpret the Bible than people 500 years ago. Would it be snobbery to suggest that Moses had an interpretational advantage over us? Martin Luther defended a geocentric universe with a passion, and used the Bible to defend it, but how was he supposed to know otherwise. Our observances of God’s creations should most certainly inform out interpretation of scripture, and I think it quite likely that the theologians of the past might have held a different position on the age of the earth if they had the rescources available to us.

God never promised everyone would have equal acess to all truth, but rather to the only truth that matters - the truth of the Gospels.


I can’t provide you with statistics, but there is plenty of anecdotal evidence, evidence that many Christians have noticed. In my own time in the university, as a student and then a teacher of religious studies, I have watched many students from fundamentalist, literalist backgrounds come to the university to study religion, and Biblical studies in particular, and change, over their time there, from ultra-literalists to agnostics or even atheists. The commitment to a rigid literalism and a rigid historical reading of Genesis puts the students in a very fragile position. In the nature of their position, if even one crack appears, the whole structure of belief is shattered. So they rarely move from fundamentalism to, say, a more moderate form of Christian belief; more often they end up in complete unbelief, or at best agnosticism.

There are famous cases of this, people raised in narrow literalist backgrounds who have pendulum-swung to atheism and materialism after receiving a university education; e.g., Will Provine, Bart Ehrman.

And the concern is not just over those who have faith, then lose it. The concern is also for those outside of faith, who wonder if there might be truth to Christianity, but are introduced to it by watching debates between literalist fundamentalists and materialist atheists, debates usually involving discussions of Genesis as accurate history. How many such people, watching the debates, and repelled by the intellectual (and behavioral) conduct of both sides, have turned away from the possibility of faith in disgust? I can’t give you a number, but I’m sure it’s a non-zero figure. Yet had those same seekers been exposed, as their first impression of Christian belief, not to wrangling, hyper-defensive literalists, but to C. S. Lewis’s writings, or the thought of G. K. Chesterton or Dorothy Sayers or Soren Kierkegaard or Dostoevsky, would they be similarly repulsed? I think not. It is often reported by Christians that they started out as just “thoughtful secular humanists” and were persuaded of the truth of Christianity by writers such the ones I just named.

I have no chronological snobbery. I think that ancient thought and/or medieval thought is often superior to modern thought, for example, on the question of teleology in nature, which ancient/medieval thought affirmed and modern thought denies, and on questions of moral and political thought, where I often find the older writers better and wiser than more modern ones. But it’s not a worship of the modern age as such to admit the fact that modern people have access to more information about the Hebrew language, the Jewish background of the Gospels and the New Testament, the ancient near eastern setting in which Genesis emerged, and so on, than the Church Fathers or Medieval theologians had.

There is no way I could demonstrate to you that the Biblical writers did not regard Genesis 1-11 as history in the modern sense, since your treatment of those chapters as historical has become so fundamental to your identity as a Christian that you could not surrender their historicity without giving up your Christian faith, and you aren’t about to do that. If, however, you had a more flexible attitude to Biblical interpretation, it might be possible. I would suggest that you take some night courses at a nearby university – courses with titles like Literary Theory, The Bible as Literature, Old Testament/Hebrew Bible Introduction, Early Christianity in Its Jewish Setting, and the like. And, oh yes, Hebrew and Greek. Also, you could loosen up your mind a little by reading the Alter book that I mentioned, or Samuel Sandmel’s The Enjoyment of Scripture. More indirectly, something as simple as a Great Books course would probably go a long way to replacing your certainties with productive questions.


I teach OT and biblical languages at a conservative Christian college and testify to the same anecdotal experience. It’s a weekly occurrence. it’s true that my “openness” on hermeneutics and issues of science/faith frustrate some, at least initially; but there are far more that testify in the end to the benefit of less rigidity in methodology.