Original Posting At http://sandpipersthoughts.blogspot.com/2019/10/genesis-as-story.html
In the book Genesis for Normal People by Peter Enns and Jared Byas, the authors describe the literary style of the book of Genesis: not textbook, not a book of principles, but instead an ancient story, written in a particular time to a particular people.
That started me thinking about story. What does it mean that Genesis is an ancient story? What role does story play in our lives?
A few weeks ago I attended the funeral of the brother of a friend. Joel was – it was made clear that day – a storyteller. Why did he tell stories? His brother, our friend Jeff, related a story Joel told about an experience he had on his birthday. Through this story, we learned about Joel’s personality, his parents’ reactions to him, and had a glimpse of the way life was for Joel at the time. Jeff was able to tell the story because Joel had shared it – but it was before Jeff had been born.
Through stories we learn about the people, their relationships with each other, and we glimpse what life was like for them. Through stories, what we didn’t experience ourselves becomes clearer, in a way that a textbook or a book of principles could never accomplish.
The truth of a story isn’t its factual basis, but is instead its underlying truth. This is what I was like. This is what life was like. This is what it was like in my community, and with the people I loved or hated.
In Genesis, we have the story that helps us to understand that God created the universe, the world, the animals, man and woman. In Genesis we learn the truth that God created us. In Genesis we hear the struggle of those following God – or trying to follow God – and what is was like to learn how to do that. In Genesis we see how God didn’t give up on his creation, even when his creation gave up on him. In the story of Genesis, we see the Israelites beginning to learn that they are the people of God – and from that truth, we can learn that we are the people of God. Created, loved, and never abandoned.
Let’s see a history book do that (although I do love history books).