Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Avoid Distractions (Genesis Introductory Issues: Authorship)

You can’t take a serious look at Genesis these days without getting caught up in the question of who wrote it. And, it seems like such a life or death issue for so many people. For some, anything less than “Moses wrote the whole thing” is heresy. For others, the search for “sources” has overwhelmed any ability to simply read the text. It is all a bit silly.

The Bible is not just a sacred text for multiple religious worldviews, it is incredibly rich literature. It seems that a healthy understanding of divine inspiration would make all these authorial issues irrelevant. God is capable of using a process and multiple individuals to communicate His perfect message. (Just look at the Bible as a whole.) Besides, there is no indication in Scripture that Moses wrote the whole thing. (Or any of Genesis for that matter.) As to sources, whether they existed or not is irrelevant, because the teaching is found in the text as it has existed for thousands of years. This text, not any hypothetical source materials or oral traditions.

So, take Genesis as we have received it: an anonymous, divinely inspired text, communicating God’s truth about creation, the fall, and the beginnings of His plan to redeem humanity. Appreciate the literary and artistic ways that this text communicates its message. And don’t insist on clouding that message with traditions or interpretations that have been added after the fact. What does Genesis actually say to us?

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