Recently a friend encouraged me to study the first chapter of Genesis and create an outline of the text. So, over the past couple weeks, I’ve been reading and rereading the biblical creation account, trying hard to identify main points, recurring themes, and interesting gems.
(Outlining biblical passages is a great way to boost your scriptural understanding, by the way. It forces you to carefully think about each verse and consider what points the author is making. I highly recommend it if you want to better understand the Bible.)
Here’s one of the main points I’ve noticed from this exercise: Genesis 1 is a remarkably precise and orderly historical account. It isn’t haphazard or loosey-goosey. You can tell it wasn’t just randomly thrown together. It was obviously written carefully and deliberately.
For instance, have you ever noticed the recurring phrases that you see in most of the creation days?
God said, “x.”
And it was so.
And God saw that it was good.
And there was evening and there was morning, the ____ day.
Again and again those key phrases repeat themselves in the passage. This gives the text an orderly, systematic feel.
Obviously Genesis 1 isn’t a scientific text, and so we shouldn’t treat it as one. But when people claim that it is an imprecise allegory or a vague oral tradition, I have to disagree. Because when I consider the orderly structure and matter-of-fact tone of the text, I can’t help but think, this reads like a historical record. This is not a fuzzy, abstract narrative. Rather, it appears to be a factual account.
As always, we should do our best to let the Bible speak for itself and not twist it to support our own ideas or theories. But at the same time, let’s honestly acknowledge what the first chapter of the Bible is: an orderly, systematic, structured account that describes how God created the world.