Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Marcus Borg on Metaphoric Reading of Genesis


Marus Borg has an intesting paragraph in his 2001 book, Reading the Bible Again for the First Time on how to read Genesis (and the rest of Scripture) through metaphoric lenses--not literally. The subtitle for his book tells his approach: Taking the Bible Seriously But Not Literally. Borg quotes the early Christian writer Origen (c. 185-254 AD) as follows:
What intelligent person can imagine that there was a first day, then a second and a thrid day, evening and morning, without the sun, the moon, and the stars? [Sun, moon, and stars are created on the fourth day.] And that the first day--if it makes sense to call it such--existed even without a sky? [The sky is created on the second day.] Who is foolish enough to believe that, like a human gardner, God planted a garden in Eden in the East and placed in it a tree of life, visible and physical, so that by biting into its fruit one would obtain life? And that by eating from another tree, one would come to know good and evil? And when it is said that God walked in the garden in the evening and that Adam hid himself behind a tree, I cannot imagine that anyone will doubt that these details point symbolically to spiritual meanings by using an historical narrative which did not literally happen. (71)
Borg is translating Origen's De Principiis 4.1.6. The words in brackets were added by Borg.
As I read this passage, I thought how different would be the current debate about Creationism if 21st century Christians paid a little more attention to this 3rd century father of the Church!
Best wishes,
Mason Smith

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