Friday, 4 May 2012

Claim of the Week: “Genesis 1 Is An Ancient Hebrew Prose Poem”

Jesus regarded Genesis as history.

Joel Kontinen

We didn't understand that when we read ancient Hebrew prose poems (like Genesis 1), wisdom literature (like Proverbs), or apocalyptic literature (like Revelation) as if they were science textbooks, we were actually obscuring their meaning,” Carolyn Arends writes in Christianity Today about her experience in a conservative Christian university.

Arends is right in that there are different genres in the Bible. However, she errs in regarding Genesis as poetry.

Parallelism is a major characteristic of ancient Hebrew poetry. Probably the most common type of parallelism is synonymous parallelism in which the same thing is said in two slightly different ways, for instance in the Psalms:

What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him
?” (Ps. 8: 4, NKJV)

We do not see this kind of repetition in Genesis. Moreover, Jesus, the New Testament writers and biblical Hebrew experts testify that Genesis is history.


Arends, Carolyn. 2012. Defending Scripture. Literally. Christianity Today (2 May).