Thursday, February 14, 2013

Early Christian Views of Genesis

I don't have time to make a good article out of this right now, but I want anyone reading this to see the quotes. Of course, I don't know if anyone will read this since I haven't posted in over six months. At least it will be here for me to find the quotes with references when I need them again for an article on

Is it only because of modern science that Christians would take Genesis to mean something other than six twenty-four hour days?


There is Origen, who died around A.D. 250, saying: "Now who is there, pray, who is possessed of understanding, who will regard the statement as appropriate the first day, the second, and the third, in which both evening and morning are mentioned, happened without sun, moon, and stars? The first day was even without a sky!" (De Principiis IV:1:16)

He said in addition, "And who is so ignorant as to suppose that God, as if he were a farmer, planted trees in a garden, in Eden towards the east, with a tree of life in it—a visible, palpable tree of wood—so that anyone who ate of it with bodily teeth would obtain life, and, eating again of another tree, would come to the knowledge of good and evil?" (ibid.)

Justin Martyr, d. c. 165, may or may not have believed Genesis one was a literal six days, but he has this to say about God eating with Abraham: "I would say that the Scripture which affirms they ate has the same meaning as when we would say about fire that it devours all things. We certainly should not understand that they ate, masticating with teeth and jaws. Even in this case, we should not be at a loss about anything if we are even slightly acquainted with figurative modes of expression." (Dialogue with Trypho 57)

If we see people like this discussing "figurative modes of expression" long before evolution and and an old earth were promoted by science, then at least in the past, alternative understandings of creation came from the Scriptures, not just science.

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