I mentioned a few weeks ago that Peter Enns & I had an e-book coming out soon through Patheos Press. Well, the time is nigh. It will be available on Monday through Amazon. It will only be $1.99 for the first few days so be sure to pick up a copy early next week. Here is a short excerpt from the first chapter:
“Genesis is an ancient story. This may sound like an obvious or even patronizing way to begin. Of course it’s an ancient story. But once we look at what this means, that short phrase might be the most important thing to remember about Genesis. It will guide the rest of this book, showing us how to approach Genesis and what we should expect from it.
Depending on our past exposure to the Bible, some of us might approach Genesis expecting to find a detailed account of history as though it’s a modern textbook. Of course, by calling Genesis a story, we are not saying anything about whether it is historical or fictional. Any book about the American Revolution or the Cuban Missile Crisis is just as much a story as Herman Melville’s classic Moby Dick or even the sitcom “Modern Family.” But Genesis is not a textbook—history, science, or otherwise. Let the teenager in us rejoice.
Instead of a textbook, some of us might approach Genesis as a book of principles to teach us how to live. But if we approach a story like a book of principles, it is likely we will find ourselves wanting to know what every passage “means for me.” Imagine trying to watch a riveting blockbuster or a moving drama while pausing it every five minutes to ponder how that scene might apply to your life. Stories do apply to our lives, perhaps more than any other form of literature, but not as abstract principles or proverbs. They apply when our personal story collides with them, when we get lost in the world they present to us.
So when we read Genesis as an ancient story, written at a particular time to a particular people, it opens up possibilities and worlds we don’t encounter in our limited existence. When we stop using Genesis as an argument, a textbook, or a code of conduct, and begin to see it as an ancient story—with memorable characters, twists and turns, ups and downs, accomplishments and mistakes—we find it fresh, deep, and more true and relevant than we might expect.”