Since so many people misread the Bible, I figured that it is worth a post to describe how to read accurately, using one of the most misread chapters of the Bible, Genesis 1, as the text.
First, let’s look at the structure of the chapter.
“In the beginning…” This section is about the preliminary stuff and everything that happened on day one.
“Then…” These are all sections peculiar to their days. There are a total of six sections, one for each day.
Now let’s look at some repetitive wording, often called “boilerplate.”
The boilerplate is the text “And there was evening and morning a [insert ordinal number here, e.g., “second”, “third”] day.” This text repeats in sections two through six. It helps us to recognize the structure of the chapter and its repetition indicates that it is important.
One theory about Genesis is that it is an apologetic to counter other ancient religions. It asserts that the creation days of Genesis weren’t ordered in time, but were merely convenient numbers to reference a particular day. However, if this were so, then all the numbers used would be cardinal, and we can see that the numbers are ordinal, indicating a sequence. So let’s follow up on why there’s a sequence.
God didn’t create plants before he created dry land…dry land was created on the third day before the plants…many plants need dry land to grow.
God didn’t create animals, including birds and sea creatures and land animals, before he created the plants since animals need food…the text indicates that plants were food for animals. We can’t assume that any animals were originally carnivorous if death didn’t exist during creation.
In another post I discuss time in Genesis 1 and won’t cover that ground again.