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Looking at Form and Genre

Awilum has a short post that makes a couple of good points related to literary genre, which I’ve been discussing in a couple of posts, and will discuss some more.

You should go read his post, but let me highlight the points that caught my attention:

  1. Form and genre are not the same
  2. Form is not binary

I would add that the classic and regularly abused literal vs figurative divide is not binary either. My observation has been that young earth creationists, and many old earth creationists see literal as equivalent to “accurate historical narrative,” while many liberals respond that the passage is figurative, and one shouldn’t take it so literally. Another alternative is to refer to Genesis 1-11 as “just a myth.” I find that pretty annoying, since myth is one of the most powerful types of literature, and has its own characteristics, not all of which are fulfilled in Genesis.

I will get back to discussing these passages in more detail, but for now, I’d just like to remind folks on my side of the line (not taking Genesis as historical narrative) that simply saying “don’t take that so literally” is not adequate. One must at least make an effort to identify what type of literature a document is, and let the appropriate approach to interpretation flow from there.

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