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Genesis 1 Lesson 2

Literal Truth or Metaphor

Read Genesis 1

Are these words to be taken literally or are they symbolic?
    There are those who contend that these words are not to be taken literally, but are symbolic.  They point to modern so-called scientific theories and conclude that the only way to meld modern thought with Genesis 1 is to make Genesis 1 a sort of metaphor that masks the greater truth.
  Before dealing with the substance of modern thought, it would be helpful to determine how metaphor or other figures of speech are used in the Bible, so that we can determine if this text applies to the other instances.

How do we determine if something in the Bible is a metaphor or other figure of speech?
·         Is there metaphor language in this particular text?  This would require that the text employ language such as “is like,” or “can be compared to.”
·         Is there reason in the surrounding context to indicate the use of a figure of speech?  For example in Genesis 49:9 Jacob says of his son, “Judah is a lion’s cub.”  In the previous chapters we see that Judah clearly is not a lion’s cub.
·         Is there reason in the greater work (Genesis/Bible) to indicate a figure of speech?

Does Genesis 1 meet any criteria for Biblical figures of speech?
·         There is no metaphor language in this text.
·         There is nothing in the surrounding context to indicate the use of figures of speech.
·         There is nothing in the rest of the Bible to indicate that this text uses figures of speech, in fact, the rest of the Bible confirms this chapter as literally true.

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