Should We Take Genesis As It Is?

By Patrick McMillan

Is your house built on the sand or on the rock?  That is something I had to ask myself when one of my undergrad teachers proceeded to tell the whole class that the Genesis story should not be taken literally.  This ideology throws a wrench in the whole Bible as the first twelve chapters of Genesis are the foundation of the whole Biblical narrative. This sent me on a journey to find the evidence supporting the Genesis account.  Here are two simple reasons why the Genesis account is reliable.


Professors have told me in my biblical interpretation classes that genre is key to understanding a text.  Many of them (New Testament Professors) told us that parts of Genesis are literal, while others are symbolic in their genre.  This sent me to one of my school’s leading Old Testament professors, Dr. Mark Mangano. Dr. Mangano studies the Old Testament by studying under rabbis at a Jewish seminary.  He is also a teacher of the ancient language of Hebrew. I asked him if anything in the original language hinted at genre transitions throughout the book of Genesis. For there to be a genre transition like my professors suggested, we would expect the grammar to be choppy.  However, Dr. Mangano told me that there are no indicators of any genre switch throughout the book of Genesis. The entire book in one genre, Theological History. According to him you can not have a bit of symbolism and a bit that is literal. You either have to take it one way or the other, you can not have both.


If the book of Genesis is not literal, then when does the family tree pick up? In 1 Chronicles we see that the Jews recognized Adam as the first person in their family lineage.  If we can not take the historical narrative of Genesis for what it is, then is 1 Chronicles just a lie?  Why would the Jews restate this lineage? In Genesis 2:4 it says, “This is the account of the creation of the heavens and the earth” (NLT).  The ancient word for “account” in this passage is pronounced “to-le-dot”. This ancient word is also translated in 1 Chronicles 1:29 as “genealogical records” and in Exodus 6:16 it is translated as “family records”.  This word holds a meaning that has close connections with the idea of lineage and family descent. To the Jews this was the historical story of where they came from; these are their historical family records.


These two points helped me trust in the Genesis account more than ever before.  When I came across these two pieces of evidence I was convinced to take Genesis for what it is, a theological historical account of the world.  I was convinced that my house was built on the rock of God’s word. Where is your house sitting today? If you find yourself on sand, I would encourage you to dig into this topic even deeper.  Do not let your doubt keep you from uncovering the truth. God’s word is the rock for our life, we need to make sure that our foundation is on it.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of other authors at Cogent Christianity.

5 thoughts on “Should We Take Genesis As It Is?

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  1. If you can then understand that Genesis is a literal account of theological history, then does it follow that the cosmology as described is literal as well? I would be interested in your take.


    1. If you are a Christian, you may be interested in reading the book, “Glass House: Shattering the Myth of Evolution,” by Ken Ham. It covers many questions one might have about an old earth vs. a young earth; evolution/creation over millions of years vs. a six-day creation. Well worth the read. Blessings!


  2. For further encouragement on a literal Genesis, I would recommend following (or at least checking out) and Both these sites offer Christians biblical AND scientific reasons and examples for believing in a literal Genesis. God bless!


  3. One of the things I enjoyed most about this article is Mr. McMillan’s path to truth was textual, not scientific. Though physics and biology and other fields of study continually reveal the truth of God, textual revelation is also important. As a Christian agrarian I am also a word geek and I frequently look to God’s word for it’s own proofs which are then corroborated by God’s creation — both of which the Bible teaches us are revelatory. I have carefully studied the creation account for years and I continually find the text revealing things to me through the leading of the Holy Spirit that not only jibe with the rest of scripture, but actually confirms to me that God has a unified plan that He is executing through human time.


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