Search This Blog

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What is Poetry: is it in Genesis 1?

With regard to some of the discussion on Craig's blog about what he calls 'creation science' (a misnomer, in my view), a couple of quotes come to mind:

"One must assume that there is a train of thought. "that the text has a central concern and a remarkable inner logic that may no longer be entirely comprehensible to us." One must get in the data, an d one must do so without undue complexity, without using that brute force which swaggers around the byways of a text arm-in-arm with ignorance"


"Consideration of literary genre must always remain in dialogue with the question of what the text actually says. Neither can claim the high ground and dictate to the other. The sa me is true of the various forms of structural, or structuralist, analysis."

Both from NT Wright in The Letter to the Galatians: Exegesis and Theology, in Green and Turner, eds, Between Two Horizons: Spanning New Testament Studies and Systematic Theology, Eerdmans.

Craig seemed to rely on his view that Genesis 1 represents poetry and therefore its facticity can be discounted. That is, poetry = allegory, metaphor, or symbol. This is not necessarily so, but his understanding of poetry in biblical Hebrew seems deficient. I would suggest the following to give a bit of perspective to his thinking in this area:

James Kugel's work on Hebrew Poetry "The Idea of Biblical Poetry" Yale 1982, is of course the standard text, but you could also consult these, to get a fuller view of some contemporary thinking.

Hobbins, "Retaining and Transcending The Classical Description of Ancient Hebrew Verse"

Tsumura, “Vertical Grammar of Parallelism in Hebrew Poetry” Jrnl of Biblical Literature 128 No. 1 (2009)

Niccacci, “Analysing Biblical Hebrew Poetry” Jnrl for the Study of the Old Testament, 74 (1997)

Bregoli “Biblical Poetry, Spinozist Hermeneutics, and Critical Scholarship” Jnrl of Modern Jewish Studies, v. 8 n. 2 (2009)

Holladay, “Hebrew Verse Structure Revistied (I)” Jnrl of Biblical Literature v.118, n. 1 (1999)

Holladay, “Hebrew Verse Structure Revistied (II)” Jnrl of Biblical Literature v.118, n. 3 (1999)


An essay from the old ISBE that gives a useful overview.

And while we're on links; I mentioned on Craig's blog a couple of talks that could be of interest:

Dr Al Mohler at the 2010 Ligonier conference, and Dr. Joseph Pipa at Grace Reformed Baptist Church. Both good talks which consider exegetical and theological matters in relation to Genesis 1. In fact, at Grace, there's a whole conference devoted to creation and Genesis.

1 comment:

sam drucker said...

Eric, you are correct. The term "Creation Science" is a misnomer. That is why I don't believe in it. Yes, there are Christians who are scientists putting forward propositions about events which occurred in the past. Just as there are non-Christian scientists putting forward their propositions about events of the past.

Neither, by empirical science, can prove beyond doubt their propositions. Both make errors. More so by the latter group.

It is just another reason why I trust (ie believe) the word of God above the opinions of men.

Sam Drucker