#086–Do Jews Interpret the Creation as told in Genesis Literally?

Being a despondent, annoyed, and conflicted person on Sundays, it’s perhaps natural that I think about what Sunday usually dredges up: thoughts about religion.

I think today I’d have something in common with most of the churchgoers this particular Sunday–hoping the sermons hurry up and finish so everybody can get home and get the barbecue going for the Super Bowl (though I could care less about the Super Bowl–don’t even remember who is playing and I’m one of the handful not watching).

No, I get tired of sermons or football on every channel. I ended up with some YouTube lists that brought up questions about the Bible, and especially about Chick Tracts (shudder–I wish I could burn them out of my childhood). That led to videos denouncing creationism and the Answers in Genesis group in particular (you know, the guys who built the Ark-shaped building in Kentucky?)

It’s weird how my viewing history takes me to odd random spots I’ve seen and not seen all in one morning. Weirder what pops up when I’m trying to avoid cleaning my bathrooms.

Anyhoo, this question hit me earlier and I had to wonder. Do Jews believe in a literal interpretation of the creation as told in Genesis? After all, Genesis is part of the Torah, a part of Jewish teaching long before Christians branched off.

And a VERY long time before some Christians interpreted that creation story to be literal truth. From what I understand, even the earliest Christians didn’t take the Genesis story so seriously.

I’m not a biblical scholar, though I do want to understand the Bible a little better (as a historical text). For the life of me, I can’t understand how anyone in the 21st century is so willing to discount the sciences and history that have come about since the Bible was first put together, and only focus on Genesis as THE truth regarding Earth’s creation.

I wouldn’t say that science has all the answers, of course. I think the beauty of science is that it’s always pursuing truth and answers. Scientists will be the first to admit they don’t know everything.

But tell that to Answers in Genesis folks–they make the Genesis story a done deal, that it’s a literal fact and we’re supposed to accept that as such.

But that’s why I had to ask the question. The Book of Genesis came to being under the pens of Jewish writers. They had the text roughly a thousand years minimum before the Christians did (give or take a few, depending where you look).

I wonder–has anyone in a young Earth creationist movement ever asked a Jewish scholar how Jews interpreted the Genesis story? I doubt it, because if I remember much of anything in my evangelical/Chick Tract upbringing, it’s that unless they were named in the Bible, Jews didn’t exist.

Seriously, I don’t think anybody in my churches even thought about Jews outside of Moses, Abraham, and Solomon…. and they didn’t seem to bring attention to the fact that these men were Jews in the first place (fits with the arrogance I remember in those dreadful tracts).

From what little I’ve seen so far (still researching), many 21st century Jews don’t seem to take the book of Genesis as literal truth.

In which case, I’d love to know what else Jews get from the Book of Genesis as far as lessons, wisdom, or stories that they pass on.

Yup–need more research, and some time to chat with Jewish volunteers at the Holocaust Museum next time I go in for training. At least they can point me in the right direction… because heaven knows I’m always looking for a good book and informed conversation.

Anyhoo, I still wonder, do (some/most/any) Jews believe in the literal interpretation of Genesis as a creation story?

Floor’s yours…

5 thoughts on “#086–Do Jews Interpret the Creation as told in Genesis Literally?

  1. Rae Longest says:

    We did not watch the Superbowl either. Unless the Texans are playing, Mr.L. does not watch football; he does not follow other sports either because “It’s not the Texans.” LOL
    However, we usually enjoy (if that’s the word for it) a good sermon on Sunday that either steps on our toes and leaves us planning to “do better” during the coming week, or is a sermon that uplifts and inspires us. We did take a long drive Sunday to see the “new” part of hwy 6 where the beltway/parkway has been built in since the last time we went to Sugarland. (YEARS ago.LOL). All we wanted to do was to get me as far as the “shopping center near Mary’s, Mary’s turnoff being Williams Trace. We knew if we hit the “Southwest Freeway” (mind you I’m using 1970 names of highways and streets) we had gone too far. My how things have changed!
    What a thought-provoking question you pose. I have no idea how Jews feel about literal translation, but most people today do not insist on a literal translation. It is enough to me to believe that my God is powerful enough to speak the world into place and do it in seven days IF he chose to, but personally I think he used things like evolution to accomplish His creation. When my sixth graders in very literal-believing, rural Alvin back in 1968 or so asked me what I believed about creation, I always told them the important thing was to believe God created the world and how he did it was none of my business. I advised them to ask their parents what they believed and suggested this was a good place to ask questions and start reading for themselves to research the possibilities.

    Liked by 1 person

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