Hi @mgaplus4, that makes sense to me.
In Making Sense of the Old Testament, Dr. Tremper Longman writes:
God did not reveal himself in some type of transcultural way (which is in fact an inconceivable notion). God’s people lived in a specific culture, and he condescended to address them by using the conventions of their day. We see this most clearly in the fact that he spoke to them in Hebrew. In order for us to hear God’s Word today, we must bridge the cultural gap by translating the Hebrew into English. Such a task entails learning the linguistic conventions of Hebrew and working hard at rendering God’s message in a modern idiom that reflects his ancient intention.
But it is not just language that is at issue here. Images, such as God as a shepherd (a royal image in the ancient Near East), drew from the contemporary experience of the ancient people of Old Testament times. Literary genres such as the treaty form of Deuteronomy arose in the ancient Near East and are not recognizable immediately today, because we do not use such forms.
As I have reflected on the scholarship we’ve discussed in this conversation, it seems to me that to take Genesis 1 as a scientific text is both anachronistic and falsifiable.
It is anachronistic because the scientific discipline had not yet been invented and was not part of the default assumptions of the Biblical writers. We are bringing our assumptions to the Bible and expecting the Bible to meet our standards. It seems to me that a humbler route is to let the Biblical text set the terms of engagement.
It is falsifiable because some of the claims, taken literally as reporting physical facts about the universe, are not reflective of our current understanding. As a matter of fact, there is no clear, solid dome that holds up half the earth’s water and contains the heavenly lights.
But that does not mean the text has nothing to offer us. Rather, within the cosmology of the ancient near eastern mindset, God reveals many important and ever-challenging truths about the earth, humanity, and our purpose in life.
To mention just one theme, the late Dr. John Sailhamer, a former president of the Evangelical Theological Society, made this point in his commentary on Genesis 1:
As a praise of God’s grace, the theme of the remainder of the creation account (1:2–2:25) is God’s gift of the “world” to humankind. First, God prepared the land for humankind by dividing the waters and furnishing its resources (1:2–27). Then he gave the land and its resources to his creatures as the place of divine blessing. The gift of the land was then safeguarded by a call for obedience (2:16–17).
One remaining concern, then, is that if we attempt to understand Genesis as a scientific text, we might inadvertently miss the unique theological and ethical framework that it provides for our lives.