Bible Stories, Truth, Fable, or Both
Updated: Feb 21, 2022
In my last post, I stated that I am attending Grad School, studying Theology. Being brought up in a Baptist home and I was told that the Bible is written just as it happened.
Now I don’t know about you, but I always had a hard time believing someone actually talked to a burning bush that did not burn nor turn to ashes.
When I would ask, “How could this really happen?” I was told and still told that God creates miracles. Everything that is written in the Bible happened because God is the impossible.
I’m not arguing that God doesn’t create miracles. I believe God makes all things possible.
However, people create stories. Every time a story is told from memory, one word might be changed to make it sound better. After hundreds of years and thousands of retellings, that story has grown to the point that the reader or listener might question if it could have happened.
Have you ever played the game “pass it on"?
Ever heard of it? There are probably many names for this game. The game I’m talking about goes like this:
You are among a group of people, and someone whispered a sentence in your ear. Then you whisper the same sentence to the person next to you. The whispering continues, repeated around the room until everyone has been told the sentence. The last person to hear the sentence repeats it aloud.
What do you think happened?
The original sentence has been altered in the retelling. It could have been heard wrong by one person, then that person repeated what they thought they heard.
The next person heard the new sentence but forgot part of it before he told the next person. As the sentence moves around the room back to
the original person, the whole sentence has changed.
People are fallible. We make mistakes. We are not perfect.
But God is always perfect.
I do believe that the Bible talks of God. The Bible tells of his great mercy. I believe that most of the main themes are true. I believe that God did everything described in the first chapter of Genesis.
The Bible starts with Genesis 1, the story of creation:
1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening, and there was morning, the first day.
6 And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7 And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. 8 And God called the expanse Heaven.
9 And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.
11 And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning, the third day.
14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17 And
God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning, the fourth day.
20 And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” 21 So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful
and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 And there was evening, and there was morning, the fifth day.
24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God, he created him; male and female, he created them.
28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning, the sixth day.
Are God’s children perfect?
God created man, and God created woman, but did Adam and Eve know how to read and write? Did they have perfect memories? They could have.
Throughout time the Lord has sent many prophets to warn us that we have sinned. The Lord has given the prophets information on how we should live. But do we follow the laws? Is our memory perfect?
I know mine is not!
I question if Adam and Eve knew how to read and write. Did either of them record history on a stone so that it could be copied? It’s possible! It’s also possible that the serpent played more trickery.
What if, while copying the writing, Adam was tired? What if Adam had been working in the sweltering heat, digging up the ground, planting seeds all day? What if, along with all the gardening, Adam had to tend the sheep, he had to feed them and keep watch over them for half the night?
Do you think that Adam was infallible?
Could he make a mistake, miss print a word, or leave a comma or period out of a sentence? Could he have told Cain and Able a different version of the stories of his life? Then years down the road, would
Cain intentionally tells his offspring a version of the story that made him look better?
Human beings are far from perfect. God knows this. He sent prophets to warn us. He sent Priests to intercede on our behalf.
He sent Jesus to die for our sins. God gave his only begotten son, Jesus so that we could be forgiven.
Have you ever imagined how God felt watching Jesus hang from that Cross? How helpless he felt?
God must have felt a deep hurt and anguish. But God wanted to save us. God knows we are not perfect.
So back to the question of perfect memory or perfect repetition. I do not feel that the Bible happened exactly as it is written today. We were not perfect. We sin, we falter, and we struggle. Many will say that the Bible is the truth, that every word happened just the way it is written.
I can’t entirely agree.
During Adam’s time, Noah’s, Daniel’s, Paul’s, even mine, stories have been and are embellished. Sometimes to make a stronger point. Sometimes to scare people into doing the right thing. Sometimes to make the story sound better. And other times because the storyteller gets confused or forgets parts.
I do, however, believe that God inspires the Bible.
It is written about God’s love.
It is written to teach God’s people.
It is written to provide a framework of how to live life and how not to live life.
It details God’s awesomeness and glory. And so much more.
I have shared with you my thought about the Bible’s many stories. What do you
think? Leave a comment below.