Remember the Creation Project from way back in 2016? I have a commitment to the Templeton Religion Trust and the Henry Center for Theological Understanding to publish two articles on the topic of the proper way to read the creation account in Genesis 1. I’ve finally sent off the first article to see if a journal will accept it for publication.
I’ve always said that I believe publishing high level academic work is a part of my ministry calling. But it’s still hard in the midst of ministry to carve out the necessary time for research and writing. I guess that’s why, four years later, my first of two creation articles is finally out the door (though to be fair to myself, I did spend 2017–2018 getting my first book published).
I would appreciate your prayers as my article goes through the acceptance process, including peer review. It’s a long process, maybe six months and more, and I’ve sent it to a top journal, which means the likelihood of it being accepted is much lower. And yet it would be really helpful for our accreditation, even for the survival of our seminary, if the article does get accepted by as high quality journal as possible.
I would also appreciate your prayers for the second article. It’s almost done and I want to send it off to a journal once the first article finds a good home.
What is this First Article About?
I think it’s pretty clear at this point, that the Bible is both a work of history and a work of literature. The fact that the Bible is history means it relates events that actually happened in time and space. Jesus really did rise from the dead. The fact that the Bible is literature means that the literal meaning of the text (what the author meant to communicate) is figurative and not necessarily conducive to a plain-language reading.
History AND literature? Can those two things go together? If they do, how can we know when a text like the creation account in Genesis 1 speaks in plain-language about the actual event of creation and when it speaks figuratively? Is “day” in Genesis 1 a literal day or some kind of figurative day? How can we know?
I call this problem The Evangelical’s Creation Conundrum and have a series of blog posts in which I try to address this issue for a non-academic audience.
My research articles get into this same topic but at a very theoretical level because I think understanding the philosophy of mimesis and how it correlates history and literature is absolutely crucial to answer the questions I pose above.
Mimesis is the representation of reality in art. For example, Genesis 1 gives an account of creation (it represents the reality of creation) in a literary structure (in the form of a work of art). In other words, mimesis looks at the world in two ways at once. It gives faithful account of reality (it’s historical) and it does it in figurative language (it’s literature).
So in my first article I take a look at a history of the philosophy of mimesis and try to show that Aristotle took a left turn, when we should have gone right. Basically, he said that we have either literature OR history. You can’t have a work of history that is also literature. I think he’s wrong and try to demonstrate that.
This is actually really important because ever since Aristotle we have been reading the Bible as either history or literature and that has caused serious problems in our interpretation of texts like Genesis 1. So I’m trying to correct those problems because it helps us better understand the theological truths Moses is trying to communicate in Genesis 1 but it also helps us better trust in the inerrancy of Scripture.