WHAT THIS BOOK IS ABOUT
The purpose of this writing is to enable you to understand what the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are about; not in its every detail, but the big picture.
The Book is designed to help you make an objective investigation.
If you are like most people you have been socialized with a lot of preconceptions and imagery, both mental and physical, regarding Judaism and Christianity. To contemporary society, The Bible is a hopelessly complicated and anachronistic collection of myths and pseudo-history that have little relevance to modern life. People who believe in it and embrace its values are now days considered backward and un-evolved.
The creation account in Genesis is, in particular, seen as an awkward attempt of the unscientific ignorant ancients to explain their existence; it bearing little resemblance to the revealed truth of the age of technology about the origin of man.
If you approach the Bible as a work of science or as a “Dear Abbey” attempt to provide answers to life’s perplexing questions, doubtless you too would come to this conclusion.
The Bible, however, is not a crude attempt at science. While the Scriptures do explain the human condition and provide insight into successful living, it is not fundamentally a self-help book either. The Bible is a Spiritual Book with a Spiritual Message. The Bible is not written to explain the physical.
The Bible is the Book about the Relationship between God and Man. It is designed to explain that relationship and enable you to understand your place in that relationship relative to your Creator in the continuum of this amazing linear progression we call time.
This writing explains that relationship.
This writing explains time, and its purpose.
The first three chapters of Genesis are the most important part of the Bible. They set the tone for everything that follows. It is imperative that you understand what is being communicated in those chapters. It is the very lack of understanding of the Creation Account and the explanation of the Fall of Man in Genesis that causes so much confusion about the overall meaning of the Bible and prompts people to discount its value.
My purpose is to break those three chapters down to you in simple terms, explaining their meaning and relevance to you. I try to be brief and pointed, so as not to bore or overwhelm you with verbosity. I do not use heavy theological terminology; note however, the vocabulary in this book is not dumbed down. I do not delve into the doctrines of various denominations or sects. My aim is to cut through all that and present an easy to understand explanation that is logical and objective.
If you can understand clearly what is being communicated in the first three chapters of Genesis you will then be able to understand the more complex parts of the Bible, like the Book of Revelation. Revelation, by most accounts is the most difficult to understand part of the Scriptures. Because it is written in figurative language, which most find confusing, it puts many people off; not only of the Book of Revelation but the entire Bible. Scripture is dismissed as the ramblings of mystics.
The creation story is a similitude, that is, an imaginative comparison. To get His point across God uses a point of reference that we can comprehend, a solar week, as a framework for explaining the complex relational process that He has set in motion in linear time.
We must understand that the kind of exacting time references that we demand in the present age were not available through most of human history. The linguistic terminology necessary to express millions and billions, seconds, hours and fractions, and the means to calculate the complexities of astrophysics are fairly recent innovations. People in simpler times had simpler levels of comprehension about numbers, time, space and the universe. People in past ages simply did not have the knowledge, vocabulary or linguistic devices necessary to explain the universe in the scientific terms we take for granted today.
To make his plan and purpose understandable to the ages and Peoples with all levels of comprehension, God uses parables, allegories, illustrations, metaphors and similitudes. These are comparisons and explanations of complex concepts presented in relation to understandable references, (known by most) of processes, places and things in everyday experience. Stories are impactful and easy to remember.
God uses a time reference we can all relate to, a week, as a vehicle to communicate via simile his plan and purpose for humanity. In this week progress unfold incrementally. What happens in succeeding days builds upon the work of the days that precede it. People can relate to this and understand the measure and care that God is taking. The days are figurative and not meant to imply a process of 168 hours. They are meant to communicate a careful step by step process, in which what is created is reconciled to God’s standards and purpose piece by piece. At the end of the process, things are complete, mature and perfected. The end of one day can overlap the beginning of another as it is not necessary for one process to be perfected in order for another to begin. The exception is the Seventh Day. The Seventh Day begins only when all six of the preceding days are complete.
For clarity and simplicity, I am going to teach you that The Bible is divided into three parts: the first there pages (Genesis 1, 2 and 3); the last three pages (Revelation 19,20,21 and 22) And everything else in the middle.
All of the issues raised and challenges posed in the first three pages are resolved in the last three. If you understand the issues raised in Genesis, which I will explain, then you will see and understand how God resolves those issues in Revelation. We will, therefore, concentrate on 6 pages. If we can understand those six pages of The Bible at the beginning and the end then the point of the other One Thousand pages in the middle will become clear. It is not by accident that the various Books of the Bible are organized in the manner they are. God has made it so with a point.
The issues raised in Genesis are the issues of the human condition. These issues touch you every day.
They are the issues of life and death, but more specifically, the issue is this: Will we affirm God’s right to establish the standards of good and evil and make the arbitrary distinctions between right and wrong or will we reject accountability to God and make our own way? Put another way: will we stand on God’s righteousness or will we stand on our own?
The Bible you see, when all is said and done, is the book about a choice. Simply stated the choice is this: Will we choose to unite with God or will we choose to separate ourselves from Him?
If we choose unity we choose life. If we choose separation, we choose death. The choice is life or death. Each and every one of us will have to confront this choice at some point in our life and make a decision. Everything that is written in the Scriptures; everything in the physical creation and everything that is transpiring in the history of the World is happening to facilitate our understanding of this choice and enable us to make an informed decision.
God wants us to choose life. Everything He has made; everything he has done and everything He has written is conceived to show us that life is the decision that we would want to make. This decision must be freely made: made without coercion; made without intimidation or threat, nor as a result of the material or emotional manipulation of our minds and hearts. A choice freely made to unite with God in a perfect relationship is what the Bible, this communication from God, is all about. This fact will be clearly seen in the exposition of the aforementioned six pages we will evaluate in this writing.
This book is organized, primarily, like a commentary. I will provide verse by verse commentary on the first three chapters of Genesis and the last four chapters of Revelation. Between the commentary are chapters that examine relevant topics in more detail.
This book presents commentary in the context of three English translations. I have chosen to present parallel translations in the commentary because much of the confusion about the meaning of Genesis 1, 2 and 3 results from the way these chapters are translated. Regrettably translators, particularly modern translators, have approached the Scriptures from a prejudicial viewpoint. They choose to view the Creation Account as fundamentally a presentation of the creation of the physical universe. They translate with that idea in mind. That is not at all what the Genesis Creation Account is about, as we will see in the text. The parallel translations give you a basis for comparison and reflection.
The first parallel translation for commentary I have chosen is Tyndale’s 1534 translation of Genesis and His 1526 translation of Revelation. I have chosen Tyndale because when he first translated the Bible into English at the beginning of the Reformation his renderings were fresh. They were not polluted and heavily influenced by denominational thinking and the efforts of others. They have a clarity and authenticity that is lost in some later translations. I present it to you in original spelling, which you will find extremely interesting and informative and which, surprisingly, is not hard to make out nor does it detract from the reading. Remember, spelling was not yet standardized in the 16th Century.
The second translation I have chosen is a contemporary version of the 1611 King James Bible called The New King James Version. Published in 1982 this is the King James Version with the 17th Century grammar and spelling conformed to modern standards of speech (The thee and thou pronouns are taken out). It is a good modern translation that reads easily and one that I recommend to you for your own devotions and study.
The third translation is one of the new breed of contemporary renderings called God’s Word Translation. I include it in the mix to show you how, by comparison, attempts at making the Bible too easy to read by extensively simplifying the grammar and using pseudo-paraphrases can sometimes detract from the meaning instead of enhancing it. This translation interprets Genesis in the light of a modern scientific context, thus skewing the meaning.
As you will see in places I am also including a literal word for word translation of the accepted Hebrew Text. I have changed the Hebrew to read from left to right for ease of use.
To make it easy for you to see how what you are reading relates to the rest of the Bible you will note that there are many scriptural cross references footnoted in the text.
This is an ambitious work and perhaps the most ambitious part is the last section called “The Retelling”, and its twin; “The Foretelling”. In that section I connect Genesis and Revelation together and construct a narrative of God’s plan of the ages less the figurative language. It was with purpose that God relates His works to us in figurative terms. Illustrative stories are impactful and easy to remember. They transcend time. They prompt inquiry. For some, however, they present a barrier to understanding. My aim in The Retelling is to remove those barriers and, for the sake of clarity, recast the account in non-figurative prose, which can be easily understood by contemporary Anglophones.
This is done to help you with the choice you need to make.
The Bible, after all, is about a choice.
TERMS & EXPLANATIONS
1. Tyndale’s translations highlighted in Green
2. New King James Version highlighted in Red
3. God’s Word Translation highlighted in Blue
4. The term “Man” is capitalized in the singular and plural when referring to humanity. Likewise the word “Humanity” is capitalized.
1 Thys is the boke of the generacion of man In the daye when God created man and made hym after the symilytude of god
2 Male and female made he the and called their names man in the daye when they were created.
Since God has so named Humanity “Man”, who are we to abridge that? Tyndale
5. All of the various terms and names referencing God are capitalized.
6. All of the various terms and names referencing “satan” are not capitalized.
14 So the Lord God said to the serpent:
“Because you have done this,
You are cursed more than all cattle,
And more than every beast of the field;
On your belly you shall go,
And you shall eat dust
All the days of your life. NKJV
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture is taken from GOD’S WORD®, © 1995 God’s Word to the Nations. Used by permission of Baker Publishing Group.
The New Testament 1526 and The Old Testament 1534