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Judaism and Christianity

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Stories from the Hebrew
Scriptures (a.k.a. Old Testament)

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Overview:

We hope to expand this section to include most of the main stories in the Hebrew Scriptures. For now, it will just deal with a few stories -- most from the first part of Genesis. These include: origin of the Earth, its species and the rest of the universe, the story of the fall (or rise) of humanity, the great flood, and other genocides.

As is our custom, we will compare and contrast conservative and liberal interpretations of these stories. Most Christians may well hold beliefs that are intermediate between these two extremes.

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1. The creation stories:

Genesis contains two stories which describe the creation of the world, the rest of the universe, and all of the forms of life, including humans. The first story is found in Genesis 1:1 to 2:3; the second in Genesis 2.4 to 2:25. Elements of an alternative, ancient eastern Mediterranean belief about the creation of the world is found in two passages of Psalms.

There is a long-standing conflict between creation scientists, and most geology and biology scientists. The former interpret Genesis and the rest of the bible as inerrant when interpreted literally. They date the origin of the earth, its animal and plant species, and the rest of the universe as happening somewhere between 4000 to 8000 BCE. In excess of 99% of earth & biological scientists believe in the theory of evolution, and date the age of the earth at about 4.5 billion years ago, when the surface crust of the earth formed.

Genesis also contains an account of the creation of Eve from a rib of Adam to become his partner and co-worker.

Topics covered in this section:

Related section in this website:

bullet Creation science and evolution: three main ways of looking at origins: creation science, intelligent design, theistic evolution and naturalistic evolution.

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2. The fall/rise of humanity:

This story is found in Genesis 3. Historically, this chapter has been interpreted as the fall of humanity due to Adam and Eve disobeying an instruction from God. This was viewed as the event that caused sin to enter the world. The sin placed a gulf between God and humanity that could only be overcome -- and then only for certain individuals -- as a result of Yeshua of Nazareth's (Jesus Christ's) death on the cross. Many conservative and mainline Christians generally hold these beliefs today. However, some religious liberals and secularists interpret this chapter as the rise of Adam and Eve from proto-humans to full human status.

bullet Genesis 3: Does it represent the fall or rise of humanity? Original sin

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3. The flood of Noah:

Starting in Genesis 6:6, the Bible records that God was concerned about the level of violence and other evil behavior among humans. He "was sorry that He had made man on the earth..." 1 It says that God decided to destroy almost the entire human race, in the first, largest and most thorough act of genocide in history. Only Noah, his three sons and their four wives were to be saved in an ark of their own construction. The rest of the human race, the land animals and birds were said to have drowned in a world-wide flood. Again, most conservative Christians believe that this story is literally true. Essentially all liberal Christians, biologists, geologists, linguists and anthropologists consider them to be religious myths -- often with spiritual significance event if they did not happen in reality.

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4. The story of Lot, his daughters and grandchildren/children:

Genesis 19 contains a number of unusual stories, two of which contain major sexual transgressions:

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5. Additional genocides in the Bible, after the flood:

  • Genocides ordered or initiated by God: The Passover event in Egypt, the invasion of Canaan, the near-elimination of the Tribe of Benjamin, and the future mass extermination described in the book of Revelation

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Reference used:

  1. Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), Genesis 6:6. American Standard Version.

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Copyright © 2001 to 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2014-FEB-08
Author: B.A. Robinson

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