ROB BELL IS A MASTER AT ASKING this question, and has seemingly found a million and one ways of asking it whilst somehow managing to maintain his (counterfeit) “evangelical” credentials in the eyes of so many biblically illiterate Christians.
It was of course the serpent in the Garden of Eden who first whispered that fateful question into the ear of Eve, and which resulted in her eating the fruit from the forbidden tree. Genesis 3:1 describes the serpent as being more cunning than any beast of the field…
But I think Bell must come a close second, and he has been at it again recently, doing a very good impression of the serpent in the Garden of Eden by questioning what God has said. And this time it is about the very events that took place in the Garden of Eden. This “ravenous wolf” is very at home with the serpent in the Garden in the way he constantly deconstructs the Word of God by asking, “Did God really say?”
Rob Bell – Deconstructing Eden
Bell has launched a Bible teaching series on his Tumblr blog and recently fielded questions on the historicity of Adam and Eve, and why he believes the question of their historicity is irrelevant.
On Tumblr someone posted a question to Bell about whether or not he believed Adam and Eve were real. The blog conversation between Bell and the other person went like this:
Bell: I don’t think that’s the point of the story.
-Could they have been?
Bell: Of course. But then you’d have to answer all sorts of questions about DNA and fossils and evidence for how old the earth is…….
Let me hit the pause button right there before we go any further! This is classic, clever Bell saying in a very cunning “serpent-like” way, ”Did God really say?” over the issue of the age of the earth, by implying the scientific evidence proves the earth is millions of years old, and therefore Christians should steer clear of the science.
Bell is asked if Adam and Eve could have been real people, to which he answers, “Of course”, because he does not want to deny the Bible outright; that would not be cunning enough. But what Bell has basically done is very cleverly put a huge question mark over what the Bible says in Genesis by implying that the secular evolutionary view on DNA and fossils is factually correct. He is doing precisely what secular science wants Christians to do, which is to treat the fossil record and DNA discoveries as if they have proven evolution to be true and therefore the biblical account of Genesis to be no more than a good story; a good “spiritual” story in Bell’s case. Secular science wants Christians to feel like these issues are the “elephant in the room” that we should be scared of going near, or mentioning, and Bell has just given them a massive hand in achieving that. Should Christians avoid the “elephant in the room”?
I actually like elephants; I think Christians should like all elephants that are put in the room by people who ask, “Did God really say?” I think if more Christians talked with these “elephants in the room” they would realise they are absolutely no threat to a true biblical Christian faith. With this in mind, let us stop ignoring the “elephant in the room” of DNA and the fossil record.
Evolutionists (whose doctrine Bell obviously thinks is more reliable than the Bible) try to keep quiet about the fact that had DNA been discovered during Darwin’s lifetime, his theories on evolution and mutation across species would have got no further than his own notebook. DNA is a multi-step code system where no part works unless all parts are present and functional. DNA could never evolve from natural selection, but Darwinists like to keep very quiet about that fact! The first man. Imagine that!
The Fossil Record
Darwinian theory relies on minute changes in organisms, which slowly accumulate, gradually changing (evolving) the organism until it eventually becomes a new species. If this is correct, then the fossil record should contain many fossils with forms intermediate between different species, and listening to evolutionists (and Rob Bell!) you would be perhaps forgiven for believing that this is what the fossil record shows. But the fact is that the geological fossil record shows no such evidence, and Darwin even admitted this himself. He wrote: Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely-graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and serious objection which can be urged against the theory. (The Origin of Species)
How many times do you hear of evolutionists admit this quote from their god Darwin? Never!
Both Christian and non-Christian geologists have the same fossil record at their disposal, yet both come to very different conclusions. The Christian geologist, who believes in a literal six- day creation event, sees nothing in the fossil record to contradict this. In fact, the fossil record shows overwhelming evidence for a massive and world-wide catastrophic event – Noah’s flood.
Darwin of course lived and died quite some time ago (1809-1882), so there has been plenty of time for geologists to discover evidence in the fossil record since. So just how much evidence has been unearthed in the fossil record to support Darwin’s theory since his death in 1882? None, aucen, nessuno, keiner, ninguno, ingen, nenhum, egyik sem, absolutely zero!
The geological fossil record still provides absolutely no evidence of “transitional species” (as confessed to by Darwin himself), and the so-called “missing links” are just that, missing! Names such as Nebraska Man, Piltdown Man, Nutcracker Man, Neanderthal Man and IDA have all been absorbed into our vocabulary and consciousness as if they are well-established evidence of pre-human species. The reality however is very different:
Nebraska Man – The product of evolutionist’s imagination based solely on the discovery of a solitary tooth, which was proven to come from a peccary, a pig-like wild animal that, like the Nebraska Man theory, is now extinct.
Piltdown Man – A collection of bones found in the South of England in 1912, and heralded as “the sensational missing link”. This was in fact proven to be a deliberate hoax, with a 400 year old human skull being married to an orang-utan’s jaw.
Nutcracker Man – A large skull found in East Africa in 1959 and acclaimed by National Geographic as evidence of man’s evolutionary descent from the ape. Some time later however, the palaeontologists who found it withdrew their extravagant claims, and it is now accepted as the skull from an extinct ape.
Neanderthal Man – Just another race of humans with superficial “ape-like” characteristics like the Australian Aborigines; unless of course you still cling to Darwin’s thoroughly racist and wrong theory that Aborigines are less human than you and me! This is what Darwin wrote in Descent of Man (2nd edition): At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of men will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes… will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the Negro or Australian and the gorilla.
By “Australian” Darwin was referring to Aborigine, and not your typical surf-boarding white Bruce!
IDA - The name “IDA” was given to these particular fossilised remains as it was named after the daughter of the Norwegian scientist who led the research team. So what about IDA? Well, after much fanfare and hype, she just turned out to be a…… Lemur!
There have been literally hundreds of other attempts to link humans to ape- like ancestors, but when exposed to honest investigation they have all met the same fate, and Darwin’s idea that, “Man descended from some less highly organised form” remains pure guesswork. Fascinating drawings of ape-men, with their barrel chests, jutting jaws and hairy legs, are pure figments of human imagination, but yet remain printed in school text books and adorn the walls of museums as if scientifically proven.
Atheist evolutionists still cling to the belief that the fossil record will eventually provide proof of what they believe to be true, because the alternative is to accept the Biblical account of creation.
Speaking of the lack of evidence in the fossil record to support the theory of evolution through “transitional species”, Dr T S Kemp, Curator of the Oxford University Natural History Museum, admitted that All major groups appear suddenly without ancestors in the fossil record. To study living creatures for decades and then extrapolate to evolution over millions of years is a real act of faith (Fossils and Evolution, Oxford University Press 1999, pp240, 246, 253).
Stephen Jay Gould, eminent Professor of Geology and Palaeontology at Harvard University also acknowledged the following: The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of palaeontology. We fancy ourselves as the only true students of life’s history, yet to preserve our favoured account of evolution by natural selection we view our data as so bad that we never see the very process we profess to study (Natural History, vol. 86 (5), May 1977, p14).
For an evolutionist, the geological fossil record forms part of the circular reasoning used, i.e. the geological fossil record must be true because evolution shows us that the world is billions of years old, and evolution must be true because the geological fossil record shows us that the world is billions of years old! They are used to prove each other, without having any quantifiable proof for either! But let us hit the play button and get back to the Tumblr blog conversation…
Bell: Does anybody actually know for sure whether or not they [Adam and Eve] were actual, real people? No. [Here we have again Bell asking, “Did God really say?”]
-So debating whether or not they were actual, real people isn’t the point. It’s actually dangerous, because in arguing one way or the other you may miss the point of the story. But your answer that you don’t think that’s the point of the story seems like you’re avoiding the question.
Bell: absolutely not.
-But your answer is clearly taking the Bible less seriously than if you simply said that you believe they were real people because the Bible says they were real people.
Bell: absolutely not. I give that answer because that’ s the answer that takes the story the most seriously.
-But some people say that if you don’t believe Adam and Eve were real people, then you’re denying the truth of the rest of the Bible as well.
Bell: That’ s crazy. And demeaning to the scriptures as well.
-Okay then, why don’t you think them real is the point of the story?
Bell: Because the storytellers clearly have a much bigger point in mind...
So when it is put to Bell that not believing in a real Adam and Eve denies the truth of the rest of the Bible, he responds by saying that the suggestion is crazy and demeaning to Scripture. This statement very cleverly makes it sound like he is defending the integrity of the Word of God. Bell also asserts that those arguing for a literal Adam and Eve are in danger of missing the point of the “story”; he refers to Adam and Eve as a “story” over and over again in his Tumblr conversation and note also how Bell describes the author of Genesis as “the storytellers”, i.e. more than one. In reality however the exact opposite is true; it is people like Bell who miss the point entirely and demean the Scriptures by asserting that a real Adam and Eve is not necessary (or even probable based on the flawed evolutionary science Bell refers to). So many key Christian doctrines are rooted in Genesis and upheld by Adam and Eve being the real first man and woman in history (the nature of God and His relationship with His creation, original sin, judgement, salvation, the End-Times, marriage, sexuality – the list could go on). The spiritual “point” to Adam and Eve can only exist if Adam and Eve existed in realhistory; there can only be spiritual meaning to Adam and Eve if they were real people. Bell’s assertion is theologically bankrupt.
In Genesis 1, 2 and 3 we are given a narrative on creation. In the New Testament, John 1, 2 and 3 parallels Genesis 1, 2 and 3 by giving us a narrative on the new creation. The spiritual truths drawn out by John only have spiritual meaning and validity because they are based on real truth found in Genesis. It is Bell who misses “the point” by a country mile.
A little later in the Tumblr conversation Bell is asked to comment on the fact that Paul and Jesus both talked about Adam and Eve as being real people.
Bell replied: They did. Unless you see Mr Dirt and Mrs Living [Bell’ s name for Adam and Eve] as a way of talking about the human condition from the very first moments when people started realizing they were humans and they were in a particularly destructive condition.
Let us be clear what Bell is talking about here. The “human condition” Bell is talking about is original sin, brought into the world by Adam and Eve, not as Bell claims “when people started realizing they were humans and they were in a particularly destructive condition”. Paul says in Romans 5:12 that death, disease and decay entered into the world as a direct result of one man, Adam: Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.
Therefore, according to Paul - the man responsible for writing the majority of New Testament doctrine - death, disease and decay did not exist in the world prior to the fall of a literal man whom God called Adam. However, it is clear Bell does not believe that there was a literal first man created directly by God in His image, and named Adam. Bell is suggesting that “Adam” is merely an allegorical tool used by Jesus and Paul to describe the first humanoid to be indwelt by God’s spirit; the result of billions of years of “pre-Adamic” creatures evolving and then dying, evolving and then dying until reaching a state of evolutionary development whereupon God felt able to indwell with His Spirit. Bell is implicitly denying that death disease and decay only came into the world as a result of the fall of a literal first man, Adam.
Paul refers to Adam being responsible for bringing sin into the world several times in Romans 5:12-19. He also goes on to link together the sinner Adam and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ:
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned— (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. For if by the one man’ s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.) Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous (emphasis added).
Do you think Paul was trying to emphasise a point?
It is a point Paul emphasises further in his epistle to the church at Corinth:
But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive (1 Corinthians 15:20-22).
The first man Adam became a living being. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit (1 Corinthians 15:45).
Further evidence that Paul took Adam as a literal historical figure can be found in 1 Timothy 2:11-14 where he appeals to this doctrine in order to make an argument concerning the role of women in the church with respect to men.
Any view that mythologises Adam into being figurative and not a literal historical person undermines the biblical basis of Jesus’ work of redemption. Why? Because Jesus is described by Paul as being the “Last Adam”, who’s very mission was to undo what the first Adam had so disastrously done by sinning; if the first Adam was not literal, the “Last Adam” has no ones work to undo!
Jesus is further linked to a literal and historical Adam through His genealogy listed in Luke 3:23-38. Between Jesus and Adam, Luke lists a genealogy of no less than 74 historical people: Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph…the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God(emphasis added).
Adam is also included in a genealogy of literal historical figures in 1 Chronicles 1. If Adam is not meant to be understood as being a literal historical person, why is information given of the literal and historical people he fathered, and why does Genesis 5:5 tell us exactly how old Adam was when he died? So all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years; and he died. If Adam is meant to be understood as nothing more than an allegorical tool for explaining the “human condition” as Bell puts it, is it not over-elaborate overkill to describe the literal people Adam fathered and tell us his age at death?
It only takes the briefest of looks at the Old Testament to understand how important genealogies were (and still are) to the Jews; who one is descended from was (and is) important, and Luke directly links Jesus’ genealogy literally right back to Adam. That being the case, my question to Bell would be this: At what point does the genealogy of Jesus change from being literal to fictional; from historical to allegorical? An honest answer to that question from Bell would all too easily expose his identity as a “ravenous wolf”, because this is a man who has already declared in his book Velvet Elvis – Repainting the Christian Faith that his Christian faith would not be adversely impacted if Jesus was found to have just been an ordinary man (“the son of Larry” as Bell puts it) instead of the Son of God. For Bell, the “spiritual” meaning of Jesus being the Son of God is more important than the reality of Jesus being the Son of God. Does this not expose the depth of spiritual and theological bankruptcy of Bell’s perverse version of Christianity? It is no version of Christianity that can be found anywhere within the pages of Scripture. There is absolutely no spiritual meaning to Jesus at all if He was and is not really the Son of God. In fact, as Jesus claimed to be the Son of God (and therefore God incarnate), if He turned out to be just “the son of Larry” (as Bell puts it) it would expose Jesus to be either a liar or a lunatic. Either way, Christianity would just be yet another dead, pointless empty false religion based on the life and empty words of a fallible and sinful human being who fallaciously claimed to be God; someone no better than Sun Myung Moon (spiritual leader of the Moonies), or Jim Jones (founder and leader of the People’s Temple cult). Thank God that Jesus is God; it means everything!
The apostle Peter warned of people like Bell: But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. (2 Peter 2:1)
For if you believed Moses…
If that were not enough, Bell also goes on to deny the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament) were written by Moses; he claims in his Tumblr conversation that a number of different “storytellers” were involved in writing Genesis to Deuteronomy. For example, in describing the accounts of creation in Genesis chapters 1 and 2 he claims:
There are multiple authors at work here, stitching together different perspectives. This is the same, tired, old rubbish that has been spewed out by liberal Christians for decades; people who have been happy asking, “Did God really say?”, without any genuine evidence to substantiate their claim; it is an argument made out of complete silence and ignorance; an argument that claims Genesis 1 and 2 give different and contradictory accounts of creation (cunningly described by Bell as “different perspectives”), thus meaning that not only are the accounts not to be regarded as being literal, but they were also written by different authors. For people (like Bell) who take this position on the authorship of Genesis 1 and 2 there are essentially two claims of contradiction (“different perspectives”) between Genesis 1 and 2 put forward as evidence to support their claim. These two claimed contradictions have become further “elephants in the room” that literal six-day creationists have been encouraged to go nowhere near. However, I think literal six-day creationists should go and introduce themselves to these “elephants” without fear, and I therefore want to briefly do that now.
“Elephant” 1 – Plant Life
The first claimed contradiction relates to the description in both accounts of the creation of plant life. Genesis 1:11 records that God created vegetation on the third day before the creation of man. Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so. Whereas Genesis 2:5 states that God created man …before any plant of the field was in the earth and before any herb of the field had grown. For the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the ground. So which account is correct?
Did God create vegetation on the third day before He created man as recorded in Genesis 1, or after He created man as is seemingly suggested in Genesis 2? The answer is very simple and is rooted in the fact that the English language is sometimes insufficient and inadequate in its depth to properly express and translate the original Hebrew (a real problem for those Christians who claim the 1611 King James Bible takes precedence over the original languages used in the Bible). The Hebrew words for vegetation used in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 are different and mean different types of vegetation; some Bible versions deal with this better than others. Genesis 1:11 uses a Hebrew term referring to vegetation in general, whereas Genesis 2:5 uses a more specific Hebrew term referring to vegetation requiring cultivation (i.e. a person to care and tend to it). Genesis 1 is referring to God creating vegetation not requiring cultivation before He created Adam, and Genesis 2 is referring to God creating vegetation that did require cultivation (farming) after He had created the first farmer (Adam); why would God create plant life that required farming before He had created the first farmer?
The New King James Version quoted above does use different English terms to describe vegetation in Genesis 1:11 and Genesis 2:5, but still falls short of the intended meaning found in the original Hebrew.
“Elephant” 2 – Animal Life
The second “elephant” is even more lame than the first. The second claimed contradiction relates to animal life. Genesis 1:24-25 records God creating animal life on the sixth day, before He created Adam, whereas most translations of Genesis 2:19 seems to suggest that God created animals after. For example the New International Version of Genesis 2:19-20 says Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and a the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.
It has been claimed that the above passage (in some translations such as the NIV) says that God created Adam first, then the animals and then brought the animals to Adam for him to name them. But the text does not say that; read in context even in a poor version like the NIV verse 19 reads: Now the Lord God had [already] formed out of the ground all the wild animals…
On the sixth day, God created the animals, then created man, and then brought the animals to Adam to name. How intimidating do those “elephants in the room” look now? There are no contradictions between the creation accounts of Genesis 1 and 2, and one author wrote both accounts – Moses. Genesis 1 is the account of God creating the universe and life on earth in chronological order during a period of six literal days, whereas Genesis 2 is an expanded account of the events that occurred at the end of the sixth day, when God created Adam. Other than the fact that Adam was created in God’s image, Genesis 1 provides very little detail of the creation of Adam.
For a book dedicated to introducing the relationship between God and man – the pinnacle of God’s creation – the information provided in just four verses in Genesis 1 is not much at all. This is because Genesis 1 was never intended to be set apart from Genesis 2 and 3 in the way that it has been by the subsequent inclusion of chapter and verse separations. In Genesis 2 the author (Moses) provides greater detail about the creation of man. He uses a common literary device describing an event from the general to the specific; he first describes the sequence of creation, then clarifies the most important details (especially of the sixth day).
Whilst it is understood and acknowledged that Genesis to Deuteronomy in their present form were compiled during the Jewish exile in Babylon, it is widely accepted in Jewish tradition that Moses wrote the content of the first five books of the Old Testament, known as the Torah, but also often referred to in Scripture as the Law (with the obvious exception of Moses’ own death, which was most likely written by Joshua).
In Jesus (and Paul’s day) it was clearly understood that the Old Testament writings (for of course that is all they had at the time) were divided into three distinct sections:
1. The Torah (the Law)
Genesis to Deuteronomy written by Moses
2. The Neviim
Joshua, Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, All prophets except Daniel
The three Hebrew letters ‘T’, ‘N’ and ‘Ch’ that represented each of the three sections of Old Testament writings were put together (with vowel sounds) to form the word TeNaCH, which is of course the Hebrew word for the Old Testament. All three distinct and different sections were directly referred to by Jesus Himself in Luke 24:44: Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.
Here we have Jesus referring to the three sections of Scripture: The Torah (Law of Moses), the Neviim and the Writings (typified by the Psalms). The Law is mentioned in Scripture many times (e.g. Nehemiah) and is always acknowledged and recognised as being defined as the first five books written by Moses (Genesis to Deuteronomy). So why is this relevant? Because if the Genesis narrative was not authored by Moses as Bell insinuates, this raises some interesting questions when you consider what Christ Himself said in John 5:46-47: For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?
When Jesus said this, he was speaking to fellow Jews, and those fellow Jews would have clearly understood that Jesus was speaking of the first five books of the Bible (being authored by Moses). Jesus was not speaking figuratively or allegorically, and had Jesus tried doing so about the authorship of the Torah (the Law), his Jewish audience would have certainly protested about it; particularly the religious leaders who followed Jesus around with the explicit intention of catching Him out. The Torah was no minor thing to the Jews, as it was the foundation stone of Judaism’s legal framework and ethical doctrine. So they would have protested loudly (and violently) if Jesus had referred to it (and its accepted author) in anything other than a literal sense. Let’s face it they protested plenty about other stuff Jesus said!
A further example can be found in Matthew 19 and Mark 10 where Jesus responds to a question put to Him by the Pharisees about divorce as a way of trying to catch Him out. Jesus answered, “What did Moses command you?” (Mark 10:3), to which the Pharisees replied by quoting Deuteronomy 24:1-4. Jesus countered their response by quoting from Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 (and is recorded in Matthew 19:4-5 and Mark 10:6-9). This conversation between Jesus and the religious leaders not only shows that the Pharisees accepted Moses as being the author of Deuteronomy, but also that Jesus accepted Moses as being the author of Genesis.
Out with the Hebrew and in with the Greek
The Old Testament was of course written mainly in Hebrew, and without most people even being aware of it our western minds have sadly been conditioned to view all Scripture through “Greek lenses” as a result of teaching from Augustine and Origen, who themselves were heavily influenced by Plato. Plato’s big philosophy was that the material world was bad and the spiritual world was good. Augustine, and Origen in particular, took Plato’s big philosophy and applied it to Bible interpretation – out with the Jewish and in with the Greek. The result was that the deeper “spiritual” meaning became more important than the literal “physical” meaning. This is exactly what Bell is claiming by saying those Christians taking a literal interpretation of Adam and Eve are missing the more important “spiritual” point; Augustine and Origen saw the literal meaning of Scripture as being for the more simple minded (with Bell describing a literal view of Scripture as being “actually dangerous” and “demeaning to the Scriptures” in his Tumblr conversation), whereas the deeper “spiritual” meaning was for the more “enlightened.” It does not take a scholar to see how this has infected the view of Genesis by the church over the centuries. Augustine and Origen looked for deeper spiritual meaning to Scripture where, if viewed through the originally intended “Jewish lenses” was clearly meant to be interpreted literally.
This is where the concept of “allegory” originated from; the “Jewish lenses” were discarded for “Greek lenses” so the spiritual (allegorical) meaning became more important than the literal meaning. This thinking has infected the whole issue of creation and whether it is meant to be interpreted literally or allegorically, whereas the original Hebrew is very clear that the Genesis account is intended to be interpreted literally.
There are four Jewish methods of Bible interpretation — p’shat, remez midrash (sometimes referred to as d’rash) and sud.
The Hebrew word pardes is used to describe these four methods of interpretation; Pardes means “garden” or “orchard”; it is an acronym in Hebrew for all four methods.
P’shat means “simple rendering” and encourages the reader to first take the plain simple meaning of the Scripture being read.
Remez means “to hint” and encourages the reader to go a bit deeper than the p’shat rendering. It takes the reader into the area of typology (where something in the Old Testament connects with something later in the New Testament), symbolism (where something in the Old Testament represents something else) and allegory (to use the Platonic term).
Midrash (or d’rash) means “to seek or search” and implies going deeper still than the obvious (p’shat) meaning.
The sud element provides the mystical component to Jewish interpretation, delving into secret meanings and numerical codes. The ancient occult Jewish sect of Kabala (Madonna’s religion of choice) has twisted this method far beyond where God intended.
The words of Jesus
Jesus used all four methods in His ministry with great skill, and His Jewish audience would have clearly understood which method Jesus was using at any particular time. As a Pharisee, Paul would have also been highly trained and skilled in using all four methods of interpretation; it would have been clear to his Jewish readers that what he wrote about Adam in Romans 5 was meant to be interpreted literally.
For the Jewish reader Scripture is crystal clear when each of the four methods of interpretation is being used, and when Jesus spoke of Moses and creation it was very clear to His audience that Jesus was referring to them in the context of p’shat (a clear and literal meaning). As I mentioned earlier, any attempt by Jesus to refer to the writings of Moses in any way other than in a literal sense, would have resulted in the Jewish religious leaders protesting loudly.
But Bell’s view that the Genesis account was not authored by Moses and should not be interpreted literally, raises a number of interesting questions about what Jesus declared in the passage in John I mentioned earlier (John 5:46-47)
For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?
Question 1. If Genesis was not written by Moses, was Jesus mistaken and did not know Moses was not the author?
Question 2. If Genesis was not written by Moses, did Jesus know this and was therefore misleading his Jewish listeners?
Question 3. Or, in accordance with Jewish tradition and the words of the Son of God Himself, was Genesis actually written by Moses?
Christians can choose to believe Rob Bell, or they can choose to believe the Son of God. Believing Bell will give Christians no more than a worldly view of the Bible, whereas believing the Son of God will give Christians a biblical view of the world. I know which one I choose. Rob Bell is theologically bankrupt and because of that, he is spiritually bankrupt; he is a “ravenous wolf” in sheep’s clothing, and Jesus warned us they would come:
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves (Matthew 7:15).
Paul also warned that “savage wolves” would come in among us after his departure: For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock (Acts 20:29).
But I just think some Christians enjoy being devoured.
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