Genesis to Jews: Myth?

I found out that in Vatican Council II, Genesis is a myth. But how about to Jews? Is Genesis myth to them or a fact?

It depends on who you ask, the “pew forum” took a survey of people who believed in evolution vs. people who believe in creationism or some other explanation. Jews seem to be third biggest evolutionists after Buddhists and Hindus.


Evangelicals, Mormon, and Jehovah’s Witnesses seem to come in last.

That’s an interesting claim. Care to substantiate it?

Is Genesis myth to them or a fact?

This really ups the ante. Care to show us where the documents of Vatican II assert that Genesis does not express certain facts?

Before anyone gets all defensive, let’s remember that Genesis was never meant to be a science book, nor is it some history book to a modern, critical history scholar. It is what it is, and while there may be clues to certain more recently discovered truths, or appear to contradict, it always seems that issues are either made up or rectified.

It would be a bit myopic to further ignore the plethora of similar creation myths, some of which provided themselves a veritable match for the Genesis account to cultures reached out to by missionaries.

While the argument could be made that geographical neighbors of the same era could borrow from each other, the basic concept is the same throughout history and the world.

Good entity creates, bad entity corrupts, innocence and other good things were lost, the entities fought, somewhere along the line was a flood, a family survived, etc.

The almost too confident Israelites, a people so small in number, yet so powerful, are a testament to this entity, YHWH, Elohim, Adonai…

Through the Hebrew people, our ancestors were able to recognize truth, recognize a definable truth in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and were promised the ability to enter under this God’s protection through Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah, the 2nd Person of the Blessed Trinity.

Some people get all scared of science and history. Certain Protestant groups and Muslims seem to be the biggest ones.

God is not limited. Not in the least. Nor is God contrary to the very laws He created.

The argument of “why not talk about the entire process and give scientific data” or, “why not mention triceratops?”, etc is just ridiculous. One could as easily say, “why not include the part about who first occupied North America?” Uh, that’s not the dang point!

The entire Bible is a love letter, a history, etc for us to get across a very important point. A point embodied in the Catholic Church and the Eucharist.

Ever seen The Notebook?

Was the notebook the epitome of that relationship and everything that actually happened in excruciating and minute detail, going so far as to detail ridiculous things like the progress of the local wildlife in childhood? NOPE.

BUT, it gets the story across so the Bride can recognize the Husband. Ooh, sound familiar?


“Nothing under the sun is new, neither is any man able to say: Behold this is new: for it hath already gone before in the ages that were before us.”- Ecclesiastes 1:10


Here’s on I can show, I got it from here:

Whether, when the nature and historical form of the Book of Genesis does not oppose, because of the peculiar connections of the three first chapters with each other and with the following chapters, because of the manifold testimony of the Old and New Testaments; because of the almost unanimous opinion of the Holy Fathers, and because of the traditional sense which, transmitted from the Israelite people, the Church always held, it can be taught that the three aforesaid chapters of Genesis do not contain the stories of events which really happened, that is, which correspond with objective reality and historical truth; but are either accounts celebrated in fable drawn from the mythologies and cosmogonies of ancient peoples and adapted by a holy writer to monotheistic doctrine, after expurgating any error of polytheism; or allegories and symbols, devoid of a basis of objective reality, set forth under the guise of history to inculcate religious and philosophical truths; or, finally, legends, historical in part and fictitious in part, composed freely for the instruction and edification of souls? – Reply: In the negative to both parts

Hi souldiver, in 1995, the BBC ran a series of programmes based on scientific research to check out some of the Genesis stories, see link below. The programme is academically rigorous and shows that Genesis is probable true as written:

There was a time when people believed the earth was flat !! The human condition tries to explain everything it has no understanding of, but the love of Almighty God transcends all doubt - check it out.

God bless

OK… a coupla thoughts, to begin with:

First off, you started with the assertion that Vatican II taught that Genesis was myth. I’m assuming that you’re replying to my request asking you to show where Vatican II taught this. Your reply doesn’t come from Vatican II: it comes from the Pontifical Biblical Commission, and is from a reply that’s 60 years before the start of the 2nd Vatican Council! (Were you originally trying to say, perhaps, that “the Vatican” (i.e., “the Church”) teaches that Genesis is myth? :confused:)

Second, this doesn’t show that the Vatican was teaching that Genesis is myth; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. This question is quite difficult to read, but once we understand the verbiage, and we apply it to the historical context in which the question was raised, it’ll become clear that it’s asking a particular question. (What’s really interesting is that this answer isn’t addressing the question that folks on CAF who like Scriptural literalist interpretation think that it’s addressing… :wink: )

I’ll stop here, so that you can address these two notes: 'cause from where I’m sitting, it doesn’t appear that your reply touches upon either of the claims that you’re attempting to make!

OK – so, this is really asking two questions, but it asks them with quite a long preface. First, the preface. It’s just saying “references to the first three chapters of the Book of Genesis show up in the OT and NT, as if the events ‘really’ happened. The Church Fathers talk about the events as if they ‘really’ happened. Traditionally, from the time of the ancient Hebrews, people have approached the events as if they ‘really’ happened. And, by ‘really happened’, we mean that they’re historically true.”

Fair enough?

Now, if the question simply asked “is this true?”, then there’d be a really strong case for Scriptural literalistic interpretation (i.e., fundamentalism). However, that isn’t what the questions ask!

The first question, then, is: “can it be taught that the events in Genesis 1-3 didn’t happen, but rather, are drawn from pre-Israelite myths?”

The claim being discussed here is one that was in play at the time (and still gets some play these days, too): that polytheistic myths that existed prior to the Hebrews were the source of the Genesis stories. This claim suggested that the Jews simply copied their neighbors’ stories, and made a few changes here and there, to match their experience of God. (It’s important to note that this isn’t saying that the Jews existed in a cultural context and drew their stories from that context; rather, it’s saying simply that the Jews copied the myths from earlier peoples.)

The answer here, of course, is “no”. Two things are asked: first, are the events in Genesis 1-3 only stories? Second, are they the stories of an older civilization, and only tweaked by the ancient Hebrews for their religious purposes? The answer to the first part is “no” (and we’ll see that this first part shows up later, so let’s set that aside for a minute!). The second part, though, still poses a problem for us! How do we handle the scholarly findings of similarities between Jewish writings and other cultures’ writings? Some folks want to contort themselves in knots and claim that everywhere you find a similarity, it must mean that the Jewish account came first and the other copied from them; but that’s difficult to maintain. So, what do you do? The Catholic position, I would argue, is that we believe that God inspired the writers of Scripture, but allowed them to express themselves in their own words; this means that, if the writer knew about other cultures’ stories, they could draw on similar themes (since the writer knew that their readers would be able to identify with and understand those themes), but at the same time, the inspired writer wasn’t trying to copy older works, but simply use them as a springboard for his own inspired writing.

The second question is similar: “Can it be taught that there is no objective reality to the first three chapters of Genesis? Can it be taught that these stories are just ‘symbols’ or ‘allegories’ that are pretending to be historical, or perhaps, partly true but expanded upon in order to teach people?”

That, of course, is false, too. Let’s look at the creation story. Does the Church teach a literal seven-day creation? (No – it teaches the pre-existence of God, and creation ex nihilo, and the creation of humanity, and the goodness of all of creation. Check out the Catechism, beginning at #279.) Does the Church teach that the first humans were just ‘symbols’? No: “The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man. Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents” (CCC, #390). It’s important to note that the Church teaches that what we read in Genesis is both figurative and a record of events and deeds that actually “took place”. This means that the question that you cited must be answered “no” – Genesis isn’t just a fable; but it also means that you have to approach it figuratively: there were the original humans that God created, and they did commit sin that caused them to fall from grace (and we share in the effects of that sin).

Hope this helps!

How can Genesis be real? It states that the earth was the center of our universe which we all know is not true.

A) You have started other threads on this within the past 24 hours. I suggest you stick to one thread in one forum. People in those other threads have already explained how you have been misinformed as to the Church’s teaching on Divine Revelations, the senses of Scripture, and proper interpretation of the first 10 chapters of Genesis.

B) Please explain to us your understanding of the word “myth”. I think this is critical before further discussion takes place.

C) Please provide the Vatican II document on which you base this statement.

Define fact and define myth.

The onus is on you to show us where in Genesis this statement is made, not simply make such a claim as if it is irrefutable.

I’ll give you a hint to save you the bother. It’s nowhere in the Bible, let alone in Genesis.

Given what I’ve read of Jewish material on the matter, it would likely depend on the exact group of Jews you ask and their Torah study/knowledge.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews typically reject evolution as they hold Torah to be an eternal truth. Other Orthodox Jews are more accepting of evolution, along with Conservative and Reform Jewish congregations.

I’ve shown the document’s link in my other message up there. What I mean of myth is that as the document says, a coded thing of the history.

I do not believe it a myth. I am a Creationist, a Young Earth Creationist to boot

where is the link for that claim???

You have not linked to any documents of Vatican II or any other Church documents.

I have no idea what this sentence says.

And yet you haven’t commented on my first reply to you, in which I point out that your link is neither from Vatican II nor asserts that the first three chapters of Genesis are mythological.

I suspect that you don’t mean “Vatican II”, but merely “the Vatican”. Is that correct?

The book of Genesis describes the birth of the Jewish nation. It is perhaps unusual that it begins not with Abraham or with the first commandment but with the creation of the world. However, in hindsight this is no accident. The Jewish creation story is first and foremost a polemic. By using as its basis the dominant creation myth at that time- the Enuma Elish- the Babylonian creation myth- the total antithesis of the Jewish concept of God is instantly understood.

The Jewish story of creation begins with a declaration to all the nations, there is One God, He has always always existed and He and He alone is responsible for all things. In the Enuma Elish ( and all similar stories of creation) we have multiple gods, we have gods being created, gods being destroyed, gods being remade, we have violence.

In the Jewish scriptures we have Torah, we have goodness, there is no violence because there can be no competing forces to the One God. Since God is the creator of all things, it is His right and His alone to give the land of Israel to the Jews. In telling the story of the creation of Adam, the Jews teach the inherent worth of all men as they are created in the image of God, that all men are equal since they all descend from the same father and no man can say his father is greater than another’s, God is all powerful, He does not need to rest on the seventh day, but by having God rest on the seventh day, not only is the concept of the Sabbath taught, that each and every individual is entitled to a day of rest of contemplation, but this concept is presented not merely as a Jewish concept but as a Divine imperative.

Is the Jewish creation story a myth? It is a polemic against all the concepts of all the pagan creation myths.

The OP doesn’t seem to know that in academic vocabulary “myth” and “fact” are NOT mutually exclusive terms.

He should read the Vatican II document Dei Verbum (available on the web in English) to understand what catholicism really teaches. In a nutshell, the Genesis accounts are the truth of creation from God’s perspective on what is important. All eyewitness testimony is told from the perspective of the teller. The witness to a crime does not tell police about how his own shoelace broke that morning, he had indigestion and that he misplaced his umbrella. He speaks to his audience - the police, and dscribes what he saw happening as relates to the crime.

Genesis is the same way. God tells us what happened in terms that are relevent and comprehensible to his audience.

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