Taylor: Where does the real Bible start?

I wonder, sometimes, what would happen if, instead of prefacing our correspondence with wordy introductions, we cut to the point?

In writing workshops, I often assign students to write for five minutes, non-stop. They must not erase or edit or correct; they must not stop to think.

“But I never know what to write,” someone always says. Or, “I don’t know how to begin.”

“Then write that,” I would say. “And keep writing it until you find you do have something to say.”

Some filled half a page with angry scrawls. But always, at some point, they added “…because…” and amazing insights poured out.

“Now,” I told them, “ignore all the preamble. Get on with your story.”

I wonder, sometimes, what would happen if we applied that principle more universally. If, instead of prefacing our business correspondence, grant applications, and research reports with wordy introductions, we cut to the point?

Even the Bible has a preamble.

Indeed, some Christians might argue that the entire Old Testament is preamble to the story of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. He’s all that matters.

Scholars say that Exodus—the second “book” in the Bible—was the first book written. That would make the whole of Genesis a preamble. Or, if you prefer film terms, a “prequel”—something written after, about what happened before.

So where does the real story start? With the escape from Egypt? With Abraham and Sarah? With Noah?

I can’t treat the opening chapters of Genesis as anything but preamble. Simply because there was nobody there to witness it. And no writing with which to record it.

Besides, it conflicts with what we now know about the origins of this Earth. Not the first chapter—it differs only in detail from the broad sweep described by geology.

But the next two chapters, the Garden of Eden story, presume that everything started off perfect. And then paradise fell apart. Theologically, it’s usually called “The Fall”—an explanation of how the disobedience of two proto-humans introduced sin and death to the world.

On that premise, theologians have built elaborate card castles about Original Sin, something handed down from parent to child through sex, something so powerful that we can only be freed from it by the sacrifice of someone who was absolutely sinless.

It’s also our justification for believing that we humans were given “dominion” over the Earth and all its creatures, to “fill the earth and subdue it” for our own benefit.

But what if we treated those chapters simply as preamble?

Instead of striving to re-capture a perfection we never had—geologists say the early Earth was a most inhospitable place—we might see ourselves on a vast,, universal journey towards creating a more perfect future.

If there was no ‘fall,’ there was no need to be redeemed from it. No need for a sinless sacrifice. No need for that sinless one to return once more to set things right, forevermore.

The Garden of Eden has shaped countless stories and tales. It speaks to everyone’s experience of falling below our ideals. So I’m not suggesting it should be excised. But I don’t like having all the rest of my religious beliefs bent to fit a preamble that never actually happened.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Armstrong’s Jesse Crowe, shown at the home of golf, St. Andrew’s in Scotland, has been named the Royal York Golf Course’s director of golf operations. (Facebook photo)
Armstrong golf pro soars to home course position

Jesse Crowe becomes director of golf operations at Royal York Golf Course

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
30 new COVID-19 cases, five more deaths in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases to 7,271 since testing began

Interior Health officially declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Creekside Landing in Vernon on Jan. 3, which was followed by the first death from the virus 10 days later. (Kaigo photo)
Despite additional death, COVID outbreak over at Vernon care home

Creekside Landing cleared of coronavirus, despite additional loss in last day

Two North Okanagan-Shuswap rural communities, including Lumby, will receive B.C. government grants to support new jobs and economic opportunities to help them recover from the impacts of COVID-19. (Black Press file photo)
North Okanagan-Shuswap communities collect government grants

Lumby and Blind Bay to benefit to help recover from economic impact of COVID-19

Accelerate Okanagan has announced the six finalists for the 2021 OKGN Angel Summit. The remaining entrepreneurs will compete for a chance to receive a $145,000 investment in their business. (Eryca Stirling photo)
Finalists named for Okanagan entrepreneur summit

Accelerate Okanagan has named the final six competing entrepreneurs in the OKGN Angel Summit

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Ranchero Deep Creek firefighters respond to a blaze involving two adjacent structures at a property off of Deep Creek Road on Sunday, Feb. 21. The buildings were believed to have been used as part of a cannabis growing operation, and RCMP are investigating. (Sean Coubrough/CSRD photo)
Ranchero Deep Creek firefighters respond to a blaze involving two adjacent structures at a property off of Deep Creek Road on Sunday, Feb. 21. The buildings were believed to have been used as part of a cannabis growing operation, and RCMP are investigating. (Sean Coubrough/CSRD photo)
Shuswap firefighters responding to structure blaze find cannabis grow operation

RCMP investigating, attempting to track down owner of property

(Stock photo)
EDITORIAL: The freedom to read

Books have been challenged many times in the past

Most Read