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.


Just Posted

Sister of cancer victim cycles across Canada to raise awareness

Her journey started on May 14 and will end in early August

Top women’s hockey player Natalie Spooner coming to the Okanagan

Natalie Spooner special guest at annual Grindstone Award Foundation charity weekend in Kelowna

Woman in hospital after being thrown off horse

She was airlifted to Kelowna General Hospital from Okanagan Falls

Update: Washed out South Okanagan road temporarily closed for assessment

A portion of Eastside Road, south of Penticton, appears to be crumbling into Skaha Lake

Okanagan Regional Library hosts famous author

Author of The Woo Woo, Lindsay Wong will be in Kelowna Tuesday

VIDEO: It’s warming up across the Okanagan Valley

Grey skies are expected to fade and the sun looks like it’s here to stay

Update: Plan to see more smoke from South Okanagan wildfire

Richter Creek wildfire, 12 kilometres west of Osoyoos, is an estimated 400 hectares

Okanagan art gallery releases their theme

Fine arts painting will be the point of focus for this year’s event

South Okanagan search and rescue help injured climber

Search and rescue called on the assistance of a helicopter to help retrieve an injured hiker

Marriage proposal on the big screen at Enderby drive-in

Kelowna man gets engaged in front of hundreds to Vernon sweetheart

Take-home drug testing kits latest pilot to help curb B.C.’s overdose crisis

Researchers look to see if fentanyl testing could be a useful tool for those who use drugs alone

Firefighters respond to bus fire on Highway 1

Smoke in coach bus reported to have been caused by overheating, driver and passengers safe

North Okanagan tattoo fundraiser draws record support

Lineup around the block for start and beginning of Five Fathoms Tattoo event for Children’s Hospital

Caravan Farm Theatre holds outlaw themed fundraiser

Caravan Farm Theatre hosts its western outlaw themed fundraiser, Hands Up! June 1

Most Read