Reading Genesis with C. S. Lewis
Many disagreements over what to make of Genesis 1–11 stem from different ways of reading the text. I suggest that we can provide a critically rigorous approach to interpreting the Bible by taking linguistic, literary, and philosophical insights from C.S. Lewis, and bringing them into conversation with ideas from modern linguistics, such as lexical semantics, discourse analysis, and sociolinguistics.
Lewis gives guidance in how to talk about imagistic language as having genuine referentiality; he also provides the tools by which we can return the category of phenomenal language to respectability. Further, this study will allow us to evaluate to what extent it is proper to say, as many do, that the Bible writers held a “primitive” picture of the world, and what function their portrayal of the world and its contents had in shaping the community.
C. John “Jack” Collins (PhD University of Liverpool) is Professor of Old Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary, and a Senior Research Fellow for The Creation Project. With degrees from MIT (SB, SM) and the University of Liverpool (PhD), he has been a research engineer, a church-planter, and, since 1993, a teacher. In addition to his early focus on Hebrew and Greek grammar, he also studies science and faith, how the New Testament uses the Old, and Biblical theology. He was Old Testament Chairman for the English Standard Version of the Bible, and is author of Science and Faith: Friends or Foes? and Did Adam and Eve Really Exist?: Who They Were and Why You Should Care, and is currently writing commentaries on Numbers, Psalms, and Isaiah.