Once Upon a Time

I came across the image above on Reddit. What do you think? Would Genesis be likely to be understood better or worse if it began with “Once upon a time” rather than “In the beginning”?


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  • Genesis is an an “etiological narrative (a story about origins) concerning the rise of civilization in the late Neolithic period” according to Mennonite theologian Ched Myers, and I concur.

    After being dechurched 20+ years, and getting into reading anthropology textbooks* trying to figure out this crazy whirled, this discovery is what got me to dust off my Bible two years ago. I no longer regard the Bible the wrong two ways, i.e., “one that insists upon its putative historico-scientific content, and the other that views it as legend/folktale with no historical value.”


    * My library includes:

    • Marshall Sahlins (1973) The Original Affluent Society: Stone Age Economics
    • Paul Shepard (1973) The Tender Carnivore and the Sacred Game
    • Elman Service (1975) Origins of the State and Civilization: The Process of Cultural Evolution
    • Richard Lee (1976) Kalahari Hunter-Gatherers: Studies of the !Kung San and Their Neighbors
    • Marvin Harris (1977) Kings and Cannibals: Origins of Culture
    • James Axtell (1986) The Invasion Within: The Contest of Cultures in Colonial North America
    • Jack Weatherford (1988) Indian Givers: How Native Americans Transformed the World
    • Mark Nathan Cohen (1989) Health and the Rise of Civilization
    • Jack Weatherford (1992) Native Roots: How the Indians Enriched America
    • Paul Shepard (1998) Coming Home to the Pleistocene
    • E. Fuller Torrey (2002) The Invisible Plague: The Rise of mental Illness from 1750 to the Present
    • John Gray (2003) Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals
    • Richard Lee (2004) The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Hunters and Gatherers
    • Kirkpatrick Sale (2006) After Eden: The Evolution of Human Domination
    • Charles C. Mann (2006) 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus
    • E. Fuller Torrey (2008) Schizophrenia and Civilization
    • Jared Diamond (2011) Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed