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”?
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