8 years ago: Creationism Snapshot No. 4: Sunrise in Samaria

8 years ago: Creationism Snapshot No. 4: Sunrise in Samaria July 12, 2013

July 12, 2005, on this blog: Creationism Snapshot No. 4: Sunrise in Samaria

The story of the Good Samaritan is a good story, a beautiful and well-crafted story. It is a story that conveys important truths. But it is not a true story. Jesus never claims to be retelling an actual event that actually happened.

It’s not the kind of story that anyone could tell as a “true story.” There was no journalist present to offer such a report. No one was present to witness all the elements in this story, which is told from the perspective of an omniscient, third-person narrator and not from the perspective of an eyewitness.

If your response to the tenth chapter of Luke is to set out on an archaeological expedition in search of the actual site of the actual Good Samaritan’s Inn, then you’ve completely misunderstood the story. Not only would you have utterly missed the point, but you’d be inflicting other, different meaning on the passage. This is a refined and elaborate form of illiteracy, but it is still illiteracy.

Many Christians insist on this same illiterate approach to the first chapter of Genesis. They insist on reading it “literally,” by which they mean taking a story that is not a journalistic eyewitness account and pretending that it is one.

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  • Carstonio

    That’s not an accurate comparison. The intended meaning of the Good Samaritan story is obvious from the context, as Fred points out. While creationists are mistaken in pretending that the first chapter of Genesis is a journalistic eyewitness account, the original authors may have intended for it to be read as fact, which is not the same thing. We don’t know if the authors believed that all the events happened as written, and that wouldn’t exclude them also reading the chronicle as having a message.

  • Helena

    Actually, the good Samaritan is a Pythagorean story the gospel authors borrowed.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Citation please?

  • Handleless

    Lest we spend our entire time here, we do well to remember that such illiteracy is not limited to those people in that tribe over there who we all sneer at. Creationists are definitely displaying biblical illiteracy on a grand scale. But having just read the previous “Sunday favourites” comments thread, which featured a take-down of the Bible for being crap at science based on an earnestly blockheaded reading of poetic metaphor, it seems creationists are among good company.

  • Quite aware it was poetic metaphor, but I’ve seen that verse used to affirm scientific accuracy even though previous translations had the opposite meaning. I think you missed the point of that discussion.

  • Anton_Mates

    Pretty much. It’s one thing to say that Genesis 1 is not the same genre as a modern factual newspaper article; it’s another to say that it is the same genre as the Good Samaritan parable, or close enough to imply that the factual accuracy of the two stories was equally irrelevant to their authors and original audience.

  • EllieMurasaki

    …I don’t think that cite says what you think it says.