Sometimes when Iâ€™m bored at church, I start perusing the only book I have available at the time, the Bible. But at these moments of boredom in church, I am not looking for spiritual insight, or a revelation of some kind; I am just looking for a story, something to pass the time. So as can be imagined, I donâ€™t turn to something cryptic like Psalms, or the longwinded soap-opera in Esther, or the oh-so-aphorismic Proverbs, or the tad too sanctimonious Gospels. No, my storybook predilections are satisfied elsewhere. My favorite: Genesis and the Creation Story.
I know in keeping with political correctness, itâ€™s often wise to tip-toe through word-choice when talking about the Bible. Some may take offence by my referring to early Genesis as a â€˜Storyâ€™â€”it has a somewhat fictional connation. But words are so limiting. Iâ€™m not intimating that the events that occurred during the Creation Story are apocryphal–but they do contain a haze of storybook technique that can make it, how can I say, open to interpretation. Where do we draw the line between allegory and the literal?
The Creation Story is full of symbols, contrasts, poetry … antistrophe. Where some items are taken at face value, others are taken to be more than what they seem. The serpent beguiling Eve is almost always interpreted as more than just a reptile, but a symbol for the Devil. Some say the “days” referred to in the intervals of creation are actually the equivalent of 1000 of our years. The nakedness of man, as the purity of existence–a time without sin.
And If we do contend that the story is an allegory, and that the serpentâ€™s curse of being forced to slither without feet is the Devilâ€™s expatriation to hell, and that this speaks of that, and that speaks of this, couldnâ€™t it also be considered that none of it should be taken literally? Man is not really man, the garden is not really a garden. That the forming of heaven and earth out of the void are all in fact symbols to something else. Are we even allowed to venture forth and explore our own interpretation?
The thing with symbolism and allegory, is that: you may be adamant, but you can never be certain. The Wizard of Oz may fall neatly as an allegory of the Guided Age, but it doesnâ€™t have to be. In fact, even if Garland insists–once written–I think itâ€™s beyond the authorâ€™s purview to confirm or deny oneâ€™s interpretation.
Story for some; history for others–take it for all in all.