Every Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!
Genesis as Sui Generis (Its Own Genre)?
I’ve been reading through Genesis: History, Fiction, or Neither? It is part of the Zondervan Counterpoints series in which authors with different views present essays and (usually) interact with each other’s views. In it, there is much debate over the genre–and thus in part the meaning–of Genesis 1-11 in particular. In his response to Gordon Wenham, Kenton Sparks argued that Genesis could not be its own genre or sui generis because:
…all intelligible discourse must conform to a significant degree with existing modes and patterns of discourse, else readers would not understand it… (102, cited below)
Thus, he asserted, we cannot see these early chapters of Genesis as standing apart or unique as a completely separate genre. To do so would be to make it unintelligible.
It seems to me that this is on-point. We shouldn’t just throw up our hands and separate Genesis from the rest of the Bible as its own genre, distinct from any other human writing. God would not have communicated in a way that we cannot understand.
What do you think? Is Genesis 1-11 completely unique? Should we give up on trying to discern its genre, or is it clearly discernible?
Sunday Quote– If you want to read more Sunday Quotes and join the discussion, check them out! (Scroll down for more)
Kenton Sparks, “Response to Gordon J. Wenham” in Genesis: History, Fiction, or Neither? Charles Halton and Stanley Gundry, eds. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015).