If Genesis is a poem, then how do you make sense of the genealogies contained in Genesis 4, 5, and 11? Here’s an excerpt:
When Arphaxad had lived 35 years, he became the father of Shelah. And after he became the father of Shelah, Arphaxad lived 403 years and had other sons and daughters. When Shelah had lived 30 years, he became the father of Eber. And after he became the father of Eber, Shelah lived 403 years and had other sons and daughters.
Doesn’t sound very poetic to me! Now I can concede that parts of Genesis could be poetic and some could not. I can also concede that Genesis 1 may SOUND poetic, but at the same time – I could write a factual poem. So, just sounding poetic does not prove it to be figurative.
Many people reject a literal Adam because of the implications that makes on evolution. But the genealogies of Genesis 4, 5, and 11 go all the way from Adam to Abraham. No religious scholar denies a literal Abraham, so why do we deny a literal Adam that the un-poetic genealogies get us to?
If you reject a literal Adam based on evolution, then you are doing eisegesis interpretation of the text. Eisegesis uses outside influences to interpret, and is considered the most easily fallible form of interpretation. On contrast, exegesis is the process by which we interpret the text solely by the text itself.
Eisegesis is saying – science has taught us that the world is millions of years old, so how can I fit that into the Bible? Throughout history many well-meaning people have developed several theories throughout the years to reconcile millions of years with Genesis: theistic evolution, gap theory, progressive creationism, day/age theory, framework hypothesis, etc. Each one of these uses some method to extend the days of creation to accommodate millions of years of evolution.
Exegesis is saying – the text says six days, the plain reading says six days, the six days are confirmed elsewhere in the Bible, and the fact that the original Hebrew word (when used in context with a number and qualifier “evening, then morning, the 2nd day”) always means a literal 24-hr day.
Exegesis interpretation confirms six days. Eisegesis is used to fit millions of years into the text. You are welcome to believe in millions of years, a poetic creation, and a figurative Adam – but the Bible does not support your claims.
In conclusion… why believe in a literal Abraham, or David, or even Jesus if you don’t believe in a literal Adam because they are all connected by a non-poetic genealogy.