On Interpreting Genesis Allegorically

St. Methodius of Olympus died ca. 311

For it is a dangerous thing wholly to despise the literal meaning, as has been said, and especially of Genesis, where the unchangeable decrees of God for the constitution of the universe are set forth, in agreement with which, even until now, the world is perfectly ordered, most beautifully in accordance with a perfect rule, until the Lawgiver Himself having re-arranged it, wishing to order it anew, shall break up the first laws of nature by a fresh disposition. (Banquet of the Ten Virgins: Discourse 3.2)


  1. One of the few beliefs that I have stood firm on, after leaving the evangelical world, is the literal translation of Genesis. I think one of the greatest threats to this doctrine in the Christian world is the “6000 year old Earth” movement. Even at the pinacle of my life as a Baptist, the idea that the earth was only 6000 years old was disturbing.

  2. An accurate literal reading of Genesis requires an understanding of how some words can have different meaning. The word “day” from the Hebrew “yom” can mean a period of daylight, a 24 hour period of time, or a time specific to actions. Genesis 2:4 is clearly the third meaning: This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens (Genesis 2:4). So a literal reading of Genesis 1 can also understand the six days as times defined by the creative actions of God.

    There should be no doubts to the veracity of the Holy Bible based on the latest findings on origins from the scientific community. Indeed, the most current scientific explanations of origins harmonizes completely with the sequence of events as explained in Genesis. That the physical universe could be billions of years old does not contradict the Holy Bible. As a matter of fact, it gives weight to the revelation of God’s love for us in that it shows how much of His energies over time He has devoted to preparing an abode for us. It also helps us to consider how time might relate to eternity.

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