So we’ve come to our first question: if we’re going to reject the two majority viewpoints or interpretations of Genesis, how then should we interpret the creation account in Genesis 1-3 and the rest of Genesis?
To answer that question we must ask another, and upon answering this other question we find our answer to the first. This other question is this: what is the purpose of Genesis? Is its purpose scientific? Is its purpose historical? Or is it something else? I think the correct answer is not a scientific approach, or a completely overly literalistic historical approach. Rather, we should see Genesis as having a theological purpose. Don’t misunderstand me, of course Genesis is intended to convey information, but it’s meant to convey theological information not scientific information. And of course Genesis is intended to convey historical information, but we should see its history not as general history about the earth or its age, we should see it as redemptive history. So since we should see Genesis as having a theological purpose, conveying redemptive history to its readers, our purpose comes closer into view.
So, laying my cards on the table for you to see, I think (and clearly I believe you should think as well) that the book of Genesis should be approached and interpreted Christologically, that is, through the lens of the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. If we embrace this idea we then see that Genesis, and specifically Genesis 1-3, isn’t the science book of the Bible, but “the entry point to the Person and Work of Christ.” (J.V. Fesko)
Alister McGrath agrees and says, “…before setting out the concepts of creation found in the Old Testament, it is important to establish a fundamental point of interpretation. For Christians, the Old Testament is to be read in the light of the New Testament, and especially in the light of Christ.” E.J. Young also agrees and says the Bible “…always places creation in the light of the central fact of redemption, Christ Jesus. When we examine the first chapter of Genesis in the light of other parts of Scripture, it becomes clear that the intention is not to give a survey of the process of creation, but to permit us to see the creative activity of God in the light of His saving acts…”
I believe this is how we should approach and interpret Genesis and I believe this is how we approach every other book in the Bible, because this is how the Bible itself states we should interpret it.
For example: Romans 5:14 says, “Adam, was a type of the One who was to come.” 1 Cor. 15:45-49 makes a strong connection and contrast between the work of Adam and the work of Jesus, going so far as calling Jesus the ‘last Adam.’ Also Luke 24:27 says, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, Jesus interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” We learn from these verses (and many more we’ll study in a moment) that in the person and failed work of the first man Adam we get a preview or foreshadow of the Person and successful Work of the ‘last Adam’ the God-Man Jesus Christ. In other words, Adam was a type of Christ and in reading the Genesis account we should see that typological (foreshadowing) theme presenting itself to us.
This is the aim of redemptive history. It shows us that a true understanding of mankind can only be gained in an understanding of the true Man Jesus Christ. It shows us that the work of the first Adam prepares the way for the greater work of the second Adam. In this manner the work of the two Adams are inseparably connected, so much so that one cannot read truly Genesis rightly without giving attention to the work the two Adams. This was how Jesus preached. He Himself proclaimed from all of Scripture, how all of Scripture found its consummation in Him.
Therefore, we have our exercise before us. Searching through Genesis to see how it lays the groundwork, prepares us, and foreshadows Jesus Christ through types and shadows giving us the entry point to His Person and Work. To that exercise we now turn.