Genesis as Rationality in the Ancient Near East

Common readings of the early chapters of Genesis try to interpret their events in light of modern scientific theories, concepts, or understandings of history. Eric Smith, however, challenges that approach, proposing that we read these chapters analogically or mythologically. He thinks that, by doing so, we will better grasp the rationality of the biblical authors and their concepts.

In this episode, Dr. Dru Johnson and Dr. Eric Smith discuss the mythological context of the Ancient Near East and how it can inform our readings of Genesis 1–11. They discuss the types of rationality present in Scripture, and whether modern people reason in the same ways. This leads them to ask whether we can translate the concepts and thoughts of the Hebrew Scriptures into our ways of thinking and understanding.


  • 0:00 The rationality of analogical reasoning in Scripture
  • 3:45 Why the Biblical authors thought in the same ways as us
  • 6:03 Introducing Eric Smith and his work studying Genesis 1–11 in the light of ancient mythology
  • 12:23 Did the minds of the Ancient Hebrews work differently than ours? Genesis compared with the Enuma Elish and Sumerian myth
  • 17:45 The problems with concordist readings of Genesis

Mentioned works:

The Sumerian Mythographic Tradition and Its Implications for Genesis 1–11

Eric is the founder and president of The Pillar Seminary. He started the seminary with 15 years of active ministry experience and a PhD from Trinity College in Bristol, England. Along with education, he brings experience from serving on leadership teams with multiple churches in the midwest. He currently serves as a visiting teaching pastor for several local congregations. Prior to The Pillar, Eric taught as an Old Testament Professor for Nebraska Christian College from 2006-2014. During those years several things solidified for Eric such as his passion for teaching, his joy when helping someone thrive right where they are, and his reflection on scripture that became Jesus Prequel, his most recent book.

Credits for the music used in the CHT podcast can be found at: