Jac3510 wrote:OK, so you don't like the word "fiction," ...
don't mind it that much...
..... is it not possible that people still wrote "historical fiction" before they had a name for it?
most certainly...my concern is with the modern understanding of what is the thing called "historical fiction". We have a great many labels for things and I suppose if we wanted to be more detailed, a tale involving a talking snake would be classified as fantasy vs. historical fiction. As stated, my main concern with the use of the term relates to the completely different purposes of modern historical fiction and ancient historical fiction (if such is the correct classification for bits of Gen)
The main characteristics of historical fiction are real people are found in real places doing real things that never really happened. It seems to me that you are saying this is exactly the case with much of the Bible.
...that should be "possibly the case with much (well less than half) of Gen."
Are you saying that you take much of the Bible to be of the same type of literature that we today call "historical fiction"?
the creation account => allegory
adam and eve in garden => allegory utilizing beings that actually existed (God, Adam, Eve and Satan...though the later unnamed)
Noah and the flood => inclined to view as allegory though also inclined to view it as based on an actual person
Babel => inclined to view as allegory
If all of the stories that mention an individual and his actions are taken to be myth or fiction or whatever word you want to use, on what basis do you take them to be real at all?
I am not sure why you would use "all". Allow me to rephrase your question to be: If a story that mentions an actual individual, but the story's events are taken to be as myth or fiction or whatever word you want to use, on what basis do you take the individual to be real at all? ...and then answer that question as it pertains to Adam.
Take Adam, for instance. If everything that deals with him is fictional in nature,....
I don't go with everything as fictional...I go with the story of the fall as allegory b/c that is what works best with the passge (IMHO).
In contrast, the story of Cain and Abel does not contain bits that cry out that it is an allegory (as per the fall). In creating man, God could have created a first couple or could have created a considerable population at once. Given what Gen and the rest of Scripture say, I believe that one of the truths that it teaches is that God went with the option of creating a first man and a first woman, namely Adam and Eve....and not with the greater population option.
... then why should we not take Jesus',
I take it you mean Jesus's reference to Abel?
... Paul's, or Matthew's references to him as an appeal to a known fictional character as well?
Paul appeals to the story that I recognize as allegorical...which is OK....lessons can be taught and truths drawn from allegories.
And how can you determine what really happened and what didn't?
I look at the text and draw the best conclusion that I can. For example, Luke, at the start of his gospel, clearly expresses his method and purpose...in contrast to the author(s) of Gen, who do not. In the case of the gospels it is extremely important that we can be assured that these things actually happened, and again, in contrast, I do not view it as being all that important for us to know how the fall actually occured....it is only important for us to know that a fall did occur.
On what basis do you determine what really happened and what didn't?
by guess and by golly
...with a book like Luke, it is a rather easy thing to do....one can simply accept that Luke did what he purported to do. With Gen. we are not dealing with eyewitness accounts (unless one assumes that God dictated such an account to Moses). Instead we are dealing with ancient traditions. We don't know when the story of the fall reached the form that appears in the Bible (ie was it more detailed at one time?). We don't know if it was passed down orally or orally and then in written form before Moses(?) wrote it down as scripture. When did it acheive inerrancy? We don't know who first told the story and we don't know what that person's view was regarding use of a literal or non-literal genre. Given our ignorance I think it ill-advised to approach Gen with an assumption that it is to be taken literally or that it is to be taken allegorically or that the entire book is to be viewed as one type of genre. You seek objective criteria, but I don't think such can be offered (IIRC we have a different understanding wrt "objective" as well). I advocate a case by case approach utilizing all scriptural evidence available and am very opposed to the assumption of literalism (or to any other assumption, for that matter)