A debut volume delivers a provocative reconsideration of the book of Genesis in light of modern science.
Torrid debates regarding the compatibility of science and religion today often seem intractable because the two sides are speaking disparate languages. In this work, however, Quatro attempts to bridge the gap between the two by offering a fresh reinterpretation of the book of Genesis. Much of the difficulty of biblical interpretation, he argues, seems to be twofold; first, imprecise translations introduce all manner of exegetical missteps. Second, an unscholarly neglect of historical context, especially competing religious traditions, also contributes a layer of obfuscation. The author carefully considers many terminological ambiguities; for example, are “Adam” and “Eve” really best understood as individual proper names? Also, on the basis of an analysis of both Sumerian and Babylonian traditions, he argues for the factual basis of the story of the flood. Quatro never dismisses the allegorical dimension of the Bible; quite the opposite, he consistently treats it as a “literary masterpiece,” designed as a reflection on the human condition. But he believes the tension between the Bible and science is both a function of faulty biblical scholarship and an unempirical reading of science. The author is also sensitive to the distance that remains between the Bible and the findings of evolutionary theory: “Problems arise when one tries to force fit the biblical record into the evolutionary model. One such scheme attempts to stretch creation week into the geologic evolutionary time scales.” Quatro’s argument is presented in pellucid prose, and the book specifically courts the intellectually curious layperson. The virtue of this approach is readability, and a lack of cumbersome academic references. But this tactic also robs the author of the space to make his unconventional positions more forcefully persuasive. This volume is best understood as a stimulus to further study, and a thoughtful chastening of the facile belief that religion and science are diametrically opposed. As an introduction to that philosophical possibility, this is an intriguing, lively effort.
An accessible, but serious new contribution to biblical studies.