Ken Ham has said "I take Genesis as literal history, as Jesus did."

I've also seen this stated other places, but haven't seen anything that Jesus said which backs up this train of thought.

What is the Biblical support for stating that Jesus took the creation account in Genesis as literal history and not figuratively?

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    Hermeneutically speaking the point Ham made there was very weak. Even though I agree with his conclusion I cringed at that reasoning because the instance he used doesn't really prove the point he was saddling it with.
    – Caleb
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 17:24

2 Answers 2


Jesus did not make an explicit statement on the matter, but he did seem to take Genesis as true and historical in some sense.

Consider Jesus's words in Mark 10:6ff on divorce:

"But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate."

with a parallel is in Matthew 19:1ff:

"Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate."

It seems that Jesus here assumes, rather than states outright or tries to prove, Adam to be a historical person at the beginning of creation. As far as I can tell, the historicity of Adam was the shared view of all the Jews in the first century, including Paul (see especially Acts 17:26; Rom 5:12ff; 1 Cor 11:8f; 15:21f,45ff; 1 Tim 2:13f), and I don't see any reason to impute a different view to Jesus. Indeed, this passage seems to give some evidence that he held the standard view.

The key is "from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’" Ken Ham reads the first part as meaning "at the beginning" (as the NIV and other translations render it, and that's a fair interpretation of "from" in this context), and he takes the making of them male and female as happening there "at the beginning of creation."

But one could also accept Adam as historical and at the beginning (like Ham), while arguing that Jesus and the author of Genesis both believed the methods and timeline of creation are telescoped and stylized, rather than a strictly historical play-by-play record as in Ham's understanding.

Under such a view, if perhaps Adam were the culmination of God's work after 13.8 billion years of creating, starting the history of mankind proper, then Jesus' understanding in the parallel passages above could be compatible with a non-Young Earth Creationist view.

In short, it seems there are multiple plausible interpretations of Jesus' words§ related to how he thought Genesis should be understood. Ken Ham has one plausible interpretation, but there are others, even among conservatives.


Calvin also sees this as the natural reading: "[according to Jesus,] the order of creation ought to serve for a law.... And thus from the order of creation is proved the inviolable union of one husband with one wife." Calvin also here assumes, rather than proves, the historicity of the Genesis creation account.

‡ For instance, Genesis 1-2:3 presents the light being created before the ordinary sources of such electromagnetic radiation, namely the sun and stars. Interpreters going back at least to Augustine in the 400s have thus seen this passage as a highly stylized (but still good, true, and beautiful) account of creation, but not a play-by-play list of events. (Compare the Framework interpretation.) John Walton presents another view that also has a historical Adam but a stylized account of the world's and Adam's origins since it is a "functional" rather than "material" description.

In short, there are multiple plausible interpretations of the creation besides Ham's play-by-play, and many of them have a good footing in Christian tradition. Hence, one may have to choose between the different views based on other factors, such as presuppositions about the authority of the Bible, the overall method of interpretation of it, one's understanding of nature ("God's other book"), etc.

§ Similar things could be said of the New Testament apostles in their writings.

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    All Christians take Genesis as true "in some sense". I don't read anything in the passages you quote to indicate a literal interpretation. He does affirm that God created Man, but again, you don't have to be a Genesis literalist to believe that. Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 19:55
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    @DJClayworth, I think all "Bible believing" Christians do say it is true in some sense, but more "progressive" Christians just say it was primitive and wrong and we know better now. I added "historical" to the first line, since that was what I was getting at.
    – metal
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 19:56
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    @DJClayworth, to your point about whether the passages I quote indicate Jesus held to a literal interpretation, my point is that Ham thinks they do, whether or not that is convincing to you or others. My answer doesn't try to prove his case, but it does give what I think is a fair representation of it along with some alternative views.
    – metal
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 20:22
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    That's a good point. Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 20:34
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    Since you capture part of this in the answer I won't post a separate answer, but I think it is instructive to look closer at Paul's view of the matter. Paul's letters were circulated at a time that many of the original disciples (not just the 12, but all the rest as well) were still around (Peter mentions them, for example), and if his view's on a fairly literal Genesis account were wrong, I do not doubt it would have been a hot topic. I say fairly literal, because I don't believe anything beyond the historicity of Adam and Eve is discussed. Paul/Jesus do not address the literal 7 days.
    – LightCC
    Commented Dec 28, 2015 at 6:31

Jesus did not give an opinion about the matter in any case, so there is no factual basis on which to answer the question. There is simply no recorded dialogue in Scripture about creation, save that marriage was instituted by God from the beginning.

That said, based on:

  • John 1:1 (by Him everything was made that was made)
  • John 8:58 (before Abraham was, I AM)

and other similar verses, Christians believe Jesus was there, so he wouldn't have had "an opinion" on the matter. Rather, as an eyewitness he would have not spoken "as one of the teachers of the law, but as one with authority."

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    I agree with the first part, but the question of Jesus' knowledge in his mortal life is certainly the subject of scholarly disagreement. Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 19:39
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    I feel like this is kind of side stepping the question. Perhaps you should edit it because the question has been edited since you answered.
    – user3961
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 20:57
  • If "Before Abraham was/was born/comes into being, I am (he)" is the best ya got for demonstrating Jesus was present at the beginning of the creation of the universe, you need to dig deeper, tbh. Commented Oct 5, 2022 at 21:27

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