Oxford Hebrew scholar, Professor James Barr, on the meaning of Genesis
‘… probably, so far as I know, there is no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university who does not believe that the writer(s) of Genesis 1–11 intended to convey to their readers the ideas that:
creation took place in a series of six days which were the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience
the figures contained in the Genesis genealogies provided by simple addition a chronology from the beginning of the world up to later stages in the biblical story
Noah’s flood was understood to be world-wide and extinguish all human and animal life except for those in the ark.’
James Barr, Oriel Professor of the interpretation of the Holy Scripture, Oxford University, England, in a letter to David C.C. Watson, 23 April 1984. Barr, consistent with his neo-orthodox views, does not believe Genesis, but he understood what the Hebrew so clearly taught. It was only the perceived need to harmonise with the alleged age of the earth which led people to think anything different—it was nothing to do with the text itself.