We sometimes read into a text things that are not there or extrapolate too much.
For example, James E. Talmage had the following to say:
“of course you are at liberty to believe that the removal of Enoch and his city from the earth because of the righteousness of the people meant the taking away of an actual piece or block of the rocky earth upon which the city stood;
but I find nothing in Scripture to warrant any such assumption. I understand that Enoch and his city as an expression means Enoch and his peopleThanks to Ben Spackman.
– who constituted Zion, which may be defined in this case as the pure in heart (see Moses 7:18, and compare 20, 23, 69) and these could have been taken in any of several ways, either through death permitted by the Lord, or by translation.”
For another discussion on extrapolation:
Check out, for example, Draper’s article on creation and allegory from FARMS. As for the people, if Joseph Smith says Noah visited him, I’m inclined to think Noah existed. But that doesn’t entail that Genesis is history any more than believing in George Washington entails accepting that he cut down a cherry tree or threw a silver dollar across the Potomac.
So Ben Spackman isn’t the only one warning against extrapolation from the texts about the events in Genesis.
With that in mind, some questions for our readers about the last few weeks in Sunday School:
- What did you think about what happened to the City of Enoch and do you agree with Talmage?
- What strange things have you heard that turned out to be supposition rather than scripture?
- How were Enoch and Noah taught in your lessons?
- Do you feel we extrapolate too much or misread scripture too often?