Eve reaches for the fruit, and why not? She was told that more divinity awaited, that she would become “like God.”
Esau was so hungry (and dumb?) that he gave away his birthright for a bowl of soup.
David slept with another man’s wife, which led to a pregnancy, which led to a fear of being found out, which led to David using his position of power to have the woman’s husband killed.
Samson lost everything. For a girl.
Jonah’s hatred of Nineveh was safer than God’s love of Nineveh. Even in the wake of that city’s turnaround, Jonah sat on a hillside overlooking Nineveh, waiting for it to burn (I guess).
Stories like these are out of history’s reach.
There are no records – archeological or otherwise – of these things taking place.
So, did these things really happen?
My assumption is yes, that something happened, and the writers want us to know the stories. How precisely they’ve been retold and handed down to us is a question that’s still on the table. Most would agree that we’re reading stories that weren’t written down at first, but spoken across generations, around fires and in homes. And most would agree that what’s now on the page – and in our Bibles – is the written version of oral traditions.
One way to read these stories is to look for how they continue to happen.
Instead of asking, “Did this story really happen?”, ask, “How does this story keep happening?”
Like Eve, when have I reached too high, too soon, and too selfishly?
Like Esau, when was the temporary more attractive?
Like David, when have I tried to fix what’s broken by breaking more things?
Like Samson, well…to be honest, I’ve never lost it all for a girl. I never even went to prom.
Like Jonah, when have I hung around to see if my enemies fail? Wanting them to fail? Hoping that they fail?
Asking the historical question when reading the Bible is good. Who wouldn't want to see a dug up journal of an ancient Egyptian Pharaoh that read, "How did I let all those Hebrew people get away? Man, I'm in deep." I'm holding out hope. But until then, it's also safe to read these stories thoughtfully and theologically, and to take notice of how they continue to play out in our world, and in our own lives.
Did these really happen?
More fascinating is that they keep happening.
The Bible happens.