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Summary of this FAQ
A large number of these questions are relating to the term creation myth, its meaning and its proper usage in this article.
Creation myth is a formal and proper term used by a wide range of academics and scholars (religious and secular) to define a supernatural account of how life, Earth and everything in general came into existence. This term does not imply falsehood unlike the way that the informal use of the word myth can.
Wikipedia:WTA#Myth and Legend clearly states that myth in its informal sense should not be used but also clearly states that we should treat all faiths and beliefs the same (e.g. Not referring to a Christian belief on the one hand and a Hindu myth on the other). Thus all faiths' creation myths are referred to as such in their respective articles as well.
Wikipedia:RNPOV states "editors should not avoid using terminology that has been established by the majority of the current reliable and notable sources on a topic out of sympathy for a particular point of view, or concern that readers may confuse the formal and informal meanings." This is also the main thrust of WP:NOT#CENSORED.
Q2: Why do we use creation myth to describe the subject, even if it might offend readers or conflict with their beliefs?
A2: The term creation myth is used for reasons related to scholarship and research, not out of a desire to offend the feelings or beliefs of Wikipedia's readers. While some readers, especially those not familiar with the scholarly terminology referenced when using the term creation myth, might take offense at seeing this subject called a creation myth, Wikipedia should not be rewritten just so that certain readers will be more comfortable. The goal in writing the article is to be as neutral and dispassionate in describing this subject, but, as with any contentious topic, it is sometimes not possible to accommodate everyone's feelings while writing a neutral, accurate, verifiable, and sourced-based reference work.
Q3: Isn't calling this a creation myth the same thing as calling it a fairy tale, since that is one of the informal definitions for the word myth?
A3: No. The term creation myth is a coherent term in its own right that should not be parsed into separate words. The term has a unique meaning different from the informal definitions of the word myth. Just as an electoral college is not an institute of higher learning even though it contains the word college, a creation myth is not necessarily a fairy tale even though it contains the word myth. Formally defined terms provide unambiguous meaning that aid in the presentation of a more accurate and scholarly encyclopedic article.
Q4: Does this article say or imply that Genesis is not literally true? And if so, is that neutral?
A4: The viewpoint that Genesis is literally true is held by only a tiny minority of sources. Wikipedia's neutrality policy does not say that articles must "give equal validity" to such views (see WP:GEVAL). In writing this article it also becomes necessary to proceed with some implicit assumptions that many readers are bound to find controversial (see WP:MNA).
Q5: Why does the article name have "narrative" rather than "myth"?
A5: This has been discussed several times, and there has not been sufficient consensus to change the name of the article.
I am suspicious that this sentence in the lead is not supported fully by its source:
A common hypothesis among modern scholars is that the first major comprehensive draft of the Pentateuch (the series of five books which begins with Genesis and ends with Deuteronomy) was composed in the late 7th or the 6th century BC (the Jahwist source) and that this was later expanded by other authors (the Priestly source) into a work very like the one we have today.
 is Davies. The section on the page cited says:
1. In reviewing these recent developments it should be noted that by different routes quite a lot of scholars are coming to support more or less the same alternative to the older source-critical view. The developments outlined in the last four sections are increasingly merging into what is in effect the same understanding of the origin of the Pentateuch. This holds that:
1. The first major comprehensive Pentateuchal narrative was composed either late in pre-exilic times or in the Babylonian exile (7th or 6th cent. BCE), rather than in the early monarchy. Some prefer to speak of a late Yahwist' (Schmid, Van Seters), some of a Deuteronomistic narrative (Johnstone, Blum), but they are largely talking about the same thing and using the same arguments.
2. The Priestly Work never existed as a separate source, but involved the insertion into the older narrative of the specifically Priestly narratives and laws, so as to produce a work very like our present Pentateuch.
Why should "quite a lot of scholars are coming to support" become "A common hypothesis among modern scholars"? The article assertion is much stronger than the reference. The word "modern" looks like a weasel assertion of truth. Interestingly, the reference is saying that these ideas are actually old ideas.
The reference goes on to say "The supporters of the new views are not having things all their own way." So there are detractors.
It seems to me the article text shows a certainty which does not exist in the cited work and distorts its meaning. The assertions are repeated in the article body with the same citation. Myrvin (talk) 13:41, 16 January 2015 (UTC)
"modern" is just meant to distinguish from pre-modern. In biblical studies the "modern" era probably started in the mid-19th century. I think the paraphrase (which is what we do here) is reasonable. The content doesn't say that this is the only hypothesis for sure. It is not clear to me what part of the content you are objecting to. Are you objecting to the claim that the Documentary hypothesis itself is commonly held, or to the specific dating of the sources? Thanks. Jytdog (talk) 14:20, 16 January 2015 (UTC)
I am objecting to the article's certainty that is not supported by the cited text. "A common hypothesis" should be something like "One of the hypotheses". There ought then to be others as well. General readers will not know about your distinction between modern and pre-modern. There are no doubt references that do say this hypothesis is commonly held, but the cited text doesn't say that. Myrvin (talk) 14:25, 16 January 2015 (UTC)
hm. It is not "my" distinction, it is the distinction made commonly in the field. So it sounds like you are objecting to the claim of the centrality of documentary hypothesis in mainstream biblical scholarship. There are plenty of sources for this, that make even stronger statements about that. I'll find some and add them -some are in this article and some are in the article on the documentary hypothesis itself. You are welcome to add them too. Jytdog (talk) 14:32, 16 January 2015 (UTC)
I agree that 'modern' is used here properly and does not need further clarification or ref. I address other concerns below. ProfGray (talk) 15:51, 16 January 2015 (UTC)
It seems to me that if the article stated outright that it was the most common hypothesis, then it might be in contradiction with the source. However, the article states that it a common hypothesis, which is in agreement with the source. Davies says "...quite a lot of scholars [hold to this hypothesis]" which doesn't at all conflict with it being "...a common hypothesis". MjolnirPantsTell me all about it. 14:52, 16 January 2015 (UTC)
For the purpose of this article, the sentence you mention is unnecessarily problematic because it starts with a hypothesis about an initial stage of the Pentateuchal narrative overall. I agree that there are those who disagree about a late Yahwist narrative of the Pentateuch. More importantly, do we need the article's opening to refer to this (posited) stage of the Pentateuch? (Yes, it's a big deal for the Pentateuch article!) Instead, wouldn't it be sufficient to say something like: Most scholars agree that Genesis 1 and 2 comes primarily from two distinct literary sources. One source is termed the Yahwist, which has been argued to date back to either the early monarchic period or closer to the 6th century exile, and the other source is known as the Priestly, which played a role in finishing the Hebrew Bible and hence put its version as the opening to the entire corpus. As written, the opening launches into a debate, without really explaining it, so that the novice reader is not getting a modulated intro to the scholarship. IMO. Thanks! ProfGray (talk) 15:47, 16 January 2015 (UTC)
that is a great point profgrey. it looks like that paragraph of the lead was dropped in directly, and contains content not in the body of the article. that is not what the WP:LEAD is meant to be like or do. needs revision to reflect the body and to remove content not found in the body. i agree with your proposal as a good way to go. i don't have time to do that now but will do it this weekend if somebody else doesn't get to it first. Jytdog (talk) 15:53, 16 January 2015 (UTC)
Sounds like a good plan. It should remove my fears too. We shall need an RS that actually says "most scholars agree". Myrvin (talk) 16:45, 16 January 2015 (UTC)
Thanks. For an RS, any solid academic textbook should suffice, e.g., Coogan (Oxford OUP) is quite clear about this (J & P) in ch.4, though he does mention the competing hypotheses about the dating of J. To get into the specifics of dating J, or nuances within the source analysis of the creation narratives, it'd be good to find review articles. ProfGray (talk) 17:03, 16 January 2015 (UTC)
I think the content about dating is off topic; we don't need to go there. Jytdog (talk) 17:07, 16 January 2015 (UTC)