Or to ask differently, is the reading of stories to explain theology as though they were factual actually healthy or helpful?
OK, as an ex-fundamentalist I love the idea of reading the bible & taking it at face value, but these days my conscience won't allow it. I've long known that Christians tend to 'make up' stories, both in history (St Columba anyone?) and in contemporary times (prosperity gospel, snake handling, un-substantiated stories of miraculous happenings).
How about when the bible is more about theology than history?
So I suspect for many current Christians Genesis would fall into this category. Intelligent design? 7 day creation? God's use of evolution? There's much to debate, and no argument about that.
What about Exodus? It reads like a historic record with a bit of prophesy thrown in, and if you've a Christian background stretching to childhood then it's hard to read it as anything other than a history of Israel leaving Egypt, led by a man spent "40 years thinking he was somebody, 40 years discovering he was nobody, then 40 years finding out what God could do with a nobody". But the problem with this is that if you look & find a thread hanging loose, pulling at the thread makes if feel like the tapestry of *history* is unraveling as you pull.
I've barely started really, but I'm already convinced Moses didn't do the 40/40/40 years thing, simply from the given history of events. The idea that the book is written *like* history in order to provide theology seems most likely, yet that then provides significant trouble when reading the rest of the bible if those events didn't happen as described. It's even worse when one remembers human nature about the winners writing history, but that's somewhere I don't *yet* want to go.