I am not going to offer what the title of this post seems to promise. Instead, I'm just going to point to another couple of posts on the topic by some other authors. They reflect on what it means to read texts "literally," and Genesis 1 just happens to be the example they use. First, Mike Heiser asks, "Who's the Literalist Now?" His post prompted further reflections by Chris Heard, who has been reading a lot of Augustine on Genesis lately, which, of course, is always a good idea. So, how did Augustine interpret Genesis 1 "literally" (which he claims to be doing)? Chris Heard has the scoop.
This illustrates once again that it pays to read ancient authors, because what some of us might take for granted as the obvious meaning of the text might not be so obvious to Christians throughout the centuries. Even if we don't adopt pre-critical interpretations, familiarity with these interpretations enables us to ask questions we might not have thought of asking, or might not have felt comfortable asking.