The ancient Israelites, [John] Walton says, would have understood Genesis I to be literally true. But it was not the story of the beginning of the cosmos or the beginning of life. It was the story of how all of this came to be ordered by God, functioning in God's kingdom. It was their divinely inspired answer to the question that everyone around them was asking. Although in our materially focused culture we want to know how and when the stuff of the universe originated, this was of no interest to the ancient people; it is likely they never even thought to ask it.
Although many people in today's society insist we take Genesis I literally, Walton says that in the true, literal reading, the story is not about cosmological or biological origins at all. The Bible, he says, is actually silent about this. He tells us that true respect for the authority of Scripture means that we don't demand that it answer questions it was not addressing. (Italic added)
Read the whole article here.