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Friday, August 12, 2011

The Lost World of Genesis One by John H. Walton: introduction

I have recently read The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate, by John H. Walton. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2009. I hope to post on the book several times over the next few weeks. (Walton has a Wikipedia page, but the information on it is minimal. It does say that Walton is a professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College.

So what does the book have to say? In summary, Walton makes a bold claim. He claims that the creation account in Genesis 1 was not understood, by contemporary listeners or readers, as being about making things, but that it was about arranging things so that various entities had a function within a created world. How is that possible? After all, the words used speak of creation, and doesn't creation mean making things? Walton says that that's what it means to us, in the 21st century, but it's not what it meant to the ancient world. (He says clearly that God can, and did, make things, in the way that we mean it.)

How is this possible? See here for a Biblical example of how our understanding is not the same as that of people in Biblical times.

Walton is an expert in creation myths from Near East cultures. That doesn't mean that he believes Genesis 1 is a myth. But he uses his knowledge to shed light on the way people thought at about the time Genesis was written. I hope to set forth what Walton thinks they thought -- what he thinks Genesis 1 and 2 meant to the people who first heard and read them.

Thanks for reading.


atlibertytosay said...

Interesting …

The more I see the more I realize that God made things as they are as the Bible describes. We are just now understanding some (very little so far) of the ways in which he did it as we discover more about the big bang, dark matter, antimatter, and I'd even go as far as "rediscovering" the power of prayer.

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, atlibertytosay. I believe that things happened as the Bible describes them, if we properly understand what the Bible says, and realize that the Bible left out an awful lot. Walton claims, with some pretty good evidence, which I hope to present soon, that we, in the 21st century, don't understand some of what Genesis 1 and 2 really said to the people of that time.