Posts Tagged Bible Study
I want to thank Adrianna Wright at InterVarsity Press for sending me a courtesy copy of The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate by John W. Walton.
The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate
John H. Walton
Intervarsity Press, July 2009
I’ve been making my way through my stack of books for review on Genesis in, essentially, reverse order of receipt. I’m glad I started on the top of the stack and not the bottom because I would have read The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate by John H. Walton a year ago, and my reading of the other books would have been colored by my reading of this one.
As with many theological questions, I think we tend to develop a theological framework and then read scripture within that framework. It would be very easy to do that with The Lost World of Genesis One because Walton’s propositions are extremely persuasive and his conclusions compelling.
And I in no way intend for this to be a slight, quite the opposite.
Walton organizes The Lost World of Genesis One into a series of eighteen propositions. Admittedly, as a former high school debater, I initially found Walton’s proposition approach somewhat irritating because the organization allows for little reader interaction. What I mean is that Walton breaks his thesis down into so many of its tiny component parts that there is little to no mystery. Again, this is not a slight on the book, it is a confession of my own predisposition to be intrigued by ideas more than details, and Walton constructs the larger idea one detail at a time. By the end of the book, my mind was changed about the effectiveness of the approach because Walton leaves little room for disagreement.
Walton’s initial assertions (and I’m paraphrasing his propositions), our reading of Genesis 1 in terms of material creation is wrong because Genesis 1 was never intended to describe material creation. Instead, Genesis 1 is meant to describe the function of God’s creation rather than the manner and means of creation.
Walton asserts the ancients would have thought and perceived Genesis 1 in terms of function rather than elemental material creation. Walton begins his function analysis using the example of the creation of a computer. When is a computer a computer? Each hardware component is manufactured, but until each component is brought together there is no computer. Software programs are written and installed, but without a power source the computer is not functional. Even with a power source, unless a person uses the computer it remains non-functional. Walton’s question is one of ontology. When does the computer exist? At what stage is the computer created?
Walton maintains that if we think of Genesis 1 in terms of assignment of function, not creation of the component parts, the questions relating to Genesis 1 and scientific accuracy become irrelevant.
We should not worry about the questions of ‘truth’ with regard to the Bible’s use of Old World Science. … Adoption of the framework of the target audience is most logical.
Using other ancient creation accounts as comparisons, Walton concludes that in the ancient world, to create something meant to assign it a function, not create its material properties.
Again I’m paraphrasing, Walton next determines that the creation account in Genesis 1 is a cosmic enshrinement. It is the creation of a cosmic temple suitable for God to take up residence. He terms this view the cosmic temple inauguration view.
Walton also views this reading of Genesis 1 as a literal reading, as it would have been understood in the ancient environment as opposed to a reading that requires reconciliation with modern science.
But most people who seek to defend a young-earth view do so because they believe that the Bible obligates them to such a defense. I admire the fact that believers are willing to take unpopular positions and investigate all sorts of alternatives in an attempt to defend the reputation of the Biblical text. But if the Biblical text does not demand a young earth there would be little impetus or evidence to offer such a suggestion.
Walton also spends a fair amount of time discussing competing creation theories, as does virtually everyone else, so I won’t here, but the excerpt above should fairly well sum up the author’s take on competing creation accounts.
I give Walton a lot of credit for bringing something new to the table (see also my review of The Genesis Enigma). As I’ve written before, the old methods of resolving the Genesis debate don’t work because the debate itself is pointless. And viewing Genesis 1 in terms other than purely scientific terms is certainly a more appropriate approach.
My only real criticism of The Lost World of Genesis One is that the author falls into the same trap as most by (1) entering the public policy debate in proposition 18 which will unnecessarily ostracize young-earth creationists and ID proponents, and to a lesser extent (2) crafting the cosmic temple inauguration view such that is excludes other possibilities. I acknowledge that in the author’s Q&A at the end he acknowledges that Genesis 1 could theoretically be both functional and material, but that we cannot demand such a reading. But Walton doesn’t embrace those possibilities.
Fortunately, my reading of The Lost World of Genesis One has coincided with my intensive study of related material, specifically the feasts of the Lord and the tabernacle (and later temple). And it makes perfect sense to me that the instructions for the construction of the tabernacle would reflect a cosmic temple. So, for that and many other reasons, I would highly recommend The Lost World of Genesis One. I am a slightly less inclined to accept the cosmic temple inauguration view as the theory of everything on Genesis, but it certainly adds another dimension to Genesis 1 that is worthy of study.
Read it and enjoy it!
Many of you are aware of my preoccupation with Genesis. It is both a blessing and a curse, but a good kind of curse.
Said preoccupation, naturally, results in my reading a lot about Genesis. I am forever grateful to the publishers who have provided books for me to review at my request, and I am especially thankful to those who have taken the initiative to ask me to review books related to Genesis.
From much of this recent reading, several thoughts have emerged (most are obvious):
Efforts to reconcile the “creation” account in Genesis with “science” are futile, if fun to read. There is far too big a gap between the ancient Israelite culture and language and present-day Western culture and English to even know all that is meant by Genesis 1 & 2, much less prove what we cannot know. Absent a Mosaic or Pauline revelation from the Lord Himself (which I am still anxiously anticipating, whereafter I will immediately post all the answers), I’m afraid we will always be left wondering.
We shouldn’t stop wondering. The futility in seeking answers to ultimately unanswerable questions is no reason to stop asking. There are plenty of lessons to be learned short of, but probably more important than, the actual who’s, what’s, when’s and where’s (why’s deliberately excluded because we should know the why’s).
Fighting about it is also pointless. And we should stop that. Honestly, has anyone ever been converted by argument. Christian’s bashing anything or anyone acknowledging scientific evidence as such doesn’t help our cause.
No theory is exactly right, but maybe none of them are entirely wrong either. And isn’t that really the beauty of the Bible, generally, and Genesis, particularly. Do these ideas have to be exclusive of the others? Certainly not. The array of plausible ideas is perhaps the best evidence of a God worthy of our praise and His multi-dimensional Word worthy of our study.
This seemed appropriate for my readers (from the Logos Blog):
Do you have some great Bible study tips that have helped you in your study of Genesis? We want to hear about them!
The theme of Bible Study Magazine’s November/December 2010 issue will be Genesis: Tower of Babel to Joseph. We want you to submit your best Bible study tips on Bible Study Magazine’s Facebook page. The best tips will be published in our two-year anniversary issue, Nov/Dec ’10!
I spend a lot of time in Genesis, as you may know, so I would also be interested in said study tips.
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Our Wednesday night Bible study (which was Hebrews last semester) got a second act. This semester we will be studying the book of Romans.
For those following the Hebrews Bible Study online, I realize I haven’t posted the concluding chapters, which I will do when I get a little spare time, but I invite you to follow our Romans Bible Study. Last night we kicked off this semester with a lifegroup party before we dig into Romans starting next Wednesday.
Our group experienced some pretty cool stuff last semester, and we were presented with one ministry opportunity after another, after another. And it sure is fun watching all of that continue to unfold. So, I think we will be expanding even more the ministry aspect of our lifegroup, but without shortchanging the Bible study itself. I’m hoping we can make the ministry stuff our extra-curricular activity, so we can have the study element, the ministry element, and the testimonial element, without having to cram all of it into 1.5 hours a week.
This will be the repository for all of the Romans Bible Study posts for now until the semester is over and I can compile all of the posts into one master post, so bookmark this page. The chapter links below will become active as the semester progresses.
Any suggestions regarding commentaries, extra reading, etc. would be much appreciated. I’ve ordered two commentaries (Stott’s Romans: Encountering the Gospel’s Power and Kuhatschek’s Romans: Becoming New in Christ), but they have yet to arrive.
It’s going to be another great semester!
- Romans Chapter 1
- Romans Chapter 2
- Romans Chapter 3
- Romans Chapter 4
- Romans Chapter 5
- Romans Chapter 6
- Romans Chapter 7
- Romans Chapter 8
- Romans Chapter 9
- Romans Chapter 10
- Romans Chapter 11
- Romans Chapter 12
- Romans Chapter 13
- Romans Chapter 14
- Romans Chapter 15
- Romans Chapter 16
We had an interesting discussion yesterday during our church’s Revelation Bible Study (we meet weekly, and it’s led by a good friend of mine who blogs about it at The Watchman’s Gaze). I didn’t at all mean to derail the discussion, and I think I only sidetracked us for a few minutes, but I want other opinions.
Revelation 3:14 provides:
To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this… (NASB)
Now, I don’t mean to call into question the divinity of Jesus, or his role as creator, but as “the Beginning of the creation of God,” was there a point in time where the manifestation of God as Jesus came into existence or did the representation of God as Jesus always exist?
Our discussion leader and our pastor (who blogs at the Monday Morning Review) were adamant (in a very friendly and cordial way-both are experienced in indulging my quirky rabbit trails) that Jesus always was. I, with very little other support around the table (except for possibly our pastor’s wife-who doesn’t blog yet), however, continue to be nagged with the metaphysical question of Jesus as “the Beginning of the creation of God” and as “…the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation…”
I certainly do not see it as heretical to think of Jesus coming into existence in some way as other reflections of God must have, His Word for example. I think we got hung up on the word “created.” And I don’t care if we use “created” or some other word to describe it. Physicists spend an awful lot of time and energy trying to figure out the moment of creation, but I want to know your thoughts about the time before that, specifically the moment of the creator.
Thoughts? Ideas? Scriptural Authority?
The Christian Audio blog announced the twice-yearly $7.49 sale. You can find lots and lots of Christian audio books and a few complete audio Bibles for $7.49 now through December 4, 2009.
I am not an affiliate or in any way associated with Christian Audio, but you can get:
- ESV Hear the Word Audio Bible (Complete and Unabridged)
- NRSV New Testament
- The Message, and a lot of other stuff.
I am seriously considering buying the ESV for when I’m traveling. I missed the chance to download the complete KJV last time, and I regret it to this day.
The goal for this week was to cover two chapters, but we only made it through chapter 8. I suppose it was a little ambitious to try and cover chapters 8 and 9, but 9 will just have to wait until next week.
In verse 1, the author is again referencing Psalm 110, a Messianic Psalm which the author has referenced repeatedly throughout the book of Hebrews. And he or she says:
Now the main point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest who has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister in the sanctuary and in the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man. Hebrews 8:1-2 (NASB)
The high priest, who is also the Messiah, has taken his place in Heaven and in the true tabernacle. This is the end of the need for sacrifices. The high priest has now entered the heavenly sanctuary and is now the mediator of a better covenant, the old now being obsolete.
So that it is clear, this is not a reference to the Abrahamic land grant covenant, but to the Mosaic covenant. Until the high priest became the mediator of the new covenant, the law was written in stone. Now the laws are in the hearts and minds of the believers.
This principle actually led to the liveliest discussion of the evening in our effort to determine when and how this imprinting upon the hearts and minds takes place. Does it occur upon becoming a believer, at baptism, during the baptism of the Holy Spirit? Without reaching definite conclusions, I think the general consensus was that (1) the Holy Spirit is the mechanism, and (2) it happens when the Holy Spirit becomes activated by faith in Jesus (which we also believed was distinct from the baptism in the Holy Spirit – which could happen simultaneously, but doesn’t always, or even usually).
We again were landed with a ministry opportunity which consumed a fair amount of the time, but the tradeoff was well worth it.
These are my study notes for Hebrews Chapter 8. I don’t know if they will make much sense to anyone else, but if they are helpful to anyone feel free to use them.
The scripture references and discussion notes should have aligned with the appropriate scriptures, but I lost that somehow when I loaded the table into my blog. On the left is, obviously, the Bible text, the center column contains the scriptures I referenced or wanted to reference, and the right-hand column has discussion topics.
|Hebrews Chapter 8 (NASB)
1 Now the main point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens,
2 a minister in the sanctuary and in the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man.
3 For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices; so it is necessary that this high priest also have something to offer.
4 Now if He were on earth, He would not be a priest at all, since there are those who offer the gifts according to the Law;
5 who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, just as Moses was warned by God when he was about to erect the tabernacle; for, “SEE,” He says, “THAT YOU MAKE all things ACCORDING TO THE PATTERN WHICH WAS SHOWN YOU ON THE MOUNTAIN.”
6 But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.
7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second.
8 For finding fault with them, He says,
9 NOT LIKE THE COVENANT WHICH I MADE WITH THEIR FATHERS
10 “FOR THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL
11 “AND THEY SHALL NOT TEACH EVERYONE HIS FELLOW CITIZEN,
12 “FOR I WILL BE MERCIFUL TO THEIR INIQUITIES,
13 When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete but whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.
8:1 – Psalm 110.
8:5 – Col 2:17; Exodus 25:40.8:8 – Jeremiah 31:31.
8:9 – Exodus 19:5, 24:6-8; Deuteronomy 5:2.
8:10 – Romans 11:27.
8:1-2 – true tabernacle as distinct from the tabernacle of Moses.
8:5 – make according to the pattern shown on the mountain – everything is a copy or pattern of what is in heaven or to come.
8:6 – the law was only a copy/shadow of better covenant to come.
8:9-10 – new covenant is not like the old covenant, it’s not written in stone, but on our hearts and in our minds.
8:13 – the old is ready to disappear.
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There are three steps to enter: (1) provide name and email and you automaticall win a free NLT Gospel of John Bible Study, (2) share your testimony about how the NLT has provided you clarity, and (3) share your story on facebook, twitter, myspace or linkedin. Contest dates are November 9, 2009 – December 18, 2009.
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