In this astute mix of cultural critique and biblical studies, John H. Walton presents and defends 20 propositions supporting a literary and theological understanding of Genesis 1 within the context of the ancient Near Eastern world and unpacks its implications for our modern scientific understanding of origins. Ideal for students, professors, pastors and lay readers with an interest in the intelligent design controversy and creation-evolution debates, Walton's thoughtful analysis unpacks seldom appreciated aspects of the biblical text and sets Bible-believing scientists free to investigate the question of origins.
©2009 John H. Walton (P)2014 Audible Inc.
When I drive, I read... uhm listen. I like SciFi, Fantasy, some Detective and Espionage novels and Religion. Now and then I will also listen to something else.
Prof. John H Walton of Weaton College writes a book on how a Christian should approach Genesis 1 in the light of current knowledge scholars have in how the text was intended to be read by the human writer of the text, without jeapardising the divine claim to the authorship of the Bible. In 16 propositions he shows how Genesis 1 can be reconciled with natural evolution without scientists or theologians overstepping their boundaries when arguing the origins of the universe. Fro Walton religious and scientific claims cannot be exclusive of one another, but may complement each other. He helps American Christians to deal with the creation/evolution debate in the United States of America.
I thought it was a well-structured and carefully crafted argument that Walton proposed. While this can be seen as the book's strong point it can also be seen as its weakness. I would have expected that the Ancient Near Eastern context and stories that shaped the minds of ancient Israelites would have been related to quench curiosity. Yet, it seems that this book is void of details and continuously build on argument show that Genesis 1 only speaks of God's functional creation. Nothing was mentioned of two creation narratives, Genesis 1 and 2. Not touching these controversies kept the book very safe and even threatened to make it dull.
Yet Walton has the ability to balance on a very fine line to convince people to his reading of Genesis 1. As someone who reads Hebrew I was not always convinced in his approach to words. If "tohu wa-bohu" ("empty and void") is found trice in combination for instance and "bohu" doesn't appear alone, should one look at the meaning of the other word only in the contexts where the combination are used? Couldn't it be a technical term that is understood in a very specific way when te two words are in combination?
Be this as it may, I think Prof. Walton's book must be commended for taking on a taboo subject and using the ancient mindset to populate the understanding of the text. This book is recommended to Christians who wants to take the mindset of ancient Israel to heart and understand the Bible text in the most responsible way.
"What is the author saying" and "what would the audience have understood" are the most important questions to ask of Genesis 1. God created. Sure, but what does that mean? I think this author should start the book off quoting another knowledgeable expert "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." Walton will challenge you in ways you didn't see coming because we are so blind to our own assumptions. A short and brilliant read. Highly recommended.
I have a biblical world view.
Be ready to learn. I could express myself in joy to have found new understanding. Cultural differences make a huge impact on how we understand scripture. In short our interpretation must be ready to change. Simple fact number one it's obvious that God created this world for us so that we might give him praise. Simple fact number 2, if you forget number 1 you will not understand how much God loves you.
There are some books that I keep permanently on my phone just out of gratitude for how much they taught me. This is one of those books. A believing scientist brings a whole new level of academic rigour to the examination of Genesis 1.
Not having studied ancient Hebrew myself, I'm not completely sold on Walton's idea of a "functional ontology" in Genesis 1. However, he makes a LOT of other really good points too. Give this a listen if you're sick of all the dogmatism permeating the origins debate. You will come away with a much bigger perspective on the issue.
Moving past the usual debates, an expert in theology and ancient Near Eastern literature delves into what Genesis 1 is really about, then suggests how we might improve our approach to the debate over evolution and creationism.
Its funny how we easily forget cultural implications to the Bible. I'm sure there is a lot more that we misunderstand when we interpret based on our modern way of thinking.
I like the author's delivery of his analysis and supporting literature. He also raises very valid points on how believers should relate to the scientific community
The book had some great insights (mostly) with lots of food for thought. It could not have been told in a more boring way if he had tried, however. I'm a science teacher and a Christian and I struggled hard core to get through it. Be prepared to listen to half the book before you even find out what argument he is making.
This book suggests that the book of Genesis should not be taken literally, but it's argument isn't really convincing. Perhaps this would be a better read if you read the hard copy instead of listening as an audio book.
References are important, but they are annoying at the end of every chapter. Perhaps an alternative to providing citations like a .pdf file with all the references.
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