• The Lost World of Genesis One

  • Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate
  • By: John H. Walton
  • Narrated by: Steve Coulter
  • Length: 5 hrs and 35 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (1,154 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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.

What listeners say about The Lost World of Genesis One

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The world is functionally God's temple

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.

31 people found this helpful

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Companion to LW of Adam and Eve

This is a deeper delve into the Genesis 1 aspect of The Lost World of Adam and Eve. He cites further evidence for the case expounded there that the Biblical account of creation can and perhaps should be viewed as a creation of functions more than or apart from a creation of material.

It is important to note that he teaches that God is the creator of all matter, suggesting merely that Genesis 1 isn't a scientific account of that creation.

In my opinion, he does a solid job laying out his case. Lacking formal education in theology and understanding that some theologians will necessarily disagree, as a layperson I find his argument credible and believable.

As a person who has rejected the existence of God based on my understanding of science, this book along with his aforementioned work has caused me to open my eyes to new possibilities and further research and consider the possibility of a deity. On this point, one better educated in science might disagree.

The point being, I'm not an expert on the subject matter. However, as a reader it entertained and enlightened me while stimulating further interest in the subject matter. For that reason, you can likely see why I consider this book to be well worth the time and money I invested in it.

13 people found this helpful

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Not fully researched

Walton and Glover in his book, Beyond the Firmament both sadly miss the transcendent nature of Bible. For example, when God had Moses strike the rock to bring water from it, why did God care that Moses struck it twice instead of once? Because of the dual or transcendent meaning of it symbolizing Jesus being The Rock that was struck to bring the water of life to all people. God did what the Israelite people needed at the time and he did it to point to the future coming of Jesus. Walton's view of a functional description of creation may have merit but he misses the transcendent content of how well the Bible matches modern science to give us a solid basis for faith that the Bible is God's work. He talks about Hugh Ross briefly, but he needs to actually read his books to see the large amount of strong evidence.

9 people found this helpful

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A Book I will keep on my Phone

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.

8 people found this helpful

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A Really Literal Read of the Text

"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.

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potential for a theological side dish

but by no means substantial enough for a main course..


The basis of the argument is that interpreting functional ontology trumps material ontology- why i beleive this fails is due to the flexible or plasticine nature of the reasoning underlying each conclusion- as with evolutionary explanations in the Dawkinsy style, a corollary explanation for any phenomenon can be furnished and " substantiated" almost effortlessly

All this underscores the need for inerrant scripture to undergird human reason in its endeavors to understand the divine

For Example

In the opening chapters on light

No material basis for light in the ancient mind
"Despite our modern physics"
Is he claiming that modern physics considers light material? Or that we even have a material ontology for light? Modern physics doesn't have a material ontology for anything though you wouldn't know it talking to any run of the mill materialist- so how does he maintain this epistemological chasm between the ancient mind and the modern.? Afaik it's the modern minds suffering from deficiency
How can he claim that genesis is not concerned with material but functional ontology and therefore is not in conflict with the teaching of evolution as a material ontology? Is he not aware that function in biology is by virtue of material constitution and specificity of arrangement ?
The 2 concepts are not separable.
A protein lacking in its proper peptide constitution would not function properly if at all, same as if it was misfolded. in biology, function is by virtue of material form. in physics, wave particle duality is very literally linguistic phenomena- as RSR recently proposed it to be a wave particle, word triality so even the basest material ontology is inherently functional.

its not all bad, there's some gems in the last stretch concerning how Christians ought to view the natural world with substantially more reverence than we typically do. that alone is worth gleaning from this- and despite my deep disagreements with the conclusions and possibly the methodology contained here I look forward to reading more of Walton as I don't regard him a sloppy thinker, I just disagree with the central thesis.
there is too much evidence in biology ( particularly the substantial deficiency in driving mechanism for change) to capitulate in any degree to materialism, evolutionary theory or the way it's presented to the public- because if we're being honest it's the main thing that motivates the writing and reading of any such work as this.

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Making Peace in the Origins Debate

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.

5 people found this helpful

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Not a waste of time, but nothing great either

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

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.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Lost World of Genesis One?

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.

2 people found this helpful

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An important book

If you, or anyone you know, struggles with the apparent disconnect between science and faith, this is the book you need to read.

Paradigm = shifted

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Still not convincing.

Contradicts centuries of interpretation, redefines key Hebrew words. Relies too confidently on Ancient Near Eastern parallels that the Hebrew Scriptures opposed. Culture and science take precedent over revelation. Intends to accommodate science to win over those who can't believe the Genesis account, a futile exercise.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Lucy Calcott
  • 10-23-20

Deeply insightful and rational

This book has given me much deeper insight into reading Genesis in an accurate and literal way. As a Christian, it has been profoundly impactful in resolving logically and with respect the perceived ‘conflict’ between science and faith. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to better understand God’s revelation in Genesis and what beautiful message he was speaking to humankind.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-25-21

phenomenally thought provoking and interesting

fantastic book, great ideas. I'll be looking out for more from the authors! They backed up their ideas in a clear and logical way.

3 people found this helpful

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  • KK
  • 01-01-22

Interesting and informative

I don't have any background in Theology and in fact am atheist, so I read this book for general interest.
I found it very engaging, well-argued and informative and had no difficulty understanding it as an outsider to the subject. Its brilliance is in providing a new way to look at the biblical story of Genesis based on the language and culture it was written in, and there's also discussion of other ancient near-eastern cultures.

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  • Kelly
  • 12-01-21

how to understand ancient text of different cultur

really valued the sensible suggestion to not try and interpret a text from ancient times/cultures in our modern/western way of viewing the world - imposing cultural imperialism on a different culture
also enjoyed how it confirmed what's always been in my heart, there is room for both science and God, no need for binary one or other

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  • Richmond
  • 01-12-21

A Thought Provoking Book

John Walton's book is thought provoking and challenges the status co reading and interpretation of Genesis chapter 1. He is very meticulous in presenting his case which I find very interesting. This is not for the casual reader but recommended for the serious reader who relishes a challenge.

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  • yolf04
  • 06-22-22

Good listen

Enjoyable insight into creation as written in Genesis 1. Let's see evolution as it is, as a theory that is open to discussion rather than an absolute that is set in stone. Let's view Genesis 1 both through the eyes of an ancient people, what they saw and how they interpreted creation, and the Creator who seeks to communicate His purpose for us as we journey through life on earth and beyond.

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  • John
  • 12-29-21

Interesting perspective, but have a notepad handy

This is a different interpretation, that to me makes a lot more sense, of the creation narrative in Genesis 1. However, it's an academic review being read as an audiobook and thus not an especially easy listen (e.g. listing the academic journal references at the end of each section). You need a notebook handy, perhaps a computer and some head space, plus an incentive to give it justice.

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  • Johnomarch
  • 12-05-21

Listened to it a couple of times

Listened to it a couple of times. Narration is very good. Book is very interesting to listen to.

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  • D Edwards
  • 10-30-21

Overwhelming enlightening

Thank you! that's all I can say. This is deep yet easy to understand. Not confrontational in its opinions yet compelling.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-11-21

thought-provoking

This is really good book... deeply well-researched, the best academic scholarship has to offer on this debate, yet clearly communicated. It got repetitive towards the end and the discussion of public education was less interesting than the exegesis, but I'd still recommend it.

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  • ModsterMan
  • 05-12-17

Anti-God Rhetoric

I appreciate the references to Ancient Near Eastern religious modus operandi, but I fear it is presumptuous to impose that culture upon the Jewish Scriptures. There was no evidence in Hebrew religious traditions that would allow such a preposterous interpretation, nor scientific evidence to enable the modern Christian to discard Intelligent Design in favor of evolution (which is highly inferential).

2 people found this helpful