The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate

This is another theology book I would like to recommend. Walton has managed to cut through all the misconceptions about the story of creation found in chapter 1 of Genesis. His major point is that the text does not talk about what we call the science of creation. Genesis is about making the world functional.

Let me quote Walton.

God adopted the language of the culture to communicate in terms they understood. There is no concept of a “natural” world in ancient Near Eastern thinking. The dichotomy between natural and supernatural is a relatively recent one. Deity pervaded the ancient world. In this sort of functional ontology, the sun does not exist by virtue of its material properties, or even by its function as a burning ball of gas. Rather it exists by virtue of the role that it has in its sphere of existence, particularly in the way that it functions for humankind and human society.

Genesis 1:2 reads, Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. Clearly, this was not very functional. What God does next is to put some order into the formlessness.

If you look at verses 6-7, you will see a problem. The image presented is that the sky is made of water. Some today might still believe that, but… In ancient times everyone believed that the sky was water; after all, rain came from the sky.

This is a taste of what Walton has presented in the must read (and small) book.

Mike Lawrence

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