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Scot McKnight on Walton on Genesis 1

Scot McKnight has started an 18 part discussion of John Walton’s book The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate. Even though I have not yet read Dr. Walton’s book, I can tell you that this is a very important discussion for Christians and that I expect much value just from reading online discussions.

This first installment, referring to chapter one of the book, examines the claim that Genesis 1 is ancient cosmology and that God spoke to the Israelites using their knowledge of cosmology. Incidentally I have been arguing this since I was in college, and it is hardly original with me. It takes a long time for this sort of thing to penetrate from theological schools to popular level books.

To summarize:

“God communicated his revelation to his immediate audience terms they understood” (17). … [page # refers to book page #-HN]

Just so. That sentence could be considered the critical and central point of my own view of inspiration. That is why I can see something in scripture that is clearly wrong–according to our understanding of the data–and yet not say it’s wrong. It was right at the time and it is right for us now, because God intends us to read as a community that continues in time, and thus we are asked to understand both the human audience (both prophet and people) and the Divine Speaker.

I would note one thing here, which is that simply seeing Genesis 1 as ancient cosmology doesn’t settle all issues in the origins debate. I’ll be interested to see what transpires in further chapters. What I have found most tricky is dealing with the fall and redemption.

I’m very eager to see the rest of this discussion and to get my hands on Walton’s book.

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  1. God communicated his revelation to his immediate audience terms they understood

    That’s interesting – I’d have pegged your view as more like:

    God communicated his revelation to his immediate audience, and they wrote it down in terms they understood

    Or do you not see that strong a difference?

    Incidentally, how do you deal with the Fall and redemption in an evolutionary context? I must’ve missed that post.

    Even more incidentally: I like the new theme. Is there any way the Feedjit script can be moved so that it gets referenced after the page content is output?

  2. Lifewish –

    Regarding communication I would use the statement that I used as the more general one, in other words, the divine message appears in human words and concepts generally known to the audience. The way in which this happens is that the communication comes to a human who, being a person in a particular place and time, will express it in those concepts.

    So I would describe both statements as true, and which one is best depends on the particular context.

    As for fall and redemption in an evolutionary context, I have written some things about it, but I don’t recall any particular post in which I try to express the concept. Since there are quite a few viewpoints involved, I think I’ll try to write a complete post on the topic.

    Finally, Feedjit. I don’t know about getting it to load afterward, but right now I’m looking at changing my sidebars quite a bit. It’s high on the list of things to go. So it may start loading not at all.

    I also am supposed to still have threaded comments, but I have apparently done some setting or other incorrectly, so the threaded comments aren’t working. I’ll try to fix that.

    The theme is Atahualpa from BytesforAll, who are due a donation from me. It’s a theme framework and is configurable enough that one might not recognize it in some configurations. I’m going to use it with slight variations on all three of my personal blogs.

  3. Quick note to users – in my previous comment I noted that I was having problems with replies. I discovered that the problem was with a conflicting plugin and now you can reply to a comment by clicking the “reply” link immediately to the right of the commenter date.

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