Friday, July 31, 2015

Daily Life: In the Front Yard

When our neighbors’ fig trees are ripe, we’re blasted with wafts of their rich, wine-like scent. It’s unmistakably potent. Then the green Japanese beetles come bumbling around knocking into things as if they were blind. The beetles like the figs too. Our neighbor, Dede, comes bearing a plastic bag of ripe fruit once a week. We eat figs daily until their purple juices leak out and the fruit flies take over.  Then we, cleansing our palates on peaches that too will soon go to the fruit flies if we don’t gobble them up, wait for the next bag of figs to appear on our doorstep.

We spend many an afternoon in the front yard not because the house is hot—our AC unit in the living room and newly insulated attic are sufficient—, but because it is a place to breath. We breath in the damp air after each summer rain, a rare spectacle this time of year. We sit under the canopy of our Podocarpus trees while we cradle the children on our laps and watch the lightening strike in the south. We count, bracing for the thunder and the children’s reactions. We convinced them that this was a marvelous display of power. 

We reside in the front yard because it is where our little life intercepts the outside world. It is both our stage and our front row seats to our children’s play and our lives on display. From there we watch the muddy rain water plowing down the street gutters, and we watch the rainbow in the east where the shafts of evaporating precipitation never reach the ground. We watch boiling cumulonimbus over the San Bernardino Mountains. Those roiling white clouds tower high in the late afternoon, brilliant white against the vibrant blue sky. 

I lie on a packing blanket on the grass and pretend the tree branches overhead are a vertical field of swaying brush. The criss-crossed stripes of blue sky are lakes, and the jet planes are great white-bellied whales. I may manage to read a few paragraphs of Elizabeth Gouge’s Scent of Water or scribble a few notes in my journal. 

Lee runs through the sprinklers or invents new ways to travel down our Playschool slide or uses PVC pipes as hedge trimmers. Rose waddles about the yard, sticking various things into her mouth or watching Lee perform new tricks. Her exploration of the yard always brings her back to home base: me. She slaps her hands on my chest and then rests her temple there or she’ll straddle my belly and jump up and down. 

Our neighbors come and go. They smile at us from across the street or speak gobbledygook to Rose. I see the joy in their faces when they see us. It’s like when I take both children out in the double stroller. I’ll pass by two middle-aged ladies who will see nothing but that stroller. And when I near them, one will exclaim, “Oh, there are two!” as if nothing could be more wonderful. 

And every other day—no, day is too broad—every other moment I think the same. Nothing could be more wonderful.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Two Are Better Than One

Ecclesiastes 4:9-13 (Plus some extra bits)

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they tear pages out of Aesop’s Fables, they will be given swats together. And if one devises evil, the other may be convinced to carry it out.

And if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. And if none should fall, then they will push each other over. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up or push him over in the first place! That lonely child may begin to believe himself impervious.

Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone, especially if the other has taken all the jackets for himself? And if they have a cold, they will share it. And if they have candy, they will not. 

And though a mother might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand her and frustrate the success of an errand or household task. A threefold cord is not quickly broken unless one has something the other wants, then they will turn against each other like barbarians and forget all blood ties that ever bound them together.

Better is a badgered and un-coddled sibling than a well-dressed and self-absorbed CEO who expects the world to find him exceptional.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Creating a Home

To order a home.
To create a space of peace
and maintain it
for the purpose of restful abiding and relationship.

It is God’s work.
He began it
with the separating of waters
and the gathering of seas
and the assigning of roles.

He made it
to be in it 
on the seventh day
with mankind.

It is God’s work:
to turn chaos into ordered beauty
for rest and love.

Thus, we, in his image,
mimic His work
ordering rightly for peace,
separating good from ill,
gathering comforts,
assigning jobs,
for the purpose of living and loving
in this place
an ordered space.

Then indirectly through our labor—
gestation, ministration,
jurisdiction, recommendation—
we will have made ready 
little hearts 
for the King.

The Lost World of Adam and Eve (Part 13: Conclusion)

If you are reading this conclusion first, and wish to read the rest of the summaries for John Walton's book The Lost World of Adam and Eve, they can be found below in ascending (not descending) order beginning July 2015.

In a nutshell, Walton argues that:

1. Genesis’ primary focus is on how God ordered creation and not on the origins of mankind.

2. The language Moses chose to use in Genesis isn’t talking about making everything from nothing in a particular number of days. Rather, the language is being used to emphasis God’s plan to live with humanity and have humanity join him in the ordering of the earth. This plan was temporarily put on hold by Adam and Eve’s sin.

I can’t say that I’ve come to any definite conclusion about what John Walton argues in his book The Lost World of Adam and Eve. I don’t want to pitch my tent on any definite claims here about Genesis or science because science and ancient history are both fields of study with unanswered questions.

The most important thing is that the main thing stay the main thing, and that is that we have a solution to sin through Christ. 

Walton has shown me a different way of viewing Genesis, namely the way that the ancient Hebrews might have viewed it, and this has enlarged my view of God and His intentions here on earth. 

I hope this study has done the same for you.

Walton, John H. The Lost World of Adam and Eve. Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic, 2015. Print.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Lost World of Adam and Eve (Part 12: Original Sin)

Original Sin

Proposition 17 of John Walton’s book, The Lost World of Adam and Eve, gets interesting. I had to read the section several times to be sure I understood it, and even still, I’m not certain I follow all of his assertions.

The proposition goes like so: “All People Are Subject to Sin and Death Because of the Disorder in the World, not Because of Genetics.”

As a reminder, Walton differentiates between non-order, which was present from the beginning (things like the sea, darkness, deserts, and chaos creatures), and disorder, which is a result of sin; i.e., “ritual/moral impropriety that damages relationship with deity” (Walton, 154). “Sin comes into the world when accountability comes into the world” (Walton, 155).

Walton argues that God created a world with non-order still in it. In the six days of creation God ordered part of the earth, but his plan was that mankind would continue the ordering thereafter; i.e., naming the animals, keeping up the garden, subduing, and ruling. These were not just tasks to keep them occupied but tasks to allow mankind to continue the work that God had started. 

So far so good, I suppose. But I found the distinction between this non-order and disorder especially confusing when Walton argues that suffering, death, animal violence, predation, and human violence were part of the non-order NOT disorder. Walton argues that prior to the fall, the lack of law and accountability made the human population in “a state of innocence (not sinlessness)” (Walton, 159). It seems that Walton is trying to say that there was sin in the world prior to the fall, a kind of unrealized sin.

This may compel you to ask, “Why was Adam and Eve’s sin something new then, if sin was already present?” Walton’s answer to that would be that their sin lost all of mankind the antidote to death; namely, the tree of life and direct relationship with God. Walton seems to be saying that Adam and Eve were the ones God chose to lead mankind in putting the world in order. They failed, so God sent himself, and He succeeded. 

I’m not sure what to do with this, but Walton has caused me to think about what the world was actually like prior to the fall. I know very little about it and what I do know is rooted in Milton’s Paradise Lost or Lewis’ Perelandra and some church fathers guesswork. I’ve often wondered if Adam and Eve’s pre-fall existence could have allowed for things like stubbing one’s toe in the dark or drowning in an ocean’s tide or a butchered pruning job that led to the death of a plant. I think Walton would say yes. But these things weren’t considered evils, just non-orders.

This is an altogether different way of viewing Genesis, and it compels me to ask multiple questions. Why did God make humans dysfunctional from the start? If God formed order out of chaos, who made that chaos? If God knew Adam wouldn’t be able to bring order to all of mankind, why did he let him try?

Walton’s answer to this: “Whenever God uses a process (and he often does), his intentions are revealed in the final result and may not be evident in the stages along the way” (Walton 160).

I shall let him have the last word.

Walton, John H. The Lost World of Adam and Eve. Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic, 2015. Print.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Lost World of Adam and Eve (Part 11: The Fall)

ESV Genesis 3:6, 22-24
“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. . . . Then the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—’ therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.”

I was a bit disappointed that Walton didn't explain each of the curses that resulted from the fall, but I hear he has other books. In this proposition he focused on what was lost as a result of Adam and Eve’s disobedience.

Walton argues that Adam and Eve’s crime is taking knowledge/wisdom without God. It’s a way of saying, “I’ll do it myself. Without you!” Wisdom is only gained through a relationship with God. It is a process, not something acquired through eating fruit.

The eating of the fruit is a symbol used to explain what Adam and Eve tried to do. Thus, original sin for Adam and Eve was a way of pulling out of the program too soon. “Not paradise lost, but, as it were, paradise ungained” [Walton, 235. as quoting James Gaffney, Sin Reconsidered (New York: Paulist Press, 1983), pp. 48-49]. 

This leads to all sorts of implications. This is me talking not Walton. This means original sin means to be born out of relationship with God. It is to be born with chaos already in your soul. Because Adam and Eve’s sin lead to the banishment from God’s presence, everyone born thereafter was born banished outside the presence of God. Thus, we are born without the ability to acquire wisdom unless we are brought back into relationship with God.

“This point is significant because too many Christians find it too easy to think only that they are saved, forgiven on their way to heaven instead of taking seriously the idea that we are to be in deepening relationship with God day by day here and now” (Walton, 148).

This also helps me understand why Christ was so unique. As God in the flesh, he was born into relationship with God. All through his life he continued in relationship with God. His life showed the process of acquiring wisdom through that constant relationship. He didn’t pull out of the program early. He did it.

Walton, John H. The Lost World of Adam and Eve. Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic, 2015. Print.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Lost World of Adam and Eve (Part 10: The Serpent)

ESV Genesis 3:1
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.”

With the previous blogpost (see below) in mind, Walton begins to look at Genesis 3 with the aim of understanding what the language intends to convey rather than what the things physically are. In Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian and Evangelist and Prudence and Charity all represent something besides themselves. Likewise, the serpent represents more than a snake.

I thought this was quite obvious as the New Testament seems to convey that the snake is Satan. However, Walton argues that the early Hebrews wouldn’t have necessarily made that connection. Nothing in the Pentateuch makes this connection. And this deceiving serpent doesn’t play a role in the rest of the Old Testament. Instead, the Hebrews would’ve viewed Satan as a symbol of chaos, and not some kind of special or evil chaos.

Walton argues that the world had chaos from the beginning. It wasn’t a world of perfect paradise. FYI: Chaos doesn’t necessarily mean sin, it means the propensity to fall apart or into non-order. Think second law of thermodynamics. This, Walton argues, is part of the reason that Adam and Eve were assigned to keep up the garden of Eden. It needed keeping up lest it fall into non-order. Both the sea and darkness were also considered aspects of chaos. 

Thus, the serpent was a sort of “disruptive free agent with less of a thought out agenda” (Walton, 134). To prove this, Walton spends a great deal of time showing that the snake doesn’t outright tell Eve to disobey God, but rather questions her on what God said. “In this way the serpent’s deception came in exploiting a misrepresentation by the woman and telling her of a benefit to eating the fruit without likewise including the deleterious effects” (Walton, 134-5).

I’m not quite sure why it is important to see this snake as a non-ordered nobody instead of Satan except to better understand how the early Hebrews read Genesis. However, I want to know if this serpent was or wasn’t Satan, and Walton seems to be saying, “It doesn’t matter. Satan isn’t a key player here.”

A few other interesting points: Walton believes that God’s curse to the serpent, which involved crawling on its belly, wasn’t a way of taking the legs off a snake. An attacking snake rears up. A docile snake crawls on its belly. And eating dust is a comment probably about a snake’s habitat. Deserts were also considered a place of non-order.

Walton, John H. The Lost World of Adam and Eve. Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic, 2015. Print.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Lost World of Adam and Eve (Part 9: Science and Art)

Science and Art

Upon opening proposition 14 in Walton’s book, he reminds the readers that his goal in this book is to explain how the Hebrew readers would’ve understood Genesis and NOT the actual scientific events that took place. He explains how the ancient Hebrews wouldn’t have approached the story of Genesis as we do today: as a historical document of scientific data.

I think that because in recent times, science has scared Christians with its theories, Christians have turned to the bible and forced it to counteract those theories. The trouble with this is that the bible isn’t a book about science, but rather the way God made the world to work.

God communicated to the Hebrews using their ways of viewing the world. For example, on day two of creation God separates the waters above from the waters below. The ancient world believed that the sky was made of water because that is where rain came from. The sky isn’t actually a big body of water up there, but the Hebrew believed it to be so. Thus, God used that kind of language to explain how he made the space for humans to live; i.e., the atmosphere.

In this vein the Hebrews would’ve seen Genesis more like art and less like data. Walton argues the point using the example of studying the stars through a telescope versus looking at a Van Gogh painting. If we wanted to study the stars composition and actual placement, we study the stars through a telescope. If we want to study how the stars relate to human perception and emotion, we study Van Gogh’s painting. We wouldn’t say that Van Gogh’s painting was an inaccurate depiction of the sky; instead, we would say it was looking at the sky for a different reason. 

I understand Walton’s point. The Israelites put less emphasis on the literal matter and more emphasis on what the matter tells us about God. However, as God through Moses is the author in this particular analogy, I think his artistic presentation of Genesis contains both beauty and truth. The trick here is for us to decipher what parts of Genesis are describing the world the Hebrews understood and what parts are describing way the world actually is/was.

Walton, John H. The Lost World of Adam and Eve. Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic, 2015. Print.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Lost World of Adam and Eve (Part 8: The Garden)

ESV Genesis 2:15-17
“The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’”

Walton next explains the ancient Hebrew understanding of this garden of Eden and the trees therein. He brings in several references to Egyptian, Assyrian, and Babylonian texts that all have similar stories to that of Genesis. He uses these texts to help shed light on how the Israelites would have understood the Genesis account. I found this discussion most fascinating. How marvelous it is that all these ancient civilizations have some account of a sacred garden-like place where God’s presence was at the beginning of the world. Many of them also have an Adam-like character and an account of how chaos/sin entered the world. This seems like such strong evidence that such events actually happened. This also makes the Genesis account particularly special because this was the account that God himself sanctioned as His truth. 

Another interesting parallel drawn here is between the temple and the garden. Walton argues that the temple that the Israelites built was fashioned to replicate a garden-like feel with its carved palm trees and fruit.

Several clarifications were also made in this section: “for in the day that you eat of it” is a Hebrew idiom meaning “when.” This is helpful to know because when Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit, they don’t die on that day. Another point of clarification, Walton doesn’t believe that Adam and Eve were confined to the garden, but merely that they were in charge of keeping it. This would explain how the serpent was able to approach Eve without being within the sacred garden.

The presence of the two significant trees in the garden, the one of the knowledge of good and evil (Walton also calls this the tree of wisdom), and the tree of life, both are two elements/things/qualities only had in the garden of Eden, meaning that apart from being in the sacred garden and in the sacred place where relationship with God is had, these two things cannot be had. To be banished from the garden is to lose access to eternal life and access to wisdom. 

I find it interesting that God doesn’t forbid eating of the tree of life until after sin enters the world. God forbids eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, ie, making oneself the center of order and wisdom.

Walton, John H. The Lost World of Adam and Eve. Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic, 2015. Print.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Lost World of Adam and Eve (Part 7: Archetype)

Adam as Archetype

In the next several propositions, Walton sets the stage for proving that Adam is an archetype, meaning that all mankind is embodied in the one and counted as having participated in the acts of that one. He means to show how while Adam and Eve, though historical people, were not necessarily the first humans, the only humans, or the “universal ancestors of all human beings (biologically/genetically)” (Walton 103). Walton does believe in Adam as a historical person because of his place in the genealogies, but Walton argues that Adam was one of many. In fact, he states that Adam could’ve been created in Genesis 1 with the rest of mankind, and Genesis 2 is simply the ordaining of Adam as a priest-like leader for mankind in the Garden of Eden.

Walton, John H. The Lost World of Adam and Eve. Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic, 2015. Print.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Lost World of Adam and Eve (Part 6: Eve)

ESV Genesis 2:20b-22
“But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.”

Walton sheds light upon this particular passage by explaining how this deep sleep was like a trance or a state of seeing a vision. And it was within this trance that Adam saw a vision of Eve being formed. What God showed Adam was like the visions shown to other prophets, where physical images represent what is going to happen. Thus, Eve being taken from Adam isn’t actually how she was made, but a way of showing Adam how Eve is half of mankind. Rib here is perhaps better translated as side. 

The significance of Eve’s role here lies in the significance of Adam’s position. Walton argues that Adam’s formation as stated in Genesis 2:7 is an establishment of Adam’s priestly role as caretaker of the Garden of Eden. God prepared beforehand for Adam to be the priest/leader of mankind at that time. And his main job was to take care of the garden, which was the dwelling place of God. It’s all very temple-like really. 

After God ordered matter, he dwelt there, namely in the Garden, the sacred space. This explains how God was walking through the garden later after Adam and Eve sinned. This also helps explain why it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone. The job of caring for the sacred garden was too much for Adam to do alone. And the most suitable helper for him was not an animal, not another man, but a woman, the other side of the human race. God shows this to Adam in his dream. Eve and Adam together make the best priestly team in maintaining a sacred space.

I find this section fascinating. This advocates women helping in the church. This advocates men and women together making a safe place for a family to thrive. This advocates women’s sacred equality with men before God. And this explains why homosexuality is not according to God’s established order.

So, why then in the levitical law does it seem that God excludes women from the priestly duties? Walton believes that this was done because the inclusion of women too often lead to sexual perversion.

Walton, John H. The Lost World of Adam and Eve. Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic, 2015. Print.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Lost World of Adam and Eve (Part 5: Dust)

ESV Genesis 2:7
“Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.”

Before Walton goes on, he redefines some terms used in Genesis 2—which he proposes isn’t a recap of day 6, but a sequel to the creation story. By redefining several Hebrew words—good, forming, and dust—, he somehow comes to the conclusion that morality was present prior to the fall. He is either using some faulty logic here or I missed something because I don’t see how his conclusions follow his definitions. I’ll try to explain anyways.

After nearly every day of creation/ordering, “God saw that it was good.” Walton differentiates between “good” and “perfect” here. Good doesn’t mean perfect or sinless or without death. It means functioning as God intended it to. Such is the way “good” is used elsewhere in the bible to describe things that are not perfect, but rather as God would have it. For example, God describes Canaan as good even when the Canannites are still living there.

Saying that everything is good is a way of checking that all systems are go. Plants? Check. Moon? Check. People? Check. If the Hebrew “good” here meant perfect, then we have a problem because God later says that it isn’t good for man to be alone.

“Forming” could be translated as “preparing,” “ordaining,” or decreeing.” Again this doesn’t necessarily imply material substance though it could include it. Walton argues that the forming of man from dust is actually a preparing Adam for a special role, and not physically making Adam.

“Dust” too doesn’t mean a material substance, but rather a state of non-life. Thus, Genesis 3:19 “For dust you are and to dust you will return,” means that you came from a breath-less state and you will return to that state when your life is over. This seems probable, but then Walton explains how the Hebrews understood the dust-like qualities of a decomposing body. If this is so, the Hebrews would’ve understood Genesis 3:19 as talking about material substance. Walton seems to be contradicting himself here.

He also doesn’t explain how this definition of “dust” works with the earlier part of Genesis 3:19, which states, “By the sweat of your face you will eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken.”

He states that people have found this new definition of “dust” (meaning morality) hard to accept because this must mean that morality was present prior to the fall. I don’t follow this logic. 

Walton cites the presence of the tree of life in the Garden of Eden as further proof as the possibility of mortality being present prior to the fall. If Adam and Even were created to physically live forever why was the tree of life present? Walton believes the tree was a way for mortal beings to live eternally. After the fall, mankind lost access to this tree, which explains all New Testament references about the wages of sin being death. “Sin cost us the solution to morality” (Walton 74). 

Again, I don’t understand. If humans were dying before sin entered the world, why weren’t they eating from the tree of life? What’s the big deal about losing access to the solution of our morality if no one was using it anyway? Something seems fishy here.

Walton's more convincing case for “dust” meaning morality can be found in Psalm 103:14 and Job 10:9 where the writer talks about our being dust. This figure of speech isn’t used in these passages to say that a person was actually made out of dust, but rather a reference to the breathless state of our pre-existence.

He then argues that the attention given to Adam in Genesis 2 and the forming or preparing of him out of dust is not a statement of origin, but rather a statement of his unique role. Walton cites Egyptian iconography showing the god Khnum forming the pharaoh to be king and in Jeremiah 1:5, we read “how the prophet had been formed in the womb for a particular role” (Walton, 77). This is the same language of Genesis 2:7. 

God’s forming Adam is a way of appointing him for a particular job. 

Walton, John H. The Lost World of Adam and Eve. Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic, 2015. Print.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Lost World of Adam and Eve (Part 4: Making mankind)

ESV Genesis 1:26a, 27
“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion . . . So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

Here Walton argues that Genesis 1 is talking about a collective group of humans and not a single human whose name was Adam. The Hebrew word for Adam is the same word for humans. Thus the word “adam" can be used to talk about the human race or a gender or the personal name, Adam. This would mean that God created a group of humans just like he created groups of animals and fish and birds.

This would explain how Cain found of a wife and why Cain was afraid to be cast away from his family and harmed by others. This would also explain how Cain founded a city.

Walton goes on to defend his position through explaining other parts of scripture that seem to be saying otherwise. He argues that the genealogies are tracing their lines back to the “first person of significance in their (the Hebrews) realm of knowledge” (Walton, 188). 1 Corinthians 15’s reference to the “first man” is using this language in relationship to the first man of Adam’s given position; i.e., the first priestly position given. Adam was the first one that failed. Christ was the last one that succeeded. Arguably, Act 17:26, where Paul says “from one man he made all the nations,” is referring to Noah and not Adam. Lastly, Adam naming Eve the “mother of all living things” is a not a biological claim. Likewise the men named afterwards in Genesis 4 were also not biological claims: “father of those who live in tents and raise livestock” and “father of all who play stringed instruments.”

I've always thought that Adam and Eve's long lives provided the time to create monstrously large families living all over the region. However, this assumes that the Cain and Abel story occurred hundreds of years after the fall. And the brother's story seems to suggest that this was their first time doing priestly things similar to what they'd seen their father do. It's almost like a coming of age story. This is me surmising though. 

Walton, John H. The Lost World of Adam and Eve. Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic, 2015. Print.

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Lost World of Adam and Eve (Part 3: Rest and Seven)

ESV Genesis 2:2-3
“And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.”

I found Walton’s explanations of God’s rest particularly enlightening. He redefines “rest” to mean residing or living. When the Israelites seek “rest”, it means “freedom from invasion and conflict so that they can live at peace and conduct their daily lives without interruption” (Walton, 47). 

Thus God’s rest gives the prior six days purpose. Those six days were an ordering and preparing for this final day where God takes up his residence in his ordered creation. Walton returns to the analogy of the house by explaining when we move into a house, we work to make it functional for the sake of living there. This “living there” is what the Hebrew writer meant by God’s rest on the seventh day. It’s both a living within and a having relationship with those on earth.

Walton goes on to argue that the seven days here aren’t actually a reference to time, but rather are marking the transition of the earth from physical structure to functioning order. He goes on to explain how Moses, the author of Genesis, would’ve used these seven days of creation as a parallel with God’s ordering the universe and the Israelites ordering the tabernacle making it ready for God’s presence to dwell there. Seven was used because seven was significant in the ancient world. He says that the Hebrews wouldn’t have read Genesis to mean an actual seven day period because they were reading Genesis as a story about function and not literal material.

I find Walton’s argument somewhat circular here. Why did the ancient world see the number seven as sacred? Why reference time at all, if God is merely lining things up in an order? Why emphasis morning and evening on each day? Did God make the number seven significant or did man? 

I understand the bending of language to serve an author’s objectives, and I understand reading Genesis as a story about a home’s function and not a house’s origin, but I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive. And I don’t think one can talk about a home’s function without talking about physical matter. I can tell you how Philip and I have turned part of our home into a dinning room with a tall table and a chandelier. I use this dining room to sell my ebay items and work on the computer. This would be talking about the room’s function. But the room’s functions were created when we physically put a table and chandelier in it.

Walton, John H. The Lost World of Adam and Eve. Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic, 2015. Print.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Lost World of Adam and Eve (Part 2: Create)

ESV Genesis 1:1-2
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” 

Walton states that verse one is a literary introduction. It could also be written, “God ordered all that is, and this is how he did it.” It is not saying, God made everything from nothing because the next verse goes on to talk about the state of the earth prior to God’s ordering it.

Walton argues this based on the translation of the Hebrew words in this passage. “Beginning” meaning before God ordered it and NOT a time before matter existed. Arguably, “create” also isn’t talking about matter coming into existence, but rather an ordering, a giving of roles and functions to the materials. We see this throughout Genesis as God separates, names, and gathers together. Thus, to create something is to name it and give it a function, NOT to make it come into being.

I see a few holes to his arguments here. 1) He doesn’t have sufficient information to explain the meaning of “void.” Walton states this himself. Void seems to be clearly saying that there is an absence of things. However, Walton might argue that order is what is absent. 2) Walton also doesn’t explain the meaning of God saying, “Let there be _____,” and that particular thing afterwards “is”. He uses his arguments about the words “beginning,” and “formless” and “made” to cover the translation of the verb “to be”. I was hoping for more of an explanation of this. 3) If "create" here means to order, how are the words "create" and "order" any different from each other? And what does this mean for elsewhere in scripture where the word "create" is used?

Walton, John H. The Lost World of Adam and Eve. Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic, 2015. Print.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

The Lost World of Adam and Eve (Part 1: Intro)

I'm in the middle of reading John H. Walton's The Lost World of Adam and Eve. In it Walton attempts to explain how the ancient Hebrews would've originally read Genesis. This reading happens to say very little about science and evolutionary theories. I'm finding the book both fascinating and eye-opening. While I don't agree with all of Walton's conclusions, he has enlarged my views of Genesis and the bible

I'd like to share the book's propositions and problems through several blog posts. This being the introduction.

In The Lost World of Adam and Eve, John H. Walton argues that the creation account in Genesis is not a narrative of how God brought things into existence. Rather, it is an account of how God put things in order. Both the author of Genesis and the audience came from an ancient culture that didn’t read narratives like Genesis as scientific documents about how things came to be.

While Walton does believe that God created the physical world “ex nihilo”, he claims that Genesis is not the foundation for that understanding. Rather, Genesis explains how God ordered, separated, and named all that exists to work in a certain way for a certain reason.

Walton likens this way of reading Genesis to how we might talk about our homes. We might talk about when our house was built and what kind of pipes it has. Then we might talk about our home in relationship to the process of buying the property and how we made it our own space. The first way of describing the house is more about origins and data. The latter is more about purpose and function. Walton argues that Genesis was intended as a book about purpose and function, not origins.

In the following blog posts, I’ll try to outline some of his points but not without inserting some of my thoughts as well. Unfortunately, because of the way blogspot is designed, this means my posts will be listed here in ascending order here.

Walton, John H. The Lost World of Adam and Eve. Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic, 2015. Print.