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Showing posts from July, 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,

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 o

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. T

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, subdu

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 Ev

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 pe

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 belie

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 t

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.

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 priestl

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

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

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

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

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 phys