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The Lost World of Genesis One - John H. Walton

As promised to John Doyle, who recommended the book to me without having read it himself, here is a review of ‘The Lost World of Genesis One’ by John. H. Walton. It does not have much to do with core OST concerns, but has a lot to do with John’s own interests, mine, and those of anyone who has wrestled with the Genesis 1 text and wondered at the intensity of the conflict between science and biblical integrity over how it is to be understood in today’s confusing world.

The heart of the author’s contention (John H. Walton, Professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College) is that we have, unknowingly, adopted an interpretation of Genesis 1 which reads into the text modern concerns about the material origins of life, whilst failing to ask what the concerns of its authors were in their time, and what key words like bārā (create) and āśâ(make, do), actually meant as used in their historical context. Walton argues that rather than outlining a scheme for material origins of things, Genesis 1 describes how functions were ordered by a divine being for the good of earth’s inhabitants, and more especially, how the cosmos was designed as a temple in which God himself wished to dwell.

The concern about material origins of the world, argues Walton, is a modern preoccupation of the last 200 years or so, with Genesis 1 falsely being brought into judgment for something it was never written or designed to do. Walton does not deny that God created the material world ex nihilo, but says that this is not what Genesis 1 sets out to describe.

The proposition is so far-reaching in its implications, and so contrary to our assumptions about Genesis 1, that even to accept it as a way of exploring the text is a huge step. Walton argues that God used the cosmological understanding of the ancient world to describe how the functions of that world were called into being and operated, leaving open the precise details of how the material nature of the world originated, in which those primary functions of sun, moon, stars, sea and land, vegetation, living beings operate. 

The Genesis account, argues Walton, disengages with science, and its concern with the investigation of matter, and instead focuses on metaphysical questions of how the universe was ordered by God. One of the outstanding arguments of the book is the distinction Walton is able to draw, time and again, between the valid areas of competence of science, in its concern with the material universe, and the competence of metaphysics, which concerns itself with why things exist, and to what end they exist. Science oversteps its competence when it tries to deny a metaphysical dimension to life. Metaphysics oversteps its competence when it tries to dictate or limit how a scientific exploration of the material universe should be conducted.

The interpretation of Genesis 1 as an account, using ancient cosmology, of the origins of the functions of things in an ordered universe, is maybe for us a very new way of reading the creation story. In this account, God is described as active within creation, and in the historic sequence of acts brought order out of chaos. Appealing to ancient creation accounts in different cultures, Walton shows how these too had a focus on functional rather than material origins. The Hebrew account is similar to them in this respect, whilst differing in other key respects – one of which would be the enhanced roles given in the Hebrew account for man and woman, and the contrasting roles of the gods, set against the role of the Hebrew deity.

Walton then explores the meaning of the Hebrew word bārā (create), in its context, and in the 50 usages in the Old Testament, finding that in none of its usages does the direct object unambiguously refer to matter, but in a large percentage of the contexts, a direct object referring to function is intended. Whilst this would not be taken as proof that bārā requires a direct object of function rather than matter, it clears the way for Walton to explore the possibility that this is indeed how the word is being used in Genesis 1. The logic of the passage then begins to appear in a very powerful new light, supporting the contention.

In this contention, the word beginning in Genesis 1:1 raises the question: beginning of what? Rather than being a statement of the beginning of the material universe, Walton argues that it means beginning of this seven day period, whenever that may have been in relation to a prior material origin of things. It is a literary rather than literal introduction to the account. Walton argues that this interpretation is supported by the commonly acknowledged division of Genesis into sections introduced eleven times by the transitionary formula ‘This is the account (tôlĕdôt) of’. Not only does this show that the author did use literary introductions to sections, but that beginning would be the logical term to introduce such a sequence.

In Walton’s scheme, Days 1-3 establish functions of the universe; Days 4-6 establish functionaries (the aspects of the created universe through which functions were to operate), and Day 7, the day of divine rest, the sabbath, is the day when God takes residence within His creation. The ‘rest’ is not so much a ceasing from all activity, as a ceasing of one kind of activity, the establishing of functions, so that another type of activity, the purposes for which the functions were established, can ensue. Further, Walton argues that this culmination of divine creative activity on Day 7 is designed to echo the creation of a temple, which in the Hebrew mind as in the temples of other cultures was seen as a cosmos in miniature. The outstanding difference here is that the cosmos itself is presented, in its original state, as the temple.

Walton works through his argument in the form of 18 propositions. In proposition 14, he argues that while the Genesis creation account itself is a unique historical occurrence, as seen through the eyes and thought-forms of ancient cosmology and not modern investigative science, the involvement of God within His creation has been continuous. God has not created the world and left it to its own devices, to ‘run down’, as suggested by both deist and theist accounts.

Walton then looks at three contrasting views of Genesis 1, and finds shortcomings with each of them, in contrast to his own proposed interpretation.

Walton argues that the ‘Young Earth Creation’ view, (interestingly only arising in its current form in the 18th century, at the beginning of our modern period), goes too far in its understanding of what we need to do to defend the biblical text, and too far in its belief that the Bible must be read scientifically. On the other hand, he argues that the ‘Old Earth Creation’ view, attempting to accommodate Genesis to the near unanimity of scientific opinion on the vast age of the universe, does violence to the text and does not go far enough in a radical interpretation which would achieve such an accommodation if the thesis of the creation of functions were accepted.

In Proposition 14 Walton argues that the Framework Hypothesis, in which the acknowledged literary qualities of Genesis 1 (eg the structure paralleling Days 1-3 with 4-6, etc) with its theological affirmations about God are seen as the key meaning of the text, also has shortcomings (would the ancient Hebrews have thought purely in literary or theological terms?), and would be enhanced if the functional creation view was adopted alongside it.

Finally, in Propositions 15 through to 18, Walton looks at the teleological (to do with purpose) emphasis of Genesis 1 in relation to modern science, and argues that while the proper concern of science is not with teleology, neither should science deny the possibility of such concerns outside its own proper sphere of interest. Likewise metaphysics should not impose its interests on the disinterested pursuit of science. Walton has practical proposals to bring which would affect the teaching of science and creation in state (public) school settings – at the moment, the latter (in the US) being rigorously prohibited, and the former, in Walton’s view, inappropriately denying the proper sphere of discussion concerning the latter.

Walton presents a very satisfying interpretation of Genesis 1, with the authority of a scholar well versed in the Hebrew language, texts and worldview. It deserves to be taken seriously by all contenders in the arguments for a present-day understanding of Genesis and the creation story. This could be one of the best books John never read.

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Comments

Re: The Lost World of Genesis One - John H. Walton

An excellent piece, Peter, and an effective stimulus for me actually to read the book. I think I’ll take advantage of your post to comment on the book as I read it, as well as to respond to your observations about it.

Walton begins by contending that the Hebrew scriptures should be read as the writings of people who lived inside of a distinct historical culture, and that understanding the texts requires understanding the culture. That seems fair enough, though as Walton admits this is easier said than done. Only fragmented evidence is available to us that describes ancient cultures, and much of that evidence consists of the texts we’re trying to understand.

At the same time, we’re all part of the same species, and even ancient Hebrew is just as modern structurally as any modern language. So I’m fairly optimistic that we can understand texts produced by ancient writers. The earliest known writings were material inventories and records of local events: kinds of writing with which we’re still very familiar.

Walton points out that a text that has been influenced by the culture in which it was written is very different from copying that culture and its other texts. Agreed: seeing similar themes in Biblical and Babylonian texts doesn’t imply that one is the original source while the other is derivative.

At the end of the intro Walton explains what he means by “myth”:

The Canaanites or the Assyrians did not consider their myths to be made up works of the imagination. Mythology by its nature seeks to explain how the world works and how it came to work that way, and therefore includes a culture’s ‘theory of origins.’ We sometimes label certain literature as ‘myth’ because we do not believe the world works that way… By this definition, our modern mythology is represented by science — our own theories of origins and operations. Science provides what is generally viewed as the consensus concerning what the world is, how it works and how it came to be… For the Israelites, Genesis 1 offered explanations of their view of origins and operations, in the same way that mythologies served in the rest of the ancient world and that science serves our Western culture. It represents what the Israelites truly believed about how the world got to be how it is and how it works, though it is not presented as their own ideas, but as revelation from God.”

I’m fine with Walton’s contention that the creation narrative probably does reflect what the writer truly believed happened. The sequence would be this: certain events happened; someone arrived at a belief regarding what happened; that person wrote it down. There is a gap to be spanned between what actually happened and what someone believes happened. Science consists of a set of systematic replicable methods for bridging this gap between event and belief.

It seems to me that Walton wants not to bridge the gap but to do away with it. He proposes that the shared cultural beliefs about reality are the reality for that culture. One culture says that its god created the material universe from nothing in six days; another culture, that its god gave birth to the material universe; a third, that the universe originated in a big explosion and organized itself over billions of years. It seems that Walton would regard these three accounts as equally mythic and equally true for the cultures in which they arose. This strikes me as a rather radical but not unprecedented point of view: the material world is inseparable from the thoughts and words we use to talk about it; the world is what it means to us, subjectively and intersubjectively. I recently had an extended discussion with Jacob about this sort of postmodern theory of world-as-text: he was for it, I was against it. At this point I’d just like to register the observation that Walton is for it too, and so at some point I’m likely to disagree with what he writes — but I’ll reserve judgment.

 

Proposition 1: Gen. 1 is Ancient Cosmology

Walton claims that God couched his Gen. 1 revelation in terms of an ancient cosmology because that’s what the culture of the time understood and because God didn’t see fit to enlighten them with more up-to-date information about, say, the earth being spherical. Might Walton take the same stance about other aspects of the Biblical revelation that aren’t scientific but, say, ethical or political? E.g., did God reveal himself as jealous and punitive because that’s how the culture expected gods to act and the people weren’t yet ready to understand a more benign and forgiving deity? Did God present himself as having a preferred nation because national gods were a popular idea back then and the people weren’t ready for a god of all nations, or a god for whom the concept of nation was irrelevant?

 

Re: Proposition 1: Gen. 1 is Ancient Cosmology

What’s interesting about Walton’s presentation is that while the Genesis creation account uses and works within the terms of ancient cosmology, and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t, what he says about the creation of functions in the universe (rather than the creation of matter) is quite revolutionary, in the context of belief in the ancient world.

Not only is there one God, rather than many, but the relationship of that God to mankind is quite different from the beliefs of the surrounding nations:

- The many gods related to mankind as masters to slaves, requiring their own needs to be met by sacrificial ordinances etc.

- The one God created the world for mankind to tend and care for, with a responsibility to bring into the world a similar kind of order which He had created in the various functions of the universe.

- The one God created the world to be a temple in which He would live with mankind, in a relationship of love and trust

And so on. These features which distinguish the one God from the many gods of the nations are the more outstanding aspects of Walton’s account. As Walton hasn’t written about the rest of the Old Testament in this book, it’s difficult to expect him to address the issues you raise, John, but I’ve a feeling he’d be capable of addressing them.

 

Re: Proposition 1: Gen. 1 is Ancient Cosmology

What’s interesting about Walton’s presentation…”

As I said in my first comment, Peter, I’m commenting on the book as I’m reading it. My most recent comment focused on chapter 1, which I found thought-provoking in its own right — if you didn’t, that’s fine. I expect to get in touch with Walton after I finish reading his book, at which point I will attempt to explore with him some of the issues I’m documenting here.

The parts you found particularly interesting don’t begin until chapter 2, so I’ll get to them in due course. I’m already predisposed in favor of his functional argument because it supports my own exegesis of the passage, as evidenced in my little home videos on my Sir Toby’s Day One post. It’s why I bought the book in the first place.

 

Proposition 2: Ancient Cosmology is Function Oriented

On to chapter two…

Walton distinguishes between material ontology, where an object consists of its properties, and functional ontology, in which an object is defined by its uses or purposes. To illustrate the idea he contrasts a chair (material) with a company (functional). In doing so I think he confounds the essence/function distinction — what something is versus what it does — with the material/immaterial distinction. A material chair can be defined functionally as something that can be sat on, while a non-material company can be defined in terms of its properties (name, corporation versus proprietorship, organizational structure, net worth, etc.). Most things, be they material or immaterial, can be described in terms both of their properties and of their functions. 

Ultimately this confusion probably won’t matter a whole lot for Walton’s argument. He’s claiming that even a material object doesn’t exist in a functional ontology until its uses have been identified. So, e.g., unless that wooden thing across the room, consisting of a horizontal surface suspended 2 feet off the ground from four legs with a raised back, is recognized as something that can be used to sit on, it doesn’t exist as a chair. Fair enough.

Walton claims that, at the time Genesis 1 was written, functional ontologies ruled. I don’t think that’s particularly controversial since even today, in our pragmatic instrumental culture, people tend to be more concerned about what something does than what it is.

An ancient Sumerian creation story is presented, in which the god spreads the population wide, makes the night resplendent, makes the flax grow, and so on. Walton notes that nothing material is created in this story; rather, the god makes already-existing objects function properly.

All of this is good stuff.

Re: Proposition 2: Ancient Cosmology is Function Oriented

Related to the distinction between what Walton calls material and functional ontology is Aristotle’s theory of causality. To cite the usually-helpful Wikipedia:

  • A thing’s material cause is the material it consists of. (For a table, that might be wood; for a statue, that might be bronze or marble.)
  • A thing’s formal cause is its form, i.e. the arrangement of that matter.
  • A thing’s efficient cause is what is generally meant by the English word “cause”. (For a table, that might be a carpenter.)
  • A thing’s final cause is its aim or purpose. (For a table, this might be writing. For a ball on the top of a ramp, it might be rolling down the ramp.)

Walton’s material ontology corresponds to Aristotle’s material cause; his functional ontology corresponds to Aristotle’s final cause. The efficient cause is the Creator. The formal cause doesn’t (yet) appear in Walton’s scheme. However, as I noted in my last comment, Walton seems to conflate functional ontology with immateriality, which might get us to Aristotle’s formal cause. A chair is made materially of wood; formally the wood is arranged in a particular chairlike form; functionally it’s for sitting on. Materially, a company is made up of people, buildings, office furniture, and so on; formally, it’s made of corporate charters, organizational structures, chains of command; functionally it’s for making products for customers and money for shareholders.

 

Propositions 3-6

Proposition 3: “Create” Concerns Functions

Walton does a word study of bara’ which is translated as “create” Gen. 1. It’s long been recognized that God always the subject of this verb in the OT; Walton is interested in the object of the verb. He contends that in most instances the object is functional rather than material, in a few instances the object is ambiguous, and in no instance is the object material only. It’s certainly the case that never in the Bible, outside of the possible exception of Gen. 1-3, does God create any material thing out of nothing. Mostly he creates functional abstract things like covenants and nations. So precedent is on Walton’s side for Proposition 3.

Proposition 4: The Beginning State in Genesis 1 is Nonfunctional

And the earth was tohu vabohu — usually translated “formless and void.” Walton argues that elsewhere in the OT the phrase refers to lack of functionality. The evidence he presents isn’t persuasive in my view. Is a desert tohu because it’s useless, or because it’s featureless and empty? It seems to me that once Walton commits himself to the functional context of the Creation, he will interpret tohu within that context. The most obvious alternative, one which was common in ancient cosmogenies, is that God encountered an inchoate blob of matter and shaped it into an organized and coherent universe; i.e., that he imposed form on formless matter. Organized things are more useful than disorganized ones, so there’s a continuity of meaning between formless and non-functional.

Proposition 5: Days 1-3 in Genesis 1 Establish Functions

These propositions have been put forward and supported previously. By setting light in oscillation with darkness, Day 1 establishes the beginning of time. I think this is an excellent interpretation, and it makes the literal passing of days an important part of the story. Day 2 marks the beginning of weather, separating the waters above (source of rain) from the waters below (sea). Day 3 is the beginning of food via plant life.

Proposition 6: Days 4-6 in Genesis 1 Install Functionaries

The lights in the sky (day 4) are the functionaries for marking the passing of time (day 1). The sea creatures and birds and land creatures are the active agents of day 5. Man is the key functionary in the system on day 6. Again, all this is fine and has been proposed as a logical scheme by which the days are organized. Since per Walton Gen. 1 isn’t a temporal sequence of material creation, it’s reasonable to establish the function of time before assigning the functionaries for keeping time.

In short, generally I’m on board with Propositions 3 through 6.

 


 

 

 

Propositions 7-9: Temple

Now we’re at the heart of Walton’s argument. If Genesis 1 isn’t about God making the material universe or giving form to it, and if Gen. 1 is about assigning functions to the stuff of the universe, then what functional system is he assembling? Walton says that God is regarding the universe as his temple, a place where he can live. In Genesis 1 God is assigning temple-related functions to various parts of the universe.

I think this is a fascinating position. Walton cites examples from elsewhere in Scripture indicating that fit this interpretation; e.g., God lives in the heavens and uses the earth as his footstool. Walton identifies parallels in other ancient Near Eastern religions, whose gods likewise regarded the universe as their house, where they rested, accepted worship, and exercised kingship over their domains. Material temples built in honor of the gods often patterned themselves after the cosmos as a whole, with fountains of waters, pillars of earth, heavenly vaults, and so on.

Genesis 1 should be read not as a history of building the cosmic temple but as a dedication ceremony. The material universe might have been billions of years in the making, but the dedication takes six days. On the seventh God takes occupancy of the prepared temple — he “rests” in his prepared and dedicated home. Says Walton:

In short, by naming the functions and installing the functionaries, and finally by deity entering his resting place, the temple comes into existence — it is created in the inauguration ceremony.” (p. 89)

I read these Propositions in Walton’s book yesterday. I woke up in the middle of the night imagining Genesis 1 as a grand celebratory recital. Start the light show! Put in the flowers and greenery! Let everything be fruitful and multiply! Bring on the human assistants! Roll out the red carpet! Wonderful! I can picture the Genesis 1 text — as can Walton — being read ceremonially every year as a spectacular rededication of the universe to God. I love this interpretation.

Some More General Thoughts

Walton’s interpretation of Genesis 1 is essentially covered in his Propositions 1 through 9; the remaining 9 propositions are more theological and even political than exegetical. It seems to met that with the rest of the book Walton is attempting to shore up the traditional evangelical stance, making a case that his exegesis strengthens rather than weakens that stance. I suspect he’s right.

A few points that I think are worth noting:

Walton argues that God created the material universe even if Gen. 1 doesn’t deal with that topic. The few Scriptural verses he offers to justify this position aren’t compelling, inasmuch as they could be interpreted as referring to the creation of function. Would it be acceptable to Christians if God might have had nothing to do with material creation?

It’s possible to assign functions to objects that already exist. Someone can find a stone and use it as a hammer or as part of a wall or as raw material for a sculpture. Humans can’t create anything out of nothing and yet we’re adept and making use of what we find — one could argue that this is part of the “image and likeness” inherited from the Creator himself. Why then couldn’t God have simply arrived on the scene billions of years after the universe had taken shape and simply decided to “move in,” adapting it as his dwelling place?

The objects comprising the universe may have a set of functions relative to God’s dwelling place, but this need not exhaust their function. E.g., the sun might be useful for distinguishing day from night in God’s temple, but it might also be useful for keeping the earth from spinning out into space and for keeping it warm enough to live on. I.e., the same material object can serve more than one function. There’s no need to claim that the universe took the material shape it did specifically and exclusively that it might eventually serve God’s purpose as a home. Walton contends that God no longer uses the universe as his temple (though I’m not sure why). Nonetheless, the universe and its contents persist, serving all sorts of other functions.

Walton contends that God’s temple serves not just as his home, not just as his place to “rest,” but as his base of operations for running the universe. Part of God’s purported operations include keeping the material universe running, all the way down to holding individual molecules together. Again, I don’t see why that necessarily follows from the exegesis. If Genesis 1 makes no reference to material creation of the universe, why assume that running the material universe is implied? It’s certainly not stated.

In conclusion, Peter, I did enjoy the book a great deal. I find Walton’s interpretation of the Genesis 1 text quite compatible with my own. To quote the book I finished writing nearly 4 years ago now:

Things aren’t real in and of themselves. They exist, they have substance, but they have no intrinsic meaning. They just are. Only things that have been made meaningful are real. The narrator of Genesis 1 describes how elohim created a reality – the heavens and the earth – by embedding all the stuff of the universe in a system of meanings.”

Replace the word “meaning” with “function” and this paragraph could be describing Walton’s position. I’m pleased that a credentialed evangelical Bible scholar arrived at a similar conclusion and managed to get his interpretation published. Maybe it’s actually true.

Re: Some More General Thoughts

I enjoyed reading your comments, John. Nice that somebody has finally caught up with you at last, though a shame they got into print first.

I’m not quite sure what you mean by:

Would it be acceptable to Christians if God might have had nothing to do with material creation?”

Walton’s point is, of course, that in Genesis 1 this is simply not an issue, though in parts of the NT he contends that reference to a material creation is implied, and was of interest to the 1st century world.

But your question is really philosophical: if God didn’t create the universe, can something come out of nothing, or was it just always there?

And, Oh yes, you may have rather mixed reactions to the news that I am about to publish another, final volume of the Sir Toby adventures, bringing us up to date from the convocation at the hostel to the visit of the author as deus ex machina to the counselling therapist. May I have permission to include your contributions?

Re: Some More General Thoughts

I expect that Walton and I were writing our books concurrently. Some of the rationales behind our conclusions are very similar (e.g., the meaning of bara’ and tohu, the importance of 24-hour days to the narrative. His proposition about the temple dedication isn’t something I’d considered, and I think it’s very good. Still, he’s got a ways to go before he catches up to me ;)

My question about a God who wasn’t involved in material creation is theological but it begins in exegesis. As you observe, Walton contends that “reference to a material creation is implied” in the NT; however, it’s never explicitly stated. It’s certainly possible to interpret the specific NT verses similarly to the way Walton interprets Genesis 1, as referring to functional rather than material creation. So if Christian theology is driven by Biblical exegesis, and if exegesis makes no definitive assertion about whether God created the material universe, how might Christian theology be affected by that acknowledgment? Since the Bible doesn’t make a big deal about God as material creator ex nihilo, would it make sense to downplay or even to eliminate this divine attribute from theology? Walton emphasizes in Prop. 16 that scientific findings and theories regarding the Big Bang, evolution, and so on are not incompatible with Genesis 1. Could that compatibility be extended to God Himself? E.g., “Empirical scientists must remain agnostic about whether there’s a conscious designer behind natural processes. We Christians maintain a similar agnosticism. We don’t know if God designed/created the material universe, but this uncertainly has no effect on who God or on our faith in Him.” That sort of thing.

The new Sir Toby’s installments should be fun. My permission to include my minor contributions to your Sir Toby’s posts is conditioned on your letting me be a reader of the text before you send it to the publisher. Since I never got to see the first volume, at least I’ll get to see this one. And I might offer some editorial value. Send me an email and we’ll work it out.

Best,

John

Re: Some More General Thoughts

John  your contributions to the published volume of Sir Toby would be as presented on the OST website - except that the spelling has been anglicised. If you’re not happy with that, let me know. But I shouldn’t worry too much, as I was the only purchaser of the last volume!

Re: Some More General Thoughts

the spelling has been anglicised”

You mean “anglicized,” don’t you?

Sure, that sounds fine, but I’d like to see it formatted in book form — presumably you would too. Or are you still hoping that I’ll actually pay money for a copy? Anyhow, go ahead, you have my blessing. I presume you’re not going to transcribe the videotapes of the Genesis episode.

Re: Some More General Thoughts

Now there’s a thought.

Re: Some More General Thoughts

Not a good one though.

Re: The Lost World of Genesis One - John H. Walton

Thanks for this..As usual, your comments are helpful in considering books we may not be aware of. 

You may also be aware of Sailhammer ( a well-respected evangelical scholar)’s proposal..with considerable ancient support..

Genesis 1:1 describes the creation of the universe during an indeterminate amount of time; the seven days of Genesis 1:2-2:4a describe the preparation of the Promised Land in  literal days.

Genesis Unbound”

Re: Sailhammer

I’d never heard of Sailhammer’s theory before — thanks, Fresno. Though Walton doesn’t address the position directly, he offers some relevant commentary.

Walton contends that the creation at the beginning of the Garden narrative, like the one before it, is a temple dedication. Just as in Gen. 1 God takes up residency in the universe, so in Gen. 2 he establishes Eden as a dwelling place. In this sense Walton supports Sailhammer’s contention that two separate creations are being described.

Walton doesn’t agree that there’s any sort of temporal or functional separation between the Gen. 1:1 and 1:2.

the first verse does not record a separate act of creation that occurred prior to the seven days —  but that in fact the creation that it refers to is recounded in seven days. This suggestst that verse 1 serves as a literary introduction to the rest of the chapter This suggestion is confirmed by the fact that Genesis 2:1 concludes the seven-day report with the statement that the ‘heavens and earth were completed,’ indicating that the creation of the heavens and earth was the work of seven days, not something that preceded them.”

I’m curious as to how the Garden could refer to the land of Israel. Gen. 2 reports that the river flowing out of Eden branches into the Tigris and the Euphrates, which lie far to the east of Israel in Mesopotamia.

Re: Sailhammer

Hey John, thanks for engaging.

 

Sailhammer actually equates Garden of Eden/Promised land.

See this  and this

Re: Sailhammer

So the Promised Land is really in present-day Iraq? That really is a revolutionary theory.

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