Mark's Reviews > The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate

The Lost World of Genesis One by John H. Walton
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's review
Apr 19, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: origins
I own a copy

Walton's book leads the reader through a number of propositions regarding the text of Genesis 1. He shows the great relationship between Genesis 1 and other creation myths of the ancient near east, as well as the major dissimilarities. In doing this, he shows the reader how best to understand the text of Genesis 1 as an ancient creation myth, speaking within the ancient culture of the Israelites.

To the average reader of the Bible, this will require a massive paradigm shift, because Walton shows that Genesis 1 is not meant to tell how or when the universe physically came into being. Instead, it instead tells of God bringing purpose and function to an already-existing world. (And to provide clarification, Walton does not say that the world has always existed, only that Genesis 1 isn't concerned with when God physically brought it into being.)

Walton is not simply leading his readers along with arbitrary assumptions. He carefully avoids imposing modern concepts of science onto the text, as well as leaving aside the commonly assumed rule that everything in the Bible must be 'literal'. The Biblical student who takes the text of Genesis 1 seriously would well recognize that it was never meant to provide a scientific treatise, and Walton's book is a significant help to understand what Genesis 1 is supposed to mean, by placing it where it was written: in the language and culture and style of an ancient people in the near east, and not a post-Enlightenment modernist culture in the west.

As such, neither Genesis 1 nor the rest of the Bible are concerned with detailing the origins of humanity as a whole, only the origins of humanity's functional relationship to God as his representatives ('image') upon the earth, his temple. Hence, the Bible has nothing to say, one way or another, regarding evolution or the age of the earth.

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