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The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate

The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate [Kindle Edition]

John H. Walton
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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In this astute mix of cultural critique and biblical studies, John H. Walton presents and defends twenty propositions supporting a literary and theological understanding of Genesis 1 within the context of the ancient Near Eastern world and unpacks its implications for our modern scientific understanding of origins.

Ideal for students, professors, pastors and lay readers with an interest in the intelligent design controversy and creation-evolution debates, Walton's thoughtful analysis unpacks seldom appreciated aspects of the biblical text and sets Bible-believing scientists free to investigate the question of origins.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing alternative to a polarised debate 2 April 2012
If you are like me and have both a keen interest in science and theology, especially the interaction of the two, then this book goes a great deal more in the way of unifying them than you would normally expect. The book focuses as Genesis being an account of the 'functional' creation of the world, rather than the commonly interpreted 'material' creation. Walton explains this in detail as he takes us from the historical context at the time Genesis was written to how this should affect out interpretation today. I highly recommend this book if you are perhaps baffled by the two opposing views (the literal and allegorical views), since this offers a completely new perspective. Time and time again whilst reading it I kept thinking how consistent it is with other parts of the Bible and how it just made sense.
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50 of 58 people found the following review helpful
Here is a book that I hope will be put into the hands of every Christian who is interested in science.

Dr John Walton is a very careful and established Old Testament scholar who teaches at Wheaton College. He has done a lot of work in Ancient Near Eastern studies and is also the author of the NIV Genesis commentary. The most crucial insight of his view is that the seven days of Genesis 1 are seven literal days, but there is no adequate reason to interpret these seven days as the duration in which the universe with the living things began their existence. Rather, there are better reasons to interpret the seven days as the duration in which the universe with the living things were organized (or re-organized) to function in a way that was compatible with the appearance of the first humans, who with the organized universe formed a cosmic temple. It should be noted that this view is not the same as the `Gap Theory'. The Gap theory proposes a gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, but this is grammatically problematic in the Hebrew language. Walton's view does not have this problem as he does not propose a gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. Rather, the whole of Genesis 1 are taken to be the days in which God reorganized the universe to be functional with respect to man.

It is most important to grasp the methodological principle that, to understand an ancient text, we have to find out how the ancient readers would have understood it. Based on studies of the Ancient Near Eastern culture as well as Hebrew texts, Walton argues that it is preferable to take the Hebrew word bara which is translated as 'create' in Genesis 1 to mean functional (with respect to the cosmic temple) rather than ontological creation.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars much to be discovered in this lost world 3 Jan 2011
Professor Walton will be known to many biblical scholars and teachers as co-author of a fine Old Testament Survey. This book makes a significant contribution to the study of Genesis and, indeed, the whole of the Hebrew Bible. Walton makes a convincing case that the first chapter of Genesis must be understood in terms of its cultural and literary background in the ancient Near East and not, in the first instance, in the light of our contemporary cosmological concerns. So, like many other ANE creation accounts, Genesis 1 depends on a functional ontology; it portrays the ordering of a chaotic world into a functioning Cosmos which serves as a temple for God, rather than a creation "ex nihilo". Walton's tone throughout is eirenic. His deep scholarship serves always to clarify rather than to mystify. Those scholars, who, in my view understandably, have been led to dismiss the historical-critical enterprise as barren of significance may revise their opinion if they read this. However, this accessible and affordable book will also be of interest for pastors, bible group leaders and indeed all who are interested in establishing how the truths of Scripture bear on current debates.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking approach to the creation story 23 Oct 2010
I enjoyed reading this book, which puts forward Walton's quite radical new interpretation of the creation story. He wisely doesn't get too embroiled in the creation/evolution debate but puts together a strong case for a new way of reading the story. He is convinced that a biblical reading of the passage should take into account the purpose of the narrative which was to show the reader that God was central to the function and purpose of the universe and that that this message was far more important to the early reader than the why and how. He argues that once this is made clear, the centrality of worship in the temple as the focal point for the people of God becomes of crucial importance to the believer. He does refer extensively to similar types of literature from ancient civilizations at the time, but it is hard to evaluate the validity of his claims without any further clues or evidence. This sort of interpretation certainly could help eliminate some of the perceived conflicts between science and religion, but still does not offer theological explanations for the clearly literal NT interpretation of Genesis themes like the identity of Adam and Eve and the Fall.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Beware! Not a light read! 24 Mar 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was excited when I found this book and eager to discover what it had to say about Creation and the book of Genesis. Yet right from the Introduction I struggled and by the beginning of Proposition 3 I finally gave up. I'm not thick, but this book was just too highbrow for me! So beware, if you're not a professor then I suggest you download the sample pages first! I'm off to read a Dorothy Sayers mystery to cool my brain down!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars “Creations’ debate game changer”
“Creations’ debate game changer” is my four words review of John H. Walton’s 192-paged InterVarsity Press published book The Lost World of Genesis One (2009). Read more
Published 1 month ago by Prayson Daniel
5.0 out of 5 stars coming at creation
Walton has put together a watershed of approach for creation, with strands coming from many disciplines to provide a well-thought-through argument.
Published 6 months ago by molly dee
5.0 out of 5 stars Escape from polarised Creationism and Evolution?
Walton argues that the book of Genesis is not, and never was intended to be an account of the world's material origins. Read more
Published 7 months ago by St. Cuthman of Sussex
3.0 out of 5 stars A novel approach to Genesis 1
The start of Genesis is a sure source of debate and conflict as the range of views from fundementalist evangelical Christian to fundementalist Evangelical Atheism and all shades in... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Laymin
2.0 out of 5 stars Dangerous risk of denying inerrancy
Interesting view, and worth reading to understand the challenge of his argument, but it seems to me to suffer from two very fundmantal flaws. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Brad
5.0 out of 5 stars A revolution in the understanding of Genesis 1.
The book shows how the people during Moses time would have understood Genesis one, and it is nothing like the way young earth creationists do. Read more
Published on 1 Jan 2011 by Tenkaren
5.0 out of 5 stars very good
not sure I believe the central theme on function rather than material
but I enjoyed and contains a lot of useful insights
Published on 10 May 2010 by Keith J. Lowe
5.0 out of 5 stars Profound and thought-provoking
This is a book which challenges equally creationists and atheistic evolutionists. Using biblical principles, it offers an interpretation of the opening chapter of Genesis which... Read more
Published on 19 Sep 2009 by M. F. Cayley
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In this book I propose that people in the ancient world believed that something existed not by virtue of its material properties, but by virtue of its having a function in an ordered system. &quote;
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there is no concept of a "natural" world in ancient Near Eastern thinking. The dichotomy between natural and supernatural is a relatively recent one. &quote;
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The most central truth to the creation account is that this world is a place for God's presence. &quote;
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