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Book Review: “Since the Beginning: Interpreting Genesis 1 and 2 through the Ages” edited by Kyle R. Greenwood

Since the Beginning: Interpreting Genesis 1 and 2 through the Ages is an invaluable resource to understanding the book of Genesis and creation. The book’s scope is impressive, encompassing not only Christian interpretations but also early Rabbinic interpretations, Second Temple Judaism, and the rediscovery of the Ancient Near East with its implications for understanding Genesis. The book is a wealth of information for anyone interested in learning about Genesis.

Each chapter in the book is full of valuable insights. Greenwood himself starts it off by tracing the impact of these creation accounts across the Old Testament. Michael Matlock’s chapter on Second Temple Jewish literature and Genesis 1 and 2 is fascinating, both for its providing a brief introduction to that body of literature and for insights into how later traditions would shape one’s reading of the text. Some Jewish interpreters (eg. Josephus) seemed comfortable expanding on the story themselves, adding whatever details they believed might add interest or even theological emphasis to the text. Of course that doesn’t undermine much careful attention to details of the texts that modern interpreters sometimes miss. Ira Brent Driggers’ chapter uses the intriguing word “appropriations” to describe the New Testament’s use of the Genesis account. Among other things of interest, this chapter leads readers to wonder exactly how NT authors used the Old Testament and what that may mean for our own interpretations. Early Rabbinic interpretation is the subject of Joel S. Allen’s chapter, in which he shows some of the ways post-destruction of the temple Judaism saw figures like Adam and Eve.

Stephen O. Presley’s chapter on the Ante-Nicene Fathers touches on a number of major early Christian thinkers and shows how the interpretation of Genesis continued to develop in sometimes divergent ways. C. Rebecca Rine’s entry on the Nicene and Post-Nicene interpretations shows how Scripture was seen as a pathway to transformation (121) and so a focus on application of the text led to some unique readings (such as creating a baseline for spiritual writings based on the 6-day pattern). Questions raised by these Nicene/Post-Nicene thinkers included wondering why days were in the narrative at all–something that some modern interpreters would be baffled by for all their own emphasis on the importance of the days. Medieval Jewish theology is the center of Jason Kalman’s chapter, which demonstrates the sometimes radical divergence Christian vs. Jewish readings of the same verses could have. Some of these readings included seeing that Genesis didn’t actually entail an order of creation whatsoever (157). Timothy Bellamah’s chapter provides the Christian Medieval contrast to the previous chapter, showing how much fruitful theology continued in this period, often dismissed. Aquinas, of course, is the giant of this era, and he gets some due attention here. The Protestant Reformers were interested in Genesis 1 and 2 in part for their own polemical purposes and in part as their project to go back to the source continued. Jennifer Powell McNutt draws from this rich Christian tradition to highlight various points of emphases by the Reformers.

Another important aspect of the book is the chapter on the Ancient Near East by David T. Tsumura. Because much of this knowledge was lost for a lengthy period of time, many interpretations of Genesis through the ages did not take into account the actual cultural milieu from which it sprang. The Protestant Reformers, for example, had no access to these materials, so their call to go ad fontes–to the source–could not actually complete the task. The interpretation of Genesis ought not to be considered a settled matter from the Reformation to today, and even allegedly literal readings of Genesis owe as much to modern discoveries as to the texts themselves. Aaron T. Smith’s chapter on Post-Darwinian interpretations shows both how yes, in some ways evolution impacted readings of Genesis, but in others it caused a true pursuit of going back to the beginning. Cosmology is central to debates over how Genesis is to be read.

If it hasn’t already become clear, it should be stated plainly that this book is an absolute treasure trove of information, with many, many strands of further research to be pursued upon its completion. Each chapter is worthy of inclusion, and each is well-written and as intriguing as the next. That in itself is an achievement because the book is consistently engrossing.

I very highly recommend Since the Beginning to you, readers. It’s a book that will have you thinking about your own reading of the text, and may even give you insight into where that reading may have its origins.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of the book for review by the publisher. I was not required to give any specific kind of feedback whatsoever.


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Book Reviews– There are plenty more book reviews to read! Read like crazy! (Scroll down for more, and click at bottom for even more!)



The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

Book Review: “A Matter of Days” by Hugh Ross, Second Expanded Edition


Hugh Ross is one of the most influential Old Earth Creationists alive. The founder of Reasons to Believe, he has had a profound influence on putting forth Old Earth Creationism from a concordist–that is, the notion that the Bible and science will agree where they overlap [often including the notion that the Bible explicitly speaks on scientific issues]–perspective. A Matter of Days is perhaps the magnum opus of his position.

The book provides a huge amount of material for those wanting to interact with topics of creationism. Ross begins by surveying the contentious way the issue is often argued and noting that we as Christians ought to strive for more tolerant attitudes towards each other. Alongside this, he notes various statements by evangelicals allowing for some openness on the topic.

The book covers a massive range of arguments for and against young earth creationism, but the real meat of the text is dealing with various scientific arguments on either side. These are surveyed in a kind of question and answer or objection and rejoinder format in which Ross clearly explains a huge amount of scientific data for an ancient universe and deals with the major objections to such a position from the young earth creationist perspective.

Ross also confronts textual issues in a number of places, including much discussion on the concept of “day” and its meaning in Genesis 1. This, he covers from different perspectives including historic theology, exegesis, and science. He also puts forward a canonical view of how to see Creation in the Bible rather than limiting it simply to Genesis 1-2. There are a number of other texts that he argues also teach on creation.

Although he is an “Old Earth” believer, Ross is also clearly a creationist and puts forward several brief arguments about the faultiness of evolution. This is not a focus of the work, but through such arguments he establishes a clearer picture of his own position related to origins of both life and speciation.

One issue that might be raised with the book is whether the seemingly strict concordism Ross advocates is necessary. For example, rather than arguing that entropy and decay are spoken about in the Bible (100-102), could one not simply note that the human biblical author almost certainly had no concept of entropy and therefore was not addressing it? That is to say, a concept of divine condescension might be easier to hold to than one of future scientific knowledge revealed in the Bible.

The new edition is expanded and has noticeably featured references to some recent works as well as more arguments. It is a rather large re-write with much new information. Readers considering purchase should get this edition.

The Good

+Major point-by-point explorations of evidence for and against an old earth
+Strong defense of the Old Earth Creationist/Concordist position
+Many technical issues explained in understandable ways
+Charitable tone
+Excellent index
+Expanded arguments and new information for the new edition
+Really cool cover

The Bad

-Some questions about concordism remain
-Perhaps too brief on some objections


A Matter of Days remains a tour de force for old earth creationists. It is one of the broadest yet clearest defenses of the old earth creationist position which both answers young earth arguments and puts forth in brief an OEC perspective. Moreover, the updated edition is a true update rather than just having some corrections throughout. This is a book worth having for anyone interested in the controversy over origins in the Christian world.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a review copy by the publisher. I was not required to write any sort of review whatsoever thereby. 


Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Origins Debate– Read a whole bunch more on different views within Christianity of the “origins debate.” Here I have posts on young and old earth creationism, intelligent design, theistic evolutionism, and more!


Hugh Ross, A Matter of Days (Covina, CA: Reasons to Believe, 2015).



The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

Responding to “Nine Questions for the Old Earth Creationist”

exoplanetOne of the podcasts I enjoy listening to is “Issues, Etc.,” a conservative Lutheran radio program that addresses a number of different views. As is the case with anything, however, once you talk to someone or listen to something long enough, you find things with which you disagree. Recently, I heard a podcast which was discussing Christianity and Science. During this podcast, the guest alleged that the Bible contradicts things like the Big Bang theory or any interpretation of millions or billions of years. As that is an area of great interest for me, I did a little more digging and found that Pastor Todd Wilken, one of the primary speakers on the radio program, had written a series of questions for Old Earth Creationists in an article titled “Nine Questions for Old Earth ‘Creationists.‘” [Note that he uses scare quotes around the word “Creationists.”]

Here, I shall respond to the Nine Questions asked of Old Earth Creationists. Before I dive in, I want to offer one major disclaimer: these topics are far more complex than one blog post can cover. I fully realize I am leaving objections unanswered and some questions unasked. Feel free to comment to clarify. Second major disclaimer: I realize that there is diversity within old earth creationism. However, I have striven to answer the questions in as broad a manner as possible.

I will be leaving the questions from Todd Wilken in bold and italic  font and my answers in this standard font. The questions are direct quotes from his article, and I take no credit for their wording.

1. What in the text of Genesis 1 requires or suggests an old Earth?

I admit that I know of no Old Earth Creationist (hereafter OEC/OECs) who holds that Genesis 1 requires an old earth. I think the question is mistaken to even use that word, but I would be happy to be corrected should someone find an OEC who does allege that the text requires an old earth. Thus, the question must be what is it that suggests an old earth? Well, as readers of this blog may know already, I think this question itself is mistaken. The text is not referring to the age of the universe at all, anywhere. On this view, although an old earth may be permissible according to the text, it is not suggested; nor is a young earth suggested. The text just isn’t talking about the age of the universe.

Now, many OECs do hold that the text suggests an old earth. Hints of this, they argue, can be found in the fact that evening and morning occurs before there is a sun. Moreover, it is not until the fourth day that days may even be measured. Others hold that the terminology in Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” suggests that the creation occurred in that verse, and that the rest of the chapter (and chapter 2) narrow the focus to earth or even the Garden of Eden.

2. What are the referents of the words “morning” and “evening” in Genesis 1?

I find it extremely telling that Wilken decided to switch the order of these words around. It absolutely must be noted that the text says “evening” and morning.” Why is this? Well, if the first day is really the first 24 hour period in the history of all that exists apart from God, how is it possible for evening to come before morning? [One insightful reader noted that the Hebrews saw evening as the beginning of the day anyway… but my point is that the fact there is an evening implies there is a sun to set… which isn’t created until later.] That is a question with which the literalistic young earth creationists must contend. If they choose to read the Bible literal[istical]ly, they must be consistent. The fact that they cannot when it comes to things such as evening coming first shows that their reading is self-referentially inconsistent.

Now, to answer the actual question, that really depends on which OEC you are referring to. I would tentatively suggest that most OECs hold that the referents are simply ways to mark the beginning and ends of creation periods.

3. What in the text of Genesis 1:26-27 requires or suggests the creation of man over millions of years?

I admit that this was where I really started to wonder whether Wilken understands the distinctions between OECs and other views of creation. In asking this question of OECs, Wilken betrays an apparent ignorance of the views of major proponents of OEC.

Representative is Hugh Ross, the founder of Reasons to Believe, which is itself the largest Old Earth Creationist organization. In his work, More Than a Theory, he writes regarding human origins: “God created humans in a deliberate, miraculous act” (182, cited below). In other words, Ross (and this is the position of the entire organization, along with every other OEC I know of) holds that humankind was specially created by God in a single miraculous act. “Ah, but wait!” one might cry. “That doesn’t deny millions of years for the creation of humanity.”

Very well, a very small amount of digging shows Hugh Ross again writing, this time with Fazale Rana (also of Reasons to Believe and another Old Earth Creationist) in their work Who Was Adam? “God created the first humans… both physically and spiritually through direct intervention… All humanity came from Adam and Eve… God created Adam and Eve relatively recently, between 10,000 and 100,000 years ago” (44-45, cited below). 

Therefore, it seems this question is nonsensical. OECs hold that humankind was created specially by God and not over the course of millions of years. I admit that I think just about any OEC would be scratching their head trying to figure out why this question is even being asked because it is so far off the mark of the actual views of OECs. It is particularly remarkable because this feature is one of the very things which distinguishes Old Earth Creationism from other, non-creationist models. Gerald Rau notes this distinction: “Although differing in the timing, both [Young- and Old- Earth creationists] believe God created two humans… without progenitor. This, of course, is a radically different perspective from the evolutionary models” (147, cited below). Note his wording: “of course”; “radically different.” Frankly, anyone who has done even a cursory study of varying Christian views about the timing and means of creation would know this.

4. Where in the text of the Genesis 2 and following is the transition from epoch-long days to 24-hour days?

This question seems to be a bit strange. The word “day” is only used in Genesis 2:2, 3, 4, and 17. In verse 4 even Young Earth Creationists (YEC) have to admit that the word is being used as more than one day (the text says “These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens” (ESV).

Verse 17 is also of great interest because it says, “…’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'” (ESV).

Did Adam die on the 24-hour day he ate of that tree? No. In fact, he and Eve went on to have children and raise them to some point. So again, we find that “day” is not referring to a 24 hour period.

But where is the transition? I don’t know. I think the question itself is confused because the word is used four times in the chapter, two of which cannot be 24-hour days.

5. What creative actions described in Genesis 1 require more than six 24-hour days to accomplish for a God Who creates ex nihilo?

The use of the word “require” is again extremely problematic. Of course any OEC would agree that God could create in any time period God wanted. God certainly could have created anything God wanted in any amount of time in which God wanted to. So no OEC that I know of would say that God required more time.

However, some OECs do argue that Adam may have needed more time to accomplish everything it is said he accomplished in the allotted times. Naming all the animals, given the untold thousands of species which exist, would have taken quite a bit of time. (Genesis 2:19 is still part of the sixth day because God is still creating and has not yet made woman.)

But, again, I do not think any OEC would say that the text “requires” God to use more than 24 hours.

dinofeeding6. Where else in Scripture is the word “day” used to designate billions of years?

Here we find yet another question that is just so incredibly off base that it is remarkable. Of course, the Bible does use the word “day” to denote that such a period, for the LORD, is like a thousand years. And the meaning of “like a thousand years” is debatable, but surely it is a long period of time [and much longer than 24 hours]. But the question of “billions of years” is just the wrong question. Again, the text is not trying to tell us how old the earth is.

If Wilken desires to dispute this, I would gladly ask him to present me with a verse in the Bible which sets the date of creation.

7. How are we to understand the connection between the six epoch-days of creation and the sanctification of a literal seventh day in Genesis 2:1-3 and Exodus 20:11?

I am often confused when YECs bring up this argument. Yes, Exodus 20:11 parallels Genesis 1-2 by having 7 days and denoting the seventh as a day of rest. Now, what about that somehow entails that they are exactly the same? I mean think about the Biblical categories of typology. Very often things correspond to each other but are not exactly the same. One might think of the use of Hosea 11:1 to Matthew 2:15. The passage in Hosea is clearly discussing the nation of Israel. In Matthew 2:15 it is applied to an individual, the Son of God. Does this automatically mean that in Hosea we must assume that “son” is being used in the same sense as “Son of God”? Obviously not. Then why ignore typological categories in other texts?

Okay, but how would an OEC answer this objection? By pointing out that the words “day” and “Sabbath” are used variably in the Pentateuch, so a direct 1 to 1 correlation is off-base. Sabbath, for example, may refer to the span of an entire year as opposed to just one day (Leviticus 25:4). Day may refer to a thousand years (Psalm 90:4).

8. Are there considerations outside the text of Genesis that require an old Earth?

I’m not sure if Wilken means to express the question of other texts, or whether he wishes to address the issue of extra-Biblical evidence.

Regarding the first possible meaning, again the answer would be “No.” I will continue to maintain that I know of no OEC who holds the Bible requires an old earth. Many would follow my own reasoning and note that the Bible isn’t trying to discuss time periods. That just isn’t a concern of the text.

9. According to the Old-Earth theory, what is the relationship between death and human sin? When did death enter the world?

Frankly, at this point it should be abundantly clear that Wilken has not interacted very much with the works of Old Earth Creationists. As was noted in the answer to question 3, many OECs hold to the special creation of Adam and Eve. Therefore, this question is similarly extremely easy to answer: human death entered the world because of sin.

A Major Issue

I think one of the main problems with Wilken’s comments are that he doesn’t seem to distinguish between Old Earth Creationists, Theistic Evolutionists, and the various varieties of design theorists. This leads him to a few confused questions which he directs towards OECs that make no sense when directed towards them. I admit that the series of questions here leads me to wonder whether Wilken is simply unaware of the distinctions between these groups or just over-simplifying and obfuscating. I suspect the former.*


I have endeavored to provide brief answers for the Nine Questions Wilken asks of Old Earth Creationists. I believe that some of the questions he asks demonstrate confusion about the actual category of Old Earth Creationism. Moreover, the questions that are on target have been answered repeatedly by various OECs. Whether these answers are taken as convincing is another story.

*It should be noted that Wilken’s article was published in 2002, which is prior to the works cited here. Therefore, Wilken could not have known about the works I have cited to show some of the difficulties with his paper. However, I cited these works specifically to show how mistaken these questions are. If one is going to attempt to educate concerned Christians about a topic like this, it is vastly important to be aware of the distinctions to be found within each group, and Wilken fails to show awareness of these distinctions. Moreover, we will explore Wilken’s very recent article next week, in which he continues to make these errors.


Hugh Ross, More Than a Theory (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2009).

Hugh Ross and Fazale Rana, Who Was Adam? (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2005).

Gerald Rau, Mapping the Origins Debate (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2012).

Todd Wilken, “Nine Questions for the Old Earth ‘Creationist,'” 2002.



The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from citations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

The Life Dialogue: Geocreationism Guest Post 2

This is part 2 of a thought-provoking series of guest posts by Mike Trutt on Geocreationism. Check out other posts on the “Life Dialogue” within Christianity here. View Part 1 here.

Mike Trutt is an evangelical Christian with a Jewish background. He believes the Bible is inspired by God, recorded by man, and given its life by the Holy Spirit. You can read about and discuss his Old Earth views on scripture, science, history, and other topics at his blog,

Geocreationism – Evolution and God

As the reader proceeds, I request an open mind. With many of my theories on Creation, I often get the question of “why”? I cannot always answer. But consider how often God does not explain Himself to you. Quite often, He tells us what He did and what He will do, and we have only to believe Him. Abram was promised a son in His old age. He believed God and it was accounted to Him as righteousness; Zechariah on the other hand laughed, and God shut him up mute until his son John the Baptist was born. And so I take a risk with Creation, attempting to be righteous and not mute, and trusting God’s hand will be gentle if I am wrong. If in the end you still need an answer as to “why” then I offer you this: whatever God did, it was for His glory.

= = =

Evolution is not an easy topic for Christians. Whatever the version, Evolution does not appear to require God any more than God requires Evolution. It is enough to keep atheists and Christians apart, but do not be fooled into picking sides. Such thinking is a trap of the enemy, as either choice is the result of a common theological fallacy… that God would not create using natural or “random” means. But, what if scripture showed otherwise?

Consider this passage in 1 Chronicles 14:15-16…

15 And when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then go out to battle, for God has gone out before you to strike down the army of the Philistines.” 16 And David did as God commanded him, and they struck down the Philistine army from Gibeon to Gezer.

God went before David to strike down the philistines; David’s armies went and struck down the philistines.  God and David took separate actions, yet accomplished the same defeat.  To say then that Evolution is false because God created everything is like saying that David did not achieve victory over the Philistines, because God obviously did. This not only limits God, it contradicts the plain meaning of scripture. If Evolution is true, then Biblically speaking, it is as much God’s instrument as David’s armies above. But, just as a secular historian may study the defeat above and see only David’s army, a scientist studying the species will only see mutation, adaptation, and Natural Selection… but the blindness of man does not negate what he sees any more than it equates to an absence of God.

= = =

On Day 1, God hovered over the deep.  As recorded in the size and age of the moon’s craters, meteor strikes devastated the earth’s early oceans, causing clouds and torrential rains throughout the world. From where God hovered in Genesis 1:2, the sun’s still-dim light could not be seen through the rain and clouds, and while the meteors continued it would be so.  With His pronouncement to “Let there be light,” the meteors ceased and the light of the sun pierced the darkness. This was 3.9 billion years ago. The rains would not yet stop, but an atmosphere would begin to form. There would now be sunlight, though the sun itself remained unseen.

On Day 2, the torrential rains continued to fall so hard, there was no perceivable separation between the clouds above and the seas below. With God’s declaration to “Let the waters separate from the waters,” the rains started to let up. Was Moses aware of these conditions when he wrote of them? Given their parallels with Egypt’s creation myths, I would say not. However, their alignment with modern secular scientific theories should be enough to give one pause.

On Day 3, the skies were still hazy and the world was still covered in water. God said to “let the water gather together in one place, and let dry ground appear.” Plate tectonics began around 2.4 billion years ago, as the earth hardened beneath the water and earthquakes thrusted the earth’s crust above the seas. God then said to “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.”

According to their various kinds? Most people take it to mean that the vegetation will be capable of reproduction. But examine the King James translation: “And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.” God specifically listed seeded plants. What of the non-seeded, specifically succulents and spores?

The Bible says the land produced seeded plants at God’s command. It reminds me of David’s victory above. God went before the land to produce seeded plants, and then the land went forth and produced seeded plants. And if the land’s production was as physical as David’s victory, then why be surprised that it left behind some trace? Why be surprised that production of seeded plants required spores and succulents to develop first, each giving way to the next? Why be surprised that God didn’t even wait for the seeded plants to appear before He moved into the sunset and starting His work on Day 4? That’s right. Seeded plants did not appear until 300 million years ago, long after Day 4, which we discuss below. But once again, God’s work for Day 3 was done. It was time for the land to do its work.

On Day 4, as algae and fungi made significant inroads on the land, God said “Let there be lights in the heavens to separate the day from the night.” Scientists believe the Oxygen of these primitive plants cleared up the sky around 1.9 billion years ago. The sun, moon, and stars could be seen clearly in the skies, when they had been completely obscured before.

Day 5’s pronouncement reads, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the skies.” Day 6 reads, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds,” and it goes on to list their groups. If interpreted as the initial appearance of sea life, birds, and land mammals, then Days 5 and 6 must overlap, because whales appeared after land mammals in the fossil record. Such overlap of Days is not Biblical, but through scientific discovery we can find a meaning that explains it.

65 million years ago, a giant meteor struck the earth. It is referred to as the KT impact, and it nearly decimated all life on the planet.  It killed nearly every dinosaur, bird, sea creature, and mammal around the world. According to the fossil record, the first to recover was sea life. Placing Day 5 after the KT impact, a time when mere life was scant but there, God’s pronouncement becomes apropos, “Let the water teem with living creatures.” Next would be the birds. Why? It was the first time in their existence when they had no natural predators. And, just as Day 3 began a process leading to seeded plants, so Day 5 began a process eventually leading to whales. But wait. This required a recovery of mammals on the land, because they are what eventually led to mammals in the seas. What of the mammals of Day 6? The most comon theories have these days overlap.

According to the fossil record, the mammals that evolved on Day 5 were almost wiped out around 33.5 million years ago, after the whales appeared. The event is called the Grand Coupure.  Then, almost as suddenly, the mammals that survived gave way to new varieties, the ones we see today, the ones listed in scripture: “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” Once again, the specificity of scripture, when compared with the discoveries of science, provides an answer.

= = =

It was hard to fit my treatise on Evolution into the word limitation of a blog, but I hope the point comes through, that secular science is useful and God is sovereign. The next installment will discuss the doctrine of Original Sin, and why death before Adam is compatible.

The Life Dialogue: Matt Moss Guest Post Part 3

This is part 3 of a series of guest posts by Matt Moss on the Genesis Creation account. Check out the first post here, and the second here.

Thesis 5Genesis 1 – 2 describes the whole of creation as God’s (pre-fall) Temple.

When examining the seven days of creation we see several factors that indicate something cultic (meaning religious) taking shape. The first three days show a forming of the earth which (in v. 2) was “without form.” In the second set of three days you see a filling of the earth which (in v. 2) was “void.” Walton, in keeping with his functional model suggests a better translation of these words tohu and bohu (without form and void). Similar to bara’ he provides a survey of tohu’s use in the Bible (bohu occurs three times, always with tohu) and shows that the word “describes that which is non-functional, having no purpose and generally unproductive in human terms (48-9).” In light of this, the state of tohu and bohu means that the earth has a functional non-existence. Thus, when God begins His bara’ work, the functional bringing into existence of all that He does, Genesis 1 wants us to see what purpose everything serves.

Examining the functions in Genesis 1 we will find many parallels to the religious life of ancient Israel as studied in Exodus, Leviticus, and the rest of the OT. I’d like to turn now to days 4 – 7 of the Genesis 1 account (1:14 – 2:3) to examine the indicators that the Genesis 1 cosmology is a temple cosmology.

Genesis 1:14-19 (ESV) – “And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.”

So let’s look at what functions these lights in the sky are given:

1) to separate the day from the night

2) to be for signs and for seasons (moed) and years

3) to give light upon the earth

4) to rule the day & night

5) to separate the light from the darkness

Now you may be asking yourself, “I don’t see anything here that is particularly temple focused. First I would like to point out that in a society where watches & clocks are not present, the Sun, Moon, and stars are what tell you when it is time to worship (they did so much more often than once a week). Second, we can see throughout the OT that specific days of specific months are given festivals and holidays. These were mapped out by using these very lights, after all that is their given purpose in point two, “to be for signs and for moediym and years.”

The word moed occurs 223 times in the OT, so we have a large cross section of uses to help us nail down the possible meanings and the intended meaning within this context. The basic lexical entry is “appointed time.” However it is important to note that in Exodus 23:15, God says, “You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread. As I commanded you, you shall eat unleavened bread for seven days at the moed in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt.” At the very beginning of the cultic/religious life of Israel upon exiting Egypt this word is tied to their religious festivals! Throughout Exodus, Leviticus, & Numbers moed is unanimously used in the phrase “tent of meeting (moed)” for the tent in the centre of the Tabernacle (the travelling version of the Temple before Solomon builds the first Temple). Now, beyond this there are countless uses of moed as “appointed time” in the worship life of Israel. I would thus maintain that Genesis 1 claims the functional purpose of the Sun, Moon, and stars is to indicate the daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly worship schedules of God’s people. In other words, when the ancient Israelite children asked their parents, “why is that moon shining in the sky?” the parents would answer in accord with Psalm 104:19 and say, “God made the moon to remind us when to observe the Feast of Passover and the other feasts/festivals.”

There is one more minor indicator that I would like to bring up when discussing the functional creation of Light. When we examine Genesis 1 as a Temple cosmology we realize just why something seemingly inconsequential like the Golden Lampstand (Ex. 25:31ff) is present in the Temple. Not only does it serve to light the room, but it is absolutely necessary to have this light in the Temple because this Temple reflects the Cosmic Temple corrupted in the Fall. If the Cosmic Temple has Light (Gen 1:3-5, 14-19) so must the Tabernacle/Temple have that Light (Ex. 25:31-40; 2 Chron 4:7).

Genesis 1:20-23- “And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” 21 So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.”

Granted, there is not much here that we would directly relate to the Temple if we did not first see that days 4-6 are paralleling days 1-3. Now, when we look back to verses 6-8 and read it in the light of other ancient Near Eastern cosmologies we see that on days two and four more than any other we find the physical shape of a temple. The Lutheran Study Bible footnote on these verses is very helpful in pointing out the structural/functional aspect of how the “expanse” works and the image it evokes. “The point of the image is the function rather than the substance: the sky serves as a divider. The Israelites often used figurative terms to describe the cosmos as it appeared to them (cf. Is 40:22, where the sky is described as a “curtain” and a “tent”).”

[Further expansion of thesis 5 coming later this week]

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