The Lost World of Genesis One

I’ve just finished an interesting book entitled The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2009).

In it, the author, John H. Walton, an Evangelical professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College, just outside of Chicago, argues that Genesis 1 isn’t talking about the material origins of life and the cosmos but about their “functional” origin as the celestial temple.

I’m not even pretending to do justice to his position, but it’s of considerable interest from a Latter-day Saint point of view.  And, although he claims (and I think his claim is believable) that his principal goal has simply been to properly interpret the Hebrew text of Genesis 1, he also points out that his position, if accepted, would essentially eliminate the perception of a conflict between Genesis and contemporary science.  From his vantage point, Genesis and science don’t clash over the age of the earth because Genesis has nothing to say about the age of the earth.

It’s an accessible book — there is, I believe, a more academic volume by Professor Walton on the same topic, which I intend to read soon — that will resonate with interested Mormon readers.  His references to the association of gardens with temples, to the account in Genesis 1 as a temple text meant for regular ritual repetition, and etc., will be new to many, but, in a way, not at all surprising.

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