A Game-Changer in the Genesis 1-2 Debates

John Walton’s several publications on Genesis 1-2 are the biggest game-changer in the whole discussion. What Walton does is simply claim, on the basis of Ancient Near Eastern parallels, that these texts are not about God creating materials out of nothing but instead about God assigning functions to the elements of the universe. We can be grateful for his summary “Reading Genesis 1-2 as Ancient Cosmology,” in J. Daryl Charles, Reading Genesis 1-2: An Evangelical Conversation. Here are John Walton’s major points:

1. To read an ancient text ethically, it must be read for its intention (illocution). The genre of Genesis 1-2 is “ancient cosmology.” So those who call it “theological history” or “narrative” or “history” are not giving the text the full genre classification it deserves. Ancient cosmologies can be histories and they can not be histories. It all depends on the text itself.

2. To read Genesis 1-2 well one must read it in the context of the ANE. Some dispute this — what they are often doing is say “I don’t know those texts” or “That’s scholarly elitism” or “That means the ground is crumbling under me” — but the point is inescapable. God speaks in those days in those days ways — God doesn’t speak to ancients in ways that reflect our concerns (this is narcissistic reading).

3. The intent of Genesis 1 is functional ontology and not material ontology. That is, what happens in this text is God assigns and names functions to pre-existing materials so that all of creation is ordered as God wants it. Walton here also says Genesis 2 is functional ontology (woman, for instance, is an equivalent, etc).  Walton here provides translations of important ANE texts to show how others in that world thought. A must-read.

4. The overall impact of Genesis 1 is that God makes the created world into a cosmic temple and God then rests in that temple because it is now ready to do what God designed it to do.

5. The church began to misread these texts through the impact of Hellenism and Greek materialistic thinking.

6. The Adam and Eve of Genesis 1-2 are archetypal. This says nothing about historicity. What Paul does with Adam and Eve is much like what Hebrews does with Melchizedek: both history and development.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • http://redmarkedward.com/ Mark Edward

    I would love for Walton (or someone else) to write a follow up to Lost World of Genesis One on Genesis 2-11.

  • wolfeevolution

    How very frustrating that this book is not yet available for Kindle. Any hints that that might change?

  • Charles Roberts

    Walton’s “Lost World of Genesis 1″ was truly a game-changer in my life and my father’s life. It provided fresh perspective and new language for our on-ongoing but rarely progressing dialogue on the subject, moving both our dialogue and our understanding of one another forward. I am anxious to add this new title to our growing library of shared reading.

  • Orton1227

    The thing I think he’s not factoring in is the time of the writing of Genesis 1 & 2. Yes, these stories were passed down orally for generations and centuries, but probably not written down until Israel’s return from Babylonian exile. There are a number of anachronistic things about Genesis (most notably, pre-mature appearances of the Philistines), so we know it was put in print much later than when it happened, and that there was some “shaping” and interpretation done by the author(s). Therefore, it’s very possible that Genesis 1 & 2 were “shaped” and written down with biased eyes.

  • Orton1227

    Try “Genesis For Normal People” by Peter Enns and Jared Byas. It’s great.

  • Jordan Fowler

    When I first read his work, it both blew my mind and allowed me a way to take both science and text at full-value for their findings. Paradigm shifting.

  • DonaldByronJohnson

    Walton is certainly required reading. He also has some great videos on the web.

  • Chris Crawford

    Lost World was the first book I’ve read that definitively showed the ANE reading of Genesis 1 making more sense than the modern literal reading without bringing modern science into the mix. I’ve seen it resonate with quite a few people who know nothing of science but had held onto the creationist views by default.

    I regard it as one of the most important modern books because, ultimately for most Christians, the question of creation is not about science but about the bible and can’t be resolved by science alone.

  • Benjamin Rhodes

    I have read the Lost World of Genesis 1 and also parts of Genesis 1 as ancient cosmology, but I have not read about Walton’s take on Genesis 2. Can someone list the sources for Walton’s take on Genesis 2?

  • Susan Ramsey

    I love point four – “God makes the created world into a cosmic temple and then God rests in that temple…” It reminds me of a now published dissertation I drew upon in my dissertation, Jared Calaway’s “The Sabbath and the Sanctuary: Access to God in the Letter to the Hebrews and its Priestly Context.” He discusses the intersection of sacred space and time. It was important for my dissertation as I worked on the Sabbath & Rest (in the theology of Ps-Macarius) chapter. Here is a link to Calaway’s book published by Mohr-Siebeck: http://www.mohr.de/en/nc/theology/series/detail/buch/the-sabbath-and-the-sanctuary.html and here’s a link to a nice blog post by David Larsen which originally informed me of Calaway’s dissertation: http://www.heavenlyascents.com/2011/06/11/heavenly-sabbath-heavenly-sanctuary-jared-calaways-phd-dissertation-online/

  • mark

    Looks like Walton has some very constructive things to say, and thanks to Scot for the excellent summary.

    At the end of The Lost World of Genesis One, in the FAQ section, Walton raises the important question: “If this [Walton's] reading is the ‘right’ reading, why didn’t we know about it until now?” In his answer to the question, Walton points out that the worldview of Genesis was “lost” as “thinking changed over thousands of years.” Unfortunately, he doesn’t go into any detail at that point about the process of change in which the worldview of “antiquity” was lost. However, in that regard, it’s well worth noting that Walton (unsurprisingly) is familiar with the work of Mircea Eliade and Frank Moore Cross.

    For anyone interested in how the worldview of “antiquity” changed into the worldview of modernity, the works of those two authors are IMO essential. Importantly, each in his own way points out the close relationship of what we, through the Greeks, have come to call “philosophy” with the worldview of antiquity that we find in Israelite thought. Cross, for example, distinguishes between cosmological and theogonic myths and points out the close relationship between these Ancient Near Eastern forms of thought and the thought of the early Greek Milesian thinkers like Thales (all is water, etc.). Eliade for his part notes that Plato’s thought amounts to a sort of attempt at systematizing this ancient worldview into a conceptual framework–which has to a great and under appreciated extent become the default conceptual framework for Western culture.

    What I’m saying is that Walton’s work, when viewed from this standpoint, has implications that go far beyond “exegesis.”

  • Norman

    Could it possibly be that Genesis is a theological writing first and foremost using the ANE cosmological framework that prevailed at the times? Genesis was likely a 2nd T piece of literature and was exploited Theologically by the Enoch and Jubilee’s writers to name a few. They also incorporated Hebrew and Greek attributes in developing a further narrative. Genesis appears to be a compilations of multiple ANE cosmological incorporations where the author picked and chose to flavor the story. I think Walton has been helpful for sure in moving the focus away from the material but I think he stops way short of conclusions that can be derived. As an example in Revelation we see the same literary approach by that author when in Chapter 21 there is a de-creation of the cosmology of Genesis 1 items such as the Sea, the Sun and the moon. They exist no more in the New Heavens and earth established under the New Covenant of Christ in which the City requires no physical Temple but the new Cosmic Temple established in our hearts. That is where God dwells in the New cosmic H & E.
    ***************************************************************

  • http://www.faithmeetsworld.com/ Rob Grayson

    Thanks for this, Scot. Another one to add to my expanding reading list…

  • Andrew Holt

    I read “Lost World of Genesis 1″ in conjunction with John Oswalt’s “The Bible Among the Myths”, and these two books totally revolutionized the way I approach the OT. The main takeaway from Myths was the idea of Continuity, which was the ANE view of reality in which all realms (gods, humans, nature) are intimately connected and interrelated. What YHWH is trying to teach the Hebrews, however, is that he is the only god and that he is transcendent, meaning he cannot be manipulated by pagan worship practices. This idea, along with Walton’s book, really helped me to understand, not just the text of the OT, but the God behind it.

  • Matt Parkins

    I have the Lost world of Genesis 1 on my kindle, buddy!

  • nopaniers

    Me too.

  • Tom Howard

    I believe that Walton may intentionally not conclude….saying that you don’t have to conclude one way or the other with this reading-you have some freedom there. So we don’t have to get in a wad over a final conclusion re: faith and science. It was a game changer for me for sure in that it sort of confirms that the Bible isn’t about me but it is all about God. So I wait for so much more to come.

  • josenmiami

    interesting stuff. ANE? After a few minutes of thought I guessed “Ancient Near East.” Am I close? I guess that must be an insiders acronym … not used much in my discipline.

  • Jarrid Hawkins

    Yes “ANE” is ancient near east.

  • Mike Mercer

    Walton is indeed a game-changer, and I embrace what he writes, but I still think there is more that must be changed. There is still far too little in-depth discussion about how these texts introduce the Torah and speak to the story of Israel. The O.T. we have was edited and put together to speak to Israel’s profound theological- and identity-shaking experience of the Babylonian Captivity. Genesis 1-11 introduces the story that led to that climactic event. What does the story of God forming his cosmic temple, told in ANE format, say about Israel and her experience?

  • ao

    One source would be his NIV Application Commentary on Genesis.

  • Trin

    I am most convinced that our creation story is about worldview. Given the recent exodus and the questions the Israelites would have been asking, it makes the most sense of the context.

  • wolfeevolution

    That’s great… Do you know, is Walton’s chapter under discussion here in _Reading Genesis 1-2: An Evangelical Conversation_ (which is *not* available on Kindle) merely a recap of what he wrote in Lost World of Genesis 1? If I just get what you have, will I be missing any of the argument Scot outlines above?

  • Norman

    Tom,

    Walton is a very good theologian and IMO should have drawn some conclusions that I believe are obvious from his examination of Genesis. I’m more interested in the theology one can derive than from the science discussion which to me is just a sidebar attraction. When you couple Walton’s work with G. K. Beale’s work on the “Temple and the Church’s Mission” you can end up with a synthesis that can really lay some light on the intent of OT and NT writings. Walton is not ignorant of this work yet he like Beale still bow to the pressures of the Evangelical groups who limit their work. Beale though is likely more comfortable with the evangelical constraints than is Walton. When you realize that creation work is “functional” you have to ask yourself what that meant to the authors and why do they employ such approaches. Especially since it lasted into the writing of Revelation in the NT for at least 500 years. If a biblical scholar is worth his salt then he has to ask the question about why the Revelation writer was de-creating what was created in Genesis 1. The answer is pretty obvious unless you are an evangelical tied to literal interpretations of Revelation. That makes no sense because Walton has already broken the mold of Genesis being read literarily so why the constraint in reading Revelation in the same manner. The reason in my opinion is that evangelical’s can tolerate you messing around with Genesis more than they can with Revelation and so they (evangelical scholars) let sleeping dogs lie and go with the status quo in Revelation. A prime example is N. T. Wright who rightly recognizes that Genesis Garden language should not be taken literally but he ditches that approach in Revelation and believes that Paradise lost in Genesis is going to be restored in Revelation. In my opinion that is a severe case of disconnect by a preeminent biblical scholar and hurts his credibility when it gets down to it. Scholars who work for evangelical groups or write books geared toward that crowd are always going to have their hands tied whether consciously or subconsciously. I simply want to see scholars who can remain consistent; but I set too high a bar because effectively no one does when it comes to biblical scholarship. Those that try their hand at consistency pay the price. Ask Enns or Waltke to name just a couple who dabbled their toes in an attempt.

  • Tom Howard

    Ah, yes. . . but if all met the Hi-Bar. . . how boring the discussions in the Big Tent would be.

  • Kyle Fever

    I’ve been using Walton for the past couple of years, teaching an undergrad “Intro to the Bible” class at Wartburg College in Iowa. I use chapters from Walton’s book “Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament.” He covers essentially the same material, making the same arguments there, but in a very helpful format that allows room for students to arrive at some of the important conclusions on their own. When presented and explained well, while also allowing students to do their own investigation and draw some of their own conclusions vis-a-vis Walton, it is extremely effective in the classroom. The chapter on ancient historiography also can be very effective for students (and interested readers).

  • Abib14

    My belief is that the Genesis 1 – 2 narrative is the account of two creations. Genesis 1:1 – 2:3 being the narrative of spiritual creation, “in the beginning God created the heavens and earth,” note that heavens is mentioned first in Genesis 1:1.

    The Genesis 2:4-25, actually Genesis 2:4 – Revelation 22:21 account, being the narrative of human or earthly or fleshly or physical creation. The first two clauses of Genesis 2:4 being the transition from spiritual to physical creation and Genesis 2:4c “In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens” being the beginning of the physical creation narrative, notice earth is mentioned first.

    But there is a problem with all interpretation of the Old Testament. That being the written Hebrew all consonant language with all the various pointers providing the interpretation of the written or inscribed word. Interpret a pointer and the Hebrew word could mean one thing, interpret the pointing yowd another way and the Hebrew word could mean something entirely different. Why else would the Lord tell Moses,

    Exodus 17:4 ESV – Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write
    this as a memorial in a book and recite it in the ears of Joshua, that I
    will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.”

    Joshua had to hear the words of the Book to know what Moses written words meant … but that Book was eventually lost and re-found during the reign of Josiah. During the years and years and years of time that the Book was lost, nobody heard the words Joshua recited to the next generation, the meanings of the words were lost. And Hebrew tradition is now “guessing” at what all those various pointers actually mean, as are those analyzing the various Old Testament versions in Hebrew.

    During the reign of the young King Josiah when Josiah heard the words of the Book read to him, the one reading the Book had to interpret those pointers and logic would suggest that interpreter was guessing the meaning of the words since no one in Israel had heard the words for some time. And the same is true of modern day interpretations of the Hebrew Old Testament, the various interpreters are guessing what the words really mean.

    The same thing is found in today’s Islam. Mohammed did not write down one word, and the traditions passed down to this generation are guesswork interpretations by the various imams and that is why there are differing interpretations of the Koran.

  • mark273

    I too really enjoyed Walton’s book. I also have heard him speak. But I have a question that I was not able to ask him that perhaps someone can answer. I get that Genesis 1 does not refer to material origins, but rather to functions. God is creating or ordaining functions. But my question is, does Genesis 1 refer to an historical event? Was there a place in time when God “created the functions” of the world? Or is Genesis 1 with its description of the creation of functions simply a theological reflection on the meaning of those functions? I don’t have an axe to grind either way, it would just help me to know how he or we understand this in light of this new interpretation.

  • John Walton

    Coming in 2014: The Lost World of Adam and Eve

  • John Walton

    See new book: Lost World of Scripture

  • John Walton

    What is happening is
    that people and God are moving in to the home they will share. It all begins to
    function when people in God’s image come on the scene and when people “move in”—as
    an origins account, this is the story of the origins of the home, not the
    origins of the house. So it is more than just praise–it is inauguration of
    sacred space. It is much more than a psalm though it involves praise. For
    people, they are either the first ever in God’s image, or, by another model, their
    status is changing from furniture to guests. For God, though he is technically already
    there (his omnipresence), something has changed. Yes, God is everywhere, but it
    is a different thing to have his presence manifested such that sacred space is
    created. Something happened when
    God’s Presence came into the tabernacle or Temple and this would be similar.

  • John Walton

    See new book, Four Views on the Historical Adam

  • RJS4DQ

    John,

    Looks like lots of material for upcoming posts, with three not yet out books. I’ll have to wrestle Scot for them. (He’ll win.)

  • John Walton

    In Reading Genesis 1-2 there is much more discussion of Adam and Eve. Even more in Four View of Historical Adam.

  • http://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/ jesuswithoutbaggage

    A volume that I found very useful over the years is ANET (Ancient Near Eastern Texts) available from Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Ancient-Eastern-Relating-Testament-Supplement/dp/0691035032/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1378301348&sr=8-1&keywords=ANET.
    I have referred to it often.

  • http://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/ jesuswithoutbaggage

    Thanks for the head’s up on this volume!

  • Norman

    Tom, actually it would liven things up quite a bit. But IMO theologians aren’t prone to having too lively a discussion :)

    As an example the prophets predicted that there would be a renewed Heavens and Earth at the time of messiah in places like Isaiah 65-66. That calls for another functional creation exercise on the part of God which IMO is exactly what happened at Christ coming. The Heavens and Earth were reordered to accommodate a new way for God’s people to walk with Him. We see the Hebrew NT writer delving into this when he says that the H & E will be rolled up like a garment through Christ and then he states that the H & E will be shaken and changed just like it happened with Moses. Most people think this is talking about a physical Heaven on earth when its simply about setting up a new world order for God’s people. This stuff really has simple concepts that get confusing because of the veiled language these ancients used and were used to where we Greek influenced folks are not. All that Revelatin 21 is saying about the H & E is the same that the prophets predicted would occur with the full establishment of Christ Kingdom. People like the early Jews still want a physical understanding and just can’t get their minds around the concept that Christ Kingdom was going to be of the “Spirit”.
    Lk 17:20 Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”

  • gregmetzger

    Thanks for this heads up Scot. I knew he had done the book but hadn’t read it. Great summary.

  • gregmetzger

    Great points. So, so true.

  • gregmetzger

    Charlie Hummel said some similar things decades ago, but not in as depth a way. His book really helped me when I was in college.

  • gregmetzger

    I just saw this in the IVP catalog I got today!!

  • gregmetzger

    HOw does your take on Genesis 1-2 differ from Charlie Hummel’s many years back in his book on Galileo with IVP? That book really helped me when I was in college.

  • John Walton

    Hummel uses the same basic hermeneutic that I do with an emphasis on the meaning of the ancient author. On the interpretation of the text, however, he is more similar to Jack Collins–analogical days and semi-poetic/figurative language in a polemic against the ANE. He does not reflect the emphasis that I have on functional rather than material or on the cosmos as sacred space.

  • gregmetzger

    Thanks, John. I remember you from my days at IVP in the 90s. Glad you are well. I worked with Don Stephenson and BJ Heyboer in the marketing end of things. Great memories. Glad you will have the new book out in 2014. I had just gotten their catalog and seen that listed. Blessings.

  • John Walton

    Lost World of Scripture was in the recent catalog and is coming out this November; Lost World of Adam and Eve is due out late in 2014 (if I can get moving on writing it!)

  • artbysarah

    I am curious what you think about C. S. Lewis’s “Myth Became Fact” (found in the book God in the Dock). Thanks.

  • Chris Van Allsburg

    May I ask how archetype and history are bifurcated here? My understanding is that an archetype is a model from which all subsequent models are copied and made. It seems to me that labeling Adam, Eve and Melchizedek as such attempts to resolve the problems of historicity wrought by biological evolution. But even in the Darwinian literature, there is talk of a mitochondrial Eve. That is, there is talk of an original homo sapiens sapiens from which all humans come. Thanks for your help.

  • Nate

    None of this is new, at least in this sense – M.M. Kline did
    some original research on ANE and the covenant but was not compelled by the
    evidence to bifurcate history and archetype. Indeed, when scholars were asking
    him to deny the historicity of Adam and Eve, he refused on the basis of the
    analogy of Scripture. So let’s not couch things in terms of ANE as though
    this ‘new data’ compels all thoughtful theologians to change. I believe
    this is done largely for reasons of science, which I do not think is negative
    in and of itself, but in the past the church has navigated storms poorly, e.g.,
    Galileo, and ‘waiting’ isn’t always to be equated with waffling. I prefer
    the more cautious route. The excitement over ANE is fueling a bandwagon
    with the end result that somehow caution should be set aside. When
    leaving questions of historicity open is called a ‘neurotic’ read of Scripture,
    then it’s time to slow the excitement down and let scholarship run its course.
    We should not dogmatically isolate scholars on the issues surrounding
    historicity. Evangelicals were right to pose historical issues when
    neo-orthodoxy did not seem to care, that somehow history doesn’t matter.
    That was a bad path then, and it is no less so now. History does matter.

  • http://redmarkedward.com/ Mark Edward

    Do you mean Meredith G. Kline?

  • http://redmarkedward.com/ Mark Edward

    I nearly went to Wartburg. Good to know there’s good profs over there.

  • Mary

    “But even in the Darwinian literature, there is talk of a mitochondrial Eve. That is, there is talk of an original homo sapiens sapiens from which all humans come”

    I suggest you try going to another source other than creationist sites. What the science says is very different than what they portray.

    From Wikipedia:

    “In the field of human genetics, Mitochondrial Eve, who is estimated to have lived approximately 140,000–200,000 years ago, refers to the matrilineal most recent common ancestor (MRCA) of all currently living anatomically modern humans. In other words, she was the most recent woman from whom all living humans today descend, on their mother’s side, and through the mothers of those mothers, and so on, back until all lines converge on one person. Because all mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) generally (but see paternal mtDNA transmission) is passed from mother to offspring without recombination, all mtDNA in every living person is directly descended from hers by definition, differing only by the mutations that over generations have occurred in the germ cell mtDNA since the conception of the original “Mitochondrial Eve”.

    Mitochondrial Eve is named after mitochondria and the biblical Eve.[2] Unlike her biblical namesake, she was not the only living human female of her time. However, her female contemporaries, except her mother, failed to produce a direct unbroken female line to any living woman in the present day.”

    I suggest you also look up “Adam” who lived in a different era than “Eve”

  • http://www.naturalspirituality.wordpress.com/ Howard Pepper

    Does he comment about the relation of Genesis to the Gilgamesh Epic and other ANE texts that clearly pre-date the Bible? If Genesis is revelation by God, how can we easily conclude that other earlier accounts are NOT? (Maybe some don’t, but most certainly don’t treat them like revelation or seek their inclusion in a scriptural “canon”.)

  • http://www.naturalspirituality.wordpress.com/ Howard Pepper

    I haven’t read Lost World or other similar books, nor much on creationism, evolution, etc. But having studied the Bible, theology and biblical backgrounds extensively, it long ago became clear to me that not only Genesis but the rest of the Pentateuch could not be taken anywhere close to literally. For centuries we misunderstood its genre and method of construction. One great book showing the need, around a dozen or more years ago, for an alternate to both creation and evolution paradigms is by the late brilliant Native American, Vine Deloria: “Evolution, Creationism and Other Modern Myths”.

    Within my exposure, the best paradigm within which to construct a sub-paradigm to account for the emergence of life and humans is Christian process theology. Mr. (Dr.?) Walton, do you refer to or treat the process view of creation and of how God creates?

  • http://www.naturalspirituality.wordpress.com/ Howard Pepper

    I sure can’t see ANY need for “slowing down”. Theology is already the slowest crawling of any major discipline, as is the Church in general. While the “ANE” awakening is NOT new, indeed, it IS among some (and fortunate it’s happening there, also).

    Especially at the pace of change via science and information technology, etc. these days, the danger of “too-slow” is much greater than “too-fast” in my view. Yes, people need time to adjust, I fully get that – needed it myself, tho I’m unusually curious and always-seeking. But if they look at the history of theology, of “historical critical” study of the Bible, along with literalist tradition, they will see where the momentum is and is taking us (very fortunately and for our benefit, to the best of my understanding, studiously arrived at.)

  • gregmetzger

    I thought of this post and the discussion about it here when I read Pope Francis’ meditation on Genesis at the Peace Vigil today. Very moving. http://debatingobama.blogspot.com/2013/09/popes-challenge-conquer-your-deadly.html

  • Westcoastlife

    John Walton views Gen. 1 as God ordering, and then moving into his Temple, something the ancients believed their god/esses did. He uses the analogy of a house. He shows a picture of a house under construction, to show how we read Genesis. In modern times, we think God is at the construction phase of the earth in Gen. 1. To the ancients, the world was there, already. It is a story about God moving in – here a good picture would be moving-day – with God directing the movers to place the objects (already created) here or there. In the ancient world, god/desses took about a week to move in (depending on which number that culture thought was holy), So there a seven days where God orders the world the way he wants it. Setting things in their place wasn’t creating them, but assigning them functions/spots. Humans are placed last, and a central (just the way idols were placed last and were the focal point in other ANE temples). Humans are made in the image of God. Idols were made in the image of their god/desses. To the ancients, Genesis reveals God’s temple is earth and he is moving in.

  • Anne Vyn

    John, I’m excited about your upcoming book on Adam and Eve.

    I’m wondering if you can briefly comment on the complementarian argument that seeks to ground a patriarchal/hierarchal gender role theology into the Genesis 1-2 passage.

    As I explain below, the descriptions surrounding Adam and Eve seem to point forward to the Redemptive work of Jesus Christ on behalf of His Bride, the Church.

    1) Adam’s roles of “serving and guarding” (described in Genesis 2 prior to the creation of Eve) were High Priestly in nature as he was a “Pattern” of the 2nd Adam, our Great High Priest (Romans 5).

    The traditional and simplistic assumption that Adam’s priestly “roles” were automatically inherited by ALL men and husbands (as complementarians suggest) does not take into account that ONLY the Levites were entrusted with the priestly responsibilities (of serving and guarding) as Adam was.

    Confining Adam’s priestly roles to the male gender actually undermines the all-inclusive nature of the gospel message which has established the Priesthood of ALL believers (male/female, Jew/Gentile, slave/free).

    EVERY believer is now qualified and called “to serve and guard” in the same priestly fashion as the first Adam did. As a woman in Christ, I am being conformed into the image of the 2nd Adam, my heavenly Bridegroom. I am NOT being conformed into the image of Eve.

    In light of the amazing Temple imagery portrayed in Genesis and echoed again in Revelation, I am convinced that Genesis 1-3 was never intended to be about gender roles. It was intended to be all about REDEMPTION, about the Lamb slain from the foundations of the world (Rev. 13:8), and about a portrait of the eternal Temple, the New Jerusalem.

    2) Eve (the Bride of the 1st Adam) represents the Church (the Bride of the 2nd Adam).

    As Eve was birthed from Adam’s “wounded” side so also the Church is birthed from the wounded side of the 2nd Adam. Both Adams were put into a state of death in order that their Bride could be created and have Life (the first Adam’s death being called a “deep sleep”: Gen.2:21).

    The term “Helper” is also used to describe the role of the Holy Spirit who indwells both men and women (as the Bride of Christ). As “Helpers” of our heavenly Bridegroom, we carry out our Priestly mission on behalf of our Great High Priest.

    When the apostle Paul references Eden in Ephesians 5:31 and 32, I believe he was reminding husbands that they were to see themselves in the role of Eve, NOT Adam. “This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church”.

  • John Walton

    My view is very similar to yours. Email me at john.walton@wheaton.edu and I will gladly send you a paper that I recently presented on Genesis and Gender.

  • Nate

    Howard, I agree the church on one level should not slow down. I’ve read where the church remains a decade or so behind cultural trends. However, when it does it engage, it often does so uncritically and swiftly. What we need is critical engagement on the cusp of change, not a delayed acquiescence to cultural currents.

  • Nate

    Yes, my apologies. I believe MM is his son.

  • Chris Van Allsburg

    Thanks, Mary. I think. Wiki? Do you have any other sources to recommend?

  • http://www.naturalspirituality.wordpress.com/ Howard Pepper

    I heartily (yet sadly, for scholarship’s sake) agree. Norman, can you elaborate on Waltke as an example? I know a fair amount about Enns’ situation and read his blog on occasion. Do you mean Bruce Waltke? And where did he presumably get “into trouble”, and over what? (Not sure I can get alerts on your reply… you can email me at howiepep at cox dot net.)


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X