The Bible Project: Genesis 1-3 Read in Context

@swamidass : Yes, it’s not wrong :slight_smile: I’ve seen both in the scholarly literature, and some scholars are not consistent. I’ve seen 50 CE and the like (BCE / CE). AD has a Christian meaning, so if AD is used AD + number. If CE is used than it’s the number + CE. As long as one is consistent. I’ve also seen different universities from different countries do it differently. Same issues with punctuation, some universities follow some guidelines and I’ve seen MA theses and PhD dissertations with inconsistent usage of punctuation and other symbols (and yet were reviewed by Professors!).

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Oh right! LOL. Silly me. I actually meant 1000 BC to -1 BC :grinning:

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I told my kids this last week over dinner. They stared at me. I couldn’t tell if they were bored or fascinated.


Forgiven lol :wink:

:yum: Maybe confused?


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Epsiode 6, with John Walton! This one touches items that come up periodically. It’s a good one.

Cool, I’ll listen tomorrow evening
Thanks :+1:

Thank you Chad for sharing Genesis 1-2: Origins or Identity?

It was excellent. I’ve listened to Walton’s interviews and presentations since 2009/2010 and I really like this interview with Tim and Jon, as well as John C. Collins who was also present in this interview. He recounts how he grew up as a Christian and was always interested in Old Testament; how he got into college and could become a teacher/professor; and how he became a critical thinker during his PhD with his supervisor.

The OT is embedded into an ancient culture and now that we can study that ancient culture, it is essential to understanding and interpreting the OT more accurately. He explains, in discussion with John C. Collins during this interview, that (as an analogy) there is a difference between a house (physical manufacturing) and a home (functional setting and way of living and ordering the area with furniture, and choosing a bedroom location). The ancient Near Eastern literature, he argues, aligns with the Hebrew Bible in that “order” (and “function”) is what is frontloaded in the texts–not material origins. Genesis 1-2 is about the ordering of the home, not the materialistic origins of the house. Even if someone would argue that Gen. 1-2 contain some “house” elements, that is still not what is frontloaded in the texts and it’s still more accurately understood in the light of the ANE, not in the light of modern scientific discoveries, accuracy, and concerns.

He always repeats the analogy of “How did the play begin [in a theatre]?” asked by someone who arrives at a theater play late. Some in the audience, in the analogy, explain how the building was constructed in the 19xxs, and how the set was built, and how the cast was chosen. The person says to each, “no, I don’t want to know all of that, I want to know how the play began after the curtains opened!” Genesis 1 is about what happened after the curtains opened, and not about anything before that. This interpretation, by the way, is also based on the Hebrew Bible and the ANE as whole, but it’s equally rooted in solid textual evidence: it’s rooted in the grammar of Genesis 1:1-3! [they don’t talk about this detail in the interview, but these grammatical arguments are found in the scholarly literature on Genesis, it’s not lacking. The first creation act is not Genesis 1:1, it is actually Genesis 1:3… “Let there be light” after the waters were already there as well as, presumably, the earth!!!].

Therefore, as I’ve been echoing Hebrew and Semitic scholars for the past decade in person, YEC and OEC are misguided because they ignore the knowledge of the textual evidence throughout the Hebrew Bible as a whole and throughout the ancient Near East.

When they discuss Gen 1 vs Gen 2 —as to whether they are two different sources put side-by-side, or Gen. 2 was composed by the same who composed Gen .1 and meant to be read continuously after Gen. 1, or Gen 2. is a focus or recapitulation on Day 6 of Gen 1.—Walton prefers to see Gen 2. as a continuation of Gen. 1 but focusing on the terrestrial (Eden) level instead of the Cosmos level. I understand him, but this doesn’t technically tackle the doublets throughout Genesis. I wonder if he has written specifically on the doublets in some of his past works (I’ve read many articles and books from him). He is purposely choosing to read Gen 1-2 in a final, canonical form and choses this to be a reflection of real reality because later in the interview, he says that Gen. 1-2 can be read to be perceived to be compatible with many scientific views (no kidding, there are a variety of views within YEC, OEC (?), and BioLogos). This is where I would digress…One has to make a distinction between how the biblical text can or cannot reflect real reality in a critical way by identifying sources and dating the Hebrew Bible versus what the final canonical form of the text is doing in the narrative at large. The former method is proper in the debate of evolution vs creation, while the latter is proper for theological, textual exposition. The former is proper for juxtaposing Genesis next to science [to find out that the text is not doing science!], while the latter is proper for understanding Judeo-Christian theology against the wider ANE and Greco-Roman eras.

Remember, figuring out what the text is doing doesn’t mean it will reflect real reality as we uncover in modern science, and simply because some of views of origins (cosmological origins or human origins) seem to be compatible with a particular view of science and, loosely speaking, with Gen 1-2 doesn’t mean God or the authors/editors/compilers of Genesis meant the text to match any scientific view, precisely because they didn’t know science. If this were true—in other words, if one will invoke God and Inspiration–then we would have already established this throughout the rest of the Hebrew Bible (and the New Testament), but that is clearly not the case. Elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible, it doesn’t work this way. So why would Gen 1-2 be highly inspired and scientifically compatible, but not the rest of the Hebrew Bible?

Walton concludes saying that the HB is focused on Agency (God) and not mechanism (science). That is correct.

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Here is a good interview with Dr. Ronald Hendel:

How Old Is The Hebrew Bible - Dr. Ronald Hendel

I think all that Dr. Walton meant with this statement is that Genesis 1 and 2 do not conflict with science. It mirrors his house vs home analogy, the play analogy (the planet existed before the curtain opened on the story) and his distinction between agency and mechanism.

@swamidass, when your inverview drops tomorrow would you rather create a separate thread for that, or should I post it in this thread?

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Chad_the_LaymanChad Stewart



I think all that Dr. Walton meant with this statement is that Genesis 1 and 2 do not conflict with science. It mirrors his house vs home analogy, the play analogy (the planet existed before the curtain opened on the story) and his distinction between agency and mechanism.

Yes, correct. Gen 1-2 do not conflict with science. I stressed (myself), from an objective, research-based understanding thus far, that many scientific views appear to be compatible but they cannot all be correct. The text is primarily ancient Near-Eastern and not concerned with modern scientific evidence and understanding. Therefore, the fact that the text does not conflict with science at a textual, narratival level is not evidence–or does not prove in and of itself–that the text matches any of those scientific views. This is what we must consider, which Walton never specifically clears up. And that’s fine, but then I do it. I am a believer, but as a non-professional researcher, I want to be honest with the evidence from the data.

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Probably a new thread.

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Surprisingly the episode with me did not come out. I sent them a note to learn what happened. Maybe they decided to put it into a different series…

Ah! Let us know, Chad and I should be on the lookout.

From the Bible Project:

This may sound strange, but I woke up Monday morning and was also surprised myself that your interview didn’t pop in my podcast feed! I found out (!) that we aired the Psalm 148 episode because we launched our Psalm 148 video today, and the podcast team likes to pair up new videos with podcasts whenever possible.

So then, your interview airs next Monday, and will be followed by an audience Q&R episode. In the future, the episodes will all be bundled together as a series, so the speed bump is only related to the release calendar.

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And here it is: Swamidass on The Bible Project