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Monday, January 14, 2008

Time and Genesis

In the Interpreter's Bible on Genesis (v. 1 1952 ed.) page 1:5

"There can be no question but that by Day the author meant just what we mean--the time required for one revolution of the earth on its axis. Had he meant an aeon he would certainly, in view of his fondness for great numbers, have stated the number of millenniums each period embraced. While this might have made his account of creation less irreconcilable with modern science, it would have have involved a lessening of God's greatness, one sign of which was his power to do so much in one day."

I thought of this quote when I read John's post on 'time' and its implications for our understanding of God and his acts.


Eric said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Watcher said...

You may be interested in this essay: on Genesis and Creation Myths.

Eric said...

Thanks for the link. Others may be interested in a more 'generic' site on ANE myths.

Eric said...

Re-done comment that I deleted (too many typos!! grr)

I should enlarge, that Simpson's comments on Genesis (he being the contributor to the Interpreter's Bible edition I quoted) diverge from von Rad's in that Simpson sees a reflection of ANE origin myths, where von Rad does not. I think I read in that a rather uncritical 'religious evolution' program on Simpson's behalf.

Going further, and contrary to Simpson, I think one could identify in Evolution’s basic story resemblances to pagan origins tales. The striking resemblance is that destruction and death is the engine of development, whether it is the angry gods or the death of the unfit. This alignment between the two pagan manifestations sets them in stark contrast to the loving action of God who creates, and makes (separating out in a precise manner: lapidary, as von Rad puts it) to produce the garden: a place of peace and delight.

I think the contrast between the real world coming from the hand of God (and therefore being ultimately personal) and it coming from 'material' or angry gods could not be more dramatic.

Another thing I see in all pagan tales is that they are conceptualised within an existing cosmos, at some level. Of all origins texts, it is only the Genesis account that deals with the origin per se. Even the 'big bang' theory must nominally conceptualise a cosmos of sorts to host the 'bang', else it comes mystically from nothing. And they say we are clutching at straws!!

Watcher said...

I would suggest that all the creation myths (including evolution!) not only presuppose a cosmos, but they rely on the fallen cosmos. Only Genesis stands above them by setting out creation from nothing, and delineating the fall, giving us the result we now experieince.

The theological (or contra-positively, the counter atheological) implications of this would be a worthy topic to explore. Any comments?