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« Materialism Can't Explain Our World | Main | The Extraordinary Nature of Murder and the Evidence for God »

March 21, 2013


Another great read is Ronald Nash's "The Gospel and the Greeks."

John Currid from RTS Charlotte, is writing this book which will be a great addition to this discussion.

Thanks for those suggestions!

I do take issue with a couple of Tom Gilson's points.

First there is the issue of how one defines myth. Gilson follows Oswalt in defining myth in terms of continuity: "that wherever we came from, in many ways it’s a lot like where we are." Seeing continuity as the primary characteristic of myth seems reductionistic given the wide-ranging debate among scholars just on the meaning of "myth."

Second, according to Oswalt (via Gilson) Genesis is unique in providing a definite beginning. By definite beginning does he mean creation ex nihilo? If so I don't think Genesis 1 teaches that. Scholars make a compelling case that Genesis 1:1-2 should be translated "In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was unformed and unfilled..." This is creation through forming preexisting stuff, not creation ex nihilio.

Third, while the Old Testament constantly holds up YHWH as the only God Israel should worship, most of these scriptures assume the existence of other gods. Possible exceptions would be late exilic and post-exilic writings. This is henotheism rather than monotheism.

To those interested in pursuing this topic further, I highly recommend Mark S. Smith's book The Priestly Vision of Genesis 1. He provides a good discussion of the definition of myth and whether or not Genesis 1 should be classified as such.

Caleb, I see quite a few assumption here, but to keep this short, I'll mentioned that you, and all else should take a look at "Word's and Meanings Concerning Many "Gods" (Chapter 9) in Vern Poythress' Inerrancy and Worldview.

Scholars make a compelling case that Genesis 1:1-2 should be translated "In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was unformed and unfilled..."'s not all that compelling, since few reputable translations go that way. I only know of two. The first is the Common English Bible...the child of the most liberal Protestant churches in the United States. The second is the New Revised Standard Version...the choice of godless academia and the product of the National Council of Churches...that unholy alliance of the Hierarchical Churches and Protestant Liberalism.

The Gold Standard, the New American Standard Bible, of course, does not translate the passage as "when God created...".

The point of saying "when God created" is to trick the reader into thinking "when God was creating". They want you to drift from a verb form in the perfect tense to one in the imperfect tense. An easy slide to make in English, not so much in more inflected languages.

That is, the point of the move is to trick the reader into thinking of the creative act it describes as an ongoing act in the past...not a completed act in the past. That way you can say that God was creating the world from that (pre-existing) formless and void stuff described in verse 2.

But if God's creative act in verse 1 is completed (as the perfect tense demands), then what you get is that God created the world from nothing in verse 1, but what He created started out as formless and void as described in verse 2. He then fixed it up as described in subsequent verses.

Even if you say "when God created" in verse 1, as long as you recognize that the verb is describing an act that's over and done with, you can't get to the idea that God created the world from pre-existing formless and void stuff.

And the verb used in Gen 1:1 does describe an act that's over and done with...not ongoing. It is in the perfect tense, not imperfect.

The verb in the exact form, "bara", is used 5 other times in the OT all in reference to God's creation. Twice in Gen. 1:27, once in Gen. 2:3 and once in Deut. 4:32.

The NASB is, of course, consistent in translating it as "created" or "had created" in all cases.

The CEB and NRSV don't use "when God created" in any of those other cases. They're not trying to fool the reader into thinking of the creative act as a continuing act in the past there. They translate the perfect verb form straightforwardly in 3 of the 4 cases.

In Gen 2:3 the CEB and NRSV go into full dynamic equivalence mode. The verb somehow gets transformed into the noun "creation". So there's actually not a hint of translation going on there. In that verse, you see the conjunction "created and made". Both are perfect, not imperfect, tense. So both must be understood to describe actions that are over and done with, not ongoing in the past.

WisdomLover - Thanks for the thorough analysis.

In regards to Caleb's post...a great resource on some of the issues you mentioned such as myth, henotheism, and monotheism a great resource is the website of Michel heiser. He is the near east scholar for the logos bible study software. You can go to his website or check out his videos on YouTube.

After reading and viewing much of these it has really opened up my eyes to the ancient Jewish background, more fully, to the texts of the old testament. Issues such as myth, the divine council and apparent multiplicity of gods are addressed.

He also has a great discussion of the Jewish trinity in the old testament that will affirm the triune godhead we uphold and absolutely be a blessing to your reading of Gods Word.

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