Genesis Ch 1 a Polemic Against Cosmologies Ancient and Modern

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Describes the proper use of the creation account as a polemic against rival cosmologies. Examines how it informed the worldview of the Israelites in the Ancient Near East and how it can do the same for us today.
  Michael SchellmanBox 7211OT 211 Genesis / VogtSpring 2007Genesis 1:1-2:3:Its Usefulness in EngagingAncient and Modern Cosmologies  Genesis 1:1-2:3 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, 2  but the earth was formless and empty, anddarkness covered the face of the abyss, and the spirit of the Lord hovered over the face of the waters. 3 ThenGod said, “Let there be light.” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. Then God madea division between the light and the darkness, 5 and God called the light “day” and the darkness he called“night”; and there was an evening and a morning, a first day . 6 Then God said, “Let there be a barrier  between the waters; and let there be a space separating the waters above and the waters below ”. 7 So Godmade the barrier separating the waters below the barrier from the waters above it, and so it was. 8 And Godcalled the barrier “heavens”: and there was an evening and a morning, a second day . 9 Then God said “Letthe waters below the heavens be gathered to one place and let dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 And Godcalled the dry land “earth” and the gathered waters he called “seas,” and God saw that it was good. 11 ThenGod said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, seed bearing plants, and trees, bearing fruit with its seed in it,according to its species on the earth, and so it was. 12 So the earth brought forth vegetation, seed bearing plants, and trees, bearing fruit with its seed in it, according to its species. And God saw that it was good. 13 then there was an evening and a morning, a third day . 14 Then God said, “Let there be luminaries in the barrier of the heavens, to separate the day from the night; and let them indicate signs, and seasons, days,and years. 15 and Let the luminaries in the heavens shine upon the earth.” And so it was. 16 Then God madetwo great luminaries, the greater one luminary to rule the day, and the lesser one to rule the night, and also the stars. 17 God put them in the barrier of the heavens to shine upon the earth, 18 to govern the day and thenight, and to separate the light and the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 Then there was anevening and a morning, a fourth day . 20 Then God said, “Let the waters teem with swarms of livingcreatures, and flying creatures to flutter over the earth and against the boundary of the heavens. 21 So Godcreated the great sea monsters, and every living creature that moves, with which the waters teem, accordingto its species, and every flying creature according to its species. And God saw that it was good. 22 AndGod blessed them saying, “Be fruitful, increase and fill the waters in the sea.” And let the birds increase on  the earth. 23 Then there was an evening and a morning, a fifth day . 24 Then God said, “Let the land produceliving creatures according to their species: livestock, and creeping creatures, and wild animals eachaccording to its species.” And so it was. 25 So God made the wild animals according to their species, and the livestock according to their species,and the creeping creatures according to their species. And God saw that it was good. 26 Then God said,“Let us make a humanity in our image and likeness, to govern the fish of the sea, the flying creatures of theheavens, the livestock, over all the earth, and over every creeping creature that creeps on the earth.” 27 SoGod created humanity in his own image. In the image of God He created; with male and female he createdhumanity. 28 Then God blessed them. And God said to them, “be fruitful, increase and fill the earth andsubdue it, govern the fish of the sea, the flying creatures of the heavens, the livestock, over all the earth,and over every creeping creature that creeps on the earth.” 29 Then God said, “See, I have given you everyseed bearing plant on the face of the entire earth, and every tree bearing fruit with the seed in it; it will befood to you, 30 and to every living creature on the earth, and to every flying creature of the heavens and toevery creeping creature that creeps upon the earth; everything that has life, I have given all vegetation for food.” And so it was. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and saw that it was very good. Thenthere was an evening and a morning, the sixth day . 2:1 So the heavens and the earth were finished and their entire host. 2 And by the seventh day God had finished the work he had done; and he rested, on the seventhday, from all the work which he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day, and consecrated it, because init he rested from all his work which God had done in creation.    Word Count 2789 Introduction The account of the creation week (Genesis 1:1-2:3,) stands, appropriately at the beginning of the first book in the Hebrew and the Christian Cannon. It is foundational to both traditions’ theological self-understanding and worldview. However, growingskepticism since the Enlightenment has shifted our attention from formative theologicalissues to critical and apologetic ones. Rather than providing a framework from which people of faith can engage their world, the passage itself has come to be the topic of debate.It is my contention, that as we learn the lessons about who God was revealinghimself to be in the context of the ancient Israelites, these same lessons will also informour interaction with the modern cosmologies of contemporary science. The result will be, not a faith “under the microscope” but rather, a lens through which we as believerscan explore our universe with science, enthusiastically embracing some of its conclusionwhile, remaining critical of others, with the ultimate anticipation that the end result of our human quest for understanding will eventually lead us to the same goal. Form and Structure Genesis 1:1-2:3 is a densely structured composition. Gordon Wenham’scommentary provides a thorough analysis of its many structural features. 1 The overall 1 Wenham, Gordon J. Genesis 1-15. Word Biblical Commentary 1 pp 5-7
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