Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology

By Rata, Tiberius | Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, June 2013 | Go to article overview

Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology


Rata, Tiberius, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society


Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology. By John H. Walton. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2011, 214 pp., $34.50.

Dr. John Walton is a world-renowned scholar who serves as Professor of OT at Wheaton College. His research interest in comparative studies between the OT and the ANE gave birth to the very important work titled Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament (Baker, 2006). In Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology, Walton follows the same path and concludes that in regard to Genesis 1, "We ought to think in terms of functions rather than material objects" (p. vii). He boldly affirms that "Genesis 1 never was an account of material origins but that, as in the rest of the ancient world, the focus of the creation accounts was to order the cosmos by initiating functions" (p. ix). Subsequently, the stated goal of the book is to "follow a path that seeks the commonalities that resulted from a shared cultural environment but also attempt to understand the nature of the Israelite 'stamp' that shaped its own cosmology" (p. 16).

In the first chapter, Walton focuses on methodology, arguing for a shared cognitive environment in the ANE. For him, the differences between the Bible and ANE texts can only be understood when one understands their similarities (p. 5). The categories used for comparing cognitive environments of the ANE with regard to cosmology include the following: ontology; centrality of order/disorder; metadivine functions; position of deity in the cosmos; theogony/cosmogony; theomachy; cosmic geography; and temple/rest (pp. 8-10). He notes that one will find many more similarities in Israelite literature and ANE literatures than differences (p. 12). Walton warns of extreme views, explaining that those who consider the Bible to be the word of God in a very narrow sense will tend to neglect its shared cognitive environment and will isolate it from the culture it which it was written. Those who emphasize the cognitive environment may likewise fail to see the distinctive perspectives within each culture of the ANE. He humbly admits that some may accuse this book of succumbing to one of these dangers and adds that this is exactly why studies like this must be furthered-so that conclusions may be reached that can be supported by many, if not all, scholars (p. 8).

In chapter 2, Walton includes two tables that summarize the segments of creation in ANE literature. I believe these tables are one of the best resources of this kind since they summarize and compare Egyptian, Sumerian, and Akkadian sources in light of the precreation condition, separating heaven and earth, theogony mixed with cosmogony, theomachy, naming as an act of creation, separating as an act of creation, the creation of people, temple connection, and rest.

Chapter 3 is entitled "The Ancient Cosmological Cognitive Environment." In the chapter, Walton asks three questions: (1) What did the ancients consider to constitute nonexistence?; (2) What activities do the ancients describe as bringing something into existence?; and (3) How did the ancients describe the existing cosmos that they perceived with their senses?" (p. 24). He notes that in a material ontology, material origins are the main concern, but adds that there is no reason to consider the cosmic ontology of the ancient culture in this way. Instead, Walton looks to present the cosmic ontology of the ancient world as one that was preoccupied with the assignment of function to everything that exists (pp. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.