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What Makes Genesis Different?

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Abstract

In contrast to those who read Genesis 1 through 11 as myth, the story of Genesis is historical narrative with a theological purpose (theo-history). The Hebrew theo-history of creation was undergirded by a worldview that did not converge with her neighbors but significantly diverged from the surrounding nations. While the literary style of Genesis has elements common to other ancient mythologies, the content itself is quite distinct. Unlike other ancient cosmologies, the Hebrew worldview perceived the people, places, and events of Genesis as historical and not merely religious symbols. The divergence of the Hebrew worldview from all ancient Near East (ANE) cultures is illustrated in three observations: (1) Genesis is monotheism not polytheism/panentheism, (2) Genesis is special revelation not cultic theology, and (3) Genesis is theo-history not myth or mytho-history. These three distinctives of Hebrew cosmology reflect a unique worldview shaped by divine revelation, and because Genesis was written in the genre of theo-history, Hebrew cosmology offers us a dependable foundation for knowing something true about our material origins, shaping ethical priorities, safeguarding the sacredness of human life, directing moral decision making, recognizing the significance of historical progress, and guiding scientific inquiry into the book of nature.
Citation: Miller, Joseph R.
2022. What Makes Genesis
Different? Religions 13: 730.
https://doi.org/10.3390/
rel13080730
Academic Editor: John A. Bloom
Received: 1 July 2022
Accepted: 10 August 2022
Published: 11 August 2022
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religions
Article
What Makes Genesis Different?
Joseph R. Miller
Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Grand Canyon University, Phoenix, AZ 85017, USA; jmiller@mbts.edu
Abstract:
In contrast to those who read Genesis 1 through 11 as myth, the story of Genesis is
historical narrative with a theological purpose (theo-history). The Hebrew theo-history of creation
was undergirded by a worldview that did not converge with her neighbors but significantly diverged
from the surrounding nations. While the literary style of Genesis has elements common to other
ancient mythologies, the content itself is quite distinct. Unlike other ancient cosmologies, the
Hebrew worldview perceived the people, places, and events of Genesis as historical and not merely
religious symbols. The divergence of the Hebrew worldview from all ancient Near East (ANE)
cultures is illustrated in three observations: (1) Genesis is monotheism not polytheism/panentheism,
(2) Genesis is special revelation not cultic theology, and (3) Genesis is theo-history not myth or mytho-
history. These three distinctives of Hebrew cosmology reflect a unique worldview shaped by divine
revelation, and because Genesis was written in the genre of theo-history, Hebrew cosmology offers
us a dependable foundation for knowing something true about our material origins, shaping ethical
priorities, safeguarding the sacredness of human life, directing moral decision making, recognizing
the significance of historical progress, and guiding scientific inquiry into the book of nature.
Keywords:
genesis; cosmology; ethics; ancient near east; myth; science; genre; Hebrew creation; history
1. Introduction
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without
form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God
was hovering over the face of the waters. (Genesis 1:1–2, ESV)
What should we make of Genesis and the Hebrew story of creation? Is it myth? Is it
history? Is it a story just like every other story of cosmic origins from the ancient world?
Or, if Hebrew cosmology is not the same, what makes Genesis different?
In the study of literature from the ancient Near East (ANE), a significant number of
scholars over the past sixty years (both secular and religious) have argued that the creation
story of Genesis is mythology akin to, and shaped by, the shared cultural perspective of
the ancient world. The most recent scholar to go down this path is William Lane Craig in
his book, In Quest of the Historical Adam. Those who share in Craig’s claim that Genesis is
mytho-history see Genesis as a point of convergence between the Hebrew worldview and
the worldview of the typical person living in the ANE, but is this the best way to view the
Hebrew creation account? Before I answer that question, let me define a few key terms.
In this article, cosmology and cosmogony are used to describe any system of thought
that attempts to explain the origins of the universe in scientific, philosophical, and/or
theological terms. The term worldview is used to describe the lens we use to interpret the
world and focus our observations into a clear narrative that answers the questions of origin,
meaning, morality, and destiny. A worldview answers these six questions: (1) How did I
come into being? (2) How can I know the meaning for my life? (3) What is the right thing
to do? (4) How can I fulfill my moral purpose? (5) What happens when I die? and (6) How
will my legacy be judged?
Given a particular worldview, we apply it to various fields of inquiry such as cosmic
and human origins through what is called a paradigm. A paradigm, then, functions
Religions 2022,13, 730. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13080730 https://www.mdpi.com/journal/religions
Religions 2022,13, 730 2 of 11
inside our worldview to provide a field-specific framework to determine what counts as
knowledge. These concepts of worldview and paradigm are important for understanding
what makes Genesis different from other ANE mythologies.
Scholars who accept what I call a convergent worldview paradigm treat the people
and events of Genesis 1 through 11 as literary symbols with little or no relationship to
history or to the material realities of the cosmos. Like every other people group of the
ANE, the Hebrew priests and scribes used the mythologies of Genesis to teach important
religious truths and justify Israel’s temple practices. In this sense, scholars who advo-
cate for the convergent worldview paradigm see a clear unity between Genesis and all
ancient cosmologies.
In contrast to those who read Genesis 1 through 11 as myth, my own study leads me
to the conclusion that the story of Genesis is historical narrative with a theological purpose
(or what I call theo-history). Yet, we should not assume that the synergy of theology and
history in Genesis undermines the historical accuracy of the text. As Eugene H. Merrill
notes, “one cannot seriously lay claim to a theological history of the Old Testament that
does not draw upon actual historical events that took place precisely as the biblical texts
describe them (Merrill 2008, p. 26).” In this sense, we can approach Genesis with confidence
knowing that neither the theological purpose nor the literary style of text isolates us—the
modern reader—from the historical events of Genesis.
The Hebrew theo-history of creation was undergirded by a worldview that did not
“converge” with her neighbors but significantly diverged from the surrounding nations.
Scholars such as John Oswalt, in his book The Bible Among the Myths, share in this view,
which I label the divergent worldview paradigm. Scholars in this camp argue that while
the literary style of Genesis has elements common to other ancient mythologies, the content
itself is quite distinct. The essential elements of the Hebrew origin stories are dissimilar
from other ancient mythologies and similar only in their secondary (or what philosophers
call accidental) elements. Specifically, there is broad agreement that the genre of Genesis
has clear points of stylistic unity with many ancient mythologies. However, these common
elements do not outweigh the contrasting elements of style that define the genre of theo-
history. Unlike other ancient cosmologies, the Hebrew worldview perceived the people,
places, and events of Genesis as historical and not merely religious symbols.
Hebrew cosmology—written by Moses in an ancient language for ancient peoples—
reflects the unique Hebrew worldview, which was shaped through the direct revelation
of YHWH. The inspired nature of Moses’ historical narrative gives the modern reader
confidence that we can understand the meaning of the text. The uniqueness of Genesis as
theo-history means that Hebrew cosmology offers a dependable foundation for knowing
something true about our material origins, shaping ethical priorities, directing moral
decision making, and guiding scientific inquiry.
To understand how Genesis is unique from ANE mythologies, let us look at three
elements that are essential to the Hebrew worldview: (1) Genesis is monotheism not
polytheism/panentheism, (2) Genesis is special revelation not cultic theology, and (3)
Genesis is theo-history not mytho-history.
2. Genesis Is Monotheism Not Polytheism/Panentheism
How much of Hebrew cosmology was shaped by ANE religions and how much was
shaped by YHWH’s self-revelation? Most scholars agree in principle that the Hebrew
writings were influenced by the religion, culture, and politics of the ancient world. Nu-
merous references to foreign kings, gods, and cultic practices make clear the necessity of
understanding biblical cosmology within both its literary and historical contexts. However,
the fundamental difference between scholars is what they accept as essential versus what
they accept as secondary (accidental) to the Hebrew worldview.
One clear line of distinction between Genesis and other ancient myths is the revelation
that YHWH alone sits as the sole creator and only God. Still, some critics note that the Old
Testament uses language that implies there are many gods and not just one. Against this
Religions 2022,13, 730 3 of 11
charge, John Currid explores the polemical nature of the Old Testament as one explanation
for this polytheistic imagery. Psalm 82 provides one such example. Noting the psalmist’s
imagery of God (Elohim) taking a stand against El in the midst of the gods, Currid observes:
This reference to Canaanite literature, in particular the meeting of the gathered
council of gods before El, is not indicative of the God of Israel being part of
the Canaanite pantheon. Rather, it is employed to picture the God of Israel as
assaulting the pagan pantheon, or as Dahood comments, it is ‘where God passes
judgment on the pagan deities.’ Here is seething hostility by the psalmist against
Canaanite theology, as he claims instead that the one true God has deposed the
pagan gods and that he is the only ruler of the earth (v. 8). (Currid 2013, p. 160)
While Currid concedes that an appeal to polemical theology does not address every
parallel between the Old Testament and other ancient religions, the use of polemical
language does reaffirm the assertion made here that Israel’s resolute monotheism was an
essential quality of their cosmology.
Unlike Israel, the creation stories written by the peoples of the ANE were steeped in
polytheism; a belief that the world is inhabited by many finite gods (driven by their many
human-like desires, such as sexual pleasure) who ruled over their own special domain. In
the Pyramid texts of Teti, first king of Egypt’s Sixth Dynasty (ca. 2323–2291 BC), the reader
encounters the Spells for entering the womb of Nut. In this story, the goddess Nut recounts the
glory of her son when she says, “Teti is my son, whom I caused to be born and who parted
my belly; he is the one I have desired and with whom I have become content (Allen and
Der Manuelian 2005, p. 67).” In addition to sexual intercourse, the birth of the ANE gods
was attributed to a variety of bodily emissions from bleeding to masturbation—specifically
from the gods Amun, Amenapet, Atumi, and Min—because the Egyptians saw the world
as made of divine-beings married to the natural elements.1
Another useful word suited to the discussion of ancient mythologies is panentheism or
finite-godism. Panentheism, as defined by Norman Geisler, describes well the finite-godism
of the various ANE religions whose gods were limited in power and existed simultaneously
both in the human world and outside the human world.
2
We can see an example of this
finite-godism in the West Semitic storm god Hadad who battled against the cosmic “Sea”,
which itself was thought to be another god.
3
The Akkadian epic Enuma Elish, offers another
example. In this tale, Marduk volunteers (at the prompting of Ea) to serve as the champion
of the gods to defeat Tiamat. Anshar convenes a special council of the gods who, after a
feast, transfers authority to Marduk who later tears apart the dead carcass of the defeated
goddess Tiamat to fashion the heavens and the waters:
(135) [Marduk] calmed down. Then the Lord was inspecting [Tiamat’s] carcass,
That he might divide (?) the monstrous lump and fashion artful things.
He split her in two, like a fish for drying,
Half of her he set up and made as a cover, heaven.
He stretched out the hide and assigned watchmen,
(140) And ordered them not to let her waters escape.
He crossed heaven and inspected (its) firmament,
He made a counterpart to Apsu, the dwelling of Nudimmud.
The Lord measured the construction of Apsu,
He founded the Great Sanctuary, the likeness of Esharra.
(In) the Great Sanctuary, (in) Esharra, which he built, (and in) heaven,
He made Ea, Enlil, and Anu dwell in their holy places. (Smith and Parker 1997,
pp. 398–99)
These limited examples illustrate why panentheism is a useful word alongside poly-
theism in the sense that it reminds the modern reader that, unlike Israel, the peoples of the
Religions 2022,13, 730 4 of 11
ANE believed in a collection of gods who existed above the material world and yet in some
way remained interconnected with the very fabric of nature itself.
Moreover, with the exception of Israel, the peoples of the ancient world did not
perceive history as an arrow of progress from a past moment in time toward some fixed
end. Human history for these peoples was a drama played out in the cycle of life and death
among the gods. The Gods of the ANE were limited in power, lived in a nearly constant
state of battle, and the death of any one god was meaningless to the existence of the cosmos.
The people of the ancient world saw themselves as creatures in the service of these finite
gods and goddesses: humans whose earthly existence reflected the same cycle of life and
death. Humans—forever bound to their gods—were servant warriors in this eternal drama,
and, as a consequence, the lives they extinguished in battle or the people they took as slaves
had no moral significance.
Monotheism led Israel to see the cosmos, history, and human life in a very different
way. Monotheism was foundational for Israel’s understanding of history as linear with a
fixed beginning in time and space.
4
YHWH was not a cosmic warrior trapped in the natural
cycle of life and death. YHWH stood alone as the eternal immaterial God and nature was
His finite material creation. The story of Genesis, therefore, was accepted by the Hebrews
as a revelation of the cosmic past, human present, and promised future.
For the Hebrews, their commitment to monotheism and their participation in God’s
linear history meant that from beginning to end both the cosmos and their lives had
purpose. The land, plants, and animals had inherent value. Humans were created in the
image of YHWH and as stewards of God’s good creation. Human life was made with
a sacred purpose and not something to be extinguished at the whim of the gods or of
other humans. The choices Israel made each day to love God and love their neighbor
had transcendent meaning. Israel’s earthly obedience to YHWH was predicated on the
revelatory knowledge that He alone was good and that He alone created humankind and
the earth for a good purpose.
3. Genesis as Special Revelation Not Temple Theology
A cross-section of scholars within the unified and divergent worldview paradigms
accept, at a minimum, that the Hebrews believed Genesis was given to Moses by God.
Yet this modest concession that the Hebrews believed in special revelation is insufficient.
The Old Testament is more than a story perceived by Israel as God’s self-revelation. The
Old Testament is not Jewish natural theology used to justify their temple worship. The
Old Testament was and is God’s transcendent self-revelation for yesterday, today, and
tomorrow. This distinction between Israel’s perception of the text as God’s self-revelation
and the truth of the text as God’s actual revelation in space and time is significant. Carl F.H.
Henry rightly observes:
The source of evangelical theology, then, is God made known in his own Word and
deed. The Protestant Reformers rightly honored the Word of God as revelationally
given not only above experience but also above the church as the control-point
for every facet of Christian doctrine. God’s revelation has been conveniently
classified in two main types: general revelation, or the disclosure of God’s eternal
power and glory through nature and history; and special revelation, or the
disclosure of God’s redemptive purpose and work. (Henry 1999, p. 223)
Henry goes on to explain how this view of special revelation impacts the relationship
between special and general revelation:
The Bible openly publishes man’s predicament and God’s redemptive remedy
in the form of objectively intelligible statements. The scriptural revelation takes
epistemological priority over general revelation, not because general revelation is
obscure or because man as sinner cannot know it, but because Scripture as an in-
spired literary document republishes the content of general revelation objectively,
over against sinful man’s reductive dilutions and misconstructions of it. (Ibid.)
Religions 2022,13, 730 5 of 11
Given this understanding of special revelation, Scripture cannot be spiritualized as a
cultic blend of myth and history. Scripture is, at its core, a book of objectively intelligible
statements about cosmic history, human origins, and redemption. The objective reality of
YHWH’s revelatory knowledge—which transcended the general knowledge of God found
in creation—enabled Moses to speak above the din of cultural influence and provide Israel
with knowledge, purpose, and moral significance. Still, there are some evangelical scholars
who question, “Did God reveal truth only about spiritual matters, or did His revelation
through Moses also reveal truth about our material origins?”
As the twentieth century turned into the twenty-first, the seeds of the scientific revolu-
tion germinated among scholars who rejected as anti-scientific and anti-intellectual any
view of special revelation which overlapped with the domain of science. For scholars who
embrace the unified worldview paradigm, the concept of special revelation was applied
only to the spiritual or non-material teachings of the Bible. Specifically, they claim, the spe-
cial revelation of Genesis only applies to the immaterial world of spiritual truths. Regarding
the material world, they conclude, Genesis was a product of the cognitive environment
(worldview) shared by all the peoples of the ANE.
Scholars such as John Walton argue that the only way the modern mind can properly
understand Genesis is to understand the ANE cosmologies which shaped the Hebrew
worldview. Walton concludes:
As a result, we are not looking at ancient literature to try to decide whether
Israel borrowed from some of the literature that was known to them. It is to be
expected that the Israelites held many concepts and perspectives in common
with the rest of the ancient world. This is far different from suggesting literature
was borrowed or copied. This is not even a case of Israel being influenced by
the peoples around them. Rather we simply recognize the common conceptual
worldview that existed in ancient times. We should therefore not speak of Israel
being influenced by that world—they were part of that world. (Walton 2009,
pp. 11–12)
Walton, then, does not see the need to look for a common Babylonian, Hittite, or
Egyptian source document but concludes that the fundamental worldview (what he calls
the shared cognitive environment) of the Hebrews is the same: therefore, their basic
cosmology in Genesis was the same. Walton reinforces his point in the following:
From the idea that the temple was considered a mini cosmos, it is easy to move
to the idea that the cosmos could be viewed as a temple. This is more difficult
to document in the ancient world because of the polytheistic nature of their
religion. If the whole cosmos were viewed as a single temple, which god would
it belong to? Where would temples of the other gods be? Nevertheless it can still
be affirmed that creation texts can and do follow the model of temple-building
texts, in this way at least likening the cosmos to a temple. (Ibid., p. 82. See also,
Walton 2011, p. 190)
This concept of a structural parallelism between the Jewish temple and Hebrew
cosmology are explored in depth by Margaret Barker who concludes, “the mythology
and symbolism of the ancient temple are the key to understanding of this symbolism,
for when the meaning of these symbols is lost, the meaning of Christianity will also be
lost
(Barker 2008, p. 181).
Tom McLeish, citing Barker ’s work, argues that this thesis may
not be sustainable yet accepts the underlying point that Genesis 1 is written to connect
cosmology and worship. McLeish writes:
Brown and independently the Orthodox scholar Margaret Barker both suggest
a structural parallelism of the Genesis 1 text with the architecture of the temple,
but, whether this suggestion can be sustained or not, what the ‘priestly’ account
does is surely to enshrine the purpose and nature of creation within the repeated
acts of worship of the community.
. . .
so, in Genesis 1, a context of communal
Religions 2022,13, 730 6 of 11
remembrance and worship provides the grounding of the text that the lack of a
continuous history fails to. (McLeish 2014, pp. 72–73)
While these scholars have differences on the connection between cosmology and
temple, they are each driven to some degree by a rejection of a hermeneutic which takes
Genesis as a literal account of historic events.
Kyle Greenwood, in his book Scripture and Cosmology, builds on the same basic themes
as Walton and argues that the only way to understand the meaning of a text is to learn
its ancient Near East context. “Biblical cosmology,” he argues, “is ancient Near Eastern
cosmology. Through the biblical authors, God spoke in the language of the common
folk (Greenwood 2015, p. 204).” Greenwood concludes that because the Tanakh (the
Jewish term for what Christians call the Old Testament) relies on the language of Divine
accommodation, it is only possible to understand the meaning of Genesis as a product of
the cultural, geographical, historical, and literary context.
5
Greenwood’s assumption is that
the Hebrews had a unified worldview with their ancient neighbors and, like their neighbors,
the Israelites used the Genesis myth as a paradigm to justify their temple practices.
Greenwood points out that one possible definition of worldview comes from Kant’s
use of Weltanschauung in his Critique of Judgment. In this work, Kant argued that humans
observe the phenomena (the natural world) but may not have a right sense of its true
noumena (reality). Greenwood modifies Kant’s concept of worldview using Walton’s
“cognitive environment” and adopts this premise for his book. To make his argument,
Greenwood cites on the following quote from Walton:
The Israelites received no revelation to update or modify their “scientific” un-
derstanding of the cosmos. They did not know that stars were suns; they did
not know that the earth was spherical and moving through space; they did not
know that the sun was much further away than the moon, or even further than
the birds flying in the air. They believed that the sky was material (not vaporous),
solid enough to support the residence of deity as well as to hold back waters.6
Greenwood, building on Walton’s idea, asserts that the Hebrew scientific worldview
was shaped wholly by the cognitive environment of the ANE, whose cosmology formed the
basic structure for how they perceived and interpreted the world around them. Greenwood
postulates that just as it was for all ANE cultures, “the ancient Hebrews’ only knowledge
of the world around them was limited to what their parents told them, what they had seen
for themselves and what they imagined it must be like (Greenwood 2015, p. 24).” In short,
Greenwood believes that Hebrew cosmology was grounded in the phenomena, with no
insight into the noumena. In much the same way, Walton asserts that in order to properly
interpret Genesis, one must recognize that it “pertains to functional origins rather than
material origins and that temple ideology underlies the Genesis cosmology.”7
The distinction modern scholars like Walton and Greenwood make between the
material and non-material world was not shared by the writers of ANE myth or by the
writers of the Old Testament. Egyptian theology, for example, merged the divine and
physical worlds in the story of Anum.8In this tale, Anum started the creation process but
left it for the other “Eight Great Gods” to finish. Anum does not create from nothing, but
his own body forms the substance of the material world:
You began Becoming—
there was no Being, there was no Void:
The world was from You, in the Beginning;
all other gods came after. (Foster and Hollis 1995, p. 75)
While the Old Testament never merged the physical reality of God with nature, it is
evident that Hebrew creation was deeply concerned with material origins. God’s answer,
beginning in Job 38:4, to Job’s complaint makes clear that God, as the creator of the material
world, had ultimate moral authority. Another example that undermines Walton and
Greenwood’s theory is the preservation of the Old Testament in its written form. The effort
Religions 2022,13, 730 7 of 11
to preserve the writings of the Old Testament speaks to an essential characteristic of the
Hebrew understanding of special revelation. The immaterial word spoken by YHWH was
connected to the material word through both the voice of the prophet and ultimately in the
inspired text itself. The Creator God not only made the material world, He revealed to Israel
a set of texts that gave them a concrete understanding of their historical origins, religious
practices, and moral obligations. The Hebrew story of creation made no epistemological
distinction between the material and immaterial worlds. Genesis was accepted as a special
revelation concerning both the material origin of the cosmos and of God’s spiritual purpose
for humanity.
General revelation—what we see in the world around us in the book of nature—then
was accepted by the Hebrews as physical evidence of YHWH’s creative power and holiness
made visible to every nation in every generation. As the Psalmist wrote, “For YHWH is the
great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the
mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the
dry land (Psalm 95:3–5, ESV).” The material world was God’s general revelation to every
nation and the truth of His good work was enshrined in His special revelation. YHWH’s
special revelation recorded in the Tanakh served, therefore, as the authoritative record of
God’s activity in history and through creation. Special revelation was given by YHWH to
advance Israel’s knowledge about general revelation and provide unique insight beyond
their senses. In this way, Genesis is theo-history, a theology that reveals the truth regarding
the origins of both the cosmos and human life itself.
4. Genesis Is Theo-History Not Mytho-History
Similar to scholars such as John Walton, Peter Enns believes that, “The reason the
opening chapters of Genesis look so much like the literature of ancient Mesopotamia is
that the worldview categories of the ANE were ubiquitous and normative at the time
(Enns 2015, p. 53).
When God then chose Abraham to be the patriarch of Israel, writes
Enns, He also chose to adopt “the mythic categories within which Abraham—and everyone
else—thought (Ibid).” Therefore, Enns concludes, the cosmology of Genesis has the same
essential qualities of other ANE mythologies. While Genesis can still be used to teach us
about metaphysical reality, he argues, it cannot speak to the modern scientific conceptions of
cosmology. Once Enns’ definition is accepted, Genesis is determined to have no meaningful
connection to history or material origins but serves only as a literary vehicle for conveying
spiritual origins. Critical to this conclusion (shared in some fashion by scholars such as
Enns, Walton, and Craig) is how they define myth.
The term myth is used by different scholars with a range of meanings across a philo-
sophical and phenomenological spectrum. Many define myth using broad sweeping
categories which include all ancient stories of creation. Others, such as William Lane
Craig, argue that it is a fool’s errand to offer a concise definition of myth. Instead, Craig
relies on the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein to offer ten literary elements which he believes
demonstrate a “family resemblance” between Genesis and all ANE mythologies. These are:
1. Myths are narratives, whether oral or literary.
2. Myths are traditional stories handed down from generation to generation.
3. Myths are sacred for the society that embraces them.
4. Myths are objects of belief by members of the society that embraces them.
5. Myths are set in a primaeval age or another realm.
6. Myths are stories in which deities are important characters.
7.
Myths seek to anchor present realities such as the world, mankind, natural phenomena,
cultural practices, and the prevailing cult in a primordial time.
8. Myths are associated with rituals.
9. Myths express correspondences between the deities and nature.
10.
Myths exhibit fantastic elements and are not troubled by logical contradiction or
incoherence (Craig 2021, pp. 45–46).”
Religions 2022,13, 730 8 of 11
However, unlike Craig’s overly-broad criteria for labeling Genesis as mytho-history,
other scholars have suggested more exclusive definition of myth. T.H. Gaster suggests
that, “Myth is a story of the gods in which results of natural causes are accounted for
supernaturally (Gaster 1962, p. 481).” Joseph Fentenrose, quoted by Robert Oden, defines
myth as “the traditional tales of the deeds of daimones: gods, spirits, and all sorts of
supernatural or superhuman beings.” (Fontenrose 1966, pp. 54–55. Quoted in Oden 1992,
p. 949).
Despite the different approaches from scholars like Craig, Gaster, and Fentenrose,
it is important to ask, what do these scholars have in common? Hugh White’s simple
criticism of Fentenrose applies to Craig and Gaster equally when he writes, “The simple
labeling of a story as a myth in this sense, though helping genre identification, does not
necessarily advance our understanding of it (White 1989, p. 144).” Consequently, these
different approaches to defining myth ultimately fail for several reasons:
1.
These definitions of myth use genre identification as a tool to justify the modern bias
against the supernatural.
2.
These definitions of myth offer no objective criteria for distinguishing between essen-
tial and non-essential elements within any given set of creation stories.
3.
These definitions of myth do not advance our understanding of how each creation
story reflects the divergent worldviews among ANE civilizations.
Turning back to Enns, he avoids some of these problems by defining myth as, “an
ancient, premodern, prescientific way of addressing questions of ultimate origins and
meaning in the form of stories: Who are we? Where do we come from? (Enns 2015, p. 50)”
Craig makes a similar move by suggesting that Genesis 1 through 11 is mytho-history
because these stories, he claims, are simply too fantastical and inconsistent for the modern
rational mind to believe.
9
The Tree of Life serves as one such story that, for Craig, if taken
literally, is simply absurd. The idea of a magic tree planted by God in space and time with
the power to give knowledge is a legend that no serious reader—today or in the ancient
world—can take as historical (Craig 2021, p. 113). And while these rationalizations offered
by Enns and Craig may to some degree eliminate the bias against the supernatural, they
serve only to replace the old bias with a new bias against pre-scientific history. Genesis, it
is assumed by such scholars, cannot speak about the material origins of humanity because
the ancients did not have access to our modern scientific forms of investigation. In this way,
scholars who embrace the unified worldview paradigm improperly treat modern science
as the magisterial authority of interpreting Genesis. So where can we turn to find a better
definition of myth that does not beg the question of history?
John Oswalt defines myth as “a form of expression, whether literary or oral, whereby
the continuities among the human, natural, and divine realms are expressed and actualized.
By reinforcing these continuities, it seeks to ensure the orderly functioning of both nature
and human society (Oswalt 2009, pp. 45–46).” A myth was a story used to maintain the
status quo of political and religious order. ANE mythologies reinforced the worldview that
events and people were meaningless pawns in the cosmic cycle. These mythologies were
rooted in the assumption that human experience is nothing more than a physical analog
for the metaphysical drama of the gods. Based on this definition, Oswalt writes, “whatever
the Bible is, it is not myth (Ibid., p. 14).” In other words, regardless of the literary style or
what genre we assign to Genesis 1 through 11, the substance of the stories it contains was
meant to be read as an historical account of material origins. Oswalt makes this important
observation, “Ultimately, the unique worldview of the Old Testament undergirds its claims
of historical reliability (Ibid., p. 14).”
Although Moses certainly wrote in a style that was understandable to his ANE readers,
his use of so-called mytho-genre does not justify the claim that the content itself is poetic,
figurative, uninspired, or void of historical accuracy. On the contrary, Genesis is neither
mytho-history or mythology but a theological history of origins (or theo-history). The
use of poetic or figurative language should also not be conflated with the use of mythical
language. Both myths and the Bible use poetic, figurative language, but they use the
Religions 2022,13, 730 9 of 11
language for very different purposes. That is to say, the cosmology of Genesis 1—given the
divergent worldview paradigm of the Hebrews—did not function as a fictional or cultic
myth but as a theo-history meant to connect YHWH’s eternal purposes with real events
that happened in space and time.
Hebrew theo-history was a roadmap of human progress from our past in Genesis 1,
through the daily experience of Israel, and toward a future kingdom of God. In Hebrew
theo-history, events and people were not meaningless characters in some primordial drama,
but essential players in time and space used by God to advance His eternal plan. Hebrew
theo-history was rooted in the presupposition that human experience is understood pri-
marily through the special revelation of the one true God and secondarily through the
natural order and progress of time. For the Hebrews, God was, and is, separate from His
creation. The power of God’s spoken word recorded in Scripture not only brought the
material world into existence and formed human life, but God’s spoken word shaped the
worship practices and ethical mandates that set Israel apart from the surrounding nations
(Ramm 1954, p. 26).
5. Conclusions
The Hebrew story of creation told in Genesis is neither myth nor mytho-history.
Genesis 1 through 11 is a form of theological storytelling (theo-history) that God used to
reveal the material origins, moral duties, and destiny of humankind. The divergence of the
Hebrew worldview from all ANE cultures was illustrated in these three observations:
1. Genesis is monotheism not polytheism/panentheism,
2. Genesis is special revelation not cultic theology, and
3. Genesis is theo-history not myth or mytho-history.
While much more must be written to properly establish these three distinctives, it is
sufficient here to note that these three aspects of Hebrew cosmology reflect a unique world-
view among the Jews which was shaped by YHWH’s divine self-revelation. Consequently,
because Genesis was written in the genre of theo-history, Hebrew cosmology offers us a
dependable foundation for knowing something true about our material origins, shaping
ethical priorities, safeguarding the sacredness of human life, directing moral decision mak-
ing, recognizing the significance of historical progress, and guiding scientific inquiry into
the book of nature.
Funding: This research received no external funding.
Conflicts of Interest: The author declares no conflict of interest.
Notes
1
Walton’s (2003, p. 162) source for this conclusion is noted as Allen (1988). See also, Wyatt (2001, p. 57). I use Walton here
because his recognition that ANE myth married the divine to nature undermines his claim that ancient myths did not explain
material origins.
2
(Geisler 1976, pp. 173, 193). Stated in metaphysical terms, in panentheism the existence of any one god is not essential to the
existence of the cosmos. This theology is distinct from absolute pantheism, which identifies the cosmos and god as mutually
essential qualities. Outside of Geisler ’s usage of panentheism, which is herein applied to ANE polytheism, the term panentheism
is more often associated with platonic forms of monotheism, German idealism, and modern process theology. “However, Baltzly
finds evidence in the Timaeus of a polytheistic view that can be identified as panentheistic.” See, Culp (2021).
3
(Smith and Parker 1997, p. 86). It is important to note that scholars have divergent views on how much the typical ancient
Near East view of the cosmic seas influenced Hebrew cosmology. Clines says that Hebrew cosmology presupposes “the earth
floating on the cosmic sea.” (Clines 2006, p. 635), whereas Greenwood says that unlike their ancient Near East neighbors, there is
“no indication that the Hebrews had a notion of the earth floating on the cosmic sea.” (Greenwood 2015, p. 79). Some scholars
associate Hadad with Baal, and the original name of the West Semitic storm god later referred to as “Lord” was “Bel.” See
Herrmann (1999, p. 132).
4
Wyatt believes this concept of the linear progress of time is a modern paradigm, wrongly foisted upon the Old Testament, foreign
to the Hebrew worldview, invalidated by modern scholarship, and an “embarrassment” to the serious study of ANE literature.
See Wyatt (2001, pp. 305–6). In contrast to this view, a study of the A-Theory of time provides a viable integration point for a
Religions 2022,13, 730 10 of 11
coherent view of time, modern physics, and biblical theology, where time is not cyclical but linear in the progress of becoming.
For a fuller discussion, see Craig (2001).
5
This article is focused on the cosmology of Genesis within the context of the Hebrew Bible which covers
Religions 2022, 13, x FOR PEER REVIEW 10 of 11
3. (Smith and Parker 1997, p. 86). It is important to note that scholars have divergent views on how much the typical ancient Near
East view of the cosmic seas influenced Hebrew cosmology. Clines says that Hebrew cosmology presupposes “the earth floating
on the cosmic sea.” (Clines 2006, p. 635), whereas Greenwood says that unlike their ancient Near East neighbors, there is “no
indication that the Hebrews had a notion of the earth floating on the cosmic sea.” (Greenwood 2015, p. 79). Some scholars
associate Hadad with Baal, and the original name of the West Semitic storm god later referred to as “Lord” was “Bel.” See
Herrmann (1999 p. 132).
4. Wyatt believes this concept of the linear progress of time is a modern paradigm, wrongly foisted upon the Old Testament,
foreign to the Hebrew worldview, invalidated by modern scholarship, and an “embarrassment” to the serious study of ANE
literature. See Wyatt (2001, pp. 305–6). In contrast to this view, a study of the A-Theory of time provides a viable integration
point for a coherent view of time, modern physics, and biblical theology, where time is not cyclical but linear in the progress of
becoming. For a fuller discussion, see Craig (2001).
5. This article is focused on the cosmology of Genesis within the context of the Hebrew Bible which covers ה ָרוֹתּ (Tôrâ, Law),
םי ִאי ִבְנ (Nəîʾîm , Prophets), and םי ִבוּת ְ (Kəûîm, Writings). When refrencing the entire collection of Hebrew Scripture, the
acronymn Tanakh is used in as a synonym for the term Old Testement, which is the familiar Christian designation. Tanakh is
the most common term used in the Talmud and Midrash, and possibly modern Judaism and its use in this book helps draw a
clear distinction when referencing the Hebrew Scripture from the Christian Scripture which includes both the Tanakh and the
New Testament. When the term Scripture is used herein without qualification, it will be assumed to refer to both the Christian
Old and New Testaments. For a history of Hebrew canon and the use of Tanakh, (Sanders 1992, pp. 837–52).
6. (Walton 2009, p. 16). For a robust critique of this quote from Walton, see Lennox (2011, pp. 139–48).
7. (Walton 2011, pp. 198–99). Wyatt’s book on ANE mythology is commensurate with Walton’s concept of shared cognitivie
environment. However, the assertion that ancient cosmologies had no concern for material creation is rejected as Wyatt’s book
assumes these various mytholgies were inextricably linked to beliefs about the material universe—specficially, their
understanding of space and time. Wyatt writes, “The organization of space at all these levels was also vital to the smooth
running of a community on any scale. In practical terms this might be called secular, but it was never entirely separated from
the sacred in the ancient world, and ritual was the means by which both space and time were organized and harnessed to a
community’s use (Wyatt 2001, p. 55).” This does not mean the myths are compasection with modern science, but it does
undermine Walton’s premise that cosmogenic myth had no relation to the material genesis of the universe.
8. Johnston notes that “Egyptian religion featured four major versions of the same basic mythic cycle of creation, each represented
by rival sanctuaries: Heliopolis, Hermopolis, Memphis, and Thebes.” (Johnston 2008, pp. 180–81). While a complete study of
each of these unique mythologies is beyond the scope of this study, Johnston’s short article provides an excellent starting place
for further investigation of the Egyptian literature.
9. (Fontenrose 1966, pp. 54–55). Quoted in Oden (1992, p. 949).
10. (Craig 2021, p. 101). For a critique of Craig’s mytho-history, see Miller (2021).
References
(Allen 1988) Allen, James P. 1988. Genesis in Egypt: The Philosophy of Ancient Egyptian Creation Accounts. Yale Egyptological Studies 2.
New Haven: Yale University Press.
(Allen and Der Manuelian 2005) Allen, James P., and Peter Der Manuelian. 2005. The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts. Writings from
the Ancient World 23. Edited by Theodore J. Lewis. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature.
(Barker 2008) Barker, Margaret. 2008. The Gate of Heaven: The History and Symbolism of the Temple in Jerusalem. Sheffield: Sheffield
Phoenix Press.
(Clines 2006) Clines, David J. A. 2006. Job 21–37. Word Biblical Commentary 18A. Edited by Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard
and Glenn W. Barker. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
(Craig 2001) Craig, William Lane. 2001. Time and Eternity: Exploring God’s Relationship to Time. Wheaton: Crossway Books.
(Craig 2021) Craig, William Lane. 2021. In Quest of the Historical Adam: A Biblical and Scientific Exploration. Grand Rapids: William B.
Eerdmans.
(Culp 2021) Culp, John. Panentheism. 2021. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Available online:
https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2021/entries/panentheism (accessed on 1 August 2022).
(Currid 2013) Currid, John D. 2013. Against the Gods: The Polemical Theology of the Old Testament. Wheaton: Crossway.
(Enns 2015) Enns, Peter. 2015. Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament, 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Baker.
(Fontenrose 1966) Fontenrose, Joseph Eddy. 1966. The Ritual Theory of Myth. University of California Publications Folklore Studies 18.
Berkeley: University of California.
(Foster and Hollis 1995) Foster, John L., and Susan T. Hollis. 1995. Hymns, Prayers, and Songs: An Anthology of Ancient Egyptian Lyric
Poetry. Writings from the Ancient World 8. Atlanta: Scholars Press.
(Gaster 1962) Gaster, T. H. 1962. Myth, Mythology. In The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. Edited by George Arthur Buttrick. New
York: Abingdon, vol. 3.
(Geisler 1976) Geisler, Norman L. 1976. Christian Apologetics. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
(Greenwood 2015) Greenwood, Kyle. 2015. Scripture and Cosmology: Reading the Bible Between the Ancient World and Modern Science.
Kindle. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press.
,
Religions 2022, 13, x FOR PEER REVIEW 10 of 11
3. (Smith and Parker 1997, p. 86). It is important to note that scholars have divergent views on how much the typical ancient Near
East view of the cosmic seas influenced Hebrew cosmology. Clines says that Hebrew cosmology presupposes “the earth floating
on the cosmic sea.” (Clines 2006, p. 635), whereas Greenwood says that unlike their ancient Near East neighbors, there is “no
indication that the Hebrews had a notion of the earth floating on the cosmic sea.” (Greenwood 2015, p. 79). Some scholars
associate Hadad with Baal, and the original name of the West Semitic storm god later referred to as “Lord” was “Bel.” See
Herrmann (1999 p. 132).
4. Wyatt believes this concept of the linear progress of time is a modern paradigm, wrongly foisted upon the Old Testament,
foreign to the Hebrew worldview, invalidated by modern scholarship, and an “embarrassment” to the serious study of ANE
literature. See Wyatt (2001, pp. 305–6). In contrast to this view, a study of the A-Theory of time provides a viable integration
point for a coherent view of time, modern physics, and biblical theology, where time is not cyclical but linear in the progress of
becoming. For a fuller discussion, see Craig (2001).
5. This article is focused on the cosmology of Genesis within the context of the Hebrew Bible which covers ה ָרוֹתּ (Tôrâ, Law),
םי ִאי ִבְנ (Nəîʾîm , Prophets), and םי ִבוּת ְ (Kəûîm, Writings). When refrencing the entire collection of Hebrew Scripture, the
acronymn Tanakh is used in as a synonym for the term Old Testement, which is the familiar Christian designation. Tanakh is
the most common term used in the Talmud and Midrash, and possibly modern Judaism and its use in this book helps draw a
clear distinction when referencing the Hebrew Scripture from the Christian Scripture which includes both the Tanakh and the
New Testament. When the term Scripture is used herein without qualification, it will be assumed to refer to both the Christian
Old and New Testaments. For a history of Hebrew canon and the use of Tanakh, (Sanders 1992, pp. 837–52).
6. (Walton 2009, p. 16). For a robust critique of this quote from Walton, see Lennox (2011, pp. 139–48).
7. (Walton 2011, pp. 198–99). Wyatt’s book on ANE mythology is commensurate with Walton’s concept of shared cognitivie
environment. However, the assertion that ancient cosmologies had no concern for material creation is rejected as Wyatt’s book
assumes these various mytholgies were inextricably linked to beliefs about the material universe—specficially, their
understanding of space and time. Wyatt writes, “The organization of space at all these levels was also vital to the smooth
running of a community on any scale. In practical terms this might be called secular, but it was never entirely separated from
the sacred in the ancient world, and ritual was the means by which both space and time were organized and harnessed to a
community’s use (Wyatt 2001, p. 55).” This does not mean the myths are compasection with modern science, but it does
undermine Walton’s premise that cosmogenic myth had no relation to the material genesis of the universe.
8. Johnston notes that “Egyptian religion featured four major versions of the same basic mythic cycle of creation, each represented
by rival sanctuaries: Heliopolis, Hermopolis, Memphis, and Thebes.” (Johnston 2008, pp. 180–81). While a complete study of
each of these unique mythologies is beyond the scope of this study, Johnston’s short article provides an excellent starting place
for further investigation of the Egyptian literature.
9. (Fontenrose 1966, pp. 54–55). Quoted in Oden (1992, p. 949).
10. (Craig 2021, p. 101). For a critique of Craig’s mytho-history, see Miller (2021).
References
(Allen 1988) Allen, James P. 1988. Genesis in Egypt: The Philosophy of Ancient Egyptian Creation Accounts. Yale Egyptological Studies 2.
New Haven: Yale University Press.
(Allen and Der Manuelian 2005) Allen, James P., and Peter Der Manuelian. 2005. The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts. Writings from
the Ancient World 23. Edited by Theodore J. Lewis. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature.
(Barker 2008) Barker, Margaret. 2008. The Gate of Heaven: The History and Symbolism of the Temple in Jerusalem. Sheffield: Sheffield
Phoenix Press.
(Clines 2006) Clines, David J. A. 2006. Job 21–37. Word Biblical Commentary 18A. Edited by Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard
and Glenn W. Barker. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
(Craig 2001) Craig, William Lane. 2001. Time and Eternity: Exploring God’s Relationship to Time. Wheaton: Crossway Books.
(Craig 2021) Craig, William Lane. 2021. In Quest of the Historical Adam: A Biblical and Scientific Exploration. Grand Rapids: William B.
Eerdmans.
(Culp 2021) Culp, John. Panentheism. 2021. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Available online:
https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2021/entries/panentheism (accessed on 1 August 2022).
(Currid 2013) Currid, John D. 2013. Against the Gods: The Polemical Theology of the Old Testament. Wheaton: Crossway.
(Enns 2015) Enns, Peter. 2015. Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament, 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Baker.
(Fontenrose 1966) Fontenrose, Joseph Eddy. 1966. The Ritual Theory of Myth. University of California Publications Folklore Studies 18.
Berkeley: University of California.
(Foster and Hollis 1995) Foster, John L., and Susan T. Hollis. 1995. Hymns, Prayers, and Songs: An Anthology of Ancient Egyptian Lyric
Poetry. Writings from the Ancient World 8. Atlanta: Scholars Press.
(Gaster 1962) Gaster, T. H. 1962. Myth, Mythology. In The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. Edited by George Arthur Buttrick. New
York: Abingdon, vol. 3.
(Geisler 1976) Geisler, Norman L. 1976. Christian Apologetics. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
(Greenwood 2015) Greenwood, Kyle. 2015. Scripture and Cosmology: Reading the Bible Between the Ancient World and Modern Science.
Kindle. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press.
, and
Religions 2022, 13, x FOR PEER REVIEW 10 of 11
3. (Smith and Parker 1997, p. 86). It is important to note that scholars have divergent views on how much the typical ancient Near
East view of the cosmic seas influenced Hebrew cosmology. Clines says that Hebrew cosmology presupposes “the earth floating
on the cosmic sea.” (Clines 2006, p. 635), whereas Greenwood says that unlike their ancient Near East neighbors, there is “no
indication that the Hebrews had a notion of the earth floating on the cosmic sea.” (Greenwood 2015, p. 79). Some scholars
associate Hadad with Baal, and the original name of the West Semitic storm god later referred to as “Lord” was “Bel.” See
Herrmann (1999 p. 132).
4. Wyatt believes this concept of the linear progress of time is a modern paradigm, wrongly foisted upon the Old Testament,
foreign to the Hebrew worldview, invalidated by modern scholarship, and an “embarrassment” to the serious study of ANE
literature. See Wyatt (2001, pp. 305–6). In contrast to this view, a study of the A-Theory of time provides a viable integration
point for a coherent view of time, modern physics, and biblical theology, where time is not cyclical but linear in the progress of
becoming. For a fuller discussion, see Craig (2001).
5. This article is focused on the cosmology of Genesis within the context of the Hebrew Bible which covers ה ָרוֹתּ (Tôrâ, Law),
םי ִאי ִבְנ (Nəîʾîm , Prophets), and םי ִבוּת ְ (Kəûîm, Writings). When refrencing the entire collection of Hebrew Scripture, the
acronymn Tanakh is used in as a synonym for the term Old Testement, which is the familiar Christian designation. Tanakh is
the most common term used in the Talmud and Midrash, and possibly modern Judaism and its use in this book helps draw a
clear distinction when referencing the Hebrew Scripture from the Christian Scripture which includes both the Tanakh and the
New Testament. When the term Scripture is used herein without qualification, it will be assumed to refer to both the Christian
Old and New Testaments. For a history of Hebrew canon and the use of Tanakh, (Sanders 1992, pp. 837–52).
6. (Walton 2009, p. 16). For a robust critique of this quote from Walton, see Lennox (2011, pp. 139–48).
7. (Walton 2011, pp. 198–99). Wyatt’s book on ANE mythology is commensurate with Walton’s concept of shared cognitivie
environment. However, the assertion that ancient cosmologies had no concern for material creation is rejected as Wyatt’s book
assumes these various mytholgies were inextricably linked to beliefs about the material universe—specficially, their
understanding of space and time. Wyatt writes, “The organization of space at all these levels was also vital to the smooth
running of a community on any scale. In practical terms this might be called secular, but it was never entirely separated from
the sacred in the ancient world, and ritual was the means by which both space and time were organized and harnessed to a
community’s use (Wyatt 2001, p. 55).” This does not mean the myths are compasection with modern science, but it does
undermine Walton’s premise that cosmogenic myth had no relation to the material genesis of the universe.
8. Johnston notes that “Egyptian religion featured four major versions of the same basic mythic cycle of creation, each represented
by rival sanctuaries: Heliopolis, Hermopolis, Memphis, and Thebes.” (Johnston 2008, pp. 180–81). While a complete study of
each of these unique mythologies is beyond the scope of this study, Johnston’s short article provides an excellent starting place
for further investigation of the Egyptian literature.
9. (Fontenrose 1966, pp. 54–55). Quoted in Oden (1992, p. 949).
10. (Craig 2021, p. 101). For a critique of Craig’s mytho-history, see Miller (2021).
References
(Allen 1988) Allen, James P. 1988. Genesis in Egypt: The Philosophy of Ancient Egyptian Creation Accounts. Yale Egyptological Studies 2.
New Haven: Yale University Press.
(Allen and Der Manuelian 2005) Allen, James P., and Peter Der Manuelian. 2005. The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts. Writings from
the Ancient World 23. Edited by Theodore J. Lewis. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature.
(Barker 2008) Barker, Margaret. 2008. The Gate of Heaven: The History and Symbolism of the Temple in Jerusalem. Sheffield: Sheffield
Phoenix Press.
(Clines 2006) Clines, David J. A. 2006. Job 21–37. Word Biblical Commentary 18A. Edited by Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard
and Glenn W. Barker. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
(Craig 2001) Craig, William Lane. 2001. Time and Eternity: Exploring God’s Relationship to Time. Wheaton: Crossway Books.
(Craig 2021) Craig, William Lane. 2021. In Quest of the Historical Adam: A Biblical and Scientific Exploration. Grand Rapids: William B.
Eerdmans.
(Culp 2021) Culp, John. Panentheism. 2021. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Available online:
https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2021/entries/panentheism (accessed on 1 August 2022).
(Currid 2013) Currid, John D. 2013. Against the Gods: The Polemical Theology of the Old Testament. Wheaton: Crossway.
(Enns 2015) Enns, Peter. 2015. Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament, 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Baker.
(Fontenrose 1966) Fontenrose, Joseph Eddy. 1966. The Ritual Theory of Myth. University of California Publications Folklore Studies 18.
Berkeley: University of California.
(Foster and Hollis 1995) Foster, John L., and Susan T. Hollis. 1995. Hymns, Prayers, and Songs: An Anthology of Ancient Egyptian Lyric
Poetry. Writings from the Ancient World 8. Atlanta: Scholars Press.
(Gaster 1962) Gaster, T. H. 1962. Myth, Mythology. In The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. Edited by George Arthur Buttrick. New
York: Abingdon, vol. 3.
(Geisler 1976) Geisler, Norman L. 1976. Christian Apologetics. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
(Greenwood 2015) Greenwood, Kyle. 2015. Scripture and Cosmology: Reading the Bible Between the Ancient World and Modern Science.
Kindle. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press.
. When refrencing the entire collection of Hebrew Scripture, the
acronymn Tanakh is used in as a synonym for the term Old Testement, which is the familiar Christian designation. Tanakh is the
most common term used in the Talmud and Midrash, and possibly modern Judaism and its use in this book helps draw a clear
distinction when referencing the Hebrew Scripture from the Christian Scripture which includes both the Tanakh and the New
Testament. When the term Scripture is used herein without qualification, it will be assumed to refer to both the Christian Old and
New Testaments. For a history of Hebrew canon and the use of Tanakh, (Sanders 1992, pp. 837–52).
6(Walton 2009, p. 16). For a robust critique of this quote from Walton, see Lennox (2011, pp. 139–48).
7
(Walton 2011, pp. 198–99). Wyatt’s book on ANE mythology is commensurate with Walton’s concept of shared cognitivie
environment. However, the assertion that ancient cosmologies had no concern for material creation is rejected as Wyatt’s
book assumes these various mytholgies were inextricably linked to beliefs about the material universe—specficially, their
understanding of space and time. Wyatt writes, “The organization of space at all these levels was also vital to the smooth running
of a community on any scale. In practical terms this might be called secular, but it was never entirely separated from the sacred in
the ancient world, and ritual was the means by which both space and time were organized and harnessed to a community’s
use (Wyatt 2001, p. 55).” This does not mean the myths are compasection with modern science, but it does undermine Walton’s
premise that cosmogenic myth had no relation to the material genesis of the universe.
8
Johnston notes that “Egyptian religion featured four major versions of the same basic mythic cycle of creation, each represented
by rival sanctuaries: Heliopolis, Hermopolis, Memphis, and Thebes.” (Johnston 2008, pp. 180–81). While a complete study of
each of these unique mythologies is beyond the scope of this study, Johnston’s short article provides an excellent starting place
for further investigation of the Egyptian literature.
9(Craig 2021, p. 101). For a critique of Craig’s mytho-history, see Miller (2021).
References
Allen, James P. 1988. Genesis in Egypt: The Philosophy of Ancient Egyptian Creation Accounts. Yale Egyptological Studies 2. New Haven:
Yale University Press.
Allen, James P., and Peter Der Manuelian. 2005. The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts. Writings from the Ancient World 23. Edited by
Theodore J. Lewis. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature.
Barker, Margaret. 2008. The Gate of Heaven: The History and Symbolism of the Temple in Jerusalem. Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press.
Clines, David J. A. 2006. Job 21–37. Word Biblical Commentary 18A. Edited by Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard and Glenn W.
Barker. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
Craig, William Lane. 2001. Time and Eternity: Exploring God’s Relationship to Time. Wheaton: Crossway Books.
Craig, William Lane. 2021. In Quest of the Historical Adam: A Biblical and Scientific Exploration. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans.
Culp, John Panentheism. 2021. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Available online: https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2
021/entries/panentheism (accessed on 1 August 2022).
Currid, John D. 2013. Against the Gods: The Polemical Theology of the Old Testament. Wheaton: Crossway.
Enns, Peter. 2015. Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament, 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Baker.
Fontenrose, Joseph Eddy. 1966. The Ritual Theory of Myth. University of California Publications Folklore Studies 18. Berkeley: University
of California.
Foster, John L., and Susan T. Hollis. 1995. Hymns, Prayers, and Songs: An Anthology of Ancient Egyptian Lyric Poetry. Writings from the
Ancient World 8. Atlanta: Scholars Press.
Gaster, T. H. 1962. Myth, Mythology. In The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. Edited by George Arthur Buttrick. New York: Abingdon,
vol. 3.
Geisler, Norman L. 1976. Christian Apologetics. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
Greenwood, Kyle. 2015. Scripture and Cosmology: Reading the Bible Between the Ancient World and Modern Science. Kindle. Downers
Grove: InterVarsity Press.
Henry, Carl F. H. 1999. God, Revelation, and Authority. Logos Bible Software. Wheaton: Crossway Books, vol. 1.
Herrmann, Wolfgang. 1999. Baal. In Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible. Edited by Karel van der Toorn, Bob Becking and Pieter
W. van der Horst. Leiden: Brill, pp. 131–39.
Johnston, Gordon H. 2008. Genesis 1 and Ancient Egyptian Creation Myths. Bibliotheca Sacra 165: 178–94.
Lennox, John C. 2011. Seven Days That Divide the World: The Beginning According to Genesis and Science. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
McLeish, Tom. 2014. Faith and Wisdom in Science. Kindle. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.
Merrill, Eugene H. 2008. Kingdom of Priests: A History of Old Testament Israel, 2nd ed. Kindle. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic.
Miller, Joseph R. 2021. Craig’s Quest for the Historical Adam: A Response from John Oswalt (Part 2). More Than Cake, October 11.
Available online: https://www.morethancake.org/archives/238848 (accessed on 1 March 2022).
Oden, Robert A., Jr. 1992. Myth and Mythology: Mythology. In The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary. Edited by David Noel Freedman.
New York: Doubleday, vol. 4.
Religions 2022,13, 730 11 of 11
Oswalt, John N. 2009. The Bible among the Myths: Unique Revelation or Just Ancient Literature? Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
Ramm, Bernard L. 1954. The Christian View of Science and Scripture. Grand Rapids: W. B. Eerdmans.
Sanders, James A. 1992. Canon: Hebrew Bible. In The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary. Edited by David Noel Freedman. New York:
Doubleday, vol. 1, pp. 837–52.
Smith, Mark S., and Simon B. Parker. 1997. Ugaritic Narrative Poetry. Writings From the Ancient World 9. Atlanta: Scholars Press.
Walton, John H. 2003. Creation. In Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch. Edited by T. Desmond Alexander and David W. Baker.
Downers Grove: InterVarsity, pp. 162–68.
Walton, John H. 2009. The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate. Downers Grove: IVP Academic.
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Article
hose who think about time are thinking deeply. Those who think about God T are thinking even more deeply still. Those who try to think about God and time are pressing the very limits of human understanding. Undaunted, this is precisely the project which we have set for ourselves in this study: to try to grasp the nature of divine eternity, to understand what is meant by the amnnation that God is etemal, to fonnulate a coherent doctrine ofGod's relationship with time. This study, the second installment of a long-range research pro gram devoted to a philosophical analysis of the principal attributes of God, flows naturally out of my previous exploration of divine omniscience. ! For the most contentious issue with respect to God's being omniscient concerns divine foreknowledge of future contingents, such as free acts of human agents. The very concept of foreknowledge presupposes that God is temporal, and a good many thinkers, from Boethius to certain contemporary philosophers, have thought to avoid the alleged incompatibility of divine foreknowledge and human freedom by afflnning the timelessness of God. Thus, in examining the complex of issues surrounding the foreknowledge question, we found ourselves already immersed in the question of divine eternity.
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