Functional Theory of Genesis

The apparent conflict between the Biblical account of biological and material origins and the account offered by modern science often occupies the center stage of Christian discourse. Some leaders see no possibility of reconciliation between the Biblical account and the scientific one, and set the stage for a battle over origins upon which the fate of Christendom hangs. While I don’t think the typical literal interpretations of Genesis must hold if anything is to hold, this is an area that causes me stress. A recent onset of vigorous debate over this matter prompted me to buckle down and finally polish off The Lost World of Genesis One.

The book – a recommendation from a friend – presents a new-to-me interpretation of Genesis. The author posits and supports the idea that ancient Israelites would have read Genesis with a what he calls a functional ontology – and that a “face value” reading of the text must be done with this in mind. The author further argues that Genesis does not concern itself with material origins, but functional ones. The days of creation in Genesis one record the creation of functions and functionaries to prepare the world for humanity. Additionally, the author draws parallels between the inauguration ceremony of an ancient temple and the creation narrative. Many of the same theological corollaries can be drawn from the text, and since this theory of Genesis claims to give an account of strictly functional origins, the material origins conflict is avoided.

I must confess a bias in favor of interpretations of Genesis that don’t require the overthrow of respected scientific theories. That said, I would highly recommend The Lost World of Genesis One. The argument was very well-organized and compelling. I think this is probably the best interpretation of Genesis that I have been presented with – the closest second being framework approaches. However, the argument is not completely airtight, and there is some room for opposition. Additionally, this interpretation did not solve all the hard origins problems I struggle with – notably, the Flood and the Fall are still hard to fit into consistent origins framework. Nevertheless, my confidence in this particular interpretation is high.

The book is available from Amazon, or you can just borrow it from me if you’re local.


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