Jerry Shepherd jshepherd53 at gmail.com
Tue Sep 4 19:32:16 EDT 2012

Hi All,

Contributing to this discussion again, I'd like to reiterate that a lot of
the opposition to George, Yigal, Nir, and myself has focused on what are
considered by some to be merely isolated mythological elements within a
literal account.  But I think it is important to note that we are not
talking about individual pieces of the account, but rather, its whole
orientation.  The entire account is of a piece with the cosmological
orientation of the ANE. Just like other ANE accounts, the Genesis 1
narrative begins with chaos, without feeling the need to explain where that
chaos came from.  The first three days of creation, then, describe the
process by which God brought order out of that chaos, turning disorder into
order: separating between day and night, separating between waters above
the sky (vault, dome) and waters below the sky, and separating between
waters below and the dry land.   In the flood narrative, then, this ordered
creation, returns to the chaotic conditions of 1:2, the rejoining of the
waters above the sky (the floodgates of the heavens opening up) to the
waters below the sky (the springs of the great deep), the water covering
the dry land, and the inevitable confusion of day and night which these
conditions would cause.  As the waters finally recede, things return to
their created state at the end of Genesis 1, thus yielding the pattern of
creation, de-creation, re-creation

To be sure, the ancients were keen observers of the sun, moon, stars, and
planets (travelers).  But these astronomical observations were still made
within an orientation that was both flat-earth (though aware that there was
some curvature), and earth-centered (geocentric).  They were not
Copernicans before Copernicus.  And this goes for the entire Old Testament.

For those who have theological concerns, this is, of course, not a
theological forum.  But I would add that, at least within my theological
tradition, this understanding of Gen 1 does nothing to detract from my own
confession of God as creator.  Rather, it accords nicely with my
understanding that God has revealed himself both progressively and
accommodatively, and that the Scriptures are both a divine and human text.


Jerry Shepherd
Taylor Seminary
Edmonton, Alberta

Jerry Shepherd
jshepherd53 at gmail.com

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