Sailhamer has bent over backwards to be fair to the various views, yet he has failed to accomplish the impossible.
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I think advocates of any of the opposing views would find fault with his summaries of their viewpoints. In terms of young earth creation, I think Kurt Wise or Todd Wood would be eager to deny that they allow science to determine their reading of Genesis, and with some justification. On the other hand, the implication that theistic evolutionists believe God had limited involvement in the process of creation simply because he uses a mechanism such as biological evolution to accomplish his purposes. I personally believe that God is directly involved in the movement of every subatomic particle, and that an infinite God has no need to diminish his attention to what we humans see as great matters in order to supervise small ones.
That said, I must again say that Sailhamer is fairer to his opponents than the vast majority of writers on this divisive topic, so perhaps this negative is more of a positive! I was more disappointed with the various scientific excurses, which do not, in my view, reflect the best in scientific thought on those topics. In addition, the scientific explanations showing how science would support Historical Creationism seem to me to detract from the original argument—understanding the text on its own terms. I do understand the desire to show that this interpretation does not contradict major scientific evidence.
But these excurses on science are all subject to extensive debate and the science has advanced even since the date of publication. If his view is correct, for example, those who reconciled Genesis with the Ptolemaic universe were wrong.
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Might it not be the same for any reconciliation to current science on human origins or the origin of life itself? I referred earlier to one more issue, the reading of Genesis which Sailhamer discusses extensively He states that Genesis clearly has a substantially different meaning than Genesis He is trying to establish that the sun and moon and other heavenly bodies were created in the beginning Gen. The reason this book, good as it is, did not ultimately convince me, is that my disagreement is at a more basic level, one which would probably be beyond the scope of a book this size.
But more on that in a moment. At the same time, he begins this discussion with Ptolemy on the one hand and with Hellenistic Jewish efforts to accommodate the Torah with Greek thought, particularly cosmology. I would go further, and look at the relationship between Genesis and ancient near eastern literature. While I agree that Genesis 1 was not copied from Sumerian sources, I do not agree and did my research on this for my MA that the cosmology and other symbols are not present and are not related.
Of course, I must confess that if I were writing a book, the opposite criticism would likely be levied-that I had neglected the later commentators and cosmologies. At the time I completed my degree I saw no direct relationship between Genesis and Mesopotamia, but since then I have become convinced that Genesis is a direct challenge to the theological views represented in that material. The very absence of such things as conflict between the gods, of a great windstorm, and of the contempt for humans is very telling. But what of the cosmology? Can one maintain that Genesis is divine in origin, while claiming that it reflects the cosmology of the time?
I think so. If God is to communicate with humans in language that we can understand, he must use our language. That does not mean simply language that we have in our lexicon. It must be language as we can understand it. Since our understanding of cosmology has changed and will likely continue to change, we need to see that message in new forms, translated in terms of cosmology, if you please. I see the cosmology in which the creation story is clothed as no more ultimately important than the specific language in which the story is spoken. It is the medium, not the message.
It is not narrative history. God, who inspired the story, knows precisely what happened. Not so much. So what do I call this? Well, I see Genesis a as liturgy, though doctrine packed liturgy. I think it works well as such and it frames the remainder of the story in that fashion. This is as good a place as any to discuss those extensive parallels I referenced at the beginning of this review, which I think Sailhamer has established so thoroughly. In other words, the relationship is reversed. I suggest reading this book. There are too many narrow readings of Genesis, and too few challenges to our various supposed orthodoxies on the topic.
There are many ways of looking at these issues, and you need to be acquainted with a variety of them in order to speak intelligently on the topic. Sailhamer has made it easier for me to take another step toward speaking intelligently, for which I am grateful. Waltke and M. An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax. Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns, , Old Testament Library. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, , You could even deny that any of the events happened and treat it as a complete fiction while taking it literally.
Taking it literally is just a matter of reading the story in a way that the words it uses speak, in the story, of the things those words seem to speak of. Literalism contrasts not with those who take the story to be a useful fiction but with metaphor. I have a soft spot for Sailhamer. I really enjoyed his Genesis commentary when I was looking through a number of them on several passages.
He takes the sons of God to be the faithful Sethites and the daughters of men to be the unfaithful Cainites. At the time, I was convinced, though, even with all the other commentaries I looked at arguing for alternative views. God is sovereign and involved at all points, yet human beings are to be held responsible. Something between the Wesleyan-Arminian position and Openness theology seem to me to explain this best, but I admit to not being very satisfied.
I treat the cosmology more as language than as fact. Thus I think it is literal in its original sense, but has to be translated. I think the original author was thinking in terms of hour periods. Not God, who inspired, but the human author who wrote. Since God chooses to communicate with humans, we have to see through human language.
I too look forward to the WBC volume, though I have no information on its release.
I was lucky enough to have learned Hebrew from Sailhamer and take a Genesis exegesis with him while in seminary. So, I guess I have my biases too. I had the same trouble, but I think I read in either his EBC Genesis commentary or in his Pentateuch as Narrative that the main difference is the use of infinitives in Genesis If this is right, is no longer about God speaking the sun, moon, and stars into existence, but is, in a sense, telling the already-existing lights what to do. Whether or not this comes across in the book, I know that in class he said that Genesis could have contained billions of years his stance or could have taken milliseconds which young earth creationists would prefer.
Genesis Unbound | Review
I see this as a strength that can be adjusted for a wide variety of views on the age of the earth. Almost as if Sailhamer forget to include a chapter. Thanks for commenting. With regard to one of my own books, a reviewer mentioned he wished a certain topic was covered more thoroughly.
When I read that I remember that my co-author and I had discussed that very issue, and had deleted a number of pages in trying to keep the book within mission. Excellent read. Without stealing Dr. Sailhamer's thunder, the book takes a fascinating approach to its subject: what if we let the original Hebrew text itself guide our interpretation and understanding of the early chapters of Genesis, rather than approaching it from the various worldviews, translations, and interpretations that have attached themselves to theses chapters over time?
Of particular interest to me was Dr. Sailhamer's commentary on the influence of ancient Greek cosmology on the tra Excellent read. Sailhamer's commentary on the influence of ancient Greek cosmology on the translation, interpretation, etc. While I may not agree with all his points, they are certainly plausible and most definitely thought provoking. A must read for anyone interested in creation science!
Nov 02, Brian Neises rated it really liked it. Absolutely fantastic in scope, though not always the most engaging reading. I probably would have preferred a deeper scholarly approach, but the purpose of the book was more to summarize Sailhammer's main points, rather than a deep dive into how he arrived at those conclusions. Overall, this book provided crucial elements to help fit together some long standing issues I had with all of the other models on interpreting Genesis , and how they dovetail with what we see in the world around us. May 15, Allen rated it it was amazing.
Every serious student of Scripture, especially Genesis, should read this book. It has totally revolutionized my view of creation. One can have a literal and realistic view of creation without believing that God created the universe in 6 days. Get a copy of this book it is hard to find new but you can Every serious student of Scripture, especially Genesis, should read this book. Get a copy of this book it is hard to find new but you can buy a used copy cheap from Amazon and read it. A must read for a fair view of the creation account spoken of in the Holy Bible. After reading this book i found myself having less questions about the creation account and focusing more on the creator Himself.
Wow the power behind creation is beyond our understanding, yet our creator allows for us unworthy sinner to have a relationship with Him through Jesus. May you find this read as eye opening as i did. May the Lord receive all the glory of this book and everything that is righteous within us A must read for a fair view of the creation account spoken of in the Holy Bible. May the Lord receive all the glory of this book and everything that is righteous within us. I love Jesus!
Apr 07, Gowdy Cannon rated it it was amazing. Controversial because it leaves room -via biblical interpretation and NOT science - for an older earth. I highly, highly recommend it even if you will never agree with it, just because it challenges biases and pre-understandings to a familiar biblical passage in ways few other books I've read have. I adore this work. Jun 05, Becky rated it it was ok. Interesting points, but ultimately unconvincing. Dec 26, David Harris rated it it was amazing.
Super thought-provoking. Nov 21, Rob Steinbach rated it it was amazing. Great and easy to read work on Genesis He makes a great case for his position. If you are interested in this discussion definitely read this. Jan 14, Jake Augeri rated it it was amazing. I really enjoyed the view he espoused in the book.
Quick Introductory Note
After reading it, I find myself convinced that Sailhammer's thesis is correct. Outline of book: Chapter 1 - What is all the Fuss? Chapter 2 What difference does it make? Chapter 3 - In the beginning The beginning in Gen speaks of indeterminate period of time not a specific point in time, so could be over vast amounts of what we call time.
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Chapter 4 - The Land and Sky The phrase heavens and earth is best translated Sky and Land Could be used as a figure of speech for Universe Chapter 5 Formless and Void what is translated formless and void most appropriately means simple uninhabitable or not ready for man and animals. Adam and Eve could enjoy God's provision of the land like Israel later if they obeyed God. It will become a pattern for life of Israel. Appendix 1 - Literal, Figurative, or Something Else? Appendix 2 - Creation Out of Nothing I have 2 issues with the main thesis.
One is death would have to have been in. Death in my mind was result of sin. My objection comes from Rom where death is said to come from Sin and brings death with it. Not sense of death before that. If creation is divided into 2 parts one of earth and universe then 6 days of creation of all else still dinosaurs would still be in. Sailhamer makes a convincing case that the common translations of Genesis are too beholden to Greek cosmologies which shaped the mindset of the translators.
John Sailhamer - Wikipedia
While they are in the minority, there is a line of scholars through the centuries who read verse 2 along the lines of "the land was uninhabitable". This is particularly true of Jewish scholars. This rendering of the text is significant in that it puts the entire creation of the universe into Genesis , leaving it unspecified in terms Sailhamer makes a convincing case that the common translations of Genesis are too beholden to Greek cosmologies which shaped the mindset of the translators.
This rendering of the text is significant in that it puts the entire creation of the universe into Genesis , leaving it unspecified in terms of time or process. Sailhamer also makes a convincing case that we ought to read the first two chapters of Genesis in the context of the whole Pentateuch, which has as one of its prominent features the restoration of Israel to the Promised Land.
Those two major insights lead to a fresh look at the six days which now become the work God in fashioning a Promised Land out of a previously inhospitable piece of the earth. As with all interpretive frameworks, this one works better for some parts of the text than others but overall presents a strong case.
Sailhamer seems careful in his research and fair in his interaction with other views but occasionally makes sweeping generalizations that just seem out of character with the rest of the book. There was no pre-Adamic human race. In his appendix section Sailhamer tries to debunk any view of the text other than historical narrative. I thought the way he contrasted narrative vs. Also at no time in his book does he deal seriously with the Egyptian and Mesopotamian accounts of creation with which the children of Israel would have had much exposure.
The possibility of Genesis as a theological polemic is not considered as an alternative. Overall, an enjoyable read and a set of ideas that need serious consideration. May 29, Joy Rancatore rated it it was amazing. Genesis Unbound is well-written, engaging and clear with its presentation of a historical and linguistic look at the book of Genesis, the first book in the Bible.
John Sailhamer's repetitive writing method is helpful to drive home each point he makes. His research is extensive and his understanding of the biblical languages is proven, making this book one believers can trust and be wise to weigh against Scripture. Sailhamer has done all the research and linguistic study that most people aren't a Genesis Unbound is well-written, engaging and clear with its presentation of a historical and linguistic look at the book of Genesis, the first book in the Bible. Sailhamer has done all the research and linguistic study that most people aren't able to do.
For me, this book was a breath of fresh air. It answered a multitude of questions that always plagued me when I was growing up. I always knew there was more than what people typically toss about when mentioning creation, and now Sailhamer has done the research I would not have known how to begin and presented it in this book.
Jan 23, Bob rated it really liked it. Genesis Unbound deals with the first two chapters of the Bible. This will help us to under Genesis Unbound deals with the first two chapters of the Bible. This will help us to understand the authors original intent. You will love this and you will push yourself to finish it so you can grasp what he says without having to wait until the next time you have a chance to pick up the book. Aug 17, Micaela Lees rated it really liked it Shelves: theology. It did leave me with a few open items to explore and I didn't love how it was formatted.
Apr 12, Andrew Brown rated it liked it. Interesting book. Sailhamer explains the Genesis account within the context of the Old Testament and through the definition of complex Hebrew terms for 'beginning' and 'land'. Worth a skim. And worth some study for some. Sep 19, Sean Post rated it it was amazing.
Phenomenal work from the world's top Pentateuch scholar.