From: Graham E. Morbey <>
Date: Thu Feb 19 2004 - 18:18:17 EST

Reading the Creation story of Genesis as anti-idolatry polemic is
certainly valid, in my estimation. But it is not the whole story because
literary genre and structure need also to get their due. For this, let
me suggest an article by Rikki E. Watts, "On the Edge of the
Millennium: Making Sense of Genesis 1" from Hans Boersma, ed., Living in
the Lamblight, (Vancouver: Regent College Publishing, 2001). p. 129-151.
Watts is quite persuasive in showing that the Egyptian influence on
Genesis is more important than either the Babylonian or Sumerian. He
states, " Surprisingly, although Israel had just spent 400 years in
Egypt, relatively little attention has been given to Egyptian creation
accounts which one might otherwise expect to provide the dominant
background against which Genesis 1 was heard or read.. And considering
that Genesis is traditionally described as one of the books of Moses,
from a literary standpoint it seems right to read it in the light of
Israel's exodus." (pp. 138-139).

Big Quote from Watts:
"This considerable similarity with the Egyptian accounts raises a very
interesting question. It is sometimes suggested that the other ancient
creation stories are distorted echoes of the original creation strory,
namely Genesis 1. This is always a possibility. But then one is left
with a strange fact. How does one explain that it happens to be Egyptian
stories, the place where Israel has just spent 400 years and which
stories antedate considerably Israel's stay in Egypt, whose scattered
details on the whole bear a greater resemblance to Genesis 1 than those,
for example, of Mesopotamia? Might not a better explanation be the exact
opposite? Namely, that it was the details of the varied Egyptian
accounts that have influenced the language of Israel's creation story
precisely to make it all the more effective against the gods of Egypt?
Might it not be that Genesis 1 was written with a particular concern to
declare that it was Israel's God, Yahweh, and not Ptah, Atum, or any
other of Egypt's failed deities, who was alone responsible for the good
and perfect order of creation?" (p.144)

Further Watts points out that the Hebrew Bible is "awash with
architectural imagery when describing creation"- foundations, pillars,
windows, heavens stretched like a canopy/tent, storehouses. In fact he
concludes that Creation is the Palace-temple of God in which on the last
day of creating God places his own Image. This understanding is shown to
accord with New Testament imagery, especially that of Revelation.

Keith Miller wrote:

> Thanks for making Conrad Hyers' article on "Dinosaur Religion: On
> Interpreting and Misinterpreting the Creation Texts" available to
> all of us. I read it avidly since Ted Davis recommended it so
> highly. I was not disappointed. It is the best interpretation of
> the first chapter of Genesis I have ever read. I want to add my
> recommendation of it to everyone on this list serve.
> For everyone's information, Conrad Hyers' arguments are developed at
> book length in "The Meaning of Creation: Genesis and Modern Science"
> (1984, John Knox Press). I believe the book is still available, but am
> not sure. Conrad also wrote a new essay on the hermeneutics of Genesis
> for my edited volume "Perspectives on an Evolving Creation."
> Keith
> Keith B. Miller
> Research Assistant Professor
> Dept of Geology, Kansas State University
> Manhattan, KS 66506-3201
> 785-532-2250
Received on Thu Feb 19 18:19:11 2004

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