07 October 2009

Land of the Lost, part 5

Here we go, continuing our walkthrough of Walton's Lost World. I think what follows (unlike the previous post on the days of creation) is fairly non-controversial. My only hope is that it's taken seriously, because this cosmic-temple theme is seriously embedded in the ancient text itself (and, indeed, I think it runs throughout the canon).

Proposition 7: Divine rest is in a temple

  • The true climax: a temple text w/o which the creation would have no meaning.
  • The work of separating and subduing and assigning functions is done; the day of “rest” is the day on which the creator God can begin his providential sustenance of the ordered system w/o any obstacles. Stability is here. From such rest he rules. The temple is his headquarters. This is typical temple theology for the ANE.
Proposition 8: The cosmos is a temple
  • In many ANE texts, the temple is built as a conclusion to cosmic creation; they are distinct but related acts
  • In like manner, Genesis depicts this close relationship; we see how the tabernacle/temple serves as a symbol of the cosmos (and particularly the garden). The courtyard represented the cosmic spheres outside of the organized cosmos (cosmic waters and pillars of the earth); the antechamber held the representations of light (Menorah) and food (bread of presence); the veil separated the heavens and earth (the place of God’s presence from the place of human habitation). pp. 81–82 (see fn. 12 about how “heaven and earth” could be a metonymy referring to the cosmic temple).
  • Tabernacle/Temple share many affinities with the Garden of Eden: the garden in Genesis is viewed as an archetypal sanctuary (82).
  • “The temple is a microcosm, and Eden is represented in the antechamber that serves as sacred space adjoining the presence of God as an archetypal sanctuary” (83). So the cosmos can be likened to a temple (cf. Isa 66:1–2).
  • Thus the premise of Genesis 1: “that it should be understood as an account of functional origins of the cosmos as a temple” with God dwelling in its midst (84).
  • Day 7 is thus so significant because if God didn’t take up his restful residence in the cosmic temple, then the cosmic temple does not exist. This world is a place for God’s presence. While the functions given are anthropocentric, the cosmic temple is theocentric. Prior to Day 1, God was active but not resident; by Day 7 he is, which effectuates the establishment of the functional cosmic temple (85).

Throw Part 6 into the mix.


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