14 October 2009

Land of the Lost, part 6

On to Props 9–10. I realize this can be pretty boring stuff, at least the way I've presented it, so thanks for taking the time to read along. (I'm writing a lot of other stuff right now and am feeling a bit lazy.)

Proposition 9: The seven days of Genesis 1 relate to the cosmic temple inauguration
  • Confirmed by the divine rest on the 7th day (and divine rest only takes place in temples).
  • The number “7” is a predominant theme in ANE temple texts and in the Bible; in Gen 1, it implies temple inauguration
  • Creation, only if it’s an account of functional origins, fits like a hand in glove with temple inauguration (88). Just like a temple is made functional at an inauguration ceremony, so too was creation, the cosmic temple, made functional during its (7-day) inauguration ceremony and when God took up residence in his rest. This “creates” the temple (not its material construction).
  • Could Gen 1 have served as liturgy for the temple inauguration (or even used during a yearly reenactment of cultic worship)?
  • Whatever the case, we see that the nature of the days is not very significant if this is not an account of material origins. The days are obviously 7, 24-hour days. “This has always been the best reading of the Hebrew text” (91).
  • The day-age view or any other view that fools with the clear meaning of the days is on thin exegetical ground. Trying to resolve scientific evidence that the earth and the universe are very old with the creation account of Gen 1 is faulty from the start (“concordist”). Fancy interpretations result when this narrative is seen as an account of material origins, for literal 7, 24-hour days of material creation are obviously irreconcilable with scientific evidence.
Proposition 10: The seven days of Genesis 1 do not concern material origins

But why can’t it be both? Functional and material? Well, does the text allow for it?
  • (1) Days 1, 3, 7 don’t mention the creation of any material component;
  • (2) The firmament in day 2 potentially mentions a material component, but no one actually believes today there’s a solid construction up in the sky to hold back the waters. If this was to be taken as a description of material creation, we’d then be forced to explain the material creation of something that does not exist. But the Hebrew word for it had a very specific meaning in Israel’s cosmic geography. This component of “Old World science addresses the function of weather, described in terms that they would understand” (95);
  • (3) Days 4 and 6 have material components, but they’re discussed only on a functional level;
  • (4) Day 5 again only speaks of functions (let them swarm); thus, nothing is left in the text to imply material origins
  • Genesis 1 as a whole has nothing to contribute to the discussion of the age of the earth. “This is not a conclusion drawn to accommodate science—it was drawn from an analysis and interpretation of the biblical text of Genesis in its ancient environment” (95, and see the next few sentences too).
  • It’s important to note that all this isn’t to say that God wasn’t involved in material origins; it’s rather to say that Gen 1 isn’t that story (96).
So, then, the 7 days: before and after.
  • Before: Like rehearsals for a play. Material phase of the cosmos could have been underway. Long eras where life developed. Sun shining. Plants growing. Animals living. Etc.
  • After: The curtain rises; the play begins. Now the sun shines in a different context—the context of the cosmic temple. The cosmos is now God’s place of rest, his temple. “People have been granted the image of God and now serve him as vice regents in the world that has been made for them” (98; clearly this suggests pre-existing “people”; did they not die? did they not have the imago dei?). Each day of the seven days the world was being prepared to do for people what it had been designed to do.
  • But what about Rom 5:12 and death? The verse only talks about how death came to humanity, not death in general, but to us (100). But death in general was all over before the fall (insects eating plants; birds eating insects; seeds dying and sprouting; skin cells dying, etc.).
  • Humans were not subject to death b/c the tree of life gave them life—an antidote to their natural mortality. The punishment for disobedience was to be “doomed to death” (Gen 2:17, being kept from the tree of life). Without access to the tree, humans would be subject to the mortality of their bodies—from dust we were made and to dust we shall return. And so it was that “death came through sin.”

Part 7—almost heaven (but not quite West Virginia).


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