Faith & Fossils: The Bible, Creation, and Evolution. By Lester L. Grabbe. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2018. ISBN: 978-0-8028-6910-4. xiii + 182pp. A$33.60.
= a supplemented edition of a book review submitted to the Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology for a 2019 issue.
Lester Grabbe’s name will be familiar to anyone who has had much cause to read thoroughly in Old Testament scholarship, notably the history and historiography of ancient Israel, with a focus on the exile and early second temple period, having authored A History of the Jews and Judaism in the Second Temple Period (Continuum/T&T Clark, 2004, 2008) and Ancient Israel: What Do We Know and How Do We Know It? (Continuum/T&T Clark, 2007) as just two examples from his prolific output. Faith and Fossils therefore represents a branching-out into a side interest for Grabbe, rather than his core expertise, yet he determines to balance the scales in Bible and evolution discussions by approaching the topic with biblical scholarship backing in contrast to the scientific expertise that often motivates such writings (p. ix). The book combines three primary themes, autobiography, biblical genre & backgrounds, and certain lines of scientific evidence into an argument for Christian openness to evolution as a practical reality about the world’s origin that need not clash with the fundamentals of the faith or the relevant biblical texts when rightly understood. While the world does not lack books seeking to persuade the person in the pew for or against evolution, Grabbe’s scholarly credentials and clarity win him a deserved place in the debate. Continue reading
The wise old monkey in The Lion King told the young lion character, whatever his name was, that the whack on the head he had just applied with his stick was “in de past,” so it didn’t matter. I’m like someone who has had a good whack on the head when it comes to things further into the past than about 10 minutes, so forgive me if I’ve already posted this, but in May I had a post about Basil (‘the Great’), the Cappadocian church father who lived c. 330-379 AD/CE, published online by the Creation Project, operating out of the Henry Center, an arm of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago, USA. It went by the above title, and its concern was to explain how Basil viewed creation in his famous nine-part Lenten sermon series on the subject, dating from about 376. It’s the first stand-alone piece of speaking/writing on the creation week or ‘hexaemeron’ in Genesis 1:1-2:3 to have appeared in the church, and gave birth to an entire genre of similar writings, as well as embedded treatments within Genesis commentaries and other types of writing, that lasted for more than 1,000 years. Basil was no dummy, and though he regularly disparages secular philosophy in this sermon series, he utilizes quite a bit of it as well.
Here’s the mug shot of Basil from the Henry Center page, with Basil looking suitably transcendental, if not somewhat spaced out. Hey, he did have his mystical side…
So you might find this an interesting read, if you’re following discussions about historical Christian thinking about creation and/or Genesis:
Creation and Time in Basil’s Hexaemeron
Amazing. I think we’ve reached instalment five, dear reader, of my review series dealing with Charles, J. Daryl, ed. Reading Genesis 1–2 : An Evangelical Conversation (Peabody: Hendrickson, 2013). And not just within the same decade, I’m gonna get this done within the same calendar year, at the astonishing rate of a post on the subject about every six weeks. Ah well, it’s easy to impress when you set expectations very low.
My last post in this series offered my opinions on Chapter Four: “What Genesis 1–2 Teaches (And What It Doesn’t), by Tremper Longman III,” by C. John Collins. Now, finally, are my thoughts on:
Chapter Five: Reading Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology, by John H. Walton. Walton spent twenty years (1981–2001) teaching at Moody Bible Institute and has been OT prof. at Wheaton College since then. He’s quite prolific writing on Genesis and ancient Near Eastern backgrounds to Genesis and to the OT generally. He’s the only one of these guys I’ve heard speak in person, being lucky to catch him here in Australia within the last couple of years. The present essay is a nice nutshell version of his thinking on Genesis 1. I found myself agreeing with much that he said, but in the end he presents a solution to tensions over Genesis 1 that I suspect represents a bit of a fast move.
Welcome back to the nearly everlasting series where I respond to each of the five main contributors’ essays in:
Charles, J. Daryl, ed. Reading Genesis 1–2 : An Evangelical Conversation (Peabody: Hendrickson, 2013).
My last post in this series offered my opinions on Chapter Three: “Reading Genesis 1–2 with the Grain: Analogical Days,” by C. John Collins. Now, none too soon, are my thoughts on:
Chapter Four: What Genesis 1–2 Teaches (And What It Doesn’t), by Tremper Longman III, along with the other writers’ responses. Tremper Longman is one of the most prolific writers in the world of evangelical Christian scholarship, one of those guys who must stay up working all night every night, or has a dozen graduate students working for him, or both. He is also involved in the ongoing maelstrom that surrounds Westminster Theological Seminary in the US, which is spitting out professors on a regular basis; I’ll let you google that one. His profile means that his opinions on hot topics are well noticed, and in recent years his negotiability on evolutionary human origins and a literal Adam have come to attention. If you’ll forgive the spellos, one insight is available at: http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2009/09/21/tremper-longman-on-the-historicity-of-adam/. Longman’s chapter here in Reading Genesis 1-2, as for the other contributors, is a great short-scope synopsis of his thinking on early Genesis matters.
This video features a talk that I gave recently at Melbourne School of Theology, where I tried to put Christian debates about science and the Bible into some historical (and at a basic level, philosophical) context. On some points I have more thinking left to do. It was a follow-up to a visit by the CEO of Creation Ministries in Australia, Dr. Don Batten. I wanted to agree with him on some points, disagree respectfully on others, and generally to point out that all of our schemes for reconciling the Bible/Christianity with science involve interpretation and rationalizing.
So, here it is for your judgment:
Here is a talk by Creation Ministries’ Dr Don Batten that took place a week prior to my own talk and forms the background for some of my comments: audio on YouTube.
Otherwise, as audio file for downloading: