I thought I would basically sum up my view of Genesis 1.
- Semitic scholar Robert Holmstedt argues that you simply cannot claim that the world began in Genesis 1:1 based on a reading of Genesis 1:1, period.
- Dutch biblical scholar Ellen van Wolde claims that the Hebrew word ‘Bara’ in Genesis 1:1 is better translated as ‘spatially separate’. According to Michael Heiser this is syntactically possible. Mike doesn’t otherwise endorse her thesis, largely on the grounds that it presumes that God did not create from nothing but I hold that she is probably right (though wrong in suggesting that God didn’t create the pre-existent material) given how this notion is found in other ANE cosmogonic myths, so we ought to expect that Genesis 1 includes this given it’s apparent use of common cosmogonic ideas. This would imply that the heavens and the earth were already in existence in Genesis.
- John Walton has conclusively shown beyond reasonable doubt in my mind that creation is described as a temple. I won’t go over all the evidence here (read his Lost World book for more information). He has also shown that Genesis 1 describes the assignment of creation’s functions. In the ANE the dedicatation ceremony was considered to be the creation of the temple (hence explaining why later biblical authors treat this as creation), but the material creation of the temple building was a different process altogether.
Therefore, as Genesis 1 describes the functions of creation being dedicated, in historical (and biblical context, I might add) context one cannot claim that it describes material origins. It does describe creation, but in the context of a temple, creation does not mean what we commonly think.
What do you think?