The Creation Account in Genesis 1:1-3: Part IV: The Theology of Genesis 1 -- By: Bruce K. Waltke

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 132:528 (Oct 1975)
Article: The Creation Account in Genesis 1:1-3: Part IV: The Theology of Genesis 1
Author: Bruce K. Waltke


The Creation Account in Genesis 1:1-3:
Part IV:
The Theology of Genesis 1

Bruce K. Waltke

[Bruce K. Waltke, Professor of Semitic Languages and Old Testament Exegesis, Dallas Theological Seminary.]

[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fourth in a series of articles first delivered by the author as the Bueermann-Champion Foundation Lectures at Western Conservative Baptist Seminary, Portland, Oregon, October 1–4. 1974, and adapted from Creation and Chaos (Portland, OR: Western Conservative Baptist Seminary, 1974).]

Moses’ revelation of God, given through the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, conflicted diametrically with the concepts of the gods and goddesses found in the nations all around him. Moses differed with the pagan religions precisely in the conceptualization of the relationship of God to the creation. To all other peoples of the ancient Near East, creation was the work of gods and goddesses. The forces of nature, personalized as gods and goddesses, were mutually interrelated and often locked in conflict. Moreover, their myths about the role of these gods and goddesses in creation were at the very heart of their religious celebrations. These stories about Ninurta and Asag, Marduk and Tiamat, Baal and Yamm, did not serve to entertain the people, nor did they serve merely to explain how the creation originated. The adherents of these myths believed that by myth (word) and by ritual (act) they could reenact these myths in order to sustain the creation. Life, order, and society, depended on the faithful celebration of the ritual connected with the myth. For example, concerning the Enuma elish, Sarna wrote:

Recorded in seven tablets, it was solemnly recited and dramatically presented in the course of the festivities marking the Spring New Year, the focal point of the Babylonian religious calendar. It was,

in effect, the myth that sustained Babylonian civilization, that buttressed its societal norms and its organizational structure.1

But the revelation of God in Scripture is diametrically opposed to these degraded notions about God. If, then, the essential difference between the Mosaic faith and the pagan faith differed precisely in their conceptualization of the relationship of God to the creation, is it conceivable that Moses should have left the new nation under God without an accurate account of the origin of the creation? To this writer such a notion is incredible. Anderson touched on the source critic’s problem when he noted: “Considering the impressive evidences of the importance of the creation-faith in pagan religion during the second millennium B.C., it is curious that i...

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