The Lost Truth Of Genesis -- By: A.W. Morris

Journal: Journal of Ministry and Theology
Volume: JMAT 23:2 (Fall 2019)
Article: The Lost Truth Of Genesis
Author: A.W. Morris

The Lost Truth Of Genesis

A.W. Morris

Abstract: Scholars such as John Walton have correctly identified the need for modern interpreters to understand the Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) context in which the Bible was written. What they have failed to do is follow their own reasoning to its theological conclusion by analyzing the context in which the ANE worldview developed. This study will demonstrate that the idolatrous ANE conflation of false gods with the material universe is fundamentally incompatible with the ontological distinction between the one true God and his material universe as revealed in the Bible. Even if ANE people did hold to a purely functional rather than material ontology, their ontological conflationism cannot form the interpretive basis for understanding the truth of the book of Genesis.

Key Words: John Walton, Ancient Near East, functional ontology, Lost World, conflationism


There is an ancient Sumerian proverb—not unlike many found in the biblical book of Proverbs—which says,

(He) who builds like a lord, lives like a slave.
(He) who builds like a slave, lives like a lord.2

Is this a theologically neutral statement? It certainly does not appear to take any position on the existence of God(s) or any moral or ethical implications that might follow. On its face this is nothing more than a tidbit of practical life wisdom, presumably gleaned from countless attempts to sort out what later generations

would call a “standard of living.” In this world of limited resources, if a person spends all his money building the largest possible house (or, in contemporary society, buying the largest possible house), then that person won’t have anything left to live on. But if a person builds or purchases a more modest house, then that person will actually have some money left over to enjoy it. The proverb does not say anything about where houses come from or whether there should be different socio-economic classes or what people should and should not be doing inside their houses. It’s simply a pithy nugget of economic wisdom with which any reasonable atheist and any reasonable Christian would most likely agree because, as far as it goes, the statement is theologically neutral.

In recent years, much has been written on the issue of how to interpret the early chapters of Genesis. Authors such as Walton,3 Collins,4 and others have correctly identified the need for modern...

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