Saturday, September 13, 2014

Biblical Portraits of Creation, Walter Kaiser and Dorrington Little

This is a very useful little book. It is taken largely from sermons by the two authors. Kaiser, of course, is the well-known Old Testament scholar and emeritus president of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Little is the senior pastor of the First Congregational Church on Hamilton, MA. In the book, they trace the theme of creation (and new creation) through Scripture by focusing on selected texts. Obviously Genesis 1 is included, as well as such other passages as Proverbs 8, Psalm 29, and Psalm 104. With regard to new creation, Little deals with Matthew 1 and 2 Corinthians 4 and 5. Kaiser deals with Isaiah 65 and 66.

The author gives an exposition of each passage, ending each chapter with a restatement of the conclusions and a list of study and discussion questions for small group use. The chapters are directed primarily to the non-professional, and are written accordingly. Contrary to what some might think, it is much more difficult to write for a popular audience than it is for a technical one, as a great deal of attention has to be paid to keeping the language clear, and explaining any technical terms that must be used. Both authors are to be commended for meeting this exacting standard.

The book concludes with an appendix, which is essentially a reprint of Kaiser’s article “The Literary Genre of Genesis 1-11,” which initially appeared in 1969. In this article he argues for reading Genesis 1-11 as straightforward “historical narrative-prose.” I think the article is convincing. However, such self-identified evangelical scholars as Peter Enns (formerly of Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia) and John Walton (currently at Wheaton College) are currently insisting that Genesis 1-11 (especially Genesis 1-3) is really myth. I think the article would have been strengthened if Kaiser had rewritten it in order to take the views of Enns, Walton, and others into account. But that is a relatively small complaint.

By and large, I have no hesitancy in recommending this work for personal and/or group study on the doctrine of creation as set out in many key biblical passages.

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