The Blog of Jack Holloway

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Guest Post: Paul's Response to My Assessment of Genesis 2

[Read John Daniel's original post here]


First, I must say that I love your style. When I look at my post, the word “functional” comes to mind. When I look at your post, with its sweet background, ethereal religious artwork, and cool section headings, there is a definite ambiance that pulls me into a fuller experience while reading. I don’t know what it is, but I like it. Aesthetics aside, I, like you, really enjoyed reading your post. Our different takes on Genesis 2 complement our different views and, from my perspective, proved refreshing as I thought through your thoughts on our shared subject. Humorously, your intro began almost precisely where I did not want to go, and that gave me a good laugh (and even a smile as I write this sentence). Sir, we are truly wired differently, but, as I’ve said before, I think we may have more to agree about than we do to disagree.

Beginning with some praise, I would first like to commend the way you apologetically defend the biblical account by focusing on the attributes and actions that set the God of the Bible apart from these other ancient myths. The method tries to be fair to academic interest while still being faithful to what I would call the genuine relational aspect involved with the living Christian God; and in this sense, it’s a very neo-orthodox approach, a label I’m sure you by no means mind. And on my end, it is a shade of what I find admirable in neo-orthodox thought: the appeal to God Himself. Along with that, I applaud your desire to view the text theocentrically. Genesis 2, as with all Scripture, is primarily about Him. Your comments on His care in creating Adam are also warmly received. Now, as this is a response to your post, I suppose I should draw some sort of alternative viewpoint on what you’ve written.

I do appreciate advertising the direction your post will not being going in your intro (I did nearly the same), but does admitting you will not be interacting with authorial intention, as well revealing your disbelief in any literalness in terms of history, perhaps exclude any divine intention that may be contained within the text? Obviously, the aforementioned revelatory aspects concerning God’s character and attributes are present, but does not authorship, whether divine or human, add to the particularity of any biblical text in conjunction with any larger general characteristics inherent within Scripture? That is, all texts may generally teach us about God and His character, but is that all they teach? Further, in comparing the Genesis accounts with extrabiblical sources, I must ask, what is the purpose of attempting to show that the Genesis account is not completely unique? Does it claim utter uniqueness or does its veracity depend upon utter distinction?

Moving on to your section entitled “Yahweh is not the only one with something to say; nor is he the only one with something to do and the power to do it,” I tend to agree with much of the examples when listed individually (God wants involvement from His creatures, God allows and wants our communication, etc.); however, grouped as they are under such a heading and coupled with some of the later quotes from Trible and Fretheim, the section seems to be hinting at some unexpressed theological point. Coming off the heels of your closing statement from the previous section (“Yahweh is deeply affected by his relationship with humans”), and I wonder if some of your open theism views aren’t finding their way into your exegesis. God is of course affected by His relationship with humans, but in what way and to what extent needs elaboration and contextualization, a balance between His immanence and His transcendence.

Also, the quote by Fretheim stating that implies human decision helped in creation of the world seems misguided, or at least mis-worded, especially within an interpretive framework that assumes Adam and Eve are representative of Israel (a point that seems completely unjustified from the text itself, but I’ll only mention it in passing, since you did the same. Really, I would have liked to see this proposition more developed from the text because of both its magnitude and bookend-ish nature within your post). And while I could appreciate the Jolle quote that immediately follows (marked footnote 14), it would need some sort of prefacing, such as “allegorically,” “symbolically,” or “devotionally” in order to hold more weight. Left uncategorized, it comes off extremely mystical almost unto a Gnostic level.

Moving on to “The human will can stand against the will of Yahweh,” and I wonder if my theological suspicions above are being confirmed. “Here is a God who does not always get his way.” Confirmed? As you would guess, I wouldn’t agree with such a claim; but more importantly, from the text, I don’t see that such a statement can be inferred. Textually, God is only asserting a prescriptive will for His Adam and Eve; nothing more. It’s says nothing of any decretive will or overarching divine, which clearly come in when the passage is considered in a wider canonical context of a creation-fall-redemption metastory.

In closing, your summary about Genesis 2 teaching about God’s character is provocative. I would submit that within a context of Genesis 1, creating man in His image does allude to some sort of self-glorification. Who after all creates an image of himself without at least some desire of relishing in that image? Think profile pics on social media sites. In relation to my largely liturgical treatment and greater biblical-theological motifs in Scripture, I would also allow more room for the worshipful aspect with which man was created. As you say though, God’s love for humanity is unquestionably displayed, and He is shown superior to any and all challengers.

[Read John Daniel's response to this here]

Paul Imbrone holds an Associate's Degree in Practical Theology, and is a senior in Biblical-Theological Studies at Regent University (find his blog here). 

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