Some Visual Layouts

In reading through The Evolution of Adam by Peter Enns, I thought I would post some tables out of the book for interested readers to stow away for themselves. I kind of wanted to have these in my own notes, for future reference. Sometimes it helps to have a visual representation of things.

The first table is a comparison of the two creation accounts in the Book of Genesis– Gen. 1:2-2:3 and Gen. 2:4-25. The table helps to bring out the different theological perspectives of each section. It will be up to the reader to determine whether or not there is contradiction between the accounts (different people reach different conclusions because of their differing assumptions). The table comparing the two creation accounts of Genesis may be found here: Two Creation Accounts of Genesis Compared

The second table lists a comparison of the Atrahasis Epic and Genesis 2-8. Many biblical scholars see the general storyline of the Atrahasis Epic as being similar to Genesis 2-8 (both featuring a creation, population, growth, and flood), perhaps even being an Israelite version of the Epic. Whatever one may conclude, it is beyond doubt that Genesis 1-11 occupies the same conceptual space as the ancient documents that they bear similarity to. The second table showing the comparison between the Atrahasis Epic and Genesis 2-8 can be found here: Comparison of the Atrahasis Epic and Genesis 2.

Note: Other texts– Sumerian, Babylonian, and Egyptian– have also come to light which have shed great light on the first chapters of Genesis. All readers are encouraged to explore these texts for themselves and be aware of them. A good place to begin looking into extra-biblical sources is John Walton, “Genesis,” in Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary, ed. John H. Walton, 5 vols. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009), 1.10-42. The footnotes here will guide readers to valuable sources of information.

Furthermore, I have made another PDF available here: Ancient Near Eastern Parallels with Early Chapters of Genesis This is a listing of further parallels between the primeval history of Genesis and other Ancient Near Eastern materials which were probably influential (this is taken from Dr. Peter Enns, The Evolution of Adam)

Here are a few excerpts taken from what I’ve read of Enns’ book so far:

“Whatever theological differences there are between Genesis and surrounding literature, Genesis reflects an ancient world, not a modern one…To put it this way in no way discredits the story or devalues it as God’s Word but respects the story on its own terms as it functioned in the world in which these stories were written.”

“The core issue raised by the ancient Near Eastern data has helped calibrate the genre of the biblical creation accounts. I maintain that the failure to appreciate that genre calibration is responsible for much of the tension in the evolution discussion.”

“It is not beneath God to condescend to culturally conditioned human modes of communication. Having such a condescending God is crucial to the very heart of Christianity. True, such a God will allow ancient Israelites to produce a description of human origins that reflects the ancient ideas and so will not satisfy scientific questions. But if we are going to talk about the Christian God, then this is something we are going to have to get used to.”

Do you agree or disagree?

If you would like to see what a dialogue might look like between a Reformed evangelical and Peter Enns, then may I direct you to a blog posted weeks ago by Kevin DeYoung, together with a brief response from the blog of Peter Enns.


About C. Bradley Jones

C. Bradley Jones writes the Recovering Daily Blog, a blog designed to help those struggling with issues of addiction. He is a freelance writer who lives in West Michigan and he enjoys delving deeply into issues of theology, philosophy, psychology, and cultural issues with a view to improving human lives.
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3 Responses to Some Visual Layouts

  1. humbahaha says:

    I agree that this is a good way to approach Genesis 1-11. Focusing on genre makes it abundantly clear that the creation stories are not necessarily about science and history. To say this does not imply that these stories are valueless. If the Psalms, and Proverbs and the parables of Jesus are valued, why should we not appreciate the deeper polemical and theological messages of the creation stories? To feel that we have plumbed the depths of Genesis 1-3 by arguing about its scientific veracity is naive. This approach actually deflects out attention from its real message, and that message is seen in bold relief only as we compare it to its Mesopotamian counterparts.

    One minor error in your Atrahasis comparison table is that the god Ea/Enki does not send the flood. Although this decision is made in the council of the gods, Enlil is the driving force behind the decision. Via his devotee Atrahasis, Enki thwarts and undermines Enlil’s efforts to decimate humanity through plague and famine and flood. This conflict between Enlil and Enki is a key plot element that threads its way right through the epic.

    Finally, with your PDF on ANE parallels, it might also be helpful to mention similarities between Enuma Elish and Genesis.

  2. Pingback: The Weekly Hit List: March 2, 2012

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