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Creation: A Guide for the Perplexed

ISBN: 9780567656094

Digital Logos Edition

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This addition to our popular Guides for the Perplexed series tackles a subject that is enjoying renewed debate: Christianity, along with Judaism and Islam, claims that the universe is not a brute fact. It is ‘created’. But what do we mean by ‘creation’? Do we mean that the universe is ‘designed’? Is it the product of an evolutionary process? How are creatures related to God, and does God act within creation?

Simon Oliver begins with the background to the Christian theology of creation in Greek philosophy and the Old Testament. This provides a route into understanding the claim that we are part of a created order that is also the theatre of God’s providential action. He examines different understandings of creation, including creation out of nothing and the analogy of being, with close reference to the work of patristic and medieval theologians such as Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. This leads to an historical overview of the relationship between theological, philosophical and scientific approaches to creation in the modern period. Some of the ethical issues concerning humanity's place within, and treatment of, creation and our environment are also examined. A distinctive yet traditional theology of creation is proposed focused on the concepts of gift and participation as ways of understanding more fully the meaning and implications of the claim that the universe is created.

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Key Features

  • Explores the theological themes of the origins, nature, and purpose of existence
  • Focuses on the related scriptural, doctrinal and philosophical issues
  • Interacts with the theology of Thomas Aquinas


  • Genesis: In the Beginning
  • God and Creation ex nihilo
  • God and Creation: Participation and Providence
  • Creation, the Rise of Natural Science and the Design of the Universe
  • The Environment and the Gift of Creation: Beyond Nature and Culture

Top Highlights

“and apparently put an end to the notion of a divine designer” (Page 118)

“The drama of Genesis is just one of myriad creation myths which circulated in the culture of the ancient Near East from around 2000 BC.” (Page 8)

“This is not the case with God and this is how we distinguish God from creation: it is of God’s essence that God exists” (Page 45)

“The meanings of creatures are revealed in scripture; this is why nature must be read alongside the book of scripture.” (Page 102)

“the causality of the creator extends to everything that is in the thing” (Page 55)

Praise for the Print Edition

This year I learned a lot from Simon Oliver’s Creation: A Guide for the Perplexed, which begins with Genesis and ends with the contemporary environmental crisis—but its heart is an account of Thomas Aquinas’s profound theological vision that is almost dazzling in its lucidity.

Times Literary Supplement Books of the Year

This is a very fine book. I suspect it is one that will continue to be read for a good many years.

Church of England Newspaper

A valuable summary of modern scholarship about the circumstances under which Genesis was written as well as a review of the theories of the Church Fathers as to how the text was to be interpreted.

Times Literary Supplement

Product Details

Simon Oliver is Van Mildert Professor of Divinity, Department of Theology and Religion, Durham University, UK.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition


2 ratings

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  1. Mark



    I had high hopes for this book by virtue of its title. However, Oliver bases his work on the tenets of higher criticism which disrupts the unity of the text, dates the final form of Genesis around the exile, and follows Origen who downplays an historical reading of the text. In my view, this critical approach limits the value of the book notwithstanding that critical works may have a role to play for evangelicals. (Refer Mark Ward's blog at https://blog.logos.com/2018/03/use-critical-commentary-youre-evangelical). While Oliver's book contains helpful insights its presuppositions left me feeling rather perplexed.
  2. Adam Shaeffer (Logos)