Christians have long discussed and debated the first three chapters of the Bible. How we interpret this crucial section of Scripture has massive implications for how we understand the rest of God’s Word and even history itself. In this important volume, biblical scholar Vern Poythress combines careful exegesis with theological acumen to illuminate the significance of Genesis 1–3. In doing so, he demonstrates the sound interpretive principles that lead to true understanding of the biblical text, while also exploring complex topics such as the nature of time, the proper role of science, interpretive literalism, and more.
“The grand popular myth is that modern science exposes the way things ‘really are,’ as opposed to the mistaken character of appearances.” (Page 75)
“The ancient Near East had counterfeit gods in counterfeit creation stories” (Page 40)
“And—here is the important point—to be usable in practice, the rhythm in question must already be in place during the first three days, not merely afterward.” (Page 218)
“It is well to recognize that the dominant viewpoint among scientists is not the only one. There are various minority viewpoints, represented by qualified scientists, but these viewpoints are largely suppressed by majority voices, by active persecution, and by selective reporting in the media.” (Page 19)
This is not the usual book on Genesis 1–3. It takes up many of the same problems other books do (such as the length of the creation days), but it expects you to think much harder about them than you were expecting to. Perhaps, for example, you might approach this book looking for arguments defending literal interpretation. Well, Poythress will tell you that the term literal has at least five meanings, so theses about literal versus figurative interpretation generally need more careful formulation than we usually give them. But none of these careful distinctions has the aim of compromising the inerrancy of Scripture as God’s Word. Indeed, you will emerge from this book with a greater sense of how Genesis really is the Word of God. Indeed, you will learn much about how, as Poythress says, we should ‘read the Word of God in the presence of God.’ This is how biblical and linguistic expertise ought to be used in expounding the Bible.
—John M. Frame, Emeritus Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy, Reformed Theological Seminary
This new book by Vern Poythress is a remarkably wise and comprehensive analysis of multiple recent approaches to interpreting Genesis 1–3. Drawing on several decades of detailed biblical research, Poythress effectively answers modern views that simplistically attribute ‘scientific error’ to Genesis, and he demonstrates convincingly that Genesis 1–3 must be understood as prose narrative that purports to describe actual events, not as fictional or allegorical literature. But he also wisely cautions against ‘overinterpreting’ Genesis 1–3 by claiming that it contains scientific information that was not the intention of either its human or divine author. Highly recommended!
—Wayne Grudem, Distinguished Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies, Phoenix Seminary; author, Christian Ethics
We always owe our thanks to Vern Poythress for his characteristic of careful and thoughtful engagement with the biblical text and with other interpreters; how much more on these texts and topics! Besides attention to linguistic details, Poythress always draws the reader to the bigger issues connected to interpretation and to the Christian worldview. This will be worth your time to read, study, consider, and digest.
—C. John Collins, Professor of Old Testament, Covenant Theological Seminary
In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.