Genesis 1-11 preserves a unique view of Bible history, tracing the move from Eden, an idyllic world fully in accord with the will of God, to Babel, a fallen world desperately in need of salvation.
In this commentary, Donald E. Gowan demonstrates acute sensitivity and insight in focusing on the theological import of these familiar but often puzzling accounts, showing them to be even more crucial for what they say to us about ourselves than for the information they record about individuals and events so very long ago.
Addressing such themes as the existence of evil and the threat of chaos, human power and violence, tension between the sexes and the breakdown of the family, he remains ever conscious of the gospel as set forth in Genesis.
“No interrogation of the serpent is necessary, for the harm that has been done has been done to the two humans, who had been intended for a special relationship with God and have rejected it. There is no devil to blame for it; for what is wrong in this world, between person and person, people and their God, is the direct result of the human act of self-assertion, attempting to determine good for themselves over against the source of all that is truly good. Human life in alienation, incompleteness, and fear is the direct result of our insistence on denying our absolute dependence on God. There are innumerable aftereffects of that desire to be on our own, as the subsequent verses will remind us.” (Page 57)
“The story of the Flood is told not to emphasize the truth that God must judge the wickedness that corrupts his good earth, but in order to present the gospel that in the midst of judgment it is God’s primary intention to save his people.” (Pages 87–88)
“The OT understands that we cannot save ourselves, cannot find ways to return to the Edenic state simply by becoming nudists or vegetarians. Clothing itself may serve as a reminder that we are saved by grace alone.” (Page 60)
“then Babel is the end of the Primeval history, the last event recorded before salvation history begins” (Page 115)