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Oct 30, 2012

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Gordon Jewett

I'm curious as to how RJS gets the formation of Israel out of Genesis 2.

Michael W. Kruse

Gordon, RJS would never claim to be an authority on such claims. She is interacting working with OT scholarship from people like Peter Enns. His recent book “The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn’t Say About Human Origins” touches on this topic but does not delve deeply. This topic has been recurring topic at the Biologos website.

Drawing on Enns, he believes both creation stories were edited into present form about the time of the Babylonian exile. He thinks the Adam story (and probably the flood story) is probably the older of the two, predating Babylonian exile. It was Israel’s story about their formation, independent of concern of where other nations came from. The point of the creation stories is not to explain mechanics of origin but rather who it is the appoints.

The exile brings Israel into crisis, God’s people now being captive to others who aren’t part of the story. Gen 1, likely emerging from pre-exilic stories, becomes a “bigger” statement of God and sovereignty. All the things that the surrounding culture deified are show to be subject to the God of Genesis 1 who assigns everything its function.

So Gen 1 becomes Israel’s statement about the primacy and sovereignty of God. Beginning at Genesis two, the archetypical narrative of call, rebellion, and exile is established. It previews Israel’s coming history. Enns writes:

“… I’m noncommittal as to whether the Adam story ever functioned for Israel as a story of universal human origins, although referring to Eve as “the mother of all living (Gen. 3:20) suggest as much. Perhaps the Adam story always functioned primarily as a story of Israel, with the world stage as a backdrop. But however it functioned originally, when it was subsumed under the universal story of origins in Genesis 1, the Adam story took on, its seems to me, a clearer Israelite-centered focus. As we saw in Chapter 4, the Adam story seems to be a preview of Israel’s history, from exodus to exile. …” (141)

I know Enns isn’t the only one taking this take, but he is only one I’ve read so far. The quote is from the conclusion and he begins this portion saying, “What follows is speculative but hardly random.” The first half of the book gives a very brief overview of the issues in understanding the OT stories in context and the second half deals with how Paul interacted with these stories as a Jew in Second Temple Judaism, trying to make sense of the Jesus’s resurrection.

That is a long answer but that is the context.

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