Creation, the biblical version

Our views of creation are integral to any worldview we hold. Along these lines, Margaret Barker has a great article called Creation: the Biblical Version in the 5 September version of the Church Times. Like almost everything else I link to, there will be things to disagree with, but it’s exploration of creation across the breadth of the Bible – and some wider biblical traditions – makes it an important read. [Thanks to the T&T Clark blog]

Topics include: the temple, the six days, Adam, the two trees, atonement, and the kingdom.

Here are a few random paragraphs to whet your appetite.

. . . What Jesus thought about the creation is nowhere set out in the Gospels. Since this is the most pressing question of our times, we have to reconstruct what he and the first Christians could have believed, if we are to make a Bible-based and characteristically Christian contribution to the current debate.

THE STORIES of creation and Eden form the beginning and the end of the Bible story as Christians read it. Genesis describes how things went wrong, and Revela tion shows how they were put right again. In Genesis, human beings lost access to the tree of life; in Revelation, this most fundamental gift was restored to them (Revelation 2.7; 22.14). . . 

. . . “Peace”, shalom, is a temple/creation theology word, meaning everything in its intended place in God’s plan: wholeness, integrity, justice, as well as peace in our modern sense. Peace was often coupled with “righteousness”, meaning the process to restore or maintain peace. We hear nowadays of restorative justice, a simi lar idea. The Righteous One does what is necessary to restore and maintain peace. Righteousness was often coupled with “justice”, the choice of action necessary to achieve righteousness and thus peace. . . 

. . . The bonds of the creation covenant were broken by human sins. Isaiah saw in a vision how the earth was collapsing because the eternal covenant had been broken. A curse was devouring the earth, and its inhabitants were suffering from their own sins (Isaiah 24.4-6). Jeremiah saw every­thing revert to its pre-creation state — waste and void — because people were only skilled in doing evil (Jeremiah 4.22-26). The vivid images in the apocalypses — stars falling from heaven, the sun turning black — were inspired by this tradition, and their relevance to our current crisis is obvious. . . 

. . . The Jubilee was proclaimed on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 25.9) The practical human response to the renewal of the creation was the great “remission”: property was restored, families were reunited, land was left to rest, bond slaves were released, and debts to fellow Israelites were cancelled (Leviticus 25 and Deuteronomy 15). The land and human society returned to the state of the sixth day of creation, when everything was very good, the state before Adam had sinned. . . . 

. . . Jesus, like Adam, was described as the image of the invisible God, the first born of all creation (Colossians 1.15). Adam was told by God to be fruitful and multi ply, to fill the earth, subdue it, and to have dominion over other forms of life (Genesis 1.28). The commands to Adam should be interpreted in the light of Jesus, the new Adam. . . 

. . . In other words, it was the Lord’s giving of his own life that took away the effects of sin and renewed the creation. So too, Christians have to be living sacrifices (Romans 12.1), and let their minds be transformed. New ways of thinking and sacri ficial living, not the ways of the world and con­sumerism, should characterise Christ ians. ST PAUL said the first role of the Spirit-filled sons of God was to release creation from “futil ity” which means “going nowhere” (Romans 8.20). . . 

Margaret Barker:  Creation: the Biblical Version (It comes to about 12 pages in a Word document.)

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