Because of academic and domestic commitments, I have been delinquent in blogging about my Biblical Creation class. Nevertheless, I will return to our recent lesson that focused on the creation of Adam and Eve. With this post, I will summarize our discussion.
Our lesson had six parts:
I. God’s direct creation of Adam in Genesis 2:7
II. God’s direct creation of Eve in Genesis 2:18, 21–25
III. God’s creation of Adam and Eve in His image in Genesis 1:26–27
IV. God’s mandate to His image-bearers in Genesis 1:26, 28
V. The antiquity of God’s image-bearers
VI. God’s design in creating His image-bearers
To begin with, in Genesis 2:7 God formed man’s body “from the dust of the ground” followed by his breathing into his nostrils “the breath of life.” In Genesis 1:20-21, God also animates the animals with “the breath of life.” What makes God’s animating principle in man distinct from animals is that man is created as imago dei, a divine image bearer. Second,, we saw that a little later on day six, God took one of Adam’s ribs and formed his wife (Gen 2:21-22). Besides the creation of Eve in the image of God, we saw a number of truths that affirm God ordained the biblical roles for husband and wife before the fall. Further, Genesis 2:24–25 also teaches us much about marriage.
Third, when we looked at the first couple being created in the image of God, I argued that this means that humans are a representation and likeness of God in that they are personal, spiritual and moral beings. While people shares these qualities as finite, created beings, God has these qualities as the infinite Creator. Genesis 5:3 illustrates what it means to be created in someone else’s image and likeness. “When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth.” We should observe that “image” and “likeness” are used interchangeably in this verse. We should further note that Seth is not identical to Adam, but he is like Adam. As such, Seth is like and a representative of Adam but he is not Adam. In an analogous way, man is like and represents God, but he is most emphatically not God. In short, God is the infinite Creator and we are the finite creation. Fourth, God gave the dominion mandate to his image bearer’s. In Genesis 1:26, 28 there is a strong connection between one being in the image of God and one having dominion over the creatures of the earth. We highlighted six aspects of the dominion mandate: fill the earth (Gen 1:28), subdue the earth, rule over the animal kingdom, cultivate the garden (Gen 2:15), maintain a vegetarian diet (Gen 1:29-30; cf Gen 9:3), and abstain from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Gen 2:17).
Fifth, we looked at the antiquity of God’s image bearers. Before the nineteenth century, biblical genealogies, especially Genesis 5 and 11, were used as prima facie evidence to establish an age for the earth as well as the creation of man being only a few thousand years ago. There are three views we examined: (1) a strict chronological interpretation of Genesis 5 & 11 found in the Masoretic Texts, (2) a strict chronological interpretation of Genesis genealogies as supported from the Septuagint, and (3) gaps in the Genesis genealogies allowing for creation to be anywhere from 10,000 to 25,000 years ago. As a result of reading Whitcomb and Morris’ The Genesis Flood, in the early 1970s, I had embraced this later view for many years. However, since writing my chapter in Coming to Grips with Genesis as well as interaction with others when I went white water rafting down the Colorado River in 2008, I have rejected this understanding. Though there is supposed evidence that supports arguing for gaps in the Genesis genealogies (for example, see William H. Green, “Primeval Chronology,” in Classical Evangelical Essays, ed. Walter C. Kaiser [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1972]), the Genesis genealogies, in distinction from other biblical genealogies, contain an age when a specified son is born to a patriarch along with his age at death. As such, the two genealogies seemingly have chronological significance.
Though good men follow Usher’s chronologies for valid reasons (for example, see the arguments of Travis Freeman, “Do the Genesis 5 & 11 Genealogies Contain Gaps?” in Coming to Grips with Genesis), I currently am persuaded that the Septuagint’s approach to Genesis 11 is more accurate (the source that has influenced me most is Benjamin Shaw’s “The Genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11 and their Significance for Chronology” [Ph.D. dissertation, Bob Jones University, 2004]). The following two charts reflect this approach to the Genesis genealogies (the two charts are taken from Shaw, pp. 218-19).
I will make a couple of observations based upon the above charts. First, creation took place at 4954 B.C., in contrast to the Masoretic Texts’ date of 4004 B.C. Second, the flood took place in 3284 B.C., in distinction from the MT’s 2349 B.C. There are two reasons that support my understanding. Initially, what drives me to my conclusion is not so much the Septuagint but Luke 3:35-36 which places a Cainan in between Arphaxad and Selah, whereas Cainan is omitted from the MT. In addition, a flood in 3284 fits with historical records of the ancient Near East. These records lucidly reflect that the monumental civilizations of the ANE were scattered and rebuilt around 3200 B.C. almost 900 years before the flood if you are following the MT. In the final analysis, I am persuaded that the view of the LXX provides the most persuasive evidence in explaining the biblical material as well as generally providing a reasonable explanation that harmonized with the ancient Near Eastern material.
Finally, God created man for His own glory and not because He needed him. Because God is infinitely independent, He does not need His creation and He does not need His creatures. God did not create because He was lonely. God created in order to bring glory to Himself. According to Isaiah 43:7, God speaks to his people whom He has created for His own “glory.”
With this evening’s lecture, we will look at death and decay in Genesis 3 and, the Lord willing, we will begin looking at the Genesis flood.