A Brief Book Summary from Books At a Glance
By Steve West
About the Author
Vern Poythress (PhD, Harvard University; ThD, University of Stellenbosch) is distinguished professor of New Testament and biblical interpretation at Westminster Seminary, Philadelphia. He is the author of numerous books and articles.
Interpreting Eden presents a hermeneutical framework in which to interpret Genesis 1-3. Poythress deals with textual details as well as the larger context of the passage. He critiques various approaches and models and offers a guide for interpreting the text which is faithful to the highest view of the doctrine of Scripture.
Table of Contents
Foreword: D.A. Carson
Introduction: The Need
Chapter 1 God
Chapter 2 Interpretive Implications of God’s Activity
Chapter 3 The Status of the Bible
Chapter 4 Interacting with Scientific Claims
Chapter 5 Three Modern Myths in Interpreting Genesis 1
Chapter 6 The Genre of Genesis
Chapter 7 Summary of Hermeneutical Principles
Chapter 8 Correlations with Providence in Genesis 1
Chapter 9 The Water Above (Gen. 1:6-8)
Chapter 10 Correlations with Providence in Genesis 2-3
Chapter 11 Time in Genesis 1
Chapter 12 Implications for Modern Views of Genesis 1
Chapter 13 Attitudes and Expectations
Chapter 14 The Days of Genesis 1
Chapter 15 Factuality and Literalism
Chapter 1: God
To interpret Genesis 1 properly, we need to know who God is. Materialists believe that at bottom everything is matter in motion, and even our consciousness is an illusion. Pantheists believe that everything is spirit. Both views lead to moral relativism. God is the main character in the Bible, and we must know him for who he is. We must resist the temptation to rebel against him or to try to create him in our own image. The Bible records that God is a miracle-working being, but even the possibility of miracles is denied by some philosophies.
God is intimately involved in both the big and small events of life, controlling things generally and particularly. Deism is unsustainable biblically, as is the idea that the material world can function without God. Scientific data does not indicate that things work apart from God—that is a deistic interpretation. Science can describe the regular ways in which God operates in the world. The existence of the God of the Bible is a challenge to our contemporary society. All religions are not equal. Everyone sees something as ultimate, and this will either be God or a God-substitute that is false.
Chapter 2: Interpretive Implications of God’s Activity
God is intimately involved in every aspect of the world. Other deities are false, so we cannot treat Genesis 1-3 as merely one of a number of equal origins stories from the ancient Near East. Counterfeit creation accounts of counterfeit deities still have aspects of the truth in them, but they are not equal to the pure truth of Genesis 1-3. The presence of God is made clear, and he controls the world through his speech. Because language originates in God, it is sufficient for revelation. God is a speaking God, and the laws of science are not autonomously mechanistic.[To continue reading this summary, please see below....]
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INTERPRETING EDEN: A GUIDE TO FAITHFULLY READING AND UNDERSTANDING GENESIS 1-3, by Vern S. Poythress