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BioLogos Book Club: “The Lost World of Genesis One”

The Lost World of Genesis One by John Walton

February-April, 2015

Many thanks to all who joined us for this book club on The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate. The book club has now ended, but consider joining us this fall as we focus on another great book on science and faith.

Walton is professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College (IL) and addresses questions such as:

  • What was God’s intention for the beginning portions of the Bible?
  • What is its cultural context?
  • What would an observer have seen during the seven days of Genesis 1?
  • What does it really mean to understand God as Creator?

Walton proposes a reading of Genesis 1 that is, “faithful to the context of the original audience and author, and one that preserves and enhances the theological vitality” of the text. Instead of chapters, the book contains eighteen “propositions” which lay out his case in accessible, non-technical language understandable by educators, pastors, students, scholars, and laypeople alike.

Book Club participants will receive:

  • Newly developed discussion materials for groups or individual reflection
  • Access to an online discussion forum with participation by the author
  • Featured BioLogos blog posts on the book
  • Lead a small group using the book club materials and also receive a complimentary signed copy of the book

How to start a book club

  1. Begin by inviting people

    – start with 3 friends who are all devoted readers and ask them to invite 1, 2, or 3 others, also devoted readers. It's not important to know everyone at first but after a couple of meetings, you will know each other and you can grow the club at your own pace (or not). Typically a book club with 8-16 members are best; big enough for a discussion but not too big to make the discussion unwieldy.
  2. Decide on a meeting schedule and location

    – When we post our schedule online, this will assist you in deciding how often you want to meet. Most clubs meet during the week: mid-morning, lunchtime, dinner, or early evening. You can decide the location with your immediate group of friends, possibly your church, a near-by cafe, or someone's home. We also recommend to send out meeting reminders and possibly giving yourself a name. A name makes people feel like they are really a part of something big.
  3. Keep journal and memories

    – Keep a club journal - a scrapbook or 3-ring binder - to keep track of the book selections, discussion highlights, and members' opinions. It's especially helpful to bring new members up to speed. And if you think about it - take some photos of your group and send them to smallgroups@biologos.org. Your photo would be a great addition to the BioLogos Book Club page and would be a great encouragement to others to join in the conversation.
  4. Join the larger BioLogos community

    – During your book club sessions be sure to log in to the BioLogos Book Club Forum (forthcoming) where you can a part of the conversation with others across the country. Learn from what others have to say and possibly spin a new conversation based on feedback and comments.

The Lost World of Genesis One Chapters

  • Introduction
  • Proposition 1: Genesis 1 Is Ancient Cosmology
  • Proposition 2: Ancient Cosmology is Function Oriented
  • Proposition 3: “Create” (Hebrew bara) Concerns Functions
  • Proposition 4: The Beginning State in Genesis 1 is Nonfunctional
  • Proposition 5: Days One to Three in Genesis 1 Establish Functions
  • Proposition 6: Days Four to Six in Genesis 1 Install Functionaries
  • Proposition 7: Divine Rest is in the Temple
  • Proposition 8: The Cosmos is a Temple
  • Proposition 9: The Seven Days of Genesis 1 Relate to the Cosmic Temple Inauguration
  • Proposition 10: The Seven Days of Genesis 1 Do Not Concern Material Origins
  • Proposition 11: “Functional Cosmic Temple” Offers Face-Value Exegesis
  • Proposition 12: Other Theories of Genesis 1 Either Go Too Far or Not Far Enough
  • Proposition 13: The Difference Between Origin Accounts in Science and Scripture is Metaphysical in Nature
  • Proposition 14: God’s Roles as Creator and Sustainer are Less Different Than We Have Thought
  • Proposition 15: Current Debate about Intelligent Design Ultimately Concerns Purpose
  • Proposition 16: Scientific Explanations of Origins Can Be Viewed in Light of Purpose, and If So, Are Unobjectionable
  • Proposition 17: Resulting Theology in This View of Genesis 1 is Stronger, Not Weaker
  • Proposition 18: Public Science Education Should be Neutral Regarding Purpose
  • Summary and Conclusions

“John Walton's expertise in the Ancient Near Eastern sources enables him to shed a flood of new and unexpected light on the deeper meaning of Genesis 1.”
—N.T. Wright

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