The Historical Creation View of Sailhamer in “Genesis Unbound” Part 1

Genesis Unbound Sailhamer

Cover of the 1997 book “Genesis Unbound” by John Sailhamer

HISTORICAL CREATIONISM:  A summary of the interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2 by John Sailhamer as presented in “Genesis Unbound: A provocative new look at the creation account” (1997).

What follows is a fairly lengthy introduction and overview of John Sailhamer’s book “Genesis Unbound” (1997).  The first edition seems have had a limited printing and was out of circulation for nearly 10 years and but now (2011) it has been reprinted. Now that it is has been republished the book may attract more attention again and so I thought that reproducing my notes about this book might be helpful.  It is not my intention to critique the book here but rather to present something of an extended outline in some cases using extended quotes from the book. Most of this was written prior to the publication of Walton’s “The Lost World of Genesis One” and so it has been interesting to realize that there are many similarities between the views expressed by these two scholars thought they no doubt would find considerable disagreement with one another.

A few notes about the book before I begin.  Sailhamer seems to have distanced himself a bit form this book as he makes very little use of the material here in his recent large volume The Meaning of the Pentateuch.”   Sailhamer himself, it has been reported, has emphasized that the book was much more of a hypothesis and certainly open to revision.  This is why the lack of these views in his recent large volume “Meaning of the Pentateuch” makes it seem like he has distanced himself somewhat from this book.  However, the fact he has allowed a second edition be published might be interpreted as his willingness to continue to make a contribution to the literature about Genesis 1 and 2.   His views on Genesis have capture the imagination of several well know reformed people most notably John Piper but for the most part his writing has not been nearly as influential as the Walton’s recent writings on the subject.

In a nutshell here is what I am going to present in multiple posts:

I.         A brief summary of some of the questions that commonly come up when dealing with the text of Genesis 1 for which Sailhamer will address..

II.       An overview of Sailhamer’s thesis which he calls the Historical Creation View

III.    Overview of specific topics

  • The meaning of the earth being made formless and void
  • Genesis 1 within the context of the Pentateuch
  • What about the links between Genesis 1 and 2?  Where was the Garden of Eden and how is it related to Genesis 1?
  • The meaning of “In the beginning”
  • Did God create in six literal solar days?

A selection of John Sailhamer’s books

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