The space that this book occupies on the shelf is not enough to fully define the value of it in the hands. In the brevity of 103 pages, one of our most notable and quiet theologians has given us a succinct investigation into the various views of God’s victory that we simply call Creation.
Knowing that he is working against the grain – either people have moved on past the subject or people are unwilling to see Creation as anything but physical – Weiss opens up the discussion on Darwin and how evolution has pushed up further into our view of science and Creation. His maintenance here is that Scriptural Creation, never a monolithic event, fits well with evolution or other cosmological theories now carried about. After this introduction, Weiss tackles Creation throughout various parts of Scripture. He begins not with Genesis 1, but with the Prophetic literature. This is, in my opinion, an ingenious method of opening the conversation. Unfortunately, we tend to begin our conversations about Creation in a literary linear manner in Genesis 1 and read it straight through, forming things roughly to it. In other words, we take Genesis 1 as the model of physicality and thus, if something, say like Job, disagrees with it, then it must be a metaphor or other genre, just not a different view. Starting with the prophetic literature, the ground level of creation if you will, the reader is introduced to a new way of reading Creation in Scripture – that of justice, that of a progression of God’s plan.
From there, he moves into the Wisdom literature (Job mainly) and The Psalms and finally, into the various creation stories in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2-3, although he inverts the order in his exploration. Romans is next, followed by both Corinthians, in which he takes us through the Pauline nebula. In Colossians and Hebrews, he gets into some dicey, but for me very welcomed, territory. He starts to use odd sounding words like panentheism and stoicism. Don’t let this scare you, as the former is used today by many Christians and the latter as a concept has been better placed in Scripture than (neo)Platonism. If we can sit with the audience, we can understand these two concepts as cultural structures that aid in defining Creation. Regarding of what words or concepts were used, we must understand Creation was, wait for it, more theological than it was scientific in the minds of our ancient sisters and brothers. From here, he tackles Creation in Revelation and closes it the book with a summation of Creation in the bible. Throughout most of these chapters, Weiss continues to referred back to other creation accounts so that you will not forget the stories of Job or Genesis 1.
John Walton has written several books recently on Creation in Genesis 1. Other scholars are doing the same thing. Energion has published a companion book by Edward Vick as well. But, why another book on Creation? There are two types of people, generally, in respect to Creation. First, there are those who are Young Earth Creationists. The other are those who see Creationism only as a myth. Both groups do an injustice to the theologies of Creation found throughout Scripture. Either make a bad case of it or ignore it altogether. But, how do we continue to make Creation an essential part to our theology? (Ecotheology anyone?) This is the point of Weiss’ book, I believe, to show us that Creation has been defined and thus used to fit various needs in our narrative. Important? Immensely. Timely? Always. Remember, Creation isn’t just found in one place in Scripture, but in many places. Understanding that is the first step in progression.
A highly recommended book.