This is my second post on John Walton’s The Lost World of Genesis One from IVP-Academic. You can read my introduction to the author here (and also check out an interesting video of the author). I will follow this post up with my personal thoughts on the book.
Walton arranges the contents of the book uniquely. Rather than extensive chapters developing a train of thought, he divides the book into eighteen propositions. The propositions do follow a logical order, but this means a significant number of short chapters.
I’m ambivalent about the arrangement. On the one hand, I like the fact that I can sit down and read one or more chapters in a sitting. I didn’t find myself having to stop in the middle of a chapter only to pick the book back up and have to try to remember where I was in the overall scheme. I think short chapters also give a reader the feeling that they are getting somewhere. On the other hand, when I had longer blocks of time to read, I felt like this structuring lead to compartmentalization of the propositions. So, I suppose this arrangement will please some readers, while turning others off.
The propositions fall into two different categories. First, the larger bulk of the propositions deal with the interpretation of Genesis 1 in its original context. Thus, Walton includes chapters on the Hebrew word bara’, the beginning state in Genesis 1, and the seven days among other topics. Second, after dealing with Genesis 1 in its original context, Walton discusses current debates concerning Genesis 1 and public education. This discussion is much shorter, taking up only four of the eighteen propositions. Walton bookends the propositions with an introduction and a summary followed by some frequently asked questions. I like the FAQ section. When I saw that, I felt like Walton or IVP gave the book to some ordinary people to see what questions they had before putting it on the market.
Overall, the book is a short, easy read, especially for those who are familiar with Genesis 1. Minus the endnotes, the book is 172 pages. Finally, I’ll include an important link–I didn’t want to mention it first so as to make you reading this post unnecessary–to the table of contents. The full table of contents is available at Google Books. You can actually read snippets of the book there too.
Stay tuned for my personal reflections …