John H. Walton's 'The Lost World of Genesis One'.

A couple of weeks ago we examined the fifth proposition on Genesis 1 wherein John H. Walton proposes that days one through three of Genesis 1 “establish functions” (see “John Walton’s fifth proposition on Genesis 1”). Today we look at the sixth: days four through six “install functionaries”. (p. 62) By this Walton means:

Day One: Separation of Day and Night–> Day Four: Installation of demarcating items for Day and Night like Sun, Moon, and Stars.

Day Two: Separation of the Waters –> Day Five: Installation of  creatures that inhabit the waters and the skies.

Day Three: Creation of the Land, Vegetation, Reproducing Seed –> Day Six: Installation of earth dwelling beasts and humans.

Walton notes, “Days four through six are literarily parallel to days one through three, as has long been recognized, but the literary structure is secondary.” (p. 62)

For Day Four the items do “function” in relation to the day and night. They contain “…the fourfold description of function (signs, seasons, days, years)…” (p. 63)

In Day Five the function isn’t quite the same: “be fruitful and multiply”. This is given to beasts and humans as well. (pp. 65-67). Yet the main idea remains. Day and Night for Sun, Moon, and Stars; Waters and Skies for Birds, Fish, and Crawling Things; Land and Vegetation for Beasts and Humanity.

The role of humanity differs a bit though: “subdue and rule”. Walton writes:

“All of the rest of creation functions in relationship to humankind, and humankind serves the rest of creation as God’s vice regent. Among the many things that the image of God may signify and imply, one of them, and probably the main one, is that people are delegated a godlike role (function) in the world where he places them.” (p. 67)

Walton says that unlike other Ancient Near East literature, “…creation is not set up for the benefit of God but for the benefit of humanity–an anthropocentric view.” He adds, “…the role of people is to bring all of creation to deity.” (p. 68)

One final word from this chapter. Walton points out that other ANE literature has humanity created from something. The Book of Genesis is no different. For other sources it is the “tears of a god” or “blood of a god” or “clay”. Genesis 1 is closer to the latter (though Genesis 2 with God’s breath is somewhat similar to the former). Walton makes sure that the reader know this is “…not a statement of chemical composition…” but rather: “It is indicative of human destiny and mortality, and therefore is a functional comment, not a material one.” (p. 69) In other words, we all die. Dust is an “archetype” of humans and males are an “archetype” of females. “Humankind is connected to the ground from which we are drawn. Womankind is connected to mankind from whom she is drawn. In both male and female forms, humankind is connected to God in whose image all are made.”

I have no qualms with Walton’s observation here.