The Table Podcast

The Story of Creation

In this episode, Drs. Darrell L. Bock and Richard E. Averbeck discuss issues related to creation in Genesis.

Timecodes
00:15
The relationship between Genesis 1 and 2
06:26
Historical truth and literary presentation in Genesis
11:56
God and the significance of order in the creation
17:19
The creation mandate and the Fall
26:36
Stewardship and the image of God
33:46
God’s purpose in the creation of humanity
36:41
God’s meticulous involvement in the creation of humanity
45:04
Relational significance of being made in God’s image
Transcript
Dr. Darrell Bock
Welcome to The Table where we discuss issues of God and culture. Our topic today is creation, the story of creation in the early chapters of Genesis, and I am pleased to have my good friend and fellow Chosen People board colleague Dick Averbeck who teaches Old Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School – I got it all out – along with being director of the doctoral program there with us.

I’m just gonna call him by his name, Dick, it’s great to have you with us.

Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
Thank you, Darrell. I’m looking forward to it.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Our topic today are the early chapters of Genesis and some of the things that gets said about it. It’s one of those areas that’s fraught with controversy, virtually as you say in a review that you wrote on a book written on this, you know, every good deed will go punished in dealing with this chapter.

Any effort to address it, people will be wrestling with what you say and in many cases reacting to it, but we’re gonna try and clear out some of the core ground and thing about what these chapters are and are not doing, and so with that in mind, let’s talk a little bit about the relationship between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2.

And just kind of to frame the conversation, there are people who say those two chapters kind of intersect with each other and are related to each other in one way or another, and then there are people who say, “No, these are two fairly distinct accounts and pictures of creation.”

And I’m gonna let you play with that however you want, any combination or one preferred to the other, and why should we see it one way versus the other in thinking about the relationship of these two chapters.

Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
Well, I think that one of the things that stands out is that in chapter 2 verse 4, you have this formula called toledot formula. It means generations or accounts. These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.

And this formula, in Hebrew the toledot formula, extends through the book of Genesis, and it links the previous unit to the following. It always refers to things that are already there, but then goes on and develops what happens with them whether it’s a genealogy or whether it’s an account.

Dr. Darrell Bock
So your point is these genealogies run through the book of Genesis, and they’re outside the Genesis 1 to 11 that often is the topic of some discussion and extends into 20 to 50, so that puts us in a certain kind of genre. Am I reading between the lines right?
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
Yeah, it really is highlighting the fact that this is really connected to history, and including chapter 1, but Genesis 1 is kind of like a prologue of the larger universe, and then Genesis 2:4 and following really goes into the cosmos of humanity, and so it zeros down in toward humanity from the larger universe –
Dr. Darrell Bock
Okay. Go ahead.
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
– so connected through this toledot formula which means that, yeah, they are linked together, but they’re different movements as well.

That raises the question of what’s the relationship of chapter 2 to chapter 1 then, and some people like to see it as in lockstep with Genesis 1 so that Genesis 2 is just about the sixth day in Genesis 1.

There are some problems with that because in the text, what happens is that you get, for example, in chapter 2, the creation of the birds, and in Genesis 1 they’re created on day 5, not day 6, and so there’s things like this.

Now, some translations try to get around that by saying that God had created the birds and so on, but the grammar of the text is really clearly a basic past-tense narrative form, and it’s difficult to justify translating it that way, although some have done that.

Dr. Darrell Bock
So let me take a shot at this. So Genesis 1 is like the big panoramic overview of how creation takes place, and then if I were a TV director working with script sheets, Genesis 2 would kind of be zooming in on the creation of humanity, but there also is some literary collapsing going on and synthesizing and summarizing, if I can say it that way.

So issues of sequences, which sometimes come up about the differences between the two chapters are understood better with that being in the background, and that’s distinct from the view that says, “Well, really, chapter 1 is doing one thing and chapter 2 is doing another thing, and you shouldn’t put those two together at all, and you shouldn’t think about any kind of sequencing between those two at all.”

Am I reading you right as to which is the better alternative?

Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
Yes, yes, it’s – there is distinctiveness, but they’re definitely connected in the text and we shouldn’t ignore that.
Dr. Darrell Bock
So the attempt to suggest that these are two fairly distinct accounts that basically are highlighting different aspects of how God created the creation in general and then the creation of humans in particular is a less than completely adequate way to read the relationship between the two chapters.
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
Yes.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Okay. And that’s an important discussion because it sets up (1) how we think about Adam and Eve, and (2) how we think about the relationship of God’s participation in the creation, so I’m gonna transition kind of to our second concern in thinking through this.

There are a lot of things going on in these two chapters as we think about the creation, there’s no doubt about that, and one of the ways in which this material can sometimes be handled is to ask the reader to make a choice, and the choice goes something like this.

These chapters are representative of who humans are, they’re archetypical, and describe kind of the role in creation of human beings, but we shouldn’t press them too hard for their material contribution to how the creation is taking place, a kind of either/or approach to the chapter.

And that’s pushing back against the idea that could be framed in a variety of ways, and in fact is, that we’re either dealing with kind of a very vivid snapshot of the step-by-step forms of creation which are associated with some views of these chapters or even a less specific, and a less vivid way in which, yes, there’s a generalized description of the way creation happened, but we don’t need to choose between the fact that this is archetypical, this is what God is saying about humanity, but it also is very material and very direct in terms of the role of Adam and Eve, a kind of both/and approach to the reading of this text.

Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
Mm-hmm.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Again, and then you have some people who shy away from the archetypical category and just say, “Well, this is strictly about the creation of Adam and Eve.”

So I’ve kind of given you three views there. How do you see these early chapters playing out in terms of those options?

Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
Well, I think that part of the point that is being made in the text is that the God, the term Elohim for God over all, is the term that’s used for God in Genesis 1, but in Genesis 2, then it begins with this Toledot formula and it says in the beginning when the Lord God, Yahweh God, began to create.

It that point, it starts using Yahweh, the covenant name of God.

Dr. Darrell Bock
So there are two different names for God that are implied between these two chapters?
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
Yeah, and Elohim is, in Genesis 1, that’s the only name. In Genesis 2, it’s Yahweh, the God of Israel, who is the Elohim, and what’s happening here is one of the main points is, that God is making here, is that the Elohim of chapter 1 is the covenant God of Israel, and that’s very important to reading the text from the perspective of ancient Israel, and one of the main points that’s being made.

Now, as far as the archetypal discussion and so on, one of the things that I think is important is that these chapters are about what happened in the ancient world, so I would argue that there is real historical reality here. There’s a real Adam and Eve and so on and so forth.

But, there, archetypal for us, one of the best ways for me to explain that is in the fall story in Genesis 3 we get these patterns of deception and doubt and illegitimate desire and so on.

That’s not just about what happened in the garden, it is about that, but it’s also about what we keep on struggling with is deception, and doubt, and illegitimate desire, shame, and fear and all these things, and it’s meant to be read with the idea that this chapter is about the historical Adam and Eve, but it’s also about what we deal with day by day.

And so there’s the archetypal and that shows up in this as when you get creation you get the pattern of existence, you get the pattern of who what these realities are or who these people are in such a way that it helps us to understand who we are, and that’s what we mean by archetypal.

Dr. Darrell Bock
And so I’m hearing you say that we don’t need to choose between whether there’s material historical description in here and/or representation in here; we’ve got a little of both.
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
Yeah, well, and one of the connections with that is we know that in Genesis 1 it talks about, for example, on day 4 God made the lights to be signs for seasons and years and so on. They had a particular function and also then to shed light on the world, but it also says so God made the two great lights to rule the day and so on, and he put them in the heavens.

The point is, is that the text deals with both the function of things, but the foundational material creation of them as well, and it is a mistake to try to drive a wedge between the two.

Dr. Darrell Bock
Okay. So now when we think about this, are we – this might sound like an odd question – are we getting a movie real presentation of how God did this creation or is there something slightly more – and I don’t know what other word to use – literary and summarizing about what’s going on?

How would you deal with that particular aspect of the question? What do we do with the imagery that we’ve got here, things like carving out of ribs and that kind of thing or even the sequencing of the days?

Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
Well, one of the things that stands out in the reading of the chapters, you have the six days and then the seventh day, the Sabbath. If we look through the Bible, and even the ancient Near Eastern contextual literature of the Bible, you’ll find that the six-seven pattern is used regularly as a literary motif.

It’s a way of shaping a story in an understandable way, and the ancient Israelites would be fully used to that pattern. Like in Proverbs, there’s six things the Lord hates yet seven, you know, in Proverbs 6, various places.

And this pattern shows up in many different places including construction of the tabernacle and the temple and so on. So what I’m seeing here is that the shaping of the Genesis 1 through 2, 3 account is really shaped according to this literary pattern.

And so when we talk about day 1, for example, I think what we’re getting is not necessarily a movie, it’s more like a snapshot – “Here’s day 1 and God is drawing our attention to this and he’s saying, ‘I made it.'”

And then he moves on to the next unit, the firmament of heavens and draws our attention to that, and he says, “I made it.” And he keeps on going through progressively through the chapter, these snapshots are eliminating the conditions that we have in verse 2 of the deep, dark watery abyss.

Dr. Darrell Bock
Giving order to the creation.
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
Yeah. So day 1 is “let there be light.” Well, that eliminates the total darkness of verse 2, and so on and so on, and so on.
Dr. Darrell Bock
So in these snapshots, just to play with the metaphor a little bit, aren’t necessarily momentary snapshots; they are synthetic snapshots of the sequencing of the orderliness of a huge creation put compactly into six pieces, if I can say it that way, with the rest coming on the seventh day.
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
Yeah, the rest being the seventh day so we get the six-seven pattern which is again a very important literary pattern in the Bible. So I think that’s basically what God is doing, he’s trying to tell us by walking us step-by-step through it in a way that makes sense.

It does reflect the structure of the world and the basic framing of what relies on that. So you have the dry ground before they get the animals, you know, you get the rachila the firm and the heavens before you get the lights in the heavens, all of these things, and the result is you end up with a kind of not just a cosmogony, not just a creation, but a cosmology, “How does our world fit together and how does it work?”

Dr. Darrell Bock
So there’s both material content and function description both at the same time?
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
Yeah, yeah, and of course of you have to have the material of creation, but of course you have to have the function. Why make something that doesn’t work?
Dr. Darrell Bock
Right. And what is the creation for? Where’s it trying to take you? That’s part of what origins is all about. Is it’s –
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
That’s all part of –
Dr. Darrell Bock
– just telling you where it came from, but it’s telling you what its purpose is and what you’re supposed to do with it.
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
So you get this big picture view there in the Genesis 1 account, and God says at the end it’s all very good.
Dr. Darrell Bock
And he did it.
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
And he had made it, and it’s all very good. He’s very happy with it, and then on day 7 he stops. He stops because he’s done. That’s what Shabbat, the word means is to cease or to stop. So that’s why you didn’t get any more days because he’s done.

And then when you move into chapter 2, what you have is a bit of a shift because you have things in chapter 2 that you find nothing like that in chapter 1, like the rivers flowing in Eden, and they talk about the Tigris and the Euphrates River.

Well, those are realities that the Israelites knew were actual historical markers, and geographical markers in the real world of humanity. So there’s a shift between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 linking them together and saying that this is about creation of our human world, and therefore we step even more into historical realities that we deal with day by day.

Dr. Darrell Bock
So the next transition, I guess, is the transition to what this is for, and so this brings us directly into the discussion of the image of God which is part of what we really wanna concentrate on here.

But before I get to that, let me get to another idea that I think is extremely, or set of ideas that I think is extremely underdeveloped coming out of these chapters.

I like to say to my students that I was probably 20 years into my professional teaching career before I realized that there was a very important concept that I had heard next to nothing about theologically, and that I still hear very little about, and that is the idea of being a steward, that we are called in the creation, it’s part of the creation mandate in fact.

It’s a central thing that we’re asked to be, that we are asked to be stewards in the world to manage the world well together, that God made us male and female to manage the world well together, to subdue the earth, if I can use the language of the text.

I’d like for you to elaborate a little bit on that before we turn to the idea of image because image is related to that, at least in terms of purpose. So talk a little bit about what Genesis is trying to do in presenting any human being, whether they have a sense of relationship to God or not, as being called to steward the earth well.

Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
Well, yes, it is directly tied to the image and likeness discussion, and we have lots of other places in the Bible too, Psalm 8 and so on where we’re put in charge, and we often talk about this as dominion theology as the kind of understanding that we are given dominion to actually live in the world in such a way that’s good for the world, and we’re to rule the world like God rules the universe.

He’s put us here for that purpose, so we’re responsible for what God has put us here to manage. And so this stewardship issue is a big deal and it really can get us into even understanding the whole question of our responsibility for the creation, and it can get us into some of these environmental discussions and so on, and how we handle the world is not just for us; we are here to manage the whole thing that’s good for all.

Dr. Darrell Bock
And the concept of flourishing, which you don’t hear, there isn’t a term, direct term for it so much in the Bible, but it certainly is a theme, is the idea that we’re supposed to manage the world in a way that keeps it, at least originally as planned, somewhat in harmony, and functioning well and that kind of thing.

It also sets up the whole idea of the together part, the fact that we’ve been made male and female, and then of course across the story of the scripture, you’ve got a variety of peoples that God has allowed to emerge.

It also sets the foundations, I think, for what the gospel achieves on the other end in terms of reconciliation, what the gospel takes us back to. The gospel takes us back to being good stewards of the creation together in a way that’s harmonious.

It lays the groundwork for where love is supposed to take us. It lays the groundwork for where justice is supposed to take us, etc. So it’s a mammoth concept, but I tease people, we never have a course on stewardology, but maybe we ought to.

It certainly is a big part of what would technically probably fall into anthropology and sets the tone for what the assignment is, what the calling of human beings are as they reflect the capability that God has given us that is a reflection of himself in the creation.

And the word “dominion” is a tricky word because it suggestions an idea of domination, and it certainly has that because it has authority built into it, but the way in which God has created man and woman to work together where she is the helper, the helpmate, talks about a cooperation in that, and a complementarity in that, that is designed to mutually enhance what each brings to the stewardship.

Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
Yeah, the text makes a distinction between the words that it uses for the relationship between the man and the woman, even post fall.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yes.
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
It makes a distinction between those words and these, like “subdue.” This word “kabosh,” you know how it sounds even –
Dr. Darrell Bock
Right, right, I love that word.
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
– in chapter 1 verse 28. Where that is, there’s gonna be a need for us to take control of this thing, and God is saying that right at the beginning.

The point is that he has put us here for managing it well, being fruitful and multiplying, and spreading out so that we’re present in it to manage it and so on, and that’s gonna take some, yeah, we have to be who we’re created to be, that’s his image and likeness.

Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah, and I sometimes tease people that it’s really interesting that, at least in Genesis 2, the driving climax of the creation is the creation of the woman. She finishes off the sequence and completes something that up to that point, and everything else that’s said in chapter 2, there’s an inadequacy in the creation that she fills.
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
Yeah, that’s, I think, really an important point, and that’s already set up for us in Genesis 1 when it talks the image and likeness because it’s the man and the woman together in that –
Dr. Darrell Bock
That’s right.
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
– section that is the image and likeness of God. We’re together in this thing and we need both to make it work. You can’t be fruitful and multiply without both and so on.

But then in chapter 2 it develops that further into the dynamics of the world of the man and the woman, and says it’s not good that the man be alone, and so the whole point of the movement is that man would have who he needs as his companion in the midst of this, and that they become one.

There’s no domination here in chapter 2 –

Dr. Darrell Bock
And it’s not supposed to be a competition either.
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
– at all. It’s –
Dr. Darrell Bock
It’s a –
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
What’s that?
Dr. Darrell Bock
It’s not supposed to be a competition either; it’s a cooperation.
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
That’s exactly right. And so what we have here is this cooperation that is intended to be good for them and for everything else.
Dr. Darrell Bock
And we even see this in chapter 3 when the failure happens because in one sense, I think it’s fair to say that the story of Genesis 3 is the failure of each of them to uphold the other in the midst of what takes place.

And it’s interesting because scripture later on in the New Testament comes to blame each of them in one way or another for what took place because they have each let the other down in by the way in which the fall happened.

Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
Yes, and in fact, God curses the serpent in the ground and his effects on the man and the woman, and the result is that the repercussions are felt throughout, no one’s given a pass here in terms of this. We’re all responsible, male and female.
Dr. Darrell Bock
And I sometimes think that we underappreciate that dimension of the fall, that the failure, you know, it could’ve been that God could’ve judged humanity at the point in which Eve hands the fruit to Adam and encourages him to take and eat, but that doesn’t happen until he himself responds and they both fail together.
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
And the next question is, “What should they have done then?” In my view, they should’ve just run to God and say, “Now what do we do? Now what do we do?”
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah.
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
And of course, they did the opposite, they ran away and hid.
Dr. Darrell Bock
And of course the whole core of the temptation came in two parts, the first was a doubting about whether God meant what he said, and the second is in the idea of “Look what you can be if you act independently of God.”
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
Yeah, and that’s a big part of the dynamics of our falleness even today.
Dr. Darrell Bock
So obviously, these are profound chapters in terms of what they lay out for us theologically, etc. So with all that kind of setting the backdrop, let’s turn our attention to the image of God.

And I think part of what I wanna deal with here is who’s responsible for creating the image of God in us and what is it that the scripture is depicting in that, and at one level, obviously, the answer is transparent, God is the one who made it, but how is this being depicted?

Is this being depicted as part of a process that just, you know, and I could be accused of characterizing here, but it just kind of fell into place or is this part of a process in which God consciously injected himself into a process that says, “I am making man and woman”?

Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
Well, as I read chapter 1, this is intended to be understood to be the climax of God’s creative work, and that he is gonna inject his own person, personality into the creation, to the creation of humanity, and they’re gonna function according to who he is, and that’s the whole call, that’s the whole mandate.

In this context, part of the issue is that there’s been a lot of confusion about what do we mean by the image and likeness. I’ve been involved in some discussions even very recently where scholars are debating this whole discussion, and I’ve had people, right from the front saying, “Well, obviously, I have no idea what the image and likeness is.”

The fact of the matter is we really do if we anchor it in what’s actually going on in the text at its foundation rather than to get so carried away with speculations about it. There’s a lot of metaphysical speculation that goes on around the image and likeness, but it needs to be anchored to what the text is actually doing.

Dr. Darrell Bock
So you’ve set that up pretty nicely. You know what the next question is. So what is the text doing, my friend?
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
Well, one of the things that’s really clear to people who are working in the Hebrew text is that the word for image, tselem, and the word for likeness demuth. This is statue terminology. This is very physical terminology.

And we actually have a text from times of ancient Israel in which it’s a text written on a statue, the Telteharia inscription, and this text talks – gives us an inscription on the skirt of the statue of the king, and it’s starts out this is the statue, the king, the dimuth, okay, and it comes around, yes, this is the tselem, you know what I mean? And it does that twice. It goes around on that twice.

Dr. Darrell Bock
who wants you to get it.
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
Yeah. The point is, that helps us here in Genesis 1 with something that’s there anyway. The problem is, we’ve been fighting the lexicon a lot in the whole discussion. It’s clear that this is physical statue terminology, but we wanted to make it so metaphysical that we’ve unanchored that discussion.

And so the anchor is found in that we are like or in an image of God, standing here representing him in the world.

Dr. Darrell Bock
So the key word is representation, and a certain kind of representation?
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
And that’s what’s on this other statue as well it’s this statue represents this kind in this place before this God. So the point is that this concept is there clearly in the text, but we’ve become so metaphysical about it that we have lost track of where the anchor is that who we are to be in the world which is the point we’ve been making.
Dr. Darrell Bock
So have we dematerialized the text, if I coin a term?
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
I think we have. Now, don’t misunderstand what I’m saying here. This is basic statue terminology. We’re not just a dead rock.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Right.
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
God’s using figurative language here for us to get what our purpose is in the world, and it’s like a statue.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Well, it’s like a representation of someone else.
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
Yeah, it’s a representation of someone else, so God. And so what’s important here is to keep that in mind as kind of the anchor for the discussion. What tends to happen is that people then go into all the metaphysics of the capacities that we have to do that which is what the text isn’t talking about in Genesis 1.

But God has given us all sorts of capacities to accomplish that, and I think we should be looking at them more as a whole, and there are capacities, and that’s important, but the text here is anchoring the discussion in our purpose in the world he made us to do this.

Dr. Darrell Bock
Now I’m gonna mirror something that sometimes happens in marital discussions, and I’m gonna try and rephrase what you just said succinctly. Okay?
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
Okay.
Dr. Darrell Bock
And it’s this: That we have been created to image, reflect slash represent – put slashes between all those words – God in terms of who he is in his character by the way that we live and manage in the world.
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
Yes. I would add that he made us physically, and put us in the physical world to manage it physically. In other words, there’s a real physical emphasis in the text based upon the basic terms that are being used, and he’s made a physical world, so now he wants it to be properly managed, and so it’s very tied into that at the root of what the image and likeness is.
Dr. Darrell Bock
So when we say we’re made in the image of God, what we’re really saying is we’re made to be divine representatives in this stewardship reflecting his presence and character.
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
Yes, and that’s the neat thing about it. It’s not a theoretical discussion. it’s about what we do and we how we are, and how we relate to God and one another in this world, and that’s really what this whole thing is about.

It’s not a theoretical discussion. It’s about function. It’s about how we handle ourselves and how that relates to the entire creation.

Dr. Darrell Bock
And so sometimes the early chapters of Genesis are described in ways that make clear the earth is like this sacred space, it’s like a temple which also is a part of this imagery which gives – how can I say this?

It sanctifies our activity in the world or at least it’s designed to portray the idea that the work that we do, even the mundane work that we do in managing the world, there’s something appropriately sacred about it because it’s part of this imaging and stewardship that God has given to us in making us the way that he made us.

Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
Yeah, we’re the stewards of it. You can say we’re the priests of it. The whole idea of it is that we’re here to take responsibility for it and to see that things go well.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Which means that when we fail, we’re accountable for the failure.
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
Absolutely. And you’ve got to add to that a sanctuary, God is present, and we’re doing it in the very presence of God because he is the creator who actually is showing, manifesting his presence in the world and we are dealing with the fact that he’s actually present and therefore we live, or are supposed to be living, recognizing that we’re right in the presence of God now.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah, I tell people that one of the most basic ideas in the scripture is that whether we are believer or not, we are accountable to God whether we recognize him or not.
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
Yeah, yeah, that’s exactly right.
Dr. Darrell Bock
And that goes back to the core of the creation is actually is the foundational basis that is the appeal for taking the gospel to everybody is because of that accountability. When we look at the apostles in Acts presenting the gospel to someone who doesn’t know anything about the Bible, they don’t know schmatz about the Bible is the way I like to say it, you know, they don’t know Genesis from Malachi, etc.

Where do they start? They start with the idea of “You’ve been created by a creator God to whom you’re accountable.”

Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
And Paul even used that in Acts 17 in this really interesting way, the unknown God.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Exactly right. Exactly right.
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
It’s just fascinating to see how he does that because he uses what they have to try to get at the issue of the gospel.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Exactly right. And uses their spiritual awareness that there is a world out there to which they are having to respond, but then he narrows their – there are many choices of who it is that they’re obligated to down to the one who they’re obligated to.
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
Yeah, yeah, he really kinda does just a fascinating thing there in terms of using the cultural context to get where he’s going.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Exactly. So let’s kind of zero in. We’ve done a good job of image here. Let me come back to the idea of God creating us in his image. And again, I think there are two ways in which this is sometimes portrayed.

One is, is that God starts out a process and it ends with this – ends somehow along the way with this image of God being injected into the creation in the process.

Those who are inclined, and I’ve tried to avoid all the controversial terms and just stay in the text, but I probably can’t do it at this point, but those who are more inclined to say what might be called, at least a form of theistic evolution would say, you know, God wound up the clock and there’s a process, a scientific – he’s been active in it all, it’s his creation, you know, they’re trying to be clear about that, but basically it winds down and at some point, some unspecified point, the image of God came into this process.

I think what I’m hearing from you goes slightly differently. It goes something to the effect of, no, when Adam and Eve came on the scene, this was a creative act of God. God was acting all along in whatever he was doing in the creation before he got there, but this is a moment –

Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
Yeah.
Dr. Darrell Bock
– in which God says, “Now we’re gonna bring something to the equation that wasn’t there before.”
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
Yeah. It wasn’t there before, and it’s brand new and unique, and that’s why he uses the word “barat” in this case is to try to get us to understand that this is really unique and special.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Now, sometimes the pushback on that is the idea of well, the moment that you suggest that God injects himself into the gap – that might be one way that it says – or you use the term supernatural versus natural, you’re thinking like a modern person.

And my reaction is no, that is a misrepresentation of what’s being described. What’s being described is the idea that yes, God has put into place a process by which he creates, and by which the creation functions and has some level of order, but there are times in which he moves in to enhance what it is that he has previously done and what he has gotten started.

And that’s not a matter of natural or supernatural; that is a description of the way in which God has chosen to launch the project, if you will.

Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
Yeah, he created the world so that it works. So he even says, like on day 3 he even says “let the earth bring forth.” So there’s these secondary causes that he’s pulling into it saying “this functions a certain way and that brings –” you know, and he’s setting up that ongoing function.

He’s meaning to create a world that is by its very nature productive.

Dr. Darrell Bock
So I’m flipping the – if I can use an analogy – it’s like, “I’ve designed this and at certain points I flipped the switch and now the juice is running.”
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
And part of the problem is that sometimes in the scientific world they don’t want to see God stepping in. They want to see it as an evolutionary process that he wound up at the beginning and he made it so well that it just functions the way he wants it to function.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah, it just runs.
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
But the problem is, that’s not the way the Bible describes God. He steps in in the day of the Lord. He does various things. He hasn’t separated himself. Unfortunately, sometimes, theistic evolution has a lot of evolution in it and very little theism, and the result is we get almost a deistic evolution, and the result, and we end up with a God who isn’t really active, he wouldn’t step in because he made the process perfectly in the first place, but the Bible tells us he does step in explicitly.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yes. So he’s not as much –
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
And so –
Dr. Darrell Bock
– a spectator in the creation, but he’s more a participant.
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
Very dynamically involved in it because he’s vested in it. I mean, he’s made us in his image and likeness, and the whole thing is to be managed by us. He takes it so seriously that he even comes to a point where he sends his son to die for us. I mean, God doesn’t do that for insignificant beings.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Right, right. So I do think that there is a – if I can say it this way – a theology, an active theology being expressed here that has, as we’ve already suggested, both material elements in it and archetypal elements in it, functional elements in it, they’re all there.

And the danger sometimes is we get, and we’ve kind of approached the entire podcast this way, the danger can be we get so locked up in the controversy that we’re having about creation and evolution, etc. that that becomes the focus of the discussion, doing the apologetics related to those questions, and in the process we miss actually what the emphasis of the text is about describing who it is that he’s made us to be.

Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
Yeah, and that’s really the whole point of the revelation is for God to communicate to us who we need to be because of who he is, and if we miss that, we’ve kind of aborted the whole process.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah, and if I can stick something in the middle of that, it’s who we need to be because of the way he made us, but it’s also who he’s called us to be because of the tasks that he’s given us in making us the way that he made us.
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
Yes, exactly.
Dr. Darrell Bock
And so that takes us back to the steward and image imagery. That gets tough to say.
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
And that’s why it’s so important to understand that we are part of this physical world. In chapter 2 we’re referred to as living beings like the animals are referred to in chapter 1 as living beings, the same terminology. We’re part of it and yet we stand out because of who God has designed us to be.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah, I like to tease people that there aren’t, as far as I know, there are no First Presbyterian Churches of dolphins, and First Baptist Churches of bears, that there is –
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
Except up in Chicago.
Dr. Darrell Bock
No, no, no, that’s a football team. That’s a different deal. That’s a different kind of worship. Anyway, but you’re gonna draw me in a direction we don’t need to go.

But the point here is, is that we have a capability of relating to this being who made us that is unlike anything else in the creation, and that’s part of the covenant part, and the interesting thing about that is, and this is a whole ‘nother podcast is that relational dimension with God which expresses itself in the covenant structures of the Old Testament shows a personalness of engagement that God has with us that some very famous monotheistic religions tend not to have.

And here I have Islam in mind in particular with its emphasis on the sovereignty of God, but its lack of discussion of the covenant relationship and the love that God has for people. Everything goes through the lens of submission rather than the lens of relationship.

Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
Yeah, that’s why we need both the transcendence and the immanence in our real understanding because our God is really dynamically involved in all that goes on from before creation to consummation and beyond.

And so this is something that he’s personally involved in as the sovereign God over all.

Dr. Darrell Bock
And the other dimension that that injects is, is that it shows the amount of investment that God has put into the relational element of how he has made us to be which sometimes, in the midst of our pursuit of right understanding and those kinds of things, we can minimize, and yet when the rubber hits the road it’s always, or often always, at the level of how we’re relating to the people around us.

That takes us back to the creation mandate because we were called to manage the creation well together.

Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
Together.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yep, and so it’s always corporate, and it’s always social.
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
Yeah, and it is important to understand that man, when he talks about let us make man in our image, he’s not talking about making one man, he’s talking about humanity because the verb then, “and them rule,” it’s not a singular thing so much as it is a collective thing in terms of how we function.

Now, it can be understood in a singular way too, like in Genesis 5 with Adam and so on, and then on into the Noahic thing in chapter 9. The point is that you can think about it from both directions, but where this really begins, this whole concept really begins is with the collective.

Dr. Darrell Bock
And it becomes the basis of all our core ethical responsibilities because we’re designed to stand next to other people who share in the task that God has given to all of us.
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
Yeah, it’s, unfortunately, because of the fall, there’s this enmity, and it shows up there in chapter 3 with, you know, when he’s in the garden hiding from God, and God confronts him, the man says, “Well, you know, the woman that you gave me by the way –
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah, “She did and you did it.”
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
You know what I mean? He’s blaming the woman and God, and the woman just blames the serpent, so nobody’s responsible here.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Exactly right.
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
It’s all this transferring the responsibility to someone else, and that is such a pattern amongst us that we destroy relationships.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah, when we don’t own our own junk, we create our own junk.
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
That’s right. An d it’s really terribly destructive to, in all sorts of contexts, in marriages, as well as in churches, in ministries, and all sorts of ways.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Well, Dick, I thank you for taking the time to help us walk through this passage, and to help us focus on some core themes that we think it’s about. And this is obviously very fundamental material theologically, very rich material theologically, and you’ve helped us walk through it, so I appreciate you giving us your time to help us do that.
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
Thank you very much for the opportunity just to talk through these things with you.
Dr. Darrell Bock
And we hope that you’ve enjoyed your time with us at The Table, and hope you’ll be back again with us soon.
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
I enjoyed this, yes.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah, good.
Dr. Richard E. Averbeck
Thank you.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah, and we thank you all for listening and trust that you will be back again with us soon as well.
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Darrell L. Bock
Dr. Bock is senior research professor of New Testament and executive director for cultural engagement at Dallas Theological Seminary. He has authored or edited more than forty books, including Jesus according to Scripture: Restoring the Portrait from the Gospels, Jesus in Context: Background Readings for Gospel Study, Studying the Historical Jesus: A Guide to Sources and Methods, Jesus the Messiah: Tracing the Promises, Expectations, and Coming of Israel’s King, Who Is Jesus?: Linking the Historical Jesus with the Christ of Faith, and Key Events in the Life of the Historical Jesus: A Collaborative Exploration of Context and Coherence.
Richard Averbeck
Richard Averbeck is Director of the PhD (Theological Studies) and Professor of Old Testament and Semitic Languages at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Dr. Averbeck taught for four years at DTS, teaching in both the Old Testament and pastoral ministries departments. His areas of expertise include Old Testament, especially the Pentateuch, ancient Near Eastern history and languages, Old Testament criticism, Hebrew, and biblical counseling.
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