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In the Beginning: The Opening Chapters of Genesis, by Henri Blocher
PDF Ebook In the Beginning: The Opening Chapters of Genesis, by Henri Blocher
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“Curiosity about our beginning continues to haunt the human race. It will not call off the Quest for its origins.” The opening chapters of Genesis — important at any time — have been the focal point of controversy for more than a century. Few topics have been so hotly debated by theologians, philosophers and scientists alike. Henri Blocher argues that our primary task is to discover what these key chapters of the Bible originally meant. Only then will we be able to unravel the knotty issues surrounding human origins. Taking into account a vast array of scholarship, Blocher provides a detailed study of creation week, the image of God, the significance of male and female, the garden covenant, the Fall, the curse and the promise of redemption. He also offers significanct theological insights into the creation-evolution debate.
- Sales Rank: #371775 in Books
- Published on: 1984-11-17
- Original language: English
- Number of items: 1
- Dimensions: 8.19″ h x .70″ w x 5.50″ l, .66 pounds
- Binding: Paperback
- 240 pages
Text: English, French (translation)
About the Author
In October 2003, Henri Blocher was appointed to the Guenther H. Knoedler Chair of Theology at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. Since 1965 he has served as professor of systematic theology at the Faculté Libre de Théologie Evangélique in Vaux-sur-Seine near Paris, France. A leading evangelical theologian and statesman, Blocher was a member of the Lausanne Committee on World Evangelization (1975-1980), served the World Evangelical Fellowship/Alliance in a number of capacities, and taught in schools in Europe, Australia, Africa, Canada and the US. He is currently president of the Fellowship of European Evangelical Theologians. Blocher studied at a number of institutions including the Sorbonne, London Bible College, Gordon Divinity School, and Faculté Libre de Théologie Protestant of Paris. He has written six books, four of which have appeared in English, and several dozen articles. His English publications include Original Sin: Illuminating the Riddle, Evil and the Cross: Christian Thought and the Problem of Evil and In the Beginning: The Opening chapters of Genesis.
Most helpful customer reviews
74 of 76 people found the following review helpful.
Relevant to Bible-and-science issues, but also to far more.
By A Customer
When I was single and about to leave college some 15 years ago, a semester-long private study of this book and the book of Genesis itself filled me with a new sense of meaning concerning my existence as a man in this world.
Blocher argues on the basis of the elaborate literary structure of Gen. 1:1-2:3 that the original readers would have read it figuratively. The 7 days of creation represent neither 24-hour periods of time, nor long epochs of natural history, but are instead a literary structure that conveys meaningful and true content about the relationship of God, humankind, and the creation. No chronological significance was intended whatsoever, Blocher believes, nor inferred by the original readers. The literary phenomena he explores include the repetition of certain key words 7 or 10 times (numbers with symbolic value to the ancient Hebrews), the symmetrical correspondence of creation day 1 (light and darkness) to day 4 (sun, moon, stars), day 2 (sky and ocean) to day 5 (sea animals and birds), and day three to 3 (land) to day 6 (animals and humankind), etc. Moreover, the parallels–or rather deliberate contrasts–between Gen. 1 and other ancient Near Eastern creation stories, show how Gen. 1 served as a pointed polemic that exalted a higher concept of the utterly transcendent/immanent God to whom we are accountable, over and against polytheism. Even the reader who retains some kind of chronological understanding of the days of creation will be enriched by an exploration of these literary phenomena of the text. (A fascinating article, “Space and Time in the Genesis Cosmogony,” by Dr. Meredith G. Kline of Westminster Theological Seminary in California and Gordon-Conwell Seminary, argues similar conclusions, and makes good companion reading to Blocher concerning Gen. 1.
Blocher sees the story of the Garden of Eden in Genesis 2 and 3 as a depiction in mythical terms of a genuinely historical fall of our first human ancestors from fellowship with God. The “seed of the woman” promised in Gen. 3:15, Jesus Christ, restores our access to the “tree of life” (see Rev. 22:2,14,19) of which human sin deprived us. The whole Bible is God’s revelation about real historical realities, even if some of those realities (such as our remote origins and distant future) are more aptly and naturally described to us in figurative terms, while others (such as the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ) are more appropriately narrated in a literal manner.
Blocher’s book has pastoral value that goes far beyond its relevance to these particular issues of biblical interpretation. The chapter on Man and Woman is worth the price of the book. I was left with a deepened appreciation of the significance of our earthly lives and their activities (marriage, family, work, etc.) in the context of God’s plan to call out for himself a redeemed human community that is restored through Christ to be the image of God, and that will enjoy communion with God and one another forever.
31 of 32 people found the following review helpful.
conservative thoughtful Biblical exegesis of Gen 1-3
By R. M. Williams
First, i come to this book as an extended directed self study on the issues involved in the Creation-Evolution-Design debate. This book i rate as one of the 5 most significant books for a conservative reformed Christian who wants to come to reasoned and faithful conclusions in the CED debate. It is conservative which i define to be conscious and considerate of the traditions of the past, to take them seriously, not simply accepting something because it is new. It is Biblical in the way the author is very careful to allow the Scripture’s Words to speak for themselves, being very careful not to read into the words his own cherished beliefs, but to allow the Word to speak to him, authoritatively and reliably. To this end he is not infected by the liberal J-P-D documentary interpretation so often evident in exegesis or interpretation.
Second, the book is significant on two levels, the first is the exegetical level, the principles of understanding that the author explores in the first few chapters. Second is the line by line study that forms the bulk of the book, roughly chpt 3 on.
The structure of the book is that of Gen 1-3 but the way he writes is interesting and worth a moment of reflection here. The chapters are more like consistent essays than the usual exegesis bound to the text. He takes a major theme in the next section of Genesis then expands it to cover this issue through the past interpreters and links to other related Scripture. It roughly follows the systematic organization of reformed covenant theology.
pg 26 has what i think is the best analysis of the human writers relationship to Scripture. “That rule follows from the humanity of Holy Scripture. In the act of inspiration God did not turn his sookesmen into robots; his Word became their word, under their signature and their responsiblility. Thus we have no right to go over their heads in order to set forth a ‘divine’ meaning which they would never possilby have imagined-even if those men did not grasp the whole import of what they attested God in his condescension has limited himself to their instrumentality; our interpretation must conform to the corresponding discipline.”
If the church would hend this advice much of the CED debate would be solved, for we would cease to search Genesis for the equivalent of quarks, trying to query the first few chapters of the Bible and mine it for scientific truths. Rather we would, as this author does, submit to the authority of Scripture to speak to the way we do science, to the ideas that we bring to the universe as we question the master workmen’s creation that we are a small part of.
The book is literary framework in its approach to Gen1-3, M. Kline being the best example of this in the english speaking world. Anyone familiar with the CED issues would be advised to read the first 2 chapters of this book simply to see a careful analysis of exegesis and the result of allowing Scripture to speak for itself rather than being pushed out of shape by young earth creationists whom would interpret the 7 days too literally. Or by scientific reconcilationists would would try to find modern science confirmed in the light appearing before the sun(ie the big bang).
The first principle he outlines carefully is to allow Scripture to speak to its first listeners, their culture, their history. His exegetical task doesn’t end there but extends to teaching what these things mean to us in our place in space and time. But this application, this preaching follows critical-historical interpretation not prior to it as so many would desire.
Thanks to the author for this excellent book and i hope to read more from his pen.
0 of 0 people found the following review helpful.
A MAJOR PRESENTATION OF THE “FRAMEWORK” INTERPRETATION OF GENESIS
By Steven H Propp
Henri A. G. Blocher is a French evangelical theologian who is Gunther Knoedler Professor of Systematic Theology at Wheaton College Graduate School and is Professor of Systematic Theology, Faculte Libre de Theologie Evangelique, Vaux-sur-Seine, France. He is a proponent of the “framework” interpretation of the Genesis creation account. He has also written books such as Original Sin: Illuminating the Riddle (New Studies in Biblical Theology) and Evil and the Cross: An Analytical Look at the Problem of Pain.
Here are some quotations from this 1984 translation of the 1979 book:
“One point ought to be established. The alternative of all or nothing rests on purely arbitrary grounds. The use of figurative language by no means determines the main question, that of the connection of the narrative with the events that are located and dated from the beginning. The acknowledgement of symbolic elements hardly weighs at all in favour of a symbolic interpretation of the whole. Conversely, those who favour the literal historicity of the content have no reason to demand the same literalness of the language. Scripture… abounds in examples of mixed genre.” (Pg. 37)
“One must be sure that the text DEMANDS the literal interpretation. It must not be adopted out of loyalty to the past, out of sheer habit, or from a reflex hardening before the possible threat of apostasy. Might that in fact be the case?” (Pg. 48)
“The literary interpretation takes the form of the week attributed to the work of creation to be an artistic arrangement, a modest example of anthropomorphism that is not to be taken literally. The author’s intention is not to supply us with a chronology of origins… He wishes to bring out certain themes and provide a theology of the sabbath… To put it plainly, both the genre and the style of the Genesis prologue, as our introductory chapter saw them, provide strong grounds for presuming in favour of the literary interpretation.” (Pg. 50)
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