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In the Beginning... We Misunderstood: Interpreting Genesis 1 in Its Original Context Paperback – August 14, 2012

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Kregel Publications (August 14, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0825439272
  • ISBN-13: 978-0825439278
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #269,220 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Johnny V. Miller (ThM, ThD, Dallas Theological Seminary) is a teaching pastor and professor who currently serves as a professor emeritus at Columbia International University. He has contributed writings to many publications such as Decision Magazine, Leadership Journal, and Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. He and his wife, Jeanne, live in Pennsylvania.

John M. Soden (ThM, PhD, Dallas Theological Seminary) teaches Old Testament at Lancaster Bible College and Graduate School. Prior to coming to LBC, he was a pastor in Colorado. He and his wife, Janet, live in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Customer Reviews

Well written, clearly presented.
Mary Jemison
The book is similar to John H. Walton's "The Lost World of Genesis 1," but without the functional vs. material creation issue.
Paul R. Bruggink
I still highly recommend this book to both the believer and non believer.
Nicholas Combs

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Paul R. Bruggink on October 17, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The authors' target audience is students and lay Christians who have an interest in the creation account of Genesis 1:1-2:4 and who believe that the Bible trumps science every time. It begins with the personal journeys of the two authors from Young Earth Creationism to a belief that the Bible was never intended to be a literal, chronological description of the creation.

Unlike many previous books on this subject by scientifically-trained authors who deal with the interrelationship of science and the Bible, these authors, both with advanced degrees in theology, deal almost exclusively with the biblical text, rather than with science. They make their case from Scripture, not from science, and the difference shows.

Their main point can be summed up in one of the questions that they ask and answer near the end of the book: "How can I trust the Bible if it does not mean what it says?" which they rephrase as "Can I trust the Bible if it does not mean what I thought it meant from my context when I initially read it, before I understood what it would have meant to the original readers?" They then proceed to help us to understand the original intent and meaning of Genesis 1 by placing us in the position of the original readers as much as possible.

The book centers on very readable descriptions of the creation accounts of the ancient Egyptians, Mesopotamians, and Canaanite, and how they are both similar to and different from the Genesis 1 account (68 out of 177 pages of text), complete with summary tables and some photos. The emphasis is on understanding what Moses' original audience understood about the gods and creation and what God wanted the original audience to understand. The book is similar to John H.
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38 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 10, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I first learned of this book listening to a radio interview with one of the authors. When people ask whether the creation week uses literal 24-hour days or day-ages, he said, they are asking the wrong question. This book proposes that Genesis was not intended to be taken literally, but as a creation metaphor specifically for the Israelites coming out of Exodus in order to counter the Egyptian mythology they had been steeped in during their 400-year sojourn. What exactly the nature of the story is, the book isn't clear.

Both authors are seminary graduates and recount how they began as young earth creationists, but eventually opted for old earth theology. They never directly say his, but it is evident this change was largely due to scientific evidence against a young Earth. I consider that a fair point. They re-examined Genesis and decided there was room for old earth interpretation. However, on page 164, they make it clear that they do not adhere to the OEC day-age theory. As much as they attempt to steer away from old Earth vs young Earth, they occasionally drop hints that they are largely talking to young Earth Christians. That said, in contrast to most dialogue from OECs, this book is not condescending. Most OECs talk about YECs as though they were uneducated country yokels in need of enlightenment. The tone of this book was refreshing.

There are problems in the Creation account for OECs and YECs, some common to both. As the authors point out, days one through five use an indefinite article ("there was evening and morning, a fifth day"), where as day six and seven use a definite article ("the sixth day")--why? Day one through three had evening and morning before there was a sun.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Life Long Reader on February 27, 2013
Format: Paperback
When it comes to interpreting Genesis 1 within the last few hundred years, much of the debate for Christians has centered on the interpret the days of creation. Are they literal 24 hour periods of time as we experience them now? Are they undefined long periods of time? Or, are they a literary device used to communicate a theological message? Everyone rightly proclaims that context is the key and yet there are varied interpretations based on each person's understanding of what exactly the context is. Herein lies the problem - what is the context of the creation account in Genesis 1? Is it just the exegesis of the Hebrew text or is it to include the Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) background as well? How far do we extend the immediate context?

As the debate carries on currently the center of discussion has moved to focus on the ANE cultural background. ANE studies have been on a rise for the last several decades and their findings have caused numerous Christians from the scholar to the layman to question some of the long standing and popular interpretations of Genesis 1. The view that has been questioned the most in light of these ANE findings is the literal 24 hour view which sees the days of creation as 24 hour periods of time as we experience them today. This view is held by those described as Young Earth Creationists (YEC).

One of the most recent books to hit the shelves seeking to question this view is In the Beginning...We Misunderstood: Interpreting genesis 1 in Its Original Context by Johnny V. Miller and John M. Soden. Both are graduates of Dallas Theological Seminary and have been or are pastors and teachers.
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