Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Seventh Day

Here is a fascinating insight from John H. Walton's book entitled The Lost World of Genesis One:

"In the traditional view that Genesis 1 is an account of material origins, day seven is mystifying. It appears to be nothing more than an afterthought with theological concerns about Israelites observing the sabbath - an appendix, a postscript, a tack on.

"In contrast, a reader from the ancient world would know immediately what was going on and recognize the role of day seven. Without hesitation the ancient reader would conclude that this is a temple text and that day seven is the most important of the seven days. In a material account day seven would have little role, but in a functional account, as we will see, it is the true climax without which nothing else would make any sense or have any meaning.

"How could reactions be so different? The difference is the piece of information that everyone knew in the ancient world and to which most modern readers are totally oblivious: Deity rests in a temple, and only in a temple. This is what temples were built for. We might even say that this is what a temple is - a place for divine rest. Perhaps even more significant, in some texts the construction of a temple is associated with cosmic creation.

"What does divine rest entail? Most of us think of rest as disengagement from the cares, worries and tasks of life. What comes to mind is sleeping in or taking an afternoon nap. But in the ancient world rest is what results when a crisis has been resolved or when stability has been acieved, when things have 'settled down.' Consequently normal routines can be established and enjoyed. For deity this means that the normal operations of the cosmos can be undertaken, This is more a matter of engagement without obstacles rather than disengagement without responsibilities."

In light of what Walton outlines in his book it is interesting to examine Jesus' statement in Matthew 8:20:

"And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head."

Jesus' intent may have been to condemn the second temple and to declare his divine identity. In any event Walton's statement regarding the seventh day of creation is super interesting. I have not read the book in its entirety yet but it is certainly on my "to-read" list.


  1. The previous comment was mine. I didn't know Amber was logged in. Thanks for the recent posts. Keep up the good work.