Published
7.29.2020

How order not sin frames Genesis pt 2

Here is the second part of my conversation with John Walton on how order not sin frames the book of Genesis – including the Fall. In this talk John gets more specific about the order spectrum of order, non-order and disorder.

‘Sin’ is obviously animportant word, and central to the Christian doctrine. But it is also a loadedword, and one that works like a sinkhole to suck in streams of meaning – someof which may not be helpful. It is not just an intellectual word, but an existentialone because it so easily tugs into deep feelings of guilt and unworthiness thatplague many people – indeed all of us from time to time if we are honest.  That is why being as ‘biblical’ as possibleto get behind the word into the conceptual frames that inform it, is soimportant. And John’s talks here are among the most helpful ‘paradigm shifters’that I know.

Interestingly when David Hart was out with us, we discussed the word ‘sin’ with its modern and often introspective connotations. He told me that if he ever did a third edition of his New Testament translation (which he does not intend to do), he would be brave enough to choose another word to translate the Greek word ‘Hamartia’ rather than ‘sin’. I asked him what the other word might be, and he said he did not know but words like ‘missing the mark’ or ‘trespass’ would be candidates.

I wrote an article some years ago on ‘sin’ and what I thought about it. I might change some of the thinking now – and I wrote it before I had the benefit of this talk with John. Nonetheless I think it is worth posting it on our website so we will do that soon after this talk.  

If you want to dive more in some of John’s thinking, a good place to start is his book on Genesis called “The Lost World of Genesis One”.  

Of course, you can also dive into more of John talks on our website.  John gave a wonderful series on Genesis and also Deuteronomy in 2013.  Both are worth listening to, but here is a link to his first talk on Genesis 1 – “The Cosmos as God’s House”.  So if you integrate the ‘order’ series with his “God’s house” you get a powerful mandate for our jobs on the earth: bring order to God’s house and make it a ‘home’ not just a ‘house’

John Walton

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