Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. and Dorington G. Little. Biblical Portraits of Creation: Celebrating the Maker of Heaven and Earth. Wooster, Ohio: Weaver Book Company, 2014. See here for Amazon’s page about this book.
Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. is an evangelical Hebrew Bible scholar.
Dorington G. Little was pastor of a church that Kaiser and Kaiser’s late
wife attended when Kaiser lived in Massachusetts. Both men contribute
chapters to Biblical Portraits of Creation: Celebrating the Maker of Heaven and Earth,
with Kaiser contributing the vast majority of them, and Little
contributing three. The book interacts with the topic of creation as it
appears in various places throughout the Bible: Genesis 1-2, the
Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Isaiah, and even the New Testament.
The aim of the book seems to be threefold. First, it seeks to
educate believers about the biblical teachings about creation and the
significance of God as creator. Second, it wants the biblical teachings
to have a significant place in current Christian debates about
origins. And, third, it argues that the primeval chapters of Genesis
(Genesis 1-11) were intended to be historical, to describe what happened
in history. Kaiser is maintaining this position against theistic
evolutionists and Christians and scholars who dispute the historicity of
Genesis 1-11, seeing it instead as poetry or myth. While Kaiser offers
a brief criticism of Young Earth Creationism (and renowned Old Earth
Creationist Hugh Ross endorses the book), neither Kaiser nor Little
really engage Young Earth Creationism throughout most of the book.
A lot of the book, in my opinion, states the obvious: that God is
wise, and that God created things. I cannot say that these parts of the
book particularly thrilled me with any fresh insights. I suppose that
readers who want to exalt God as creator could enjoy these parts as
devotional reading, but they could get the same edification from just
reading the Bible. Another deficiency to the book is what it does not
really engage: the scientific arguments regarding evolution, and the
debates within Christianity about the age of the earth.
At the same time, the book is valuable because of its engagement with
scholarly ideas. Kaiser argues against biblical scholars who maintain
that the biblical writers were relying on Mesopotamian documents or
tales, that the biblical authors believed in a flat earth covered by a
dome, that Genesis 1:1 depicts God using already existing raw materials
rather than creating ex nihilo, and that Genesis 1 and 2 are two
different creation accounts that contradict each other. In making some
of these arguments, especially in the appendix (which provides a 1969
article that Kaiser wrote), Kaiser refers to scholars who are not
particularly evangelical and thus are not aiming to uphold the authority
of Scripture. Kaiser also interacts with thought-provoking questions,
such as whether wisdom in Proverbs 8 is a being (such as Jesus
Christ—-you may be surprised by Kaiser’s answer!), and whether the Bible
contradicts itself in its assertions about whether the cosmos is stable
or will be destroyed. Kaiser’s arguments range from being unconvincing
and unsatisfying to being informative, interesting, and even rather
convincing. In any case, those looking for an alternative scholarly
perspective may find Kaiser’s arguments (and his references) well worth
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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