Last week several of us got together at Pat’s house to discuss John Walton’s The Lost World of Genesis One. This was the second of our back porch theology discussions (the first was on James Davison Hunter’s To Change the World). It was rather humorous to note that we had a good turnout from NT/OT students to discuss the more theologically oriented book, and good turnout from the theology students to discuss the more exegetically oriented book. I’m sure there’s an important lesson to learn in there somewhere.
Anyway, I think our discussion of Walton’s book was a profitable one. The general consensus seemed to be that his argument was interesting one and worth pursuing, but that we’d want to see more of the background information that supported his argument. (Walton’s next book is supposed to provide a much closer engagement with ANE sources to provide just this kind of information.) And, probably unsurprisingly, we were rather divided over whether we were committed to reading Genesis 1 in more traditional-historical ways, or if we were open to seeing it as a more literary/theological text. I’m sure that discussion will continue for a while.
Coming up next: Having done this twice, we’ve agreed that we’d like to continue with these discussions. But, we have two questions to answer before we do that.
- Should we discuss books or articles? Focusing on books gives us the opportunity to discuss works of broader significance and become more familiar with what other people are talking about. But, many of us don’t have time to read extra books and have to rely on summaries, reviews, and the perspective of the person leading the discussion. We can solve that problem by focusing our discussions on individual articles. But, articles tend to be more narrowly focused and might have less appeal for all the Th.M. students. If you’re a ThM student, what do you think?
- What should we discuss next? If you have a good book or article that you’d like to suggest, put it in the comments or send me an email. If it’s a book, it needs to be fairly recent (last couple of years), address a significant theological issue (we’ll be alternating between biblical and theological topics). If you’re a ThM student or if you would just like to suggest a good book/article for us to discuss, what would you suggest?
I’ll start things off by suggesting either Rachel Held Evans’ Evolving in Monkey Town, which is a popular-level book that has generated quite a bit of buzz lately, or Kathryn Tanner’s Christ the Key – less buzz, but more theology.