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Monday, September 8, 2014

"Biblical Portraits of Creation" (Walter C. Kaiser Jr. and Dorington G. Little)

TITLE: Biblical Portraits of Creation: Celebrating the Maker of Heaven and Earth
AUTHOR: Walter C. Kaiser Jr. and Dorington G. Little
PUBLISHER: Wooster, OH: Weaver Book Company, 2014, (176 pages).

There are many threats to the biblical worldview of creation. It is not evolution per se. Neither is it the rise of a "theistic evolution" or forms of theories surrounding "intelligent design" that worry the authors. It is none other than biblical illiteracy and a failure to regularly preach and teach on what the Bible says about creation. This is the key reason for this book, to present once again for all believers what God had said about creation and all its related matters. Aptly titled, "Biblical Portraits," Kaiser, who contributes the majority of the material brings us through various depictions of creation through Genesis, Proverbs, Psalms, Job, and Isaiah. Little brings in the New Testament perspective through Matthew and 2 Corinthians, as well as more reflections on Psalms.

Kaiser argues that the wisdom in Proverbs is a personification of God's attributes. God is Creator before all things because only in wisdom is this world created. That means God has the first word before all things. He also describes the two versions of creation, with Genesis 1 providing an overview, and Genesis 2 giving the details that led to the creation of the Garden of Eden and the first couple. Man and woman form the "pinnacle" of God's creative brilliance. Kaiser notes how Psalm 104 reflect on the Genesis creation themes to give us a sense of wonder of how wonderful is God at creating, and our necessary response is none other than worship and praise. Other psalms do the same to create in us a sense of awe. God's works lead us back to God and acknowledging Him as Creator.  Kaiser also reminds us that there are no mortals around when creation was happening. Using Job 38-39 as evidence, the tough questions men have for God are never tougher than the questions God has for man.

Gradually, readers are faced with the same Creator God who not only made the original earth, but also the One who will make the new heavens and new earth. Our key to understanding this new kingdom reality lies in appreciating the original creation narrative. Our confidence in God can be solidified, knowing that the One who created it all, will also be the One responsible for the "new creation" in us.

So What?

This is very much a personal project from the well regarded Dr Walter C. Kaiser Jr, former Professor of Old Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Recognizing the increasing mind-share that evolution has gained, and how various theories cast doubt on God as Creator, Kaiser and Little have come together to present once again what the Bible says about creation. Written as preaching outlines or teaching frameworks, each of the 12 chapters begins with  a focal point, homiletical keywords, and an interrogative. The main body contains the exposition and summaries of the conclusions. Finally, there are study questions for group discussions.

I think the authors are right to be concerned about the level of biblical illiteracy happening nowadays. That is indeed the single biggest threat to the Christian faith. How can one defend something that one is ignorant of? Let me offer three reasons why this book is profitable for reading and study. Firstly, it is grounded on biblical exegesis. Kaiser shines in this. What more can we expect from an esteemed Old Testament professor? With word studies used, and his wealth of knowledge on the Ancient Near East culture, even readers who do not know any Hebrew can follow the explanations quite easily. Secondly, it is well framed with guidelines, questions, and summarized pointers. Ready to use quickly, the book can provide preaching outlines and teaching curriculums for anyone wanting to teach about creation from a biblical worldview. I appreciate the main focal point and the conclusions which pull together a lot of information shared in the book. The questions provide a way for readers to hone their understanding. Thirdly, I appreciate the contributions of Dorington Little, written like sermons. With Kaiser's depth of Hebrew exegesis and Little's preaching on Christ and creation, the book works well to present creation from Genesis to Revelation. Do not let the size of the book fool you. It is packed with lots of good stuff. The literary genre alone in the Appendix is worth the price of the book.

Rating: 4.75 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Cross Focused Reviews and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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