Description: Recently renewed debates concerning creation and evolution make contemporary Christians wonder how their forebears in the faith understood the Genesis creation narratives. Were the stories of the six days and of the garden read historically, or did they have some other function? This volume from Peter Bouteneff brings needed attention to early Christian understandings of those key biblical texts.
After introductory chapters on the narratives and their reception in early Judaism and in the New Testament (especially in Paul's letters), Bouteneff focuses on the church fathers. He considers how the narratives of Genesis 1-3 were read as foundational, authoritative texts during the formative centuries when the Greek fathers were laying the framework of Christian theology. Chapters are devoted to writers of the second century (the apologists, from Justin to Irenaeus), the third century (mainly Origen but also the Latin writer Tertullian), and the fourth century (Cyril of Jerusalem, Athanasius, and especially the three Cappadocian fathers). Bouteneff finds that from Paul onward, the primary interest in Adam was as a prefiguration of Christ. The six days of creation bespeak God's ordered creation of the world through Christ, and early Christian readings of Genesis reflect Christ-centered understandings of providence and time.
Bouteneff's engaging and informative study makes the Greek fathers' thought accessible to biblical interpreters and theologians as well as pastors, students, and all who are interested in the early church and its use of the Bible.
Subjects: Early Christian Literature, Literature, Methods, Historical Approaches, History, History of Interpretation
Review by Korinna Zamfir
Citation: Korinna Zamfir, review of Peter Bouteneff, Beginnings: Ancient Christian Readings of the Biblical Creation Narratives, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2009).
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