Beginnings: Ancient Christian Readings of the Biblical Creation Narratives

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Baker Academic, 2008 - Religion - 240 pages
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.
 

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Excellent overview of early church views on the first few chapters of Genesis. Read full review

Contents

An Introduction
1
Paul and the New Testament
33
The SecondCentury Apologists
55
The World of Origen and the Origin
89
The Cappadocians
121
Concluding Observations
169
Genesis 13 and Genesis 515
185
List of Abbreviations
199
Modern Author Index
223
Subject Index
235
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About the author (2008)

Peter C. Bouteneff (DPhil, University of Oxford) is associate professor of theology at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood, New York. He is the author of Sweeter Than Honey: Orthodox Thinking on Dogma and Truth and coauthor of Beyond the East-West Divide: The WCC and "the Orthodox Problem."

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