Item description for Genesis 1-4: A Linguistic, Literary, And Theological Commentary by C. John Collins...
Overview Foundational to all Christian thought, the opening chapters of Genesis are packed with information about our origins, our humanity, and the significance of God's creative act. As both a scientist and a Hebrew scholar, Collins fully enters into this thicket, examining how later intertestamental and New Testament writers shaped a Christian worldview. 352 pages, softcover from P & R.
Publishers Description This academically rigorous treatment of the biblical text explores the connections of the parts of Scripture and the Bible's impact on life today.
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Studio: P & R Publishing
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9" Width: 6.04" Height: 0.72" Weight: 1 lbs.
Release Date Sep 1, 2005
Publisher P & R PUBLISHING #97
ISBN 0875526195 ISBN13 9780875526195
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More About C. John Collins
C. John Collins (PhD, University of Liverpool) is professor of Old Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. He has been a research engineer, church-planter, and teacher. He was the Old Testament Chairman for the English Standard Version Bible and is author of The God of Miracles, Science and Faith: Friends or Foes?, and Genesis 1-4: A Linguistic, Literary, and Theological Commentary. He and his wife have two grown children.
Reviews - What do customers think about Genesis 1-4: A Linguistic, Literary, And Theological Commentary?
Won't find a better book on this subject available Nov 5, 2007
Dr. 'Jack' Collins, a professor of Old Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, MO., has made accessible to laity and laymen alike, a very sound explanation and commentary on perhaps the most important chapters of the Bible. Writing from a conservative, Reformed viewpoint and with an eye of assisting pastors, other scholars and the layman who wishes to educate himself with a sound interpretation of the text, Collins is careful to avoid extremes and his writing is balanced. As he indicates in the introduction, he could have made a very long volume with his notes, but his text is tightly written, with an outstanding bibliography for those who want to dig deeper on the subject.
Collins writes about the Biblical text from what is called a discourse-literary approach, which he judges to be his most important contribution to this first section of the Bible. He wants to show how the ancient languages and literature apply to not only us today, but especially to their first audience, how it fits within the whole of the Bible's canon and what its theological point is. In a sense, he writes and explains the Genesis 1-4 as a story, told to a particular people, with certain language markers that would have mattered greatly to them. This book would fall under the category of Biblical rather than Systematic theology, regarding the text.
It is absolutely essential for the reader to grasp the first section of the book, where Collins explains why and how understanding the literary nature of the text matters. Collins does spend about 200 pages specifically interpreting the text of the four chapters, which makes up the middle section of the book. He concludes the book with a discussion on the authorship (which he asserts was Moses about the time of the Exodus), what the point of Genesis 1-4 was, and finally of special interest to our particular age, a discussion on Genesis 1-4 through history and science.
Collins was a MIT educated engineer before pursuing a ministerial and academic career in theology. His principle comments about modern creation science, that Genesis 1 - 4 neither agrees or disagrees with attempts to force to highly literalistic approach beyond what is in the Bible is consistent with his exegesis of the Bible. Collins, certainly an advocate for special, supernatural creation, is careful to not make the Bible say what others have made it say.
This is an excellent commentary, for pastors and interested laymen alike. The reader will gain fresh perspectives on the text by attempting to understand it first as literature with a theological point, about how the God of the Bible wants to interact with his people, through space and time. The reader probably will not be able to find a more contemporary and accessible book of this kind available today.
If interested in Dr. Collins thoughts specifically on the role of science, faith and origins, the readers might be interested in Science and Faith: Friend or Foes.
Genesis 1-4. C. John Collins. Mar 26, 2007
Having just begun a study of Genesis when I purchased this book, I must say that it was money well spent. Collins is the general editor of the Old Testament translation of the English Standard Version (ESV), a newer and highly 'literal' Bible. His proficiency in ancient languages and literature, philology, theology, exegetics, source studies and theories, and biblical scholarship generally (ancient, modern, recent, and current) is evident throughout this volume and is consistently a necessary antidote to dogmatic and sometimes reckless expositions by supposed experts of both the conservative and liberal varieties. At once Collins is orthodox, cautious (appropriately tentative), informed (scholarly), and given to carefully analyzing the interpretational assertions and shortcomings of all commonly touted exegetic and scholarly schools. Most importantly, he rightly asks that we not defer so readily to our post Enlightenment expectations of 'normal' narrative and instead cooperate with evidences of the author's intent.
There have always been questions and disagreements as to the correct understanding of these texts, and, for the last two centuries, questions and disagreements as to the sources and motives involved in the texts. For Collins, all of these issues, as they relate to the chapters being studied, are scrutinized. After explaining why we must reject the expositional assertions of some readers and scholars--that these texts not be viewed through the lenses of subsequent ancient writers, Collins examines the "allusions, echoes, and reverberations" relating to these texts that we find in later Old Testament, inter-testamental, and New Testament writings.
As must be expected, Collins' expositions and conclusions may not please those who enter into Biblical studies with firm conclusions already demanded at the outset. Some may disapprove of his frequent examination of the inter-testament writings, but to do so would be to misunderstand the larger expositional process. Some may dislike his conclusions regarding the meaning of the Genesis 1 creation "days," but his position seems well supported and appropriately tentative (as I believe any honest treatment must be). He finds the "literal" (i.e., "normal day" or "24-hour day" theory) understanding to be inconsistent with, and uncooperative with, immediate texts and later reverberations. He seems to take a position that embraces the "literary" understanding as to the "days" being structural literary devices, but also goes at least part way with the "day-age" theory in that he sees no reason to set aside the abstract sequence of the discourse. (Collins shows no interest in the "revelation" theory of Genesis 1 days, and it seems that none may be warranted). He is correct that we need not trenchantly encase our understanding in any single theory (if you think you understand how creation worked/works, start reading at Job 38, smarty-pants!) His exposition on the nature of the genealogies of Genesis 4 is informed by a relatively quick but [I believe] decisive examination of echoes (OT, Apocrypha, NT), supporting a conclusion that if one looks to the genealogies as being intended to produce mathematical sums, sharply defining temporal history, one must then choose not to cooperate with the author's intent, which, without doubt, was about lineages and relationships and not about modernist expectations of 'history'. That the genealogies permit (and contain) gaps, even significant gaps, is demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt (by direct comparison of echoing accounts). That none of the Bible's writers had any interest in calculating genealogical sums toward the modernists' concept of history, should, of itself, be instructive. This was never their intent.
Having read Richard Friedman's articulation of the Documentary Hypothesis (source criticism, "higher criticism"), I found Collins' treatment of source criticism to be quite valuable. S.R. Driver's positions are critically analyzed as well as Friedman's, and the Documentary Hypothesis receives serious damage from Collins' examination of the literary clues found in these four chapters (the focus of this book), although he suggests that the same result applies to the entire scope of the Documentary Hypothesis if subjected to literary analysis. (As Collins points out, while source criticism traces its inspiration to assumptions that the materialist MUST posit concerning sacred texts, apart from the "motive" aspects of source theories, source criticism, per se, is not inherently incompatible with theistic expectations of scripture.) Before summarizing his treatment of source theories, Collins writes: "Do these pericopes come from separate sources or not? There is no way to answer this question, since the putative sources no longer exist. But for each feature that is put forward to support the source theory, it turns out that literary and grammatical considerations supply a better explanation in terms of the overall flow of the narrative. In other words, if someone produced this text by stitching sources together, he left the seams smooth indeed." pg 231 Stepping briefly beyond the four focus chapters (but with an eye to a tie-in), Collins also discusses the expositions and arguments that K.A. Kitchen has recently brought to bear against the Documentary Hypothesis, showing that, at least certain specific texts within the Pentateuch would have to have been composed in the 12th or 13th century BC, and further, that the texts containing features that can only be explained rationally by placing then in that era would have to have been written by someone with a conspicuous high education in that era's best literary art and style. Among the Hebrews (slaves in Egypt), who could fit this description and be capable of producing the kind of literary eloquence we find in Genesis 1, for example. The obvious candidate is inescapable, his name is Moses ("educated in all the learning of the Egyptians. . . a man of power in words" [Acts 7:22], see also Ex. 2:10, Heb. 11:24-27). No, this doesn't establish, or necessarily even support, the traditional viewpoint that Moses was THE author of the Pentateuch. This traditional view is unwarranted in its extremity, unsupported from scripture, and certainly not Collins' understanding. The full picture of authorship/editorship of the Pentateuch cannot be painted, but the Documentary explanation is unwarranted (though interesting).
A properly informed understanding of these first texts of the Bible is of tremendous value in understanding the whole of scripture (and, as any good contextualist would note, the reciprocal is true as well). This is probably the best book of its kind available.
An Important work for Genesis students Jan 17, 2007
Genesis is the most important book of the Bible. If you take Genesis away, then the Bible would be a mystery. It is the foundation that gives rise to all that we see of covenantal history (from the Adamic Covenant to the Abrahamic Covenant, from the Davidic Covenant to Christ's Covenant with the church, i.e., both Jew and Gentiles). To take away, to strip away, the importance of Genesis (and for that matter, the whole of the Torah) in the Church has helped to decay the church. Thus the need for the church to reexamine and again explore the beauty of the Torah, starting with the most important book, Genesis.
Thus the reason I come to this book by Mr. Collins, out of desire to know and learn. This book has helped me to see even more the different levels of messages God, Yahweh, has for us the church, in the first few chapters of Genesis. With painstaking detail and examination, Collins explores every nuance and message and foci from Chapter 1 through Chapter 4 of Genesis. Every rock is turned over, every stone allowed to sing praise to Yahweh. When you combine the information that we see in Collins work with, say, works like A Biblical Case for an Old Earth by David Snoke, we are truly blessed by God's message.
And more so, this book by Collins helps us to once again understand the foci of Yahweh's message through Moses. Genesis, mind you, was not written for modern readers to help us debate such topics as evolution, instead it was a message from Yahweh to the Jewish people to help them realize that the same Creator of the universe, of this world, of them, is the same Creator who rescued them from Egypt...and who would one day rescue them from Sin (through Yeshua, Jesus Christ). And yet, Genesis DOES have so much to tell us today, so much to help us realize that is TRUE in this postmodern "who cares" world we live in now.
Of course, mind you, at times the work might seem a bit dry to those who are not fully interested in the subject matter. You have to know what you are reading about, thus a casual reader would probably not understand the theological and historical and literary implications Collins is describing in his work. I would suggest that this book be read, not by the casual reader (for that person you should read "How to Read Genesis by Longman III), but instead a healthy reading by at the very least a Seminary student. If not, some of the important nuances will just pass you by and you will not understand.
But for those who do understand, much wisdom can be found in Collin's book. Again, I highly suggest that a true scholarly student of Genesis should pick this book up. If he or she likes this book, then I suggest the above mentioned work by Snoke and Longman, along with others like Kline. The Old Testament, starting with the Book of Genesis (and all through the Torah), is a true important work that the Christian church of today will be lost without. We must once again seek the Jewish roots, and, even more precise, the Abrahamic roots, of our religion, Christianity, where we come to Yahweh through Yeshua/Jesus Christ.
Excellent study of Genesis 1-4 Nov 18, 2006
C. John Collins (Professor of Old Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary) has written an excellent study of Genesis 1-4. After introductory material and a description of his methodology, the heart of the book is a chapter each on The Creation Week, The Garden of Eden, The Fall, and After Eden. Each of these four chapters includes sections on translations & notes, literary-theological exposition, extra notes, and reverberations (ways in which the material from Genesis has been taken up in the Psalms and the New Testament). Extra Notes include topics like creation from nothing, "evening and morning," the meaning of kind, the image of God, use of the words create and make, the goodness of creation, what were the two trees, how long was the creation week (he favors the analogical days interpretation), was Adam made mortal, the curse and nature, are Adam and Eve the parents of all mankind,where did Cain's wife come from, etc.
These are followed by chapters on Sources, Unity & Authorship (in which he discusses the arguments for the Documentary Hypothesis, then gives his reasons for concluding that Moses is the primary author), The Communicative Purpose, questions of history & science, and appropriating Genesis 1-4 today.
He even explains why he chose to include Genesis 4 in this book about "The Beginning." I found Genesis 1-4 to be a well-documented, well-reasoned study that is eminently suitable for a layman like myself.
Scholarly and Masterful Apr 24, 2006
Collins has produced a truly scholarly and masterful exegesis of the opening chapters of Genesis. With careful attention to the language and conventions of the text, and with an eye towards historic Reformed theology, he argues that the narrative is an "exalted prose narrative" that is at once historically grounded in and analogical to the ordinary human experiences of the text's original readers. This is a useful corrective to those who insist, for example, that the "days" of creation are "ordinary" days, as well as to those who hold that the text is merely mythopoetic. He does this while addressing other views critically but respectfully. Whatever position you hold on the meaning of the Biblical creation narrative, you should admire Collins' work for both its substance and spirit.