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The Seven Pillars of Creation: The Bible, Science, and the Ecology of Wonder
Oxford University Press / 2010 / Hardcover
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A rich, far-ranging overview of biblical authors and scientists on creation: the cosmic temple in Genesis 1; the ground of being in Genesis 2--3; behemoth and "The Beagle" in Job 38--41; the Creator's passion in Psalm 104; the cosmos as playhouse in Proverbs 8; the dying cosmos in Ecclesiastes; the emergence of the new creation in Isaiah. 352 pages, hardcover.
In their highly selective and literal reading of Scripture, creationists champion a rigidly reductionistic view of creation in their fight against "soulless scientism." Conversely, many scientists find faith in God to be a dangerous impediment in the empirical quest for knowledge. As a result of this ongoing debate, many people of faith feel forced to choose between evolution and the Bible's story of creation.
But, as William Brown asks, which biblical creation story are we talking about? Brown shows that, through a close reading of biblical texts, no fewer than seven different biblical perspectives on creation can be identified. By examining these perspectives, Brown illuminates both connections and conflicts between the ancient creation traditions and the natural sciences, arguing for a new way of reading the Bible in light of current scientific knowledge and with consideration of the needs of the environment. In Brown's argument, both scientific inquiry and theological reflection are driven by a sense of wonder, which, in his words, "unites the scientist and the psalmist." Brown's own wonder at the beauty and complexity of the created world is evident throughout this intelligent, well-written, and inspirational book.
William P. Brown is Professor of Old Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary and the author of several books and numerous articles on the Bible and its interpretation.
"What a pleasure to read a book this calm and commanding in place of the usual hysterics about faith and science. It ends with the only call that makes sense in this moment from either source of human wisdom: a call for self-restraint, self-mastery, before we overwhelm the world of beauty and meaning into which we were born."
--Bill McKibben, author of Earth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet
"Fresh, generative work at the interface of faith and science requires a scholar of uncommon erudition and acute interpretive sensibility, who can boldly make connections and remain resilient in the face of demanding data. Bill Brown is precisely that interpreter, who here provides what will be a defining benchmark in our ongoing work in "faith and science." Readers will be dazzled by his range and depth of discernment. This book is an inviting challenge to people of faith and practitioners of science - to all who find the interface a source of wonder beyond curiosity."
--Walter Brueggemann, Professor Emeritus, Columbia Theological Seminary
"Brown's book is the most creative book on creation that I've ever read."
--Nancey Murphy, Professor of Christian Philosophy, Fuller Theological Seminary
"Seldom does one encounter a Biblical scholar of the Hebrew texts as well versed as Brown in evolutionary biology and ecological science. Seldom does a scholar probe so imaginatively the deep sense of wonder in both science and religion, whether in Job's Behemoth or on Darwin's Beagle. Never are the two better joined in concern that Homo sapiens, 'the dirty groundling made to image God,' celebrate and save life on wild Earth."
--Holmes Rolston, III, Professor of Philosophy and University Distinguished Professor, Colorado State University
"Brown's study of the seven creation texts of the Old Testament presents exquisite biblical interpretation that destabilizes narrow assumptions about biblical creation. What makes the work unique is its deep engagement with contemporary biology and ecological science. The result is a book that calls forth praise, an ethic of responsibility and, of course, wonder."
"Brown's book is magisterial in its scope, beautifully written, and accessible to both sides in the science and religion debates."
--Englewood Review of Books
"...we would have to judge Brown's reflective work a success."---John H. Walton, Wheaton College
"Brown writes poetically, poignantly, and powerfully."--Mark E. Biddle
"William P. Browns book is one such effort and a good one at that."--James M. Childs, Trinity Lutheran Seminary
"Brown is an engaging writer and thinker whose insights are both substantive and accessible. This is an important and timely book for biblical scholars, theologians, pastors, and educated lay people who want a reliable guide into how to think about a mutually respectful relationship between ancient Scripture and modern science. Brown's study of OT creation resources will provide a crucial resource as Christians seek new ways to tell the old story for a 21st-century world."--Interpretation
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