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Progressive Creation and the Struggles of Humankind in the Bible: An Experiment in Canonical Narrative Interpretation

DORNYEI, ZOLTAN (2017) Progressive Creation and the Struggles of Humankind in the Bible: An Experiment in Canonical Narrative Interpretation. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis employs a canonical narrative approach to examine two distinct themes, divine creation and humankind’s struggles, and their relationship to each other. It is proposed that the biblical accounts describe creation as a gradual transformation process that will culminate in the fulfilment of new creation, and this progressive creational perspective links the origins of the various hardships that humans have been facing to the transitional nature of their creatureliness and, more generally, to the imperfect state of the initial created order of the material world. It is then argued that humankind’s plight has been further exacerbated by the interference of hostile spiritual forces led by the śāṭān-turned-Satan that were intent on thwarting God’s creative work and so became increasingly locked into subversive activities aimed at turning humans away from God.
After analysing the process of material creation presented in Genesis 1–2, the canonical narrative of the thesis addresses the deterioration of the created order leading up to the Flood, followed by the description of a series of divine interventions aimed at transforming humanity into citizens of God’s eschatological kingdom. The discussion considers the postdiluvian transformation process in terms of three broad stages: the new beginning after the purging of the Flood; the raising of the Israelites as a “a priestly kingdom and a holy nation” (Exod 19:6); and the new creation inaugurated by Jesus Christ’ incarnation, life, death and resurrection. In exploring this progression, the narrative threads together a series of diverse topics, including Job’s testing and the calling of Abraham; the release of the Law and the composition of the Jewish canon of Scripture; the incarnation, temptations and atoning work of Christ; the inaugurated kingdom of God and the making of disciples; and the indwelling Spirit and human transfiguration.
A distinctive feature of the biblical canon is that its readers are themselves part of the unfolding process of creation, and the Scriptures acknowledge this special audience perspective by including specific assignments for believers – for example, to celebrate the Eucharist, to pray the Lord’s Prayer and to fulfil the Great Commission – as well as extensive instructions on how they should conduct themselves in the face of the difficulties they are bound to encounter. The final part of the thesis examines this practical dimension of the Bible, with Chapter 7 considering specific strategies mentioned in the canon as potential ways of dealing with three pronounced facets of human vulnerability: corporeality, sociality and spiritual corruptibility, which broadly correspond to the traditional understanding of the temptations of the flesh, the world and the devil, respectively.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:creation, spiritual warfare, human struggle, canonical narrative, temptation
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2017
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:14 Mar 2017 15:13

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