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Durham e-Theses
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Genesis 1 and Creation Ex Nihilo: A Reconsideration

CHAMBERS, NATHAN (2017) Genesis 1 and Creation Ex Nihilo: A Reconsideration. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This thesis addresses the question of the relationship between Genesis 1 and the doctrine of creation ex nihilo. Although creation ex nihilo was developed in the early church as a guide for reading Genesis 1, the consensus among modern historically-oriented biblical scholarship is that, as a post-biblical category, creation ex nihilo in fact obscures the original meaning of Genesis 1. By examining the various historical and theological contexts within which Genesis 1 has been read, I illustrate the differing purposes with which one can read the biblical text and the differing methods of study which relate to these purposes. Although one can read Genesis 1 as ancient history, it can also be read as part of the canonical Scripture of the church.
I first examine the ancient Near Eastern background of Genesis, which forms the historical context within which Genesis 1 has been read in the modern period. Then I turn to an exposition of the doctrine of creation ex nihilo in its classic iteration within the Christian tradition. This leads naturally to an examination of the historical circumstances in which the early church developed this doctrine. Having examined some of the key historical and theological contexts within which Genesis 1 has been read, and having addressed various hermeneutical issues involved in negotiating these various contexts, I focus on the text of Genesis 1:1-3. The syntax of these verses has been a major interpretive crux in the modern period and so I offer a close philological examination of the various possible interpretations. I conclude by examining the narrative function of Genesis 1:1 within the chapter as a whole and its larger literary-canonical context, arguing that the verse can responsibly and plausibly be read as describing the first act in the process of creation.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:creation; theology; Genesis; God; hermeneutics
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:20 Dec 2017 09:56

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