Thursday, March 25, 2010

Good books on Genesis

Someone recently asked me what sound English commentaries or books on Genesis I would recommend. Here is a tentative list. I welcome further suggestions or comments from readers.

Readily Available Classics
● John Calvin. Commentary on Genesis
● Martin Luther. Commentary on Genesis
● Matthew Henry 1710 Commentary on Bible. Presbyterian

● John D. Currid 2003. Genesis Vol.1 (Ch. 1-24) Evangelical Press Study Commentary. Solidly Reformed and easy to read. Dr Currid is professor at Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, MI. There is also a second volume, covering the rest of Genesis.
● Isaac de Wolff 2003. Genesis – Outlines. Inter League Publication Board (Canadian Reformed). Good but sketchy.
● Robert C. Harbach 2001. Studies in the book of Genesis. Reformed Free Pub. Association (Grandville, Mich). 934 pp. Protestant Reformed.
● R.J. Rushdoony 2002. Genesis. Ross House Books. Defends traditional view from a Reformed perspective.

Early chapters of Genesis
● James B. Jordan 1999. Creation in Six Days: A defense of the traditional reading of Genesis 1. Canon Press: Moscow, ID. A good Reformed defense of the traditional reading of Genesis 1, with an excellent critique of the framework hypothesis and other non-literal views.
● Douglas F. Kelly 1997. Creation and Change: Genesis 1.1-2.4 in the light of changing scientific paradigms. Mentor. Good Reformed defense of traditional reading. Professor at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, North Carolina.
● Joseph A. Pipa & David Hall 2005. Did God Create in 6 Days? Tolle Lege Press. 352pp. Pipa is president of Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
● John MacArthur 2001. The Battle for the Beginning: Creation, evolution and the Bible. W Pub. Good coverage of Gen.1-3.
● Kurt P. Wise 2002. Faith, Form, and Time: What the Bible teaches and what science confirms about creation and the age of the universe. B&H Pub. Covers Gen.1-11 from a creationist point of view. One of the best creationist books.
● Terry Mortenson and Thane H. Urey (eds.) 2008. Coming to Grips with Genesis: Biblical authority and the age of the earth. Master Books. Covers Gen.1-11. A more scholarly creationist book, well researched, with many footnotes. An invaluable resource on what the Bible says about origins, with detailed critiques of non-literal views.
● Andrew Kulikovsky 2009. Creation, Fall, Restoration: A Biblical Theology of Creation. Christian Focus Pub. Has a good discussion on Genesis.

Books containing detailed discussions of the creation and the fall.
● Louis Berkhof 1949. Systematic Theology. Eerdmans. Soldily Reformed.
● Robert Reymond 1998. A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith. Nelson. Up-to-date, Reformed, biblical.
● John Feinberg  2001. No One Like Him: The Doctrine of God. Crossway Books. Not quite 6 literal days--but very close. Good discussions on Reformed view of divine sovereignty, human freewill, and evil.

One commentary that I found very useful even though the author himself does not seem to accept Genesis as historically reliable:
● Umberto Cassuto 1951. A Commentary on the book of Genesis. Jewish. He gives a very detailed analysis of meaning of the text, .

Not recommended (i.e., may contain useful insights but also errors due to embracing secular science)
●  Blocher, Henri 1984. In the Beginning: the opening chapters of Genesis. Non-literal days, human evolution.
● Boice, James Montgomery 1982. Genesis: An Expositional Commentary, vol. 1. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. Day-age.
● Collins, John  2006. Genesis 1-4. Non-literal days● Kidner, Derek 1967. Genesis. Day-age theory, local flood, human evolution.
● Godfrey, Robert  2003. God's Pattern for Creation: A covenantal reading of Genesis 1. Non-literal days.
● Ross, Hugh  The Genesis Question. Day-age. Local flood. Animal death before fall.
● Schaeffer, Francis  1972. Genesis in space and time. Conservative in many ways--direct creation of Adam, no animal death before fall. But day-age, places (global) flood before 20,000 BC.
● Waltke, Bruce  2001. Genesis. Non-literal days but global flood. Waltke (2009) An Old Testament Theology promotes theistic evolution, including man.
● Walton, John  2009. The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate. Non-literal days. Genesis reflects erroneouw ancient cosmology.
● Wenham, Gordon J. 1987. Genesis 1-15. Non-literal days.


RubeRad said...

One book I'd like to read (but will probably never get around to it) is J.V. Fesko, Last Things First: Unlocking Genesis 1-3 with the Christ of Eschatology

RubeRad said...

Oh yeah, and I did like the parts I read of Poythress' Redeeming Science, and would like to read it all someday, as well as Science and Hermeneutics. Both available free online.

Also, you forgot to pan Van Till's The Fourth Day and Kline's Kingdom Prologue (the latter is also free online)

And one more -- The Genesis Debate: Three Views on the Days of Creation with Hunt&Duncan vs. Irons vs. Ross

john byl said...

Hi Ruberad

Thanks for your suggestions. Unfortunately, all of them have deficiencies, in my opinion.

+Poythress - contains some excellent material, but ultimately prefers "analogical days", is open to some form of theistic evolution (but not for man). Opts for anthopologically universal flood but does not show how this fits into his old earth position, which entails that Australian natives lived there continually for the last 40,000 years.

+Van Till - Fourth Day - thorough-going theistic evolution

+Kline - grandfather of the Framework Hypothesis in the US, wants to appease secular science

+The Genesis Debate- interesting debate between 3 views (24 hr, day-age, framework) but the 24 hr defence could be improved

+Fesko - interesting connections between Genesis and eschatology but downplays the historicity of Genesis (claims Genesis has nothing to do with science or world history).
I prefer the approach of James Jordan and Leithart (A House for my name), who cover some of the same ground but insist Genesis is also history.

Anonymous said...

See also this note on Waltke and Evolution:

RubeRad said...

I agree the 24hr defense in Genesis debate is weak, but overall I think it's a commendable forum, allowing all views to present and counter each other.

And Poythress, although he comes out analogical himself in the end, gives a very fair, respectful, and frankly not even negative picture of a short-earth+appearance of age view. The fairest I can think a short-earther is likely to get out of any old-earther. (See also his Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses, which is the fairest treatment Theonomy will get from a non-Theonomist)

Henry said...

No mention of 'Genesis Unbound' by John Sailhammer?

john byl said...

Hi Halo

I do refer to Sailhammer in the post "Evangelicals versus Biologos", where I list also a critique of him. Sailhamer argues that Gen.1:1 refers to the creation of the world billions of years ago; Gen.1:2-Gen.2:4 refers to the 6 day preparation of Palestine. Although Piper expresses agreement with Sailhamer, I do not find his exegesis very convincing.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Byl,

You may be interested to know that Dr. Bill Barrick, the senior professor of semetic languages at the Masters Seminary, is currently editing and finishing up "The Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Hebrew Bible" for Kregel Publications, an OT correspondent to Cleon Rogers' NT work of the same name.

I got a chance to get my hands on his pre-pub work on Genesis 1-3 and, though it's not a commentary per say, it will be a great resource for people like yourself. Barrick isn't a terribly famous scholar, but he is an intelligent creationist and tremendous man of God whose knowledge of semetic languages is encyclopedic.

John Byl said...


Thanks for your comments, here and elsewhere. Barrick's book sounds useful; I shall look forward to its publication.