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Interpreting Genesis 1–3

Dr. Vern Poythress speaks about the hermeneutical issues of interpreting Genesis 1–3 and how biblical interpretation relates to contemporary scientific study.

Dr. Poythress is Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Biblical Interpretation at Westminster Theological Seminary and the author of Interpreting Eden: A Guide to Faithfully Understanding and Reading Genesis 1–3 (Crossway). The publisher writes:

Christians have long discussed and debated the first three chapters of the Bible. How we interpret this crucial section of Scripture has massive implications for how we understand the rest of God’s Word and even history itself. In this important volume, biblical scholar Vern Poythress combines careful exegesis with theological acumen to illuminate the significance of Genesis 1–3. In doing so, he demonstrates the sound interpretive principles that lead to true understanding of the biblical text, while also exploring complex topics such as the nature of time, the proper role of science, interpretive literalism, and more.


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Christ the Center focuses on Reformed Christian theology. In each episode a group of informed panelists discusses important issues in order to encourage critical thinking and a better understanding of Reformed doctrine with a view toward godly living. Browse more episodes from this program or subscribe to the podcast feed.

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Daniel A. Hoopert

8 months ago

You mentioned something that Dr. Poythress had written that includes something on epistemology. Is that a book? Can you give me the title?

Camden Bucey

8 months ago

Yes, it’s his recent book, Knowing and the Trinity.

Charles Fontenot

8 months ago

Need closed Captions or a copy of the transcript PLEASE. The Deaf and Hard of Hearing cannot understand a word. Stop using Vimeo as they refuse to follow the ADA law and Caption ANY of their videos. YouTube will auto caption for you for free!

Camden Bucey

8 months ago

Thanks for bringing this to our attention. You can still watch all our videos on YouTube, however. https://youtu.be/yTSVl-36EWA

Bill K

8 months ago

When it comes to the age of the earth I have no doubt that Bishop James Ussher has done the most definitive analysis. Yet it is sad to see very few Reformed preachers and pastors believe in a young Earth any more, and disagree with Ussher’s detailed and accurate study of scripture on this topic. As much as I agree that Christ is the main star in both the old and new testament and the law and the prophets point to Christ, i.e. Redemption is at the core of the history and doctrine in scripture. But with that said, the act of Creation is in my view paramount as well, not just Genesis 1-3 but other books in the old testament as well as the new testament point to Creation and everything was created through Christ (John 1:3 , Colossians 1:16, Hebrews 11:3). Furthermore the Westminster Confession is clear that God created the world in 6 24 hour days (WCF IV / I).

Bill

8 months ago

And further to my post, we must add that this program does not address Noah and the Flood either. Every human being says scripture is a descendant of Noah. You probably should have re-read Genesis 6 to 9. before criticizing Ken Ham. The flood happened approximately 2,400 years ago, and the book of Genesis is the only witness to this event, no geologist was alive when this event happened. What is important here to point out is, Do old earth creationists believe that all human beings were killed 2,400 years ago by an Act of God ? Do old earth creationists believe that man lived up to 1,000 years before the flood and up to 120 years after the flood ? Basically God changed man’s DNA after the flood to reduce his life span. Folks, none of this was addressed in this program, and it saddens me that Hebrews 11:3 says that by faith alone we can believe the story of creation as outlined in the bible, and that all men are descendants of Noah, who lived approximately 2,400 years ago. Romans 1 is clear, that there is evidence of a creator, and it is self evident to everybody and those that deny it are without excuse. But Hebrews 11:3 clearly states that the biblical story of creation can only be accepted by faith alone, there is no evidence whatsoever that God created Adam from nothing, i.e. from dust around 6,500 years ago nor is there any evidence that we all come from Noah who lived 2,400 years ago, and after the flood 2,400 years ago Noah’s family were the only inhabitants of the planet. And I frankly believe that the way you mentioned old age creation in this program, and how you criticized Ken Ham, amounts to a denial of the Christian faith. Christ himself mentioned Noah in the New Testament, and Peter as well, and you should have pointed out that the old earth creation model is based on uniformitarian geology that denies the flood. Any science that is not based on catastrophic geology that accounts for a worldwide flood 2,400 years ago is unbiblical. It is interesting how old earth creationists completely omit the flood, because if you can believe that we are all descendants of one man Noah that lived 2400 years ago, you would have no problem believing that we are all descendants of Adam whom God created around 6,500 years ago. But you don’t believe the former and as a result you are unable to believe the latter.

Bill

8 months ago

The flood happened 2,400 years BC based on biblical chronology I meant to say, i.e. around 4,400 years ago. I mistakenly wrote 2,400 years ago. James Ussher is the ultimate authority when it comes to biblical chronology, although it is my understanding Isaac Newton the physicist came with a chronology and age of the world very similar to Ussher’s.

Bill K

8 months ago

Here is a great resource, a timeline of the history of of mankind from Adam to Jesus with dates and critical events like the flood. This would allow people to visualize it in a very easy format. And this we must believe by faith or we make God’s testimony in his word false and call him a liar https://creation.com/images/pdfs/other/timeline_of_the_bible.pdf . This is an incredible resource that sums up biblical historical times, which by faith alone we must receive, because frankly historic evidence or scientific evidence to back this up is lacking. Nonetheless, science does not contradict these timelines which were believed by pretty much every christian until the 19th century. I understand that Ussher’s date of creation was printed pretty much on every bible that was published up until the 19th century when radical atheists came up with a uniformitarian assertions in the geological sciences that replaced the catastrophic geology which is the only biblical model for geology. Regardless the sole purpose of this post is to provide this incredible valuable resource here that shows the biblical historicity in a simple graph from Adam to Jesus https://creation.com/images/pdfs/other/timeline_of_the_bible.pdf

Ben Roberts

3 months ago

Dr. Poythress referenced a quote from Alvin Platinga about spiritual kinship with fundamentalists. Does anyone know the source of that quote? I would be curious to see it in context and in its entirety.

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