book review: the lost world of genesis one

Written by Mark Lafler

B.A., Global University; M.C.S., Regent College I am currently serving as a youth minister at our church in Sarasota, FL. I am married to Tera (15 Years +) and we have 3 beautiful daughters.

July 19, 2011

genesis 1In The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate (IVP, 2009), professor John H. Walton writes a very informative book regarding the interpretation of Genesis 1 and the ongoing debate concerning origins.

The book is divided into 18 short propositions that have a narrow focus concerning the topic:

  • The first six set up and discuss the meaning behind the six days of creation.
  • The next five discuss Walton’s argument that the cosmos is the temple of God.
  • The last seven analyze other interpretations of Genesis 1 and the contemporary debate regarding science and creationism, with the last focused on the teaching of science and creation in the public school system.

The main argument in the book is that Genesis 1 is not an account of material origins, but an account of functional origins.  Walton believes that the original readers of Genesis 1 would have understood it in this manner.  In this interpretation, one cannot argue that evolutionary theory is contrary to the Genesis 1 account.

Walton does believe that God created the material world (although he suggests the Bible does not display how He did it) and that the six days are literally 24 hour days (based on the best understanding of the Hebrew word).

However, the literal interpretation of Genesis 1 is to understand it as an account of the creation of functions and not the material world.  After presenting his interpretation, Walton suggests how his interpretation is played out in the origins debate.

The book is very informative and intellectually stimulating.  It may be a little challenging to read for some who are unfamiliar with contemporary interpretations of Genesis 1 and/or familiar with the origins debate.

However, those who want a fresh interpretation or a second opinion regarding Genesis 1 will appreciate the scholarship and upfront writing of Walton.  I believe that most people who read the book will be challenged by his argument and find the material very informing.

I highly recommend the book for those who are interested in the interpretation of Genesis 1 and those interested in the origins debate.


Note: This book is part of the 2011 Summer Reading List. Check out this book and more from that list below…


  1. Charles Bailey

    @Bibledude:twitter Words can’t express how thankful to the Lord I am for you and your ministry here online. You have been a flood of information for me as I seek for “the hidden treasure” and The Lost World of Genesis One is one of those books to me. Thank you for this post and this will be the very first book I buy once I get a little extra spending cash on me (been unemployed for 15 months and buying anything for me right now is next to impossible with 3 small children). I hope the Lord continues to bless you for your sacrifice and unselfishness to share such wonderful information.

    Charles Bailey

    • @bibledude

      wow… this is some high praise for our work at! it’s always an honor to serve my brothers and sisters in Christ in this way, and i’m glad to hear that resources like this review are helpful in challenging people and helping them grow.

      this really is an interesting conversation. i personally haven’t read this book yet, but had the pleasure of sitting in a small group study with Mark Lafler (the editor who wrote this review) and talking about this topic. there’s some great insight in books like this, and it’s important that Christians are having these conversations.

      good stuff! #fistbump

  2. Sheila Seiler Lagrand

    In graduate school I taught anthropology (it was my major, so….) I’m eager to read this. Thanks for the review.

    • @bibledude

      i’d love to hear your take on this book! it’s been interesting discussing it, and it’s made me think quite a bit about how we ready the stories in relation to how they were written. let me know if you pick it up and are interested in continuing the conversation around here a bit…

      • Sheila Seiler Lagrand

        I’m sure to pick it up, it’s a question of when. 🙂 But when I’ve read it I will let you know.

  3. Daniel Humphries

    Sounds like an interesting take on the topic. I’m a bit of a Genesis nerd, though!

  4. Andy Carlson

    A scholastically serious and deep presentation for the consideration on the concepts of Genesis (real or imagined; scientific or not) bound on either side with similarly scholastically deep considerations on the positions for and against scriptural interpretation of the  pre or post  millennium time frame  in the context of both theology and scripture.  How many credit hours is this course?….


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book review: the lost world of genesis one

by Mark Lafler time to read: 2 min