Have you ever tried to tell a story only to have someone interrupt and tell their own? Marva J. Dawn, a theologian, author, and professor at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, suggests we may be doing just that when we approach our study of the Bible by asking the wrong questions. It is common to approach a biblical passage by asking How does this apply to me? or How will I live out this text? Doing so shortchanges the bigger picture by which a multitude of critical character-forming insights can be discovered. The first question should be about what God tells us about Himself, not about us. Recognizing this should prompt such questions as, What is God doing in this text? and What is God revealing about one or all of the Triune Persons in this passage? The book explores these questions by examining the first three chapters of Genesis. Though often devotional in nature, the book is also insightful.
Central to the development of this passage, Dawn suggests, are not questions of science, What? and How? but insights designed to bring forth responses of adoration and the desire to glorify God. Getting to this point opens a whole vista of reasons to praise the Creator God. Dawn sees the days of Creation as a liturgy, providing the readers and hearers a means of participating in the worship of God. As the author of Keeping the Sabbath Wholly, it is understandable that she would see the seventh day as the capstone or crown of God’s creation. The Sabbath, she suggests, speaks to the design or purpose behind all of God’s creation. With this as a foundation, the Creation account of Genesis 2 takes on a complimentary but different emphasis. She is not troubled by the seemingly contradictory accounts because here the emphasis is on human beings as tillers of the ground and their relationship to God and others. This setting, then, prepares the reader for the third chapter of Genesis where the impact of the Fall becomes painfully clear.
In the first three chapters of the Bible, therefore, we are provided with enough detail on which to build a biblical worldview enabling us to process whatever comes our way. Regardless of one’s position about the “science” of Genesis, we can recommend the book for its spiritual import that explores reasons for trusting the God of creation.