Friday, May 15, 2015

Book Review: The Genesis Account: A Theological, Historical, and Scientific Commentary on Genesis 1-11

Creationist and apologist Dr. Jonathan D. Sarfati of Creation Ministries International has recently published a 700 page commentary on Genesis 1-11, bringing in biblical, historical and scientific discussions into his commentary of the first eleven chapters of Genesis. I have read and reviewed it here, as follows:

The Genesis Account is a commentary of Genesis 1-11 written by Young-Earth Creationist (YEC) scientist and Christian apologist Jonathan D. Sarfati. Dr. Sarfati seeks to write this commentary as a defence of the truthfulness of Genesis, especially concerning its first eleven chapters (pp. 1-2). From a chemistry background with a working knowledge of Hebrew, Greek and theology, Sarfati seeks to write a commentary that is faithful to the biblical text, while using science ministerially to explicate how scientific findings can be seen to buttress the claims of Scripture (p. 4). Such is a monumental task indeed, seen in the fact that this commentary is 700+ pages in length for a mere 11 chapters of Genesis. [more]


Jonathan Sarfati, Ph.D. said...

Thank you for the detailed and mostly favorable review.

If I may briefly explain some of the criticisms:

I don't think that Meredith Kline really advanced much for the Framework view so it was enough to deal with the main points. I'm willing to be shown if I had misrepresented that viewpoint, but nothing was demonstrated. What I did cite was the major paper that advanced the idea in its modern form. Ad fontes, as you like to say ;)

That Osborne book about death and the Fall came out after I had basically finalized the text and was in the layout checking phase, so it was too late for me to include a reference to it. I see that you reviewed it only recently yourself. One of my colleagues has reviewed this for the next Journal of Creation. This review independently raised many of the same points as your review. As you and this reviewer document, and there seems to be little that we haven't dealt with, while Osborne knocks down straw men.

There was a paper by Hardy and Carter in JoC 28(2) that discusses the maximum possible biblical age of the earth even if we allow for uncertainties in the text and numbers. This came out almost before I was finishing, so I could cite this, but it doesn't change my main points. There is a paper coming in the JoC about textual analysis of the Genesis 5 and 11 genealogies.

About referencing, to explain: my bibliography is almost 50 pages of relatively small font. My normal practice when referencing scientific information is the primary source followed by a creationist article discussing that from a biblical perspective. I think journal papers are actually more formal than books. For electronic citations, I agree with you about their ephemeral nature. So I provided the author, title, year, and just the domain name, in case the URL changes. When it comes to the website with which I am involved,, provided a short cut, and have more assurance that this link will not go defunct.

Anyway, thanks again; this is the first detailed review of my commentary of which I am aware.

PuritanReformed said...

Dear Dr. Sarfati,

thanks for the response.

I don't think that you have really missed the Framework view as much as you did not represent its strongest possible representation. That's why I put it as a weakness not as something I necessarily disagree with. The main issue is that those who hold to the Framework view would find it easy to reject your arguments because they do not think you have represented their views accurately. For example, while Kline adopted the view partly due to science, not everyone does it because of science. Some are taught it as the proper literary way of reading the text, an interpretation that stems from postmodern literary analysis to be sure, but literary analysis is not science.

I understand the limits to attempt to cover everything; that's why I put it as a weakness. On literary interpretations, I have no idea how long the postmodern literary revolution in the biblical text has been going on, but it seems to be going on for some time in SBL and the works of Adele Berlin for example.

I will look at the JoC articles you have referenced. Journal articles are certainly more formal than books. My concern with regards to referencing creation journals is not that such a practice is wrong, but that if there are too many references, it might give the impression of being self-referential and self-authenticating. That is why I appreciate the Science, Nature and other journal references as well. I do recognize that secular journals will not publish creationist stuff no matter how solid the science is, but I'm thinking here about impressions. If too much self-referencing is done, it will turn off those who are already predisposed to discount creationist publications as being "pseudo-science." Is such a characterization fair? Of course not, because secular journals do the same. But if we are trying to win someone to the truth, it would be nice if they have a good impression at the beginning. Let the content offend them, but the presentation should not needlessly turn them off