Gordon J. Wenham, Ph.D., Genesis: 2 Volumes, 1987, 850 pages

(© review by the Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.D.)

Bruce Waltke is my favorite Hebrew scholar, and Wenham is my favorite, conservative Old Testament commentator. His two volumes on Genesis are monumental, stunning, leaving no stone unturned. His 50 page Introduction is worth the price of the first volume.

It is a scholarly work and requires some Hebrew to benefit completely, but even lay people will find help. Somewhat disconcerting we find Wenham introducing JEDP in the Introduction as if it were true or at least helpful, but Wenham seems to attack it in The Face of Old Testament Studies: “Pondering the Pentateuch: The Search for a New Paradigm attacks.” Moreover, Wenham validates how that Genesis attacks the new eastern gods with all their silliness, such as the gods creating mankind so we would feed them, and they would not have to work!

His exegesis verse by verse and insights regarding context, both immediate and throughout the Old Testament, are nothing short of spectacular.

Recommended. AMEN. Ὡ

2 thoughts on “Gordon J. Wenham, Ph.D., Genesis: 2 Volumes, 1987, 850 pages

    • Thanks for the question. Many conservatives are taking the literary approach through the Bible, including Waltke in Genesis 1. Waltke (going from memory) recognizes that the days are 24 hours (Day one, day two, evening and morning, etc), but also says the literary approach demonstrates themes from Genesis that permeate the whole Bible. For example we have the creation of the “heavens and the earth” of Genesis 1:1 revisited in John 1:1-3; especially Col. 1:15-18 (“heavens and the earth” again), Heb. 1:1-4, etc. I can’t say much in a few lines, but it seems to me the scholars are trying to pursue both history and literature. If you follow Waltke and Wenham in their commentary on Genesis 1 and chapters following, they seemed to do both. In my humble opinion–and I don’t measure up to their Hebrew ability–there seems to be merit in that approach: a history that has literary approach.

      It is not as easy as I once thought. I talked in person with Allen Ross, Ph.D. from Dallas Theological Seminary and Ph.D. from Cambridge, both degrees in OT studies, and he likes some of the work that Brevard Childs has done, but still is adamant that the “days” in Genesis 1 are 24 hours primarily for the two reasons I’ve given. Childs has written, and I’ve read over half of his tome, a book titled Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments. Very interesting. One refreshing approach with the literary approach is that most OT scholars have stopped taking the Bible apart, trying to guess (the operative word) who wrote what in the OT, but now take it as history, even if they don’t believe it. It gives them a new game to play before the final judgment, when, as C. S. Lewis said, at that time they’ll have “more pressing matters to discuss”. Indeed, sir; that is my bottom line, as I know that it is yours. I preach and teach the Bible as historically accurate, determined “to know nothing but Jesus Christ and Hims crucified” and historically resurrected. I want to have a pleasant Last Day!

      I can’t unchurch St. Augustine who said Genesis 1:1 was the creation of every thing and the balance of the chapter the logical arrangement of things, as I recall.

      I argued with Francis Nigel Lee when I lectured in Queensland Hall in Brisbane, Australia in July 1996 who took the same approach. He wanted to deny the 24 hour days, and I said grammatically you can’t do that with such terms as “day one,” “evening and morning,” etc. He said in Gen. 2:4 Moses said something like “in the day that God created the ‘earth and the heavens,'” reversing the order of “earth and heavens” to be inclusive, a merism. I retorted that my position was not that the Hebrew yom always meant 24 hours, but when it had a number with it (day two, etc) and “morning and evening,” there was no choice, especially when Moses says God rested on the seventh day from His work. That is applied to the Fourth Commandment as a 24 hour day. We went around the carousel for a while, neither convincing the other, but we did agree that there were literary aspects to it.

      Anyway, there have been many thousands of pages written on this in the last hundred or more years.

      What I know for sue is that Jesus is Lord, and that Jesus loves me for the Bible tells me so. I rest in Him!

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