The journalist, Holly Lebowitz Rossi, interviewed me by phone for the article. She also interviewed Jim Kinney, the vice-president at Baker Academic about the book. I’ve been honored that Jim has supported this project from the start and greatly encouraged me along the way as I worked on it.
Small correction: the six years mentioned in the article should be thirty-six years (the phone connection wasn’t perfect).
My Upcoming Ted-Talk on Genesis 22
I will be giving a presentation on the core argument of the book as an “unscripted” seventeen minute Ted-type talk, at the Institute for Biblical Research (IBR), which meets just in advance of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) in San Antonio.
A past student of mine, Canadian Dale Harris, has published his first, absolutely stunning, novel, called Though I Walk (Word Alive Press, 2021).
I was privileged to have Dale as a DMin student at Northeastern Seminary a few years ago. He wrote a wonderful paper for my course, which has subsequently been published in the Canadian-American Theological Review (2019).
Dale won the 2020 Braun Book Award for Fiction for his novel and received a publishing contract with Word Alive Press.
I was delighted to be asked to write an endorsement for the novel. This is what I said:
An exquisite tale of love, longing, and loss, set against the coastlines of Nova Scotia and the Aegean. Harris deftly intermingles Greek myth with the concreteness of love and the horrors of war. A stunning first novel.
The truths of the past are often the hardest to face.
When Grace Stewart’s fiancé Stephen leaves Halifax in 1937 to pursue his dream of becoming an archaeologist in Greece, neither of them expect that war will soon engulf the world, keeping them apart for nearly ten years. As Stephen gets caught up in the resistance movement on the island of Crete, Grace immerses herself in the war effort at home, held up by her faith and praying for his safe return.
Though her prayers are eventually answered and she and Stephen are finally reunited, he is never able to speak of the things he saw in Greece. After his sudden death in 1967, however, Grace discovers among his effects the journal he kept during that dark time… a journal which allows her to, at long last, piece together the unimaginable story of the man she thought she knew.
Here is what a review on Amazon said about the novel:
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding novel! Reviewed in Canada on April 13, 2021
I rarely read novels. But this one drew me in immediately and kept me coming back for more, in spite of my extremely short attention span.
It is a great story of love, loss, loyalty and longing. The characters feel very much like real people.
The author “shows” you the story. He doesn’t just tell you what happens. You feel as if you are there with the characters. The author’s attention to detail is magnificent! Halifax in the 30s and 40s and Greece during WWII come to life vividly in their parts of the story. The war scenes strike me as realistic, but they are not overdone in a sensationalized way.
Faith or spirituality of various sorts shows up at different points in the tale, but there is nothing preachy! The book is so full of sensitivity to loss and grief, to unfulfilled longing and hope that many good things end up “sticking” to you while you journey with the winsome characters.
Dale Harris is an author, songwriter, blogger, and pastor, though not necessarily in that order. He taught high school English in St. Paul, Alberta before being called into fulltime ministry, and has served as a Free Methodist pastor in the city of Oshawa, Ontario since 2009. He holds a Bachelor of Education from the University of Alberta (Edmonton, AB), a Master of Divinity from Briercrest Seminary (Caronport, SK), and a Doctor of Ministry from Northeastern Seminary (Rochester, NY).
Dale writes regularly about life, faith, and spirituality on his blog terra incognita, and he produces Three Minute Theology, a YouTube channel dedicated to communicating the deep truths of Christian theology through short, creative whiteboard videos. He is a prolific songwriter and publishes his music on Spotify and iTunes under the artist name D. Michael Harris. Through his writing Dale loves to explore the mysterious ways God is present to us in all aspects and every season of our lives.
What—not another essay on creation, Middleton! How much longer are you going to write on this topic? Do you really have anything new to say?
It’s true, I’ve been teaching and writing on creation theology for a very long time.
In a recent blog post I recounted how I got interested in creation theology in the first place and how my teaching and writing on the topic developed.
This T&T Clark Companion contains essays surveying the history of Christian thought for how various thinkers and traditions have understood the relationship of theology to the sciences. There are also essays on contemporary issues in science, from various Christian perspectives.
I met John Slattery at the the Society of Biblical Literature in 2018, where I gave a paper on New Testament eschatology grounded in creation. Based on that paper, John invited me to contribute an essay on New Testament cosmology. After I explained that my expertise was actually in Old Testament, he changed the invitation to that topic.
However, I suggested that the topic was big enough to warrant two essays and I nominated Bill Brown of Columbia Seminary to join me in the project. Bill wrote a beautiful essay on creation in the wisdom literature (“Wisdom’s Wonder and the Science of Awe”).
This allowed me to focus on Genesis 1–2. My essay, “The Genesis Creation Accounts,” addresses the ancient “world picture” (Weltbild) implicit in Genesis 1 and 2, in order to explore the “worldview” (Weltanschauung) or abiding theological vision of these chapters, which is relevant for our thinking about contemporary science.
Did I actually write something new on the subject of creation theology?
Yes and no.
The essay integrates new material from unpublished presentations I’ve given on Genesis 1 and 2 with some of my previous reflections on these chapters.
It’s a new synthesis, articulating in one compact essay a contextual understanding of the symbolic world of the first two chapters of the Bible (as would have been understood by ancient readers).
The discussion of Genesis 1 addresses the relevance of the ancient biblical understanding of the world for contemporary readers who are aware of the immensity of the universe. The discussion of Genesis 2 focuses on parallels between ancient and contemporary understandings of our ecological embeddedness in the created order.
It is my hope that this synthesis will be helpful for pastors, students, and laypeople interested in thinking about the subject of creation in Genesis 1–2.