Was the garden of Eden an “archetypal sanctuary”?

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I have to be a bit careful in critiquing John Walton’s thesis in his book The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate, because, as has been pointed out to me, it’s only a summary of his much more substantial argument in his Genesis 1 As Ancient Cosmology. I’m not sure that really excuses the lack of concrete evidence in support of the argument in the shorter book, but it’s something to keep in mind.

In the earlier review post I passed over the assertion that “the Garden of Eden was sacred space and the temple/tabernacle contained imagery of the garden and the cosmos” (82). However, Casey has just made the claim in a comment on that post that “In Genesis 2 and 3 the priesthood of humans in God’s Eden-temple is readily defended as well”.

OK, I’ve rubbed my eyes, cleaned my reading glasses… but I still don’t see it.

Walton doesn’t have a great deal to say on the matter, but he quotes from an article by Gordon Wenham, “Sanctuary Symbolism in the Garden of Eden Story”:

The garden of Eden is not viewed by the author of Genesis simply as a piece of Mesopotamian farmland, but as an archetypal sanctuary, that is a place where God dwells and where man should worship him. Many of the features of the garden may also be found in later sanctuaries particularly the tabernacle or Jerusalem temple. These parallels suggest that the garden itself is understood as a sort of sanctuary. (81)

The article is accessible online, so this time we can look at the argument in rather more detail than is provided in The Lost World of Genesis 1.1 Here I list my reasons for doubting the thesis.

  • Just as God was “walking” in the garden, so Israel is promised that the Lord will make his dwelling among them and “will walk among you and will be your God” (Lev. 26:11-12; cf. 2 Sam. 7:6-7). Wenham notes that the verb hithallēk (“walk”) is used in both contexts. The thought in these verses, however, is not that God will walk to and fro in the tabernacle but that by dwelling in the mobile tabernacle he will move among and with them. The tabernacle in the land (or travelling to the land) is like the presence of God walking in the garden.
  • Cherubim were the traditional guardians of sanctuaries in the ANE, and two cherubim guarded the inner sanctuary in Solomon’s temple (1 Kgs. 6:23-28). So the fact that the entrance to the garden was guarded by cherubim (Gen. 3:24) confirms that it was thought of as a sanctuary, according to Wenham. But while cherubim may guard access to the place where God is, that place is not necessarily a temple. Cherubim accompany the presence of God when he leaves the temple and are identified with the “living creatures” that Ezekiel saw “underneath the God of Israel by the Chebar canal” (Ezek. 10:20).
  • Whether the tabernacle menorah was intended as a “stylised tree of life” is unclear to me, but in any case, as wth the cosmic imagery applied to the temple, this does not mean that the tree of life in the garden was conceived as a candlestick.
  • Adam is put in the garden to “work” and “keep” it. The only other passages in the Pentateuch where these two words occur together have to do with “the Levites’ duties in guarding and ministering in the sanctuary”. So perhaps, Wenham wonders, “Adam should be described as an archetypal Levite” (21). This seems to me a highly arbitrary conclusion: the Levites shall “guard” Aaron as they “work” in the tabernacle (Num. 3:7); and in Numbers 8:26 the “work” is actually prohibited: “They minister to their brothers in the tent of meeting by keeping guard, but they shall do no service”.
  • It’s difficult to see how the clothing of Adam corresponds to the clothing of the priests when it is immediately followed by his expulsion from Eden. He is dressed in order to live outside the garden . Moreover, Eve was also clothed, and there were no women priests.
  • The creation of Eve to work alongside Adam in the garden makes nonsense of the Wenham-Walton thesis.
  • Adam’s family does not perform a priestly function until they are outside the garden (Gen. 4:3-4).
  • Wenham notes that the river flowing out of Eden (Gen. 2:10) finds a parallel in Ezekiel’s description of the water that would flow from the renewed temple (Ezek. 47:1-12; cf. Ps. 46:4; Zech. 14:8; Rev. 22:1-2). In a footnote Walton cites evidence for the view that this is “one of the most common images in the iconography of the ancient world” (82), though given the geography of the ANE, that’s hardly surprising. Again, the temple account may recall the description of the garden; but this does not mean that the description of the garden prefigures the temple.
  • Wenham says regarding the gold and precious stones mentioned in Genesis 2:11-13: ‘If Eden is seen as a super sanctuary, this reference to gold can hardly be accidental for the most sacred items of tabernacle furniture were made of or covered with “pure gold”’ (22). But that simply begs the question. In any case, the gold, bdellium and onyx are not in the garden. More relevant is Ezekiel’s description of the Prince of Tyre, which hardly helps the temple interpretation:

You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle; and crafted in gold were your settings and your engravings. (Ezek. 28:13)

  • From the exilic perspective Eden perhaps prefigures the land from which disobedient Israel was expelled—and to which it hoped to return: “And they will say, ‘This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden, and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited’” (Ezek. 36:35; cf. Is. 51:3). It is not the temple, which was destroyed, but the land from which they were exiled that corresponds to the garden of Eden.

So I’m not convinced.

  • 1The article was originally published in Proceedings of the Ninth World Congress of Jewish Studies, Division A: The Period of the Bible (1986). This online version has a different pagination, but the original page numbers are included in double square brackets.


You know I’m glad you wrote this post.  I’ve been thinking about this for a week or so, ever since my exchange with Peter on the review of The Lost World of Genesis One.

From the exilic perspective Eden perhaps prefigures the land from which disobedient Israel was expelled—and to which it hoped to return: “And they will say, ‘This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden, and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited’” (Ezek. 36:35; cf. Is. 51:3). It is not the temple, which was destroyed, but the land from which they were exiled that corresponds to the garden of Eden.

I think you are dead on.

Here’s is where my mind has taken me.

There was no need of a temple in the beginning.  Adam and Eve were able to exist in YHWH’s presence with no hindrance.  It was only after sin was introduced they lost this ability to fellowship with YHWH.  It was at that point a temple was needed.  This is why in Rev. 21 when man’s fellowship is restored with YHWH there is no need of a temple.  We’ve come full circle.  Those in Christ are able to fellowship with YHWH again face to face.  They are able to return to the “land”.

Some may argue that the New Jerusalem is portrayed as a city not a garden or with the land motif.  I think that’s because of the development of the fact that the temple became the current (to them in the first century) recognized place where the presence of YHWH resided (Holy of Holies), which was located in a city (physical Jerusalem).  So, of course, God would use that as the frame of reference to describe the new spiritual reality in Christ.  I would ask in return what of Mt. Zion? God also used that as a desciption for the location of his presence, yet that isn’t a city either.

Casey | Tue, 01/17/2017 - 16:44 | Permalink

Hi Andrew, I will not argue the point in detail but I would point you to a couple of other important sources on the subject: G.K. Beale’s “The Temple and the Church’s Mission” which synthesizes and summarizes a lot of the scholarship on the subject as well as traces the themes in the canons of the OT and NT.  This study includes not just study on Eden as an archtypal temple but goes further into the Second Temple as microcosmos as well, exploring Second Temple Jewish sources.

And then the encyclopedic Terje Stordalen’s “Echoes of Eden”, which is an in-depth a semantic study of gardens and Eden in the OT as well as the ANE background for gardens. Temple and cultic associations with gardens are not the only things in view, but they do play a major role.

I would also not drive such a hard line between the land and temple.  The idea is that there was no such distinction initially — God’s Garden is where the divine meets the human and earthly, and where God is, his blessing causes abundance in the land. The building of the tabernacle and the gift of the land of Israel are both tied to Eden, mediating God’s presence and the resulting blessing — you have to have both.  At the end of Revelation you see the two concepts fully merge again, a reconsituted Eden is both new creation and a temple that isn’t a temple — just unfettered access to the presence of God.



a reconsituted Eden is both new creation and a temple that isn’t a temple

I don’t know how  you can state this.  Rev. 21:22 states, “And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.”

John is clear there is no temple in the city, not because it is one with Eden, but because God is the temple.  This makes it clear that Eden (land) and the temple are two separate things.

In Genesis there was the land (Eden) with no temple; Adam and Eve had full access to God’s presence.  In Revelation we have a return to the original.  Eden (city/new Jerusalem/Church) with no temple.  Now since in Revelation we learn that God is the temple, I would say one could deduce that in Genesis God was the temple as well.  Type, ante-type.  Physical reality to a spiritual reality.

It seems clear to me that the temple served as an in-between (just as a priest does) during the time when man could not be face-to-face with God.  Once this was resolved (in Christ) no temple is required.


*type, anti-type. Sorry.


Hi Rich, let me see if I can articulate what I am trying to say a little better.
I would suggest the primary purpose of the temple is to serve as the space where the divine/heavenly meets the human/earthly. It is this reality that we are meant to see in Eden, I think, and then again in Rev 21-22, which has explicit Eden imagery.

The tabernacle and temple also serve this function, but, granted, with all kinds of mediation taking place with the veils, guards„ priests, cleanliness and sacrificial ritual.

While Eden and the New Jerusalem do not have the intermediaries, the function is essentially the same. The actual temple and tabernacle mediated God’s presence with his people between the original disobedience of Gen 2 and the restoration of all things in Rev 21. Rev 21:22 contradicts itslef on the face of it, sayin gthere is no temple because is the temple. Well, which is it? No temple or is God the temple? I take it to mean that there is no physical temple because the purpose of the temple, bridging the human and divine, is no longer needed. They are merged.

Perhaps it would be less controversial to say something like, Eden and the Temple exist for the same reason and serve the same essential purpose (though accomplished somewhat differently) instead of saying Eden was a proto-temple. I think the scholarly literature put it that way because it starts with the existence of the tabernacle/temple in Israel and 2nd Temple times (and the prevalence and purpose of temples in the ANE).

But I would argue that the earth/land is not as productive/fertile/abundant as it it supposed to be until the presence of God is immanent through the mediation of humanity (see Rom 8:18-25) — which is what you start with in Eden and end with in Rev 21-22. Israel is meant to restore what was lost in Eden, which requires the presence of God, mediated through the temple and its ritual, initially in the land of Israel which is promised to flourish if covenant requirements are met.

So, in conclusion, I think its natural to see parallels in the tabernacle/temple and Eden, and prefigures of Rev 21-22, as they all deal with the central point of mediating God’s presence among humanity.


Casey, I don’t have the books you mention, but Beale has quite a lengthy defence of the Eden-temple argument in his New Testament Biblical Theology (617-22). He gives nine reasons for holding to the idea that the “first sanctuary was Eden”. Presumably the list is meant to be pretty much exhaustive.

Arguments 1, 3, 4, 6, 7 and probably also 8 are of the type: the temple was in certain respects like the garden of Eden. This does not mean that in Genesis 2 the garden of Eden is described as a sanctuary. Nor does it mean that the authors of the later (?) texts thought of the garden as a sanctuary.

In any case, as I’ve already noted, the arguments are tenuous and speculative, and some look like plain misreadings. In Beale’s reading the land of Eden, in which God planted a garden, is suddenly the “palatial” residence of God (here quoting Walton), despite there being not the faintest hint of architecture in the passage.

He repeats Wenham’s argument that the two Hebrew words for “cultivate” (ʿābad) and “keep” (šāmar) used in Genesis 2:15 are found together elsewhere only in temple passages. This is the closest we get to a detail in the Genesis passage that perhaps is intended to evoke temple practices. In the Numbers passages šāmar is used for the guarding of the sanctuary by the Levites to keep intruders away, “so that there may be no wrath on the congregation of the people of Israel” (Num. 1:53). What relevance does that have for Adam alone in Genesis 2:15? The verb can be used for keeping sheep, royal wardrobes and harems, so there is no good reason why it should have the connotation of “guarding” in a situation where there is nothing to guard against.

The fifth argument is that, like the temple, the entrance to the garden is in the east (Gen. 3:24), which as part of a clearer pattern might be meaningful, but in isolation carries no weight.

Argument 9 takes Ezekiel 28:12-19 to include a description of Eden. But there are problems with this. The passage uses Adam and the garden as figures to describe the Prince of Tyre. It is not a reinterpretation of the Genesis story. There is nothing in the passage that clearly evokes the Jerusalem temple, though the Prince of Tyre is accused of having profaned his “sanctuaries”, which is presumably a reference to pagan worship.

Hi, AP,

I’m still working through these ideas, so bear with me. There can be no doubt that “serve and guard” are intended as markers to associate later in Numbers 3. The difficulty you have, istm, in seeing these clear garden imageries is in seeing Adam and Eve as individuals and so your point about Eve/priest.
What would Genesis 2 look like if it were rendered a painting? Long’s “The Art of Biblical History” is profound here. Genesis 2 is Genesis 1 in garden/land imagery. Adam is Israel; Eve is Israel. Genesis 2 is her history as a priestly nation. Adam is Israel before the Sabbath and Eve is the same after.

@Travis Finley:

Travis, to me this looks like the standard confusion of allegory and allegorical interpretation. It’s easy enough to allegorise the passage to make it a story about Israel as a priestly nation. The practice has been the bane of good exegesis ever since biblical interpretation began.

The question is whether there is any reason to believe that the text was written as allegory, whether for Israel or the temple or anything else. That requires evidence either from the text or from its context. It seems to me quite likely that Israel’s experience of exile shaped the Eden narrative in certain respects, but that in itself doesn’t make it an allegory. It simply means that they conceived of humanity’s creation and the intrusion of sin as having been like their experience of exile—the point being very similar to Paul’s argument in Romans that the Jews are no less enslaved to sin than the Gentiles. It’s hard to see, for example, what Eve’s role in the fall would mean if this was really a story about Israel.

Conversely, it would need to be shown that these passages were not written to account for cosmic and human origins, which after all, in the context of ANE thought and writing, would have been a perfectly reasonable task to have undertaken. Why should Israel not have written a cosmogony?

@Andrew Perriman:


I don’t believe I’m confused (wrong, maybe, but not confused). Yes, that is the correct question and I believe the answer is, Yes. There is good reason to believe the account is allegorical: that’s the lingua franca of the whole of the apocalypse (I’ll just mention Jonah for instance). Genesis 2 is what the calling of Israel (the ground from which Adam is taken is humanity and his returning to “dust” [Gen3] is the result of that history coming to its end) would look like if painted on a wall. Genesis 2 is all about “humanity” insofar as Israel typifies what the Messiah will do for all humanity.

Eve is Adam glorified. Adam had to die (John 12) before he could be raised with a new body, the bride. I don’t find this difficult to see. The difficulty simply lies in one’s paradigmatic lens. God’s word to the Woman regarding her birthpangs is Adam’s history of suffering and pain which Paul says is coming to fruition for “creation.” The Woman is only named “mother of the living” after God depicts the heilsgeschichte of the nation (serpent/woman/man).

There is one language to rule them all, one language to guide them; one language to reveal them all and in the light, unbind them. The one language which rules Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek is that of type. Typology is how the Bible begins (heaven and earth) and it is how it begin-ends (heaven and earth). The history of that “heavens and earth” is the history of a nation called by God to typify in anticipation the Messiah. The Incarnation was always the plan for humanity’s glorification because glorification was always the telos of humanity. So, Israel’s history was always about the typifying of that event; Israel’s laws were always typological because to say otherwise is to make them an end in and of themselves which is what the Pharisees had done. Like I say’d, I’m still trying to flesh this out. Thanks for the dialogue. Would you be a guest sometime on my podcast, Rethinking Revelation?

@Travis Finley:

I think we will have to agree to disagree on this one, Travis. Our ways of reading scripture are miles apart. But thanks for engaging.

@Andrew Perriman:


I think they key to seeing that the opening chapters in Genesis are allegory is Day7. Well, we can’t really call it a day can we since it is not like the former days. It has no merism: dusk to dawn. This isn’t the way “they measured a day;” it is the depiction of the night giving way to day which is where Day 1 begins: Light is consummation, while darkness is inauguration. That is what God set in motion with his 10 creative words, “And God say’d…”
Cosmogony in this scenario has no place. It’s awkward and distracting. It matters not that the ANE has cosmogony ad nauseum if the writers/editors of Genesis utilize a familiar form and give it their spin. ANE had the ages of kings in the 10,000s and Genesis 5 just shy. What is that? Propaganda. Spin. Genesis is propaganda for Israel in her exile so that she will remember that to which she was called: to bring about the end of days, the latter days which then gives way to the great day which never ends. Makes sense to me.
I am serious about inviting you to be my guest on the show.

@Travis Finley:

Sorry, Travis, I don’t follow your argument about day 7. This final day is simply the end of the process of creation—that seems enough to explain the fact that it does not conclude with the transitional statement “there was evening and there was morning”. It underlines the completeness of the process. I see no sign whatsoever that cosmogony is “awkward and distracting”. Cosmogony is simply the subject:

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. (Gen. 2:1–3)

There is nothing here that demands allegorisation.

We have the same language and intent in Isaiah 42:5:

Thus says God, the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it (Is. 42:5)

It was a central part of Israel’s testimony in the exilic setting that YHWH was not the God of Israel only but the creator of heaven and earth, in sharp contrast to the impotence of the Babylonian gods.

@Andrew Perriman:

I believe your Isa quote proves too much: the heavens and “land” are covenant referents: temple, city and people (this is explicit in Isa 65). These kinds of parallels are prolific (Deut 30; Isa 1:2, 10; 24:21). Heavens and “land” are covenant structures and refer to the “cosmos/liturgical cultus” God establishes with “stoichaeia.” The prophets are the fulcrum of the chiastic flow of the narrative history. The hermeneutic of the prophets is the hermeneutic of what precedes and what follows. We understand what the NT authors meant bc we understand what the prophets meant. The NT authors had no expectation that the physical “heavens and earth” would be remade and had someone say’d to Peter after reading his epistle,
“So, this physical world will be burned up and made all over again?”
Peter would look all akimbo and say, “Where did you ever get that crazy idea?! I’m looking for a new heavens and land, a new creation.”
“Right. God is going to destroy this world and make a new one.”
“Clearly you do not understand the Old Testament. In my epistle I am not speaking about the physical but the covenantal. And, no, there is no way to make that into a both-and.’ That kind of whacky gymn-fantastical maneuver drives me loopy.”

Take for example Matt 5:18. How else do you take “heavens and land” there? “Until heavens and land pass away, not one jot from the Law will pass away.” What purpose does the law serve? Tutorial. When will that role pass away? When the programme of God reaches its fruition. Jesus’ prophetic indictments against the “people” will not pass away, but the “heavens and land” will pass away (Matt 24:35). Unless Jesus is speaking here of the physical heavens and “earth” (which is how the majority of evangelicalism takes it bc they have a false premise which compels their reading this concretely), it makes the most sense to take this as a covenantal indictment. Jesus, Paul, Peter, and John all refer to heavens and land covenantally bc that’s how the TNK uses the term: as a covenantal referent.
So, Gen 1 is an anomaly if taken concretely. Gen 1 is a painting of words (V Philips Long) depicting the entire history of Israel (days 1-6) until kingdom come. Day 7 is the kingdom, the rest from the labor of the torah to bring about the goal of history.
When Paul says, “when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son,” he has in mind the telos of that time. That is, history was pregnant until the “fullness of time” so that when that history was ready to “push,” God sent forth his Son to be born. What this means is Jesus was always going to be born because God’s plan in redemptive history was always going to result in that which Christ accomplished. And that means that Israel’s history was not a telos in and of itself which is what you get when you demand that Israel still has a future. Demanding that interpretation clearly ignores how Paul saw the torah and debases Jesus for the exaltation of Israel which is damnable.

@Travis Finley:

It seems to me that we have two distinct contexts in Isaiah.

Isaiah 65:17 has a future orientation, and I agree that it has reference to the renewal of Israel: it will be as though heaven and earth have been made new, Israel’s rebellion will not be remembered, Jerusalem will be a new creation.

But the earlier texts are part of the anti-pagan polemic and refer to a past creation. There is no explicit reference to the creation of Israel or Jerusalem; and we have the further idea that God gives life to the people who walk on the earth that he has created (Is. 42:5; 44:24; 45:12). Isaiah 40:21-26 likewise has in view the God who is sovereign over the whole earth, who cannot be compared with other gods.

This second context does not have the covenant indicators that we see in Isaiah 65. On the contrary, it affirms that God is creator of all things in order to reassure Israel that YHWH is more powerful than the gods of the nations. If he had only created Israel, he would be no more powerful—in fact less powerful—than the gods which had created the mighty Babylonian empire.

The same point is clear in Jeremiah:

It is I who by my great power and my outstretched arm have made the earth, with the men and animals that are on the earth, and I give it to whomever it seems right to me. Now I have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, my servant, and I have given him also the beasts of the field to serve him. (Jer. 27:5–6)

The prophetic claim is that YHWH made the earth and gave the lands of Edom, Moab, etc., into the hand of the king of Babylon—and will take those lands from the king of Babylon in due course. There seems no question here that Jeremiah is speaking of God as the creator of heaven and earth in the conventional sense.

So I agree that the prophets do not predict a future remaking of heaven and earth in a literal sense, but I don’t think that rules out the claim that God originally created the cosmos—in fact, that claim seems to be required by the polemic against polytheism.

@Andrew Perriman:

1. I don’t think you can “spin” Isa 65 to say, “it will be as though heaven and land” are made new. That’s not what Isa says. He says Jerusalem is heaven and land and that’s why John echoes this passage when he sees the city-bride come down. He is seeing Isa 65 come to pass. When Paul says that anyone in Christ is the fulfillment of Isa 65, he calls them: new creation. It is far simpler to remain consistent here than to spin it away. We have got to stop reassigning meaning to the prophets in the NT when our eschatology doesn’t fit with theirs.

2. “Do you thus repay the Lord,
O foolish and unwise people?
Is not He your Father who has bought you?
He has made you and established you.
Deut 32:6

I’m not going to quibble about “asa” or “bara” bc both are used in reference to the heavens and land coming to be.

3. True, not all references to “erets” and “shamayim” refer to Israel, but that’s a non sequitur. So what? So what if “shammayim” or “erets” can’t mean Israel in this or that passage. What’s that to the places where it does?

4. I didn’t assert nor do I believe reading Gen 1 allegorically precludes God’s having made the universe. That doesn’t follow either.

@Travis Finley:

I’m not sure I see what your problem is. In Isaiah 66:1-2 YHWH says, “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD.”

Here, surely, earth is the whole earth, not just the land. I presume it is the same in Isaiah 65:17. The renewal of creation, therefore, is a metaphor for the renewal of Israel. It is as though Israel’s world has been made new, a new start.

Moreover, 66:1 requires a contrast between heaven and earth, on the one hand, and the temple, on the other. I think this rules out your argument that the creation of a new heavens and new earth simply refers to Jerusalem.

John echoes the passage, indeed. But he does not equate the heavenly city with heaven and earth. The city descends from the new heaven and settles on the new earth.

Similarly in Isaiah 51:3 YHWH makes the wilderness of Zion figuratively “like Eden, …like the garden of YHWH”. Jerusalem will not literally become Eden, but it will “as though” it has become Eden—again, a figure for renewal, new beginning.

@Andrew Perriman:

My issue is with the supposition that creation (i.e. the concrete meaning) is in need of renovation. It isn’t. (Suppose with me, Andrew, that it isn’t. The physical cosmos is not in need of renovation. Then Isa 65 and Rev 22 and 2 Peter 3 cannot be about that [the only reason anyone would infer from Isa 65 that there is another “greater fulfillment” beyond the national, corporate renovation would be due to a prior commitment to a premise about the scope of the Gen 3 event]. Just like “hell” is not a biblical concept if by that one means a place of eternal conscious torment. Just like the “soul” is not immortal if the biblical concept of man’s ontology is physicalism. All of these issues are moot if the premises are false.) That’s supposed only from a concrete reading of Gen 1 and then reading that meaning into Isa 65. The entire heilsgeschichte of Israel has nothing to do with that interpretation of Gen 1. From Gen 1 to Rev 22 the heilsgechichte is about God and people. It is a completely foreign concept to insist that a two-fold meaning of Isa 65 is meant. Isa 65 is singularly about Jerusalem and her being remade.

Isa 66 isn’t making the same point as 65, so my initial thought is to hold those two instances in tension. 65 is talking about the symbol of Israel as God’s rule over the land being renewed and that is not what ch 66 is about.

No, John alludes to Isa 65 bc they are both talking about covenant renewal. What Isa looked for, John says has come: the new covenant. Isa 65 is Jer 31 is Ez 37 is Dan 12. The entirety of Revelation is preterist. The last two chapters are not future. (And yes, Virginia, there is resurrection.) There can be no new heavens and earth without a new Adam to rule them. If we have a new Adam, we ipso facto have (are not waiting for) new creation.

@Travis Finley:

Sorry, Travis, an argument built on supposition is worthless. You can’t say, “Let’s suppose that the physical cosmos is not in need of renovation”, and then deduce from that supposition that the Bible never talks about the renewal of the cosmos.

In Isaiah’s (metaphorical) new creation there is still death. In John’s (literal—for want of a better word) new creation there is no more death.

I think if you read more Jewish apocalyptic writings, you would see that Jewish thinkers in the first century were quite capable of differentiating between the concrete, historical renewal of Israel (often described in new creation language) and the larger cosmic processes of creation and new creation. It’s really not problematic.

@Andrew Perriman:


You’re right, but I was merely being illustrative. It’s no different than suggesting to a pre-mill futurist that he >. when reading Matthew 24 and “suppose” that Jesus isn’t being concrete when talking about the “sun, moon, and stars,” but the “powers-that-be.” It makes the point even though it’s not finally substantial. So, please don’t miss my point: if your premise is false (Jesus is talking concretely about the physical world), then your conclusion (the concrete physical world will come undone) will be false.

So, part of my premise is the Bible nowhere shows the creation is fallen, affected by Adam’s lapse. That’s an inference based on an interpretation and if false, then it follows that an inferential assertion is also false. The cosmological deconstructive language in, say, Isa 24 is about Israel and has no implication that the physical world will also come undone.

But this is exactly what happens in the NT, say, in 2 Ptr 3. “Sure,” my pastor says, “Ok. It’s about Israel…first, but it’s ALSO about the end of time when God recreates this universe.” He would not make that inference without a prior commitment to a fallen creation. His prior commitment to that paradigm compels him to draw a false conclusion. St. Peter would look askance at that inference.

I take Revelation as covenantal through and through: from beginning to end it is about (and only about) the Olivet Discourse. Not only is there no more “death”(whatever that might be) in the NC, there is no more “sea.” I read that in uniformity with the prophets whereby sea is meant Gentiles. These are covenant structures which pass away as the “former things.” There is no reason for the conrete “first” heaven and land to flee from the presence of he who sits on the throne. The only things that flee from the wrath of the Lamb are people (Rev 6:16). The former/protos things were the Old Covenant stoichaiea/cosmos (Heb 12:25ff).

Yes, I have not steeped myself in the writings you mention, but I do not see those as authoritative and would suppose that if their hermeneutic conflicted with what I understand the scriptures to be, it is to be jettisoned. Much like the Pharisaical reading of the torah which Jesus condemns; they’re looking for “Life” in the torah and Jesus say’d the torah/Gen 1 was about him and the Life/rest from the torah he brings. They ought to have known torah would pass away bc it was written in its DNA, but they had worshipped torah and did not want to see it go. So, their hermeneutic is wrong bc it neither knows the scriptures nor the power of God.

@Travis Finley:

Yes, I have not steeped myself in the writings you mention, but I do not see those as authoritative and would suppose that if their hermeneutic conflicted with what I understand the scriptures to be, it is to be jettisoned.

But that’s a very poor way to do interpretation, if you ask me. No text exists apart from a literary-cultural-historical context. The Bible is written the way it is because that is the way that people thought and wrote at the time. It’s not a question of whether the extra-biblical Jewish texts are authoritative but of how they throw light on language and conceptuality.

There is every reason to suppose, historically speaking, that there was some degree of interaction between the Jewish authors of scripture and their linguistic and conceptual context. It may not be easy to discern exactly how that interaction happened, but it’s a very naive form of biblicism—I suggest—to insist on the priority of a supposed intrinsic biblical meaning over literary co-texts. History, as Tom Wright often says, is the only real safeguard we have against subjectivity and tradition bias in interpretation.

@Andrew Perriman:

I didn’t say extra-biblical wasn’t helpful, just not primary. My hermeneutic is the uniformity of scripture. If Granny Smith can’t understand the Bible w/o knowing the original languages, ANE, and 2nd T texts….what? It matters not to be what the culture’s view of the “soul” was if it’s contrary to what the Bible teaches about the topic. Michael Heiser argues from many 2nd T texts in support of his “divine council” doctrine. Historic Pre-millennialism is historic for a reason: history. And yet I do not follow that interpretation. Should I?
What do you mean by “supposed intrinsic biblical meaning?” Word studies are a basic tool in any primer on hermeneutics: how does the “text” use this word? When Jesus uses “end of the age,” AP, where do we go to understand this phrase? Or “stoichaeia?” The way the authors of the Bible use language (in a way) doesn’t depend on what the culture does with a term if the author uses it for his purpose.

Would you be available to guest on my podcast? I’d really appreciate it.