Garvey Contemplates The Generations of Heavens and Earth

Responding to my book, Garvey argues that allowing for people outside the garden is helpful to theology, recovering the original understanding of Genesis.

I am pleased to announce that Jon Garvey’s new book, The Generations of Heaven and Earth,[a] is released and available for purchase. Read Garvey’s own explanation of the cover and its relationship to my book[b] when you can. Of course, buy his book too. The conversation is growing, and this is a must-read contribution.

My recent book, The Genealogical Adam and Eve[c], is civic practice of science, making space for differences. I lay out a large range of possibilities consistent with science, without settling on a single theological model. The invitation to theologians is to fill in the details, and help us find a better way.

The Generations of Heaven and Earth, however, is the first book-length response to my invitation, working out biblical theology that makes sense of everything together. The Baptist theologian Ken Keathley[d] endorsed the book, as did the Old Testament scholar Christopher Wright[e]. Here is my endorsement,

“Summarizing a decade of contemplation, Garvey makes a provocative, must-read contribution to a new conversation about Adam and Eve. After 150 years of mistaken conflict, we now know that traditional readings of Genesis can be entirely compatible with evolutionary science, as long as there are people outside the garden. Garvey presses one step further, arguing that allowing for people outside the garden is helpful to theology, recovering the original understanding of Genesis. Evolutionary science, in this way, encourages a coherent and grounded synthesis of traditional theology and mainstream science”

S. Joshua Swamidass MD PhD

It is fitting that Garvey’s book is the first response to my invitation. His first article[f] on the genealogical Adam and Eve was published in April 2011, long before we met. He is one of a few forerunners, such as David Opderbeck, Kenneth Kemp, and David Kwon[g]. Garvey has been the most prolific. Garvey went on to publish 74 articles[h] on his blog, and one here at Peaceful Science[i], wondering about the meaning of a genealogical Adam and Eve. For a taste of what to expect, his articles on religion before Adam[j] and a more recent one that touches on the isolation of Tasmania[k] are particularly good. His book summarizes and expands upon the best of some of these articles, into an orderly and convincing account.

Readers will also know that another of Garvey’s books, God’s Good Earth[l], figures prominently in The Genealogical Adam and Eve too. The deeper traditions of the Church that Garvey lays out in this book give us ways to think about death outside the Garden before the fall[m] of Adam. Of course, inside the Garden could have been free of death, but the teaching of Scripture seems to be that there was death outside. Remember the borders of the Garden.

These three books form a Garvey-Swamidass trilogy of sorts. Hopefully there will be more to come. Garvey lays out just one of many ways to make sense of everything together. I look forward to the publication of Andrew Loke’s book, currently under review, and to responses from Ken Keathley and Richard Averbeck. May the trilogies and sequels proliferate from here.

Feb 4, 2020
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