On John Walton’s Understanding of Hebrew Bara’

Posted By on September 6, 2010

Some of you have asked for a summary of where I disagree with Walton on bara’.† What follows below is an exchange between John Hobbins (another friend of mine and Hebrew scholar) and Walton. My reservations are essentially those that are expressed by Hobbins.

Hobbins vs. Walton

Walton’s response to Hobbins

Here’s something else thrown in: Hobbins on E. van Wolde’s view of bara’.

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13 Responses to “On John Walton’s Understanding of Hebrew Bara’”

  1. blop2008 says:

    Umm.. I will look for the monograph. Interesting exchange and another command to look for clarifications directly from the author before criticizing too harshly.

  2. blop2008 says:

    Where’s the monograph by Walton? It is not at eisenbrauns.com

    • MSH says:

      The Hobbins post is a couple years old. I presume the monograph is his book, The Lost World of Genesis One.

      • JLWest says:

        In “The Lost World of Genesis One” Walton cites in his notes a “forthcoming” ” “Genesis One as Ancient Cosmology” from Eisenbrauns, (see, for example, note 7 of
        prop. 3, p 177). I have assumed that this is the monograph being talked about.

        Jim W

  3. Jennifer says:

    I believe an article written by Brian Godawa titled BIBLICAL CREATION AND STORYTELLING: Cosmogony, Combat and Covenant, does a pretty good job summing up the Chaoskampf, interpretation of bara and the unique worldview of the Jews against the backdrop of the ANE cultures. You can download it at:


  4. DundalkChris says:

    Thanks… I’ll keep learning

  5. Nobunaga says:

    Thanks for the link Jennifer. Much appreciated

  6. Jonnathan Molina says:

    Dr. H, since the guy, :”Alan” seemed to be so interested in reading the monograph because it would be more scholarly and the monograph has become the book (I think) and the book is popular (ish)…will it hold no weight academically (with him and other critics)? …what I mean is can monographs (apparently a bar of scholarly approval, just learned the word myself lol) turn into popular works to their reproach? Or is it safe to assume the book is good enough to quote, use as reference etc.

    • MSH says:

      The book is good enough to quote. Some scholars (small number) of stature make an effort to write for all audiences. The difference in such efforts is really level of detail and citation of secondary source material. The best example is probably N.T. Wright, who writes under the name “Tom Wright” when the material is aimed at the non-specialist.

  7. Has anyone mentioned the work by the late Dr. Custance about his thoughts on bara’?

    Custance, Arthur C. (1970A) Without Form and Void: A Study of the Meaning of Genesis 1:2, Reprinted in 2010 by Classic Reprint Press, Windber, PA, ISBN 9781934251331. [Online version at http://www.creationdays.dk/withoutformandvoid/Articles.php, Paperback version at http://www.custance.org]

    • MSH says:

      what about it specifically? Honestly, why bother reading what someone says about bara when you can find all the occurrences in 1-2 seconds and do the research yourself (presuming you have Bible software)? There are less than fifty occurrences of the word. It’s not rocket science or a daunting task.

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