[Opening Caveat: This post is really for eggheads like me. Let the reader be warned that my thoughts are often confusing and confused. Or maybe I’m just trying to ask the reader to give me license to do a little poor writing.]
I get the feeling as I read Dr. Collins’ book, namely his discussions of the literary culture in which Genesis was written and the author’s communicative intent, that there is a little bit of confusing-trees-for-forest problem going on. Dr. Collins works quite hard at showing his readers that the biblical creation account has a lot of the flavor of ancient near eastern myths and yet isn’t somehow a myth in and of itself. I’m fine as far as that goes. But I am not sure where the idea comes into play that there is a Divine Author at work here. Dr. Collins is working mightily to demonstrate how human authors would have taken Moses’ words in Genesis, but where is the discussion of how God is revealing more of his original intent as we march through redemptive history? [Dr. Vern Poythress lays this process down quite well here, but no where is any of Dr. Poythress’s works mentioned in a footnote nor included in the 11 page bibliography in the back.] If I could draw an analogy to help illustrate my frustration, it would go something like this. Imagine all the ancient near eastern myths create a large multi-colored fog. As you walk through the misty surroundings of ancient near eastern history, the myths are floating all around you in various forms and colors. But then you come to these two large stone tablets that have words written on them. And because these tablets are in the middle of this fog, they are covered with the multi-colored dampness of the fog. But there is a drastic difference between the multi-colored fog, and the tie-dye appearance left by the fog on the tablets. The difference is this: the tablets are solid. The fog isn’t. I feel as if Dr. Collins is spending page upon page discussing the patterns of condensation left on the tablets without ever discussing the tablets themselves or the words written thereon. Maybe the discussion of the divine author’s intent is outside the scope of the book, but since he is writing to an evangelical audience who cares about such a thing, it would seem like bad planning on Dr. Collins part if that is the case.