Derek Kidner on Genesis

kidner_genesisDerek Kidner, author of the Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (IVP) on Genesis, Ezra, Nehemiah, Psalms, and Proverbs, died this week, at age 95 (HT: Be Bold, Be Gentle).

Kidner had a love and respect for the Scriptures, a thorough knowledge of Old Testament language, history, and culture; and an ability to communicate clearly. He also was an advocate for an old age for the Earth, fully compatible, in his mind, with the Scriptures. He did this not because of some sort of cave-in to evolutionists, but because he really saw the Scriptures as allowing for an old age for the Earth, and even for humans.

How the two pictures, biblical and scientific, are related to each other is not immediately clear, and one should allow for the provisional nature both of scientific estimates (without making this a refuge from all unwelcome ideas) and of traditional interpretations of Scripture. (p. 26)

But to try to correlate the data of Scripture and nature is not to dishonour biblical authority, but to honour God as Creator and to grapple with our proper task of interpreting His ways of speaking. (p. 31)

Just as it would be impossibly prosaic to cross-question the author of, e.g. Job 38 on ‘the waterskins of the heavens’ or ‘the cords of Orion’, so it could be the wrong approach to this passage to expect its pattern of days to be informative rather than aesthetic. (p. 54)

We know that the full meaning of an inspired utterance was often hidden from the speaker. (pp. 57-58). [In other words, even if Moses understood this as a literal six 24-hour day sequence, doesn’t mean that God intended the same.]

(page numbers are for the 1967 IVP edition)

Kidner doesn’t commit to a specific interpretation of the opening chapters of Genesis. He rejects some viewpoints as having little biblical evidence, but leaves the door open for the day-age or allegorical interpretations.

Grace and peace

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