Following is an extract from Bro Wilfred Lambert’s 1997 articles in The Endeavour Magazine entitled “Creation”. Bro Wilfred was a highly regarded Assyriologist. His conclusion reproduced below neatly answers the questions posed Australian ecclesias recently on the importance of the creation accounts in Gen 1-3. Interesting too Bro Wilfred pointing to the reuse of Baal creation myths in Isaiah!
“The inspired Old Testament writers were no more aloof from their world of ideas than the inspired New Testament writers. They needed to communicate with the people of their times, and God did not provide them with prescience of 20th century AD ideas, which would have baffled their contemporaries, though they might cosset weak faith in our own generation. Thus both Testaments mention demons, the devil, and dragons. One of the last in the Old Testament is Leviathan. It is a difficult creature to deal with since in some passages it may well be used to describe a large fearsome animal of those times (Psalm 104:26; Job 41:1), but in Isaiah 27:1 God is said to be going to slay in the future “Leviathan, that twisting sea serpent” (REB). We of course would treat this as symbolic, but it is in fact taken over as a phrase, word for word, from Canaanite mythology, in which Baal slays the monster. The version of the myth known to us comes from Ras Shamra on the coast of Syria and dates to c. 1300—1200 BC. Thus Old Testament writers could and did know and use material from their environment in order to teach the truths of God, just like New Testament writers. In matters of creation, note how both earth and water are taken as existing from the beginning: no account is given of their origin. Also the cosmic water is divided into two parts. But the truths which emerge from this material in Genesis are worlds apart from ancient mythology, and they are truths which have stood the test of time. They are:
(i) The universe, the earth and the human race, did not arise by chance or accident, but by the express will and purpose of God.
(ii) Man is the cream of God’s creation on earth, alone able to interact with God on a spiritual level.
(iii) Moral evil exists because God created man with free will, which allows a choice between moral good and bad, and bad was chosen.
These are the fundamentals on which true faith in God rests. and this relationship between God and man is what God intended in providing Scripture.”