Alice C. Linsley
Anthropological study of Genesis is as important as theological study. Indeed, it may be more important because it permits us to understand how the ancients of
understood God; to glimpse their intimate experience of the Creator who never
changes. God’s immutability is communicated profoundly in the Genesis
narratives and in the ancients’ understanding of divine rule and order.
The Genesis narratives are connected to place and time, to environmental conditions, to the rising of rivers and to the expansion of herds on the wet
Sahara. From a particular place
they speak to the world as the world could never speak to that ancient place.
G.K. Chesterton understood that Rudyard Kipling was a man of the world who loved no one place well enough to really know it. Chesterton wrote, “It is inspiriting without doubt to whizz in a motor-car round the earth, to feel Arabia as a whirl of sand or
China as a flash of rice-fields.
But Arabia is not a whirl of sand and China is not a flash of rice-fields.
They are ancient civilizations with strange virtues buried like treasures. If
we wish to understand them it must not be as tourists or inquirers, it must be
with the loyalty of children and the patience of poets.” (Heretics, p. 51, 52)
Anthropological tools applied to the Genesis narratives enable us to place the material in the proper cultural context. This resolves many theological controversies and clarifies God’s eternal power and divine nature. We gain greater insight also into Christ, who is one with the Father and shares the Father’s immutable nature.
Biblical anthropology is in service of theology, at least good theology. It serves the Church by grounding politics and doctrine, liturgy and prayer in the not-so-big ideas, but in the daily routine of the common man who lives out his days raising children, building, investing and planting a garden.
Related reading: Talking on Facebook About Biblical Anthropology; Biblical Anthropology is Science; Using the Bible to Test Hypotheses; The Bible and Anthropological Investigation; Alice C. Linsley's Research on Genesis; The Urheimat of the Canaanite Y; A Kindling of Ancient Memory