How complete is Biblical cosmology?

Can we understand the structure of the universe simply from reading scripture? I would say, no, scripture leaves this question wide open.

Exploring these issues in Cosmology and New Testament Theology, Jonathan Pennington observes, “Old Testament writers are not really interested in cosmology for its own sake; one might say that the kind of cosmological reflection we find in the Old Testament is more theological cosmology.” In other words, the Prophets were profoundly interested in the significance of life, the universe and everything, but took the structure of it more or less for granted.

From surveying the New Testament as a whole Pennington concludes that, “There is, then, no discernible, fixed background against which the NT sets forth theories about the physical universe. Instead, the texts appear to draw upon a variety of resources and images to articulate fundamentally theological points. If we focus on the theological orientations of the text, real growth in understanding can be made. If the authors are loath to tell us what they think of the precession of the equinoxes, or the number of primal elements, they are not at all shy about setting their theological concerns on the canvas of the cosmos.”

Therefore, before reading Genesis 1, or indeed John 1, from our side of twenty first century science, we should observe what the Prophets intended to elaborate on and what they did not.

One thought on “How complete is Biblical cosmology?

  1. adrian says:

    any suggestions as to where copies of this book might be found (libraries? etc?). the cheapest copy i can find online is $113!!


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