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This is a review of the book “What Happened in the Garden?: The Reality and Ramifications of the Creation and Fall of Man.” “What Happened in the Garden” was produced by John MacArthur and The Master’s Seminary Faculty, edited by Abner Chou and published by Kregel Academic (302 pages).
The back cover gives us the scope for the book:
Evangelicals are no strangers to the creation versus evolution debate. Now the argument has spread beyond the contents of the creation account in Genesis 1 and into Genesis 2-3, with speculation about the historicity of Adam and Eve and the Fall. But does it matter which position one holds? Is anything really at stake?
“What Happened in the Garden” answers these questions throughout the 13 chapters using a multidisciplinary approach. It employs theology, hermeneutics, literary-language and social considerations, and science. It is supported by Footnotes and Bibliography, and well argued. The book was written in response to the increasing trend of evangelical capitulation to the evolutionary narrative. It also addresses the theories that Genesis was a Hebrew polemic, or prose or that it relied on ANE literature for its themes.
I would suggest that the two “science” chapters (2 and 3) by Wood and Francis may be supplemented by more recent research. See, for example, the article New DNA Study Confirms Noah. Science doesn’t contradict Genesis.
A glimpse into the sort of information covered by the book can be viewed and listened to on the Answers in Genesis website: Genesis – The Original Myth Buster. You can also watch Abner Chou’s presentation Unlocking the Mysteries of Genesis. All these glimpses whetted my appetite for more and the book didn’t disappoint.
One of my favorite chapters was A Map of Misreadings by Grant Horner. Here are some examples of Horner’s sharp observations:
The story of how God works in the universe is also a narrative, one that follows certain rules, as all narratives do. The rules are not complex, but many readers of that story, not satisfied intellectually with its lovely simplicity, have always endeavored to “problematize,” “complexify,” or “demythologogize” the story. These impressive sounding bits of academic jargon often boil down to simple unbelief in almost every case, an unwillingness to accept the story on its own terms. If the foundation of Christianity is the bodily resurrection of Jesus, understood as actual history, then why should we think of Paradise, Adam, the Temptation, and the Fall as symbolic-allegorical, ahistorical non-events? (p 107)
We do not critique the text; it critiques us. And in a certain sense, we do not interpret the text; it interprets us. It tells us the truth about ourselves, without which we will remain in the state of postlapsarian (after the Fall) blindness-in-the-labyrinth. (p 109)
But perhaps the most vital chapter is the last one by John MacArthur. He shows the logical and theological ramifications for the cross and our salvation when one tampers with the Genesis creation account. “What Happened in the Garden” is an important book written for a climate where the testament of the creation account has been dangerously subverted to the inevitable detriment of the gospel. Neither the science or theology of the book is too difficult to follow. It is highly recommended reading for anyone concerned about the integrity of God’s Word.
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Part 1: Reality of Genesis 2-3
Chapter 1: “Did God Really Say?” – Hermeneutics and History in Genesis 3 ~ Abner Chou
Chapter 2: Adam and the Animals ~ Todd Wood and Joseph Francis
Chapter 3: Genetics of Adam ~ Todd Wood and Joseph Francis
Chapter 4: Genesis 3 – A Map of Misreadings ~ Grant Horner
Part 2: Theological Ramifications of the Creation and Fall
Chapter 5: Genesis 3 and Original Sin ~ Paul Thorsell
Chapter 6: The Seed and Schaeffer ~ William Varner
Part 3: Worldview Ramifications of the Creation and Fall
Chapter 7: After the Fall – Three Effects on Human Enterprise ~ R. Mackey
Chapter 8: Thermodynamics and the Fall – How the Curse Changed Our World ~ Taylor Jones
Chapter 9: In Re Adam and Eve: Reflections on the Creation and Fall of Man ~ A Legal Perspective
Chapter 10: The Significance of Sin for the Psychologies ~ Ernie Baker
Chapter 11: “He Made Them Male and Female” – The Image of God, Essentialism, and The Evangelical Gender Debate ~ Jo Suzuki
Chapter 12: The Historical Adam in Creation – Why Keeping Him Real in Our Curriculum Matters ~ Alexander Granados
Chapter 13: A Sin of Historic Proportions ~ John MacArthur