The Christian Humanist Podcast, Episode 14: Origin Stories

The music this week is Bruce Cockburn’s “Creation Dream,” from Dancing in the Dragon’s Jaws (1979).

General Introduction
– Reader feedback
– What’s on the blog this week?

The Genesis Account of Creation
– When did we first encounter it?
– Oh, those strategic bushes!
– We take another shot at Robert Zemeckis’ Beowulf
– The Breeches Bible
– We plan Nathan’s first book

Scholarly Approaches to Bereshith
– Is the first clause independent or dependent?
– A plurality of versions of every story
– The “telescope” theory
– Other creation stories in the Hebrew Bible

Extrabiblical Ancient Creation Stories
Enuma Elish
The Rig Veda
– What do we have to fear from these similarities?

New Testament Creation Accounts
– What does John 1 add?
– Christ as the “first fruit of creation” and “wisdom of God”

Greco-Roman Creation Stories
– Plato’s Timaeus
– How do the Gospels react to Platonic ideas?
– Where does John get his Logos language?
– Hesiod and Ovid
– Love as the first element

English Creation Stories
– Caedmon’s Hymn
– Anthropocentrism
– Why Caedmon is not the first English poet
– Mystery plays
Paradise Lost: Milton’s hedged bets

Where Have All the Creation Stories Gone?
– The Enlightenment
– Romantic individualism
– Post-Darwin literature
– Evangelical anxiety
– Lewis and Tolkein
– Hesitancy as hallmark of modern creation story
– Scientific origin stories

Advantages and Disadvantages of Creation Stories
– A call for humility
– Making doctrine out of poetry
– The multiplicity of stories


Bede. Ecclesiastical History of the English People. Trans. Leo Sherley-Price. New York: Penguin, 1991.

Emerson, Ralph Waldo. “Experience.” Essays and Lectures. Ed. Joel Porte. New York: Library of America, 1983. 471-492.

The Epic of Gilgamesh: A New Translation. Trans. Andrew George. New York: Penguin, 1999.

Enuma Elish: The Seven Tablets of the History of Creation. Trans. L.W. King. New York: FQ Classics, 2007.

Hesiod. Theogony, Works and Days, and Shield. Trans. Apostolos N. Athanassakis. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2004.

Lewis, C.S. The Magician’s Nephew. New York: Collier, 1977.

Milton, John. Paradise Lost. New York: Norton, 2004.

Ovid. Metamorphoses. Trans. David Raeburn. New York: Penguin, 2004.

Plato. Timaeus and Critias. Trans. Robin Waterfield. New York: Oxford UP, 2009.

The Rig Veda: One Hundred and Eight Hymns. Trans. Wendy Doniger O’Flaherty. New York: Penguin, 1981.

Tolkein, J.R.R. The Simarillion. Ed. Christopher Tolkein. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004.

13 comments for “The Christian Humanist Podcast, Episode 14: Origin Stories

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *