Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: https://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.752677
Title: The end of creation : an exegetical and theological reflection on the concept of rest in Genesis 1-11
Author: Michael, Graham J. L.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7425 8055
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2018
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Abstract:
While studies have explored and analyzed the concept of rest in a variety of literary works in the Hebrew Bible (HB) and the Ancient Near East (ANE), attention given to its theological significance and rhetorical function in the literary context of Genesis 1–11 has been wanting. This thesis thus examines how the concept contributes to the thematic development and rhetorical design of Genesis 1–11. It is an exegetical and theological reflection that approaches Genesis 1–11 as a unified textual unit with a coherent literary message. In this light, the primary method to explicate the significance of rest from this literary context is by means of exegesis or a “close reading” of the text. The concept of rest in the ANE signifies not mere inactivity, but rather, the ideal conditions in which another activity or state of being is engaged or experienced. Rest thus includes both elements: cessation from one activity or state of being (rest from) and the engagement of another activity or state of being (rest for). The concept of rest (expressed in a wide variety of lexical terms and associated ideas) within the HB can be broadly described as the ideal conditions (characterized by stability, security, and order) intended for blessing, holiness, and justice within the covenantal relationship with YHWH, that in turn results in the worship of YHWH and the flourishing of his created order. In this light, the provision of rest functions as a powerful soteriological symbol, in which the act of providing rest is regularly expressed as movement (or transition) from particular circumstances or situations (i.e. rest from) to an ideal state for an intended purpose (i.e. rest for). This conceptual pattern can be portrayed as: rest from (particular conditions) → rest to (ideal state) → rest for (purpose). At the same time, a state of unrest indicates the result of God's judgment for rebellion and the fracturing of his relationship with his people, which also has adverse effects on the created order. The concept of rest can be expressed with a broad semantic field of lexical terms, but is most prominently expressed with the terms, שׁבת and נוח . Although scholars have tended to isolate these terms into separate “traditions,” they share a close semantic, conceptual, and theological relationship that is expressed in several passages throughout the HB, which demonstrates the ability to utilize these terms as a coherent literary motif. This understanding is crucial to appreciate the utilization of the rest motif in Genesis 1–11, for the goal of creation is initially expressed with שׁבת but is thematically developed with נוח (along with associated terms and ideas). The rhetorical function of the concept of rest as a literary motif is understood in the light of the overarching theme of Genesis 1–11, which may be expressed as Rest–Unrest– vi Comfort. This theme effectively articulates the development of Genesis 1–11, in which the essential goodness and the intended purposes of God's created order (Rest) are affected by human rebellion that results in the destructive flood (Unrest) but leads to a new reality that humanity must face the enduring consequences of sin with the enduring hope of God's grace (Comfort). Thus, along the contours of this thematic development, the rest motif is traced: the goal of creation is expressed as the rest of God on the seventh day, in which humanity is intended to participate and to provide to the created order. The undoing of creation is expressed with concepts of unrest such as humanity's exile, wandering, wearisome toil, and oppression that culminates with the destructive flood. Finally, the renewal of creation— characterized as a mixture of rest and unrest, blessing and curse—is aptly portrayed as mere comfort (Genesis 5:29) forcing humanity to long for (and even anticipate) the fulfillment of God's intended purposes for his created order. In this light, the concept of rest not only informs the thematic development of Genesis 1–11, but also provides further clarity and greater complexity to its overall rhetorical design and theological message.
Supervisor: Wenham, Gordon J. ; McConville, J. Gordon Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.752677  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Rest ; Sabbath
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