Walton’s insights concerning the purpose of Genesis 1 are profoundly helpful–if for no other reason than to refocus our attention on the author’s purpose in writing it. It’s more helpful than that, though, in positioning Genesis 1 among other Ancient Near-Eastern stories of cosmic origins. They help us to see a more functional orientation to the idea of creation in Genesis 1, and that the chapter recounts the establishing of the cosmos as God’s temple, where he will take up residence and rule. Walton didn’t go much farther with his interpretation, so we get to do that work on our own, thinking about how Moses might have used that in his shepherding of Israel.
However, I was frustrated by Walton’s assertion that because Genesis 1 focuses on God’s establishing functions in order to arrange his temple, it therefore says nothing about material origins. I don’t see how that necessarily follows. Walton uses that conclusion to argue that we can withdraw our discussion of Genesis 1 from our discussions of material origins of the universe and of mechanisms that God might have used (evolution) in bringing the material cosmos to the state it needed to be in before he did his six days of assigning functions in Genesis 1. And I marveled that he could say such beautiful things about God taking up residence in his temple, and being intimately involved with all of the material universe and everything that happens–and yet science can function and discover truths about the material world with no reference to God.