Despite my interest in apologetics, I had never read a book by Francis Schaeffer. When I stumbled across a well-worn volume speaking of biblical beginnings at a used book store, I was more than willing to take a chance.
Genesis in Space and Time did not quite address the subject matter I assumed, though it was still an interesting read. I imagined the bulk of the work to be answering questions about the origin of the cosmos, but Schaeffer largely sidesteps the issue. Instead, he puts forth that the creation account in Genesis is much more orderly and logical than the majority of others, particularly at its time, which lends it validity. Along with that, he notes that the actual question of man is not how the universe is here, but why. On that note, he proceeds into the story of humanity, beginning with Adam and Eve.
One important thing I took from the book was an understanding of genealogies in the Bible. As modern, Western man, we want to look at the numbers, assume correlations, and establish dates relative to our own. According to the author, exact dates and direct descendants were likely not as important to the ancient writers and audience as they may be in our science-obsessed society. He points out numerous other examples in early Hebrew writings where the intent of genealogy is not chronology, but to indicate the lineage of godly men. Saying that one man is the “son” of another indicates only origin, not a literal father-son relationship. To quote Schaeffer, “Prior to the time of Abraham, there is no possible way to date the history of what we find in Scripture. After Abraham, we can date the biblical history and correlate it with secular history. When the Bible itself reaches back and picks up events and genealogies in the time before Abraham, it never adds up these numbers for dating.”
To me, this is a very interesting point. I had heard the statement that the Bible is not a science textbook, and we therefore should not read it as such, but I never quite knew how to feel about it. With this concrete example, it became clear. I find it all the more interesting that modern man, who claims to be so historically and contextually aware, wants to read an ancient document as if it were written last week, assuming its audience cared about the exact number of years between this person and that.
Overall, I found the book slightly more academic than what I typically read. No, there weren’t footnotes taking up half of each page, but some of the writing does come across as more scholarly than personal, which is fine. It’s still an enjoyable read for anyone with interest in apologetics and early Hebrew history, if not as scientifically-focused as a book like The Case for Faith.
Genesis in Space and Time is available on Amazon, and if you’re lucky, at a used bookstore near you.