Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Transcendent and Immanent

In the beginning, God [Elohim] created the heavens and the earth.
Genesis 1:1 (emphasis added)

These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God [Yahweh Elohim] made the earth and the heavens.
Genesis 2:4 (emphasis added)

Genesis 1 and 2 may indeed reflect different sources at the preliterary level. The change of divine names from "God" [Elohim] in the first account (Gen. 1:1-2:3) to "I AM God" [Yahweh Elohim] in the second (Gen. 2:4-4:26) is a textbook example of showing different sources. The change of names, however, is not a product of a redactor who is sloppy or one who felt bound by tradition not to tamper with the text. Instead, he allowed the discontinuity to remain, because in chapter 1, [Elohim] refers to God's transcendence, while in chapters 2 and 3 [Yahweh] ("He Is") speaks to God's immanence. The different names of God express different aspects of his divine attributes. In fact, the author put both names together [in chapter 2], [Yahweh Elohim], to give the message that the God [Elohim] who made the majestic cosmos [Genesis 1] is the same God [Yahweh] who initiates and rules over human history [Genesis 2]. This juxtaposition asserts that history is under God's sovereign command and that history will not end in a cul-de-sac or return to chaos. The same God who gave order to creation is the same God who will give order in history. The discontinuity between the two divine names, though perhaps attesting to different sources, significantly elevates both God and human kind.

--Bruce Waltke, An Old Testament Theology: An Exegetical, Canonical, and Thematic Approach, p.116.
God's Word. Inspired? Inerrant? Infallible? No question.


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