Reading Genesis, Red in Tooth and Claw
Image: AOosthuizen / iStock
Death Before the Fall: Biblical Literalism and the Problem of Animal Suffering
Our Rating
3½ Stars - Good
Book Title
Death Before the Fall: Biblical Literalism and the Problem of Animal Suffering
Author
Publisher
IVP Academic
Release Date
March 6, 2014
Pages
197
Price
$20.58
Buy Death Before the Fall: Biblical Literalism and the Problem of Animal Suffering from Amazon

As a boy Ronald Osborn took camping trips to the Mana Pools, in Zimbabwe, with his missionary parents. There he saw the splendor of untamed nature, which included the sight of lions gorging on their bloody prey. In Death Before the Fall, he writes: "All around us was a world that was deeply mysterious, untamed, dangerous, beautiful and good, waiting to be explored. And the danger was part of its goodness and beauty.... Mana Pools was very good—its lions, jackals, leopards, fish eagles and cobras included." (pg.13)

This intuitive understanding of creation is quite at odds with the understanding of Genesis that Osborn learned in his young-earth-creationist Seventh Day Adventist church. There he was told that no death existed in the Garden of Eden; death and predation resulted from Adam's sin. Not only were death and predation not intrinsic to the creation, they were evil, reflecting God's curse.

In an evolutionary scenario, death and predation are intrinsic to creation—there could be no development of new species without them. Osborn quotes one Adventist official as saying that those following evolutionary thinking, "don't worship the God of the Bible, for that God didn't use a long, protracted, and vicious dog-eat-dog, survival-of-the-fittest paradigm—one that goes against everything He has taught us about love and self-sacrifice...." (17)

With this conflict in view as to the nature of nature, Osborn launches into a full-bore, unflinching assault on literalism in biblical interpretation, particularly in regard to the first chapters in Genesis. His is not a liberal critique, but an orthodox, Bible-centered one. Osborn contends that fundamentalist, young-earth creationists ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Browse All Book Reviews By:
Read These Next
Current Issue3 Ways to Prevent Bible Study Dropouts
3 Ways to Prevent Bible Study Dropouts Subscriber Access Only
What really keeps us engaged with the discipline of studying Scripture.
RecommendedGender Inclusivity Isn't Liberal. It's Biblical.
Gender Inclusivity Isn't Liberal. It's Biblical.
Why conservative theologians are defending changing certain Bible verses to include women.
TrendingKay Warren: 'We Were in Marital Hell'
Kay Warren: 'We Were in Marital Hell'
Through God's work in our lives, we've beaten the odds that divorce would be the outcome of our ill-advised union.
Editor's PickFinding My ‘True Self’ As a Same-Sex Attracted Woman
Finding My ‘True Self’ As a Same-Sex Attracted Woman
In my young-adult struggle with sexual identity, both legalistic condemnation and progressive license left me floundering.
Christianity Today
Reading Genesis, Red in Tooth and Claw
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

April 2014

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.