Firmament and Cosmos: The relation between the Old Testament theology of creation and the ancient Near Eastern cognitive environment as a model for the dialogue between contemporary theology and science

Research output: PhD ThesisPhD-Thesis - Research and graduation internal

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Abstract

Can theology and the natural sciences find a mutually complementary language to describe the world? How can both disciplines (or ‘rationalities’, McGrath) become involved in a substantial dialogue? Continental intellectual history has in many ways issued in a strict separation of the language games of theology and science. This study aims at finding a model that can avoid the falling apart of both, and in particular of the concepts of nature and creation, even though this is challenging from a philosophy of science perspective. In its quest for an appropriate model, this study orients itself to the biblical tradition, which comes to us inter alia in the form of the Old Testament creation texts. Using insights and methods from biblical studies, the dialogue strategy is disclosed which Israel used to relate its own theological convictions to the ancient Near Eastern environment. This point of view is tested and verified exegetically in a detailed study of conceptions of the firmament in the ancient Near East and in Genesis 1. It turns out that, indeed, the uniqueness of Israel’s creation theology is a specific enriched variation of an ancient oriental conceptual horizon, largely forged by generally shared motifs and traditions. This state of affairs can become a guiding principle for contemporary theology. After all, contemporary theology has to communicate its viewpoints in the framework of present-day scientific thought and thus in the cognitive space of our culture. Based on the above-mentioned investigations and specific aspects from the philosophy of science, this dissertation articulates a hermeneutic dialogue model that can connect the different disciplines or rationalities against the background of the worldview of our time. The study is concluded by a detailed testing of the model on a topic in which a scientific and a theological perspective coalesce: the history of the formation of our solar system.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationPhD
Awarding Institution
  • Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Supervisors/Advisors
  • van den Brink, Gijsbert, Supervisor
  • Korpel, M.C.A., Supervisor, External person
Award date1 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021

Keywords

  • theology and science
  • genesis
  • dialogue
  • interdisciplinarity
  • solar system
  • creation
  • nature
  • epistemology

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