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Death Before the Fall


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Table of Contents

Foreword by John H. Walton


Part One: On Literalism

Chapter One: The Creation: A Plain Reading
Chapter Two: What?s Eating Biblical Literalists?: Creationism the Enlightenment Project
Chapter Three: Unwholesome Complexity: Literalism as Scientism?s Pale Mimetic Rival
Chapter Four: Progressive vs. Degenerating Science: Weighing Incommensurable Paradigms
Chapter Five: Does Your God Need Stage Props?: On the Theological Necessity of Methodological Atheism
Chapter Six: The Enclave Mentality: Identity Foreclosure the Fundamentalist Mind
Chapter Seven: The Gnostic Syndrome: When Literalism Becomes a Heresy
Chapter Eight: Four Witnesses Barth, Calvin, Augustine, Maimonides on the Literal Meaning of Genesis
Chapter Nine: If Not Foundationalism, What Then?: From Tower-Building to Net-Mending

Part Two: On Animal Suffering

Epigraph Two: In Praise of Self-Deprecation
Chapter Ten: Stasis, Deception, Curse: Three Literalist Dilemmas
Chapter Eleven: A Midrash: C. S. Lewis?s Cosmic Conflict Theodicy Revisited
Chapter Twelve: God of the Whirlwind: Animal Ferocity in the Book of Job
Chapter Thirteen: Creation Kenosis: Evolution and Christ?s Self Emptying Way of the Cross
Chapter Fourteen: Animal Ethics, Sabbath Rest



Subject and Author Index

About the Author

Ronald E. Osborn (PhD, University of Southern California) was a Bannerman Fellow with the program in politics and international relations at the University of Southern California. He has published articles in numerous journals and magazines and is the author of Anarchy and Apocalypse: Essays on Faith, Violence, and Theodicy. John H. Walton (PhD, Hebrew Union College) is professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College and Graduate School. Previously he was professor of Old Testament at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago for twenty years. Some of Walton's books include The Lost World of Adam and Eve, The Lost World of Scripture, The Lost World of Genesis One, Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament, The Essential Bible Companion, The NIV Application Commentary: Genesis and The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament (with Victor Matthews and Mark Chavalas). Walton's ministry experience includes church classes for all age groups, high school Bible studies and adult Sunday school classes, as well as serving as a teacher for "The Bible in 90 Days." John and his wife, Kim, live in Wheaton, Illinois, and have three adult children.


Death Before the Fall is a frank, honest and wide-ranging critique of young-earth creationism, intelligent design and other science-denying movements. Sure-footed, informed and avoiding 'tidy answers, ' it shines a sober spotlight on the intellectual crises within evangelicalism--crises responsible for the enduring popularity of viewpoints dismantled by science more than a century ago. Drawing on a broad range of sources, Death Before the Fall looks to the sacrificial and self-emptying death of Christ, rather than simplistic interpretations of the fall, to understand our troubled natural history, with its unimaginable reservoirs of suffering and death.

--Karl W. Giberson, author of Saving Darwin: How to Be a Christian and Believe in Evolution

Death Before the Fall is personal, engaging, and has many important things to say about the scope, logic, and impact of biblical literalism.

--Bethany Sollereder, Reviews in Science and Religion, May 2014

Death Before the Fallis a refreshing look at a difficult and generally ignored aspect of theodicy. Osborn demonstrates a sensitivity not only to the complexities of the theological concerns but (perhaps more importantly) to the biblical literalists with whom he strongly disagrees.

--Kyle R. Greenwood, Bulletin for Biblical Research, 24.2

It is evident to me that Osborn had opened a dialog that is important and fascinating. Those who have an interest in hermeneutics (priciples of interpretation) in relation to science and theology should read this book. Whether or not you agree with specific details of Osborn's proposal, you will be informed and challenged by the very relevant issues he has presented.

--Martin Hanna, Seminary Studies, 54, Spring 2016

Osborn offers a response to animal suffering that does not require seeing their actions as the result of a curse. . . . The book will be of particular interest to those seeking a gentle but faithful critique of creationism.

--Publishers Weekly, January 20, 2014

Readers will certainly find that Osborn thoughtfully and sincerely exhibits the potential implications involved in how one addresses these complex and highly-charged issues.

--Justin M. Young, Africanus Journal, 8, 2

STARRED REVIEW: Osborn has written a thoroughly distinctive book on the suffering of animals--the cruelty we impose on them and that they impose on one another. His ingenious argument is that a too-literal reading of Genesis tends to make us too complacent about animal suffering, and a more nuanced, open approach makes us better advocates for animal rights and better witnesses of the proposed coming redemption. . . . This compassionate volume should speak widely to Christians, whose environmentalism can usually use a little bolstering. Highly recommended for church groups of all denominations.

--Library Journal, February 15, 2014

This text would be of particular interest to conservative Christians . . . concerned about animal suffering and death who are willing to move beyond literal interpretations of the creation story.

--Donna Yarri, Religious Studies Review, Vol. 41, No. 2, June 2015

This well written, thoughtful, and sensitive essay examines problematic ethical features of biblical literalism through the lens of the suffering widespread in the animal world. Questions such as the age of the Earth and whether animal predation resulted from the human fall are explored in philosophical and moral depth.

--Patricia K. Tull, The Christian Century, April 29, 2015

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