What is the function of Genesis 1?

There is, as one commentator pointed out, a polemic at work in Genesis 1. This polemic does not aim to undermine modern science, of course—but instead ancient pagan religions. Genesis stands against ancient religions that taught that different gods were responsible for different pieces of the creation, that some were champions of chaos and evil, that matter pre-existed the gods, that the gods were limited, had foibles, and were even mortal. Only one divine personage matters here, and it is not the highest god of some pantheon. It is the god with a capital “g,” God himself, El Shaddai, God Almighty—named Lord, or Yahweh, i.e., he whose essence is to exist, and whose existence is sovereign. The text, qua polemic, replaced pantheons of capricious and deeply flawed gods with a single all-powerful creator god.

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