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Hebrew Studies 41 (2000) 250 Reviews ume is too broad and polemical in its evangelical thrust to make it useful for a broad audience, though many of the articles deserve the attention of all teachers of the Hebrew Bible. Tammi J. Schneider Claremont Graduate University Claremont. CA 91711 THE ETHOS OF THE COSMOS: THE GENESIS OF MORAL IMAGINATION IN THE BIBLE. By William P. Brown. Pp xviii + 458. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1999. Paper, $35.00. In The Ethos 0/ the Cosmos, William Brown has given us a muchneeded study that analyzes how various creation accounts within the Hebrew Bible have shaped the morality or ethos of the people of the Bible. When he analyzes these creation accounts, he is more interested in showing how these stories are rife with moral significance and how they in tum have shaped the succeeding accounts than he is in the mythology behind them, the origins of the concepts, or in seeking a "unifonn doctrine of creation." Moreover, he is not seeking the historical roots of Israel's moral imagination but "the role of such imagination in the depiction of creation in the Bible" (p. xii). The book comprises an extensive introduction and conclusion, and five chapters, each discussing the ethos embedded in a particular creation account . Chapter I, the introduction, details Brown's intention as well as his understanding of the significance and uniqueness of his work. Chapters 2-6 discuss five creation accounts in the Hebrew Bible with primarily two questions in mind: 1) How does a given text order the cosmos; and 2) Why is creation so ordered? (p. 30). Brown also examines how each account fits into its larger literary and social context. He does acknowledge that other texts in the Hebrew Bible deal with creation, but he has chosen these five because they "are laden with the most literary background" (p. 32), making for greater certainty in the conclusions. Chapter 2 considers in detail the Priestly writer's creation account in Genesis 1:1-2:4a. After discussing the main issues that pertain to ethos in this story, Brown writes at length how the morality found in the account has shaped the remaining Priestly material in the Torah. According to Brown, the Priestly writer is concerned Hebrew Studies 41 (2000) 251 Reviews with holiness, and the creation narrative manifests several aspects of separation that fonn the foundation for holiness. In Chapter 3, Brown continues with an extended exposition of the Yahwist's creation account found in Genesis 2:4b-3:24. Again, Brown follows with a treatment of the remainder of the Yahwist's account, showing how it has been shaped by the creation account. Indeed, according to Brown, several of the pericopes found in the Yahwist's narrative lose much of their significance if one does not have in mind the creation story. Chapters 4-6 more briefly investigate the depictions of creation found in Second Isaiah, Proverbs 8:22-31, and the Yahweh speeches in the book of Job. Finally, the conclusion summarizes the findings of chapters 2-6 and provides a presentation on what his fmdings mean for today's communities of the Bible, Brown being primarily concerned with the Christian community. The book also contains a separate bibliography and two indices (author/subject and scripture reference). Overall, Brown's thesis is sound and well supported. He examines "biblical creation's distinctly moral significance for both ancient and contemporary communities of faith.. (p. 3) and shows that the created universe "reflects certain moral which the ancient community was to live its faith" (p. 19). The moral foundation, established via the creation accounts, is "The Ethos of the Cosmos." Brown shows that each creation account manifests "the most fundamental relationships and values, building blocks in the fonnation of a community's identity" (p. 12). Also, each creation narrative defmes how the community of believers is to understand and act in the environment. Although he claims that he is writing for a Christian audience, his readings of the creation narratives are not based upon nor particularly influenced by Christianity. Hence, the value of the book is not limited solely to a Christian...


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