PAUL POULTON : Genesis for Ordinary People. (First Edition)
Genesis for Ordinary People is the second book from singer-songwriter and guitarist, Paul Poulton, following on from his debut publication in 2008, Fishing For Praise. The first book represented a more obvious subject matter for the author – it seemed fitting that a Christian musician should write a book about praise – but this volume seems to be a less obvious choice. However, it reveals that there is more to Paul than just music. Those who have been regular readers of his regular Crossrhythms’ column or have heard him speak will understand that Paul is more than just a one trick pony when it comes to communicating the Christian message.
Tackling Genesis is a good yet bold choice. It has come under fire in recent years from non-believers who have used it to undermine Christianity and even the existence of God. Paul however, using a mix of apologetics, hermeneutics and a knack for communicating complex ideas in an accessible way, manages to cut through some of the misinformation and, dare I say, misinterpretation, the latter of which has not been confined to secular circles. No book on Genesis could perhaps be complete without touching on the Science v Religion debate and whilst Paul does devote a chapter to it, it thankfully does not dominate and the reader is allowed to appreciate Genesis for what it is without being distracted by an argument that often-times is not relevant or helpful.
Paul is at pains to explain Genesis in the context of God’s salvation plan and therefore in the context of all of scripture rather than treating it as a standalone work to be critiqued in isolation. Thus we are able to see how Adam and Eve are set apart as bearers of the seeds of God’s salvation and how this seed is carried through the generations of Noah, Abraham and Jacob. In short, we see Christ in Genesis. Paul tackles some tough questions along the way so if you want to answer questions like “Who did Cain marry if there was supposed to be no-one else around?” then you can find answers here. It’s a well researched book, but being a non-academic work doesn’t swamp you with references. There’s a good balance and it is easy to read. In short it does what it says on the cover – it is Genesis for ordinary people. 9/10.
"Never for Nothing" Robin Thompson
Amazon.com Review By mrconcertman on December 8, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
So far Genesis for Ordinary People has opened my mind up to a different look to the book of Genesis. I love how Paul speaks on your level making it so easy to follow along. If you want to learn more about Genesis then I would recommend to give this book a try. 5 Stars
Amazon.com Review By Peter Waller on June 29, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Paul Poulton has a very engaging writing style. It is fun to read his book about Genesis. Poulton shows that many parts of the Genesis text that are supported by archaeology and science; however, he also encourages us to have faith even when we don’t understand. When he comes to a part of Genesis that he does not understand, he says that he doesn’t understand it, but that does not mean that is not true. He may not be correct in all of his analyses, but my opinion is that he is much closer to a correct interpretation of Genesis than the great majority of theologians. I think one of the greatest things about the book is he develops the stories of human-human interaction and human-God interaction and makes them real. He teaches many life lessons that we can take home and apply to our lives. 5 Stars
"Paul Poulton in his earlier book - 'Genesis for Ordinary People' writes with conviction and has an original edge towards humour which makes for an informative and entertaining read."
"I like the precision and detail... a very good read indeed".
Martin Trevor Hill - Twitter
"Really enjoyed Genesis (for Ordinary People)."
Lynda James - Facebook
"Reading your new book great read."
Andy Wardel - Facebook
"Finally finished your book. So glad that I got the hard copy. I feel you have open my eyes up to Genesis so much more. Thank you so much for writing it. I learned so much from your book that here in America some things you never learn about that was in your book. I will probably wait a year then read it again. And here I thought you were just a musician." David Ashley - Facebook
"I am enjoying your book on Genesis. You have a very nice writing style. I have similar views. I also think that Adam's descendants were the founders of Eridu. I read quite a bit of your book in Google books, and I ordered the Kindle Version. I really liked your arguments about Cain's wife and I am looking forward to studying more about Sodom and Gomorrah. I had never heard that information before, but it sounds really good."
Peter - email
"wonderful commentary on Genesis."
Becky Lagace - Facebook
"I bought your Genesis book, which I enjoyed and learnt from, I wait with bated breath for Exodus (only another 64 books to write then)."
Andrew - email
"It is insightful and very readable!"
Martin - Facebook
"Well done for taking this on!"
Andy - Facebook
"I read the Genesis book through twice and found your perspective on it very interesting."
Barry - email
"I enjoyed GFOP" - Nic
"I've found your Genesis book really helpful." - Jesse
London School of Theology - (Genesis for Ordinary People)
Scottish Baptist College - (Genesis for Ordinary People & Exodus for Ordinary People)
Wycliffe College, Toronto, Canada - (Genesis for Ordinary People)
University of Toronto Libraries - (Genesis for Ordinary People)
Cliff College - (Genesis for Ordinary People & Exodus for Ordinary People)
All Nations Christian College - (Genesis for Ordinary People & Exodus for Ordinary People)
Bristol Baptist College - (Exodus for Ordinary People)
Moorlands College - (Exodus for Ordinary People)
Highland Theological College - (Genesis for Ordinary People & Exodus for Ordinary People)
Faith Mission Bible College - (Genesis for Ordinary People & Exodus for Ordinary People)
Regents Theological College - (Exodus for Ordinary People)
London Seminary - (Genesis for Ordinary People & Exodus for Ordinary People)
William Booth College - (Exodus for Ordinary People)
In his book Genesis for Ordinary People, Paul Poulton looks at the biblical phrase “heavens and earth” with a somewhat different perspective. He says that “the modern mind usually thinks of the globe when we say ‘the earth’ but to the people in those days that image wasn’t there. They saw the landscape of where they were standing with the horizon a few miles away, and the sky…” Perhaps even Poulton himself does not realise the significance of that assertion.
PAUL POULTON : Exodus for Ordinary People. (Resource Publications : ISBN 9781498288927)
Exodus for Ordinary People follows on from where Paul’s previous book, the not-unexpectedly entitled Genesis for Ordinary People left off. In that previous work Paul challenged us to rethink the book of Genesis and encouraged us to see the Seed of God’s salvation, i.e. Jesus, running throughout the book. In this follow up work, Paul continues to challenge and excite us, with a scholarly yet accessible work designed to restore the historical credibility of the book of Exodus. From his detailed analysis of the relevant dates of key events to comparisons with other historical sources, particularly in respect of Egypt, Paul builds up a picture of the book of Exodus as a reliable historical account and not, as some people would have us believe, a fantastic work of fiction.
As Paul says early on in the book “People sometimes look for reasons to distrust the Bible…We believe the bible because God has breathed on it, not because every small point can be proved. Faith must come first, but once faith is in place we begin to find that historical accuracy is also there when we look from the correct angle”. That is a succinct a summary of how we should approach the bible as any I’ve come across and underpins how Paul then goes onto to elucidate Exodus for us.
Whilst as easy to follow as its predecessor it is, in my opinion, a superior work, slightly shorter with shorter chapters (and shorter overall) but with excellent depth and plenty of content. The book reaches a wonderful peak in Chapter 26 “God Speaks” in which Paul sets out the context of each of the Ten Commandments to help us understand why God needs to give such commands to the Israelites and, indeed, to us. The author has found his style, clearly has the proverbial bit between his teeth and I am sure it won’t be long before he follows up with a similar work on Leviticus. An excellent and highly recommended book. Only 64 more to go….
10/10 Robin Thompson. Published in Never For Nothing
PAUL POULTON - Genesis for Ordinary People (Second Edition)
Paul Poulton, returns with a second edition of his excellent commentary on the first book of the Bible. Paul has included various additions and reworkings to the text – 17 in all - to provide updates and clarity which increases the number of pages from 189 to 199. This is a balanced amount of revision that ensures the flow is maintained whilst at the same time managing to bring a clearer understanding of some of the arguments and points made.
This is a book that acknowledges that there has been a serious lack of understanding regarding the book of Genesis from both sides of the debate. Scientists and atheists have been quick to dismiss it as unscientific, irrelevant and erroneous, whereas Christians have failed to understand its main truths, interpreting things either too literally or through a modern day lens, rather than understanding the cultural, intellectual and spiritual climate in which it was written. For example, as Paul is wont to point out, nowhere does the Bible or Genesis make reference to a literal seven days, nor does it mention a global or worldwide flood. At the same time it has an authority and certainty and when we look at the timelines and the evidence from archaeology and other contemporary writings we see just how accurate the book of Genesis really is.
Paul’s mission is to strip away our preconceptions and misunderstandings of this important yet controversial book. As we begin to look at it as we should, we start to see that there really is no controversy at all. Rather there is much that God has told us if only we take the time to seek it out. Many times in the book Paul reminds us that “it is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings to search them out” – Proverbs 25:2, cited by the author.
Paul has done an excellent job of revising what was already a superb and accessible commentary on the first book of the bible. Whatever your beliefs or feelings on the matter, I would implore you to read it and allow yourself to be challenged by it. For sure, no single work will ever answer every question or fully discover exactly what has been concealed, but a work like this can only serve to positively advance our knowledge and hopefully, go beyond that to increase our wisdom and understanding.
Slightly eccentric but worthwhile book on Exodus, with a focus on the historical, chronological and geographical. In 29 short chapters Paul Poulton presents background material to the Book of Exodus and offers a paraphrase of the storyline.
Revd Dr Pieter J. Lalleman, Bible at Spurgeon's College
Full review on Baptist Times website.
"I am loving your book... Chapter 3 is so interesting" - Pauline
This commentary has an interesting take on blending scientific knowledge with a relatively literal approach to the text. Poulton’s unique approach is harder to place on the literal-mythical spectrum. Generally, he takes the text very seriously as it stands (including people’s long ages and Eve’s supernatural creation).
He tends towards the literal so much that he ponders about God physically walking in the garden, to the extent of wondering how loud his footsteps were; whether he told Adam poetically about creation using the days of the week; and whether he would sing, and Adam pass the songs down the family as far as David.
He writes (p.155) “I don’t think we should view it as strange that God should walk on the Earth he created... We are made in his image, which means that God was able to be manifest in the same form as us... image means optical, it is something we see.”
Yet Poulton distances himself from fundamentalists, and concurs with the scientifically accepted age of the Earth. He is keen to incorporate geological, biological and historical discoveries, placing our knowledge of DNA into his exposition of the text. His second chapter is all about the synchronisation of science and scripture.
Neither is he afraid to deal with the similarities between Ancient Near Eastern texts and Old Testament scripture – but I’d like to have seen him make more of how and why they differ, as that sheds vital light on the writer's understanding of God (if you understand Genesis to have been written in the Babylonian exile, although Poulton runs with Moses as the author).
This mid-spectrum approach means that, while there will be assertions that people at either end disagree with, there is also a lot to challenge their assumptions.
Having to provide a coherent approach to the developing story, he understands that there would have to have been an established community of humans at the point that God breathed life into Adam, which makes sense, given clues at the end of Genesis 4. He notes the Ancient History Encyclopaedia’s contention that “most probably, Eden in the Genesis narrative is modelled on Eridu,” the well-excavated civilisation established some time before 5,000 BC, watered by canals from the Euphrates.
This is where I find some of his explanations suffering in the tension between the literal and metaphorical: while a naked pre-Fall Adam works easily within the context of a poetical creation story, I am not convinced of it being his literal manner of (non-)dress within an already-established community outside Eden.
Poulton makes much – and possibly too much – of “the seed” planted in Adam to germinate in Christ, asserting (p.51) “The ‘life’ that was deposited in Adam made its way into his offspring too and somehow they received the benefits of it.... They lived long, were strong and were handsomely proportioned with a certain amount of intelligence, which is what we would expect if the creator of the universe had breathed something into their first forefather.”
I do have questions about the premise of this series (“For Ordinary People”) as far as it implies something negative about an academic approach. So we do not get, for example, comments about the dualistic themes that run through Genesis to bring out the brokenness of creation, as might be brought out if considering the literary approach to the text.
But Poulton is a good non-academic choice, who has already earned my respect in his usual role as musician. His work is full of creativity, intelligence and integrity.
He also earns respect for his research here, combining scientific, geographical and historical background to get below the surface of the story. And that is one of his strengths in this book. He does dig as deeply as he can to tell the story with plenty of colour, for example, taking the structure of ancient names and investing them with some purpose and character (“The Sumerians used the prefix ‘En’ to denote a ruler...Seth named his son Enosh and Cain named his son Enoch...” (p.61). Poulton offers that these could have been early kings of Eridu).
Poulton spends a lot of time at the start of the book, explaining his approach in personable style and often jumps from the Genesis text to implications for today – presumably part of the series’ rationale of being “for ordinary people.”
Poulton has also written a follow-up “Exodus for Ordinary People,” and his gifts for unearthing background, developing stories and imbuing characters with motives that are easy for casual readers to miss could be particularly useful there, away from the controversies of the Genesis creation accounts.
He may sometimes add 4 to 4 and suggest it equals 9, but at the very least, Poulton will make any reader think hard and check their own assumptions – a vital attitude, wherever you fit on the literalism-symbolism spectrum.
Review by Rev Iain M Waddell
A refreshing and interesting book. Paul has researched the subject well and this is a book for all Bible students. He has given us an excellent insight into this period of Jewish history and although contains scholarly information and explanations it is an easy read...with its applications and challenges for Christian living in the 21st century.