Reconsidering Creation Ex Nihilo in Genesis 1:

Nathan Chambers


There is a broad consensus among biblical scholars that creation ex nihilo (from nothing) is a late Hellenistic concept with little inherent connection to Genesis 1 and other biblical creation texts. In this book, Nathan J. Chambers forces us to reconsider the question, arguing in favor of reading this chapter of the Bible in terms of ex nihilo creation and demonstrating that there is a sound basis for the early Christian development of the doctrine.

Drawing on the theology of Augustine of Hippo and Thomas Aquinas, Chambers considers what the ex nihilo doctrine means and does in classical Christian dogma. He examines ancient Near Eastern cosmological texts that provide a potential context for reading Genesis 1. Recognizing the distance between the possible historical and theological frameworks for interpreting the text, he illuminates how this doctrine developed within early Christian thought as a consequence of the church’s commitment to reading Genesis 1 as part of Christian Scripture. Through original close readings of the chapter that engage critically with the work of Jon Levenson, Hermann Gunkel, and Brevard Childs, Chambers demonstrates that, far from precluding interpretive possibilities, reading Genesis 1 in terms of creation from nothing opens up a variety of interpretive avenues that have largely been overlooked in contemporary biblical scholarship.

Timely and innovative, this book makes the case for a new (or recovered) framework for reading Genesis 1 that will appeal to biblical studies scholars and seminarians.


Nathan Chambers

Nathan Chamber (PhD Durham University) is Pastor of Wiser Lake Chapel in Lynden, WA and Visiting Lecturer at Yellowstone Theological Institute.  He is the author of Reconsidering Creation Ex Nihilo in Genesis 1 (Eisenbrauns, 2020).

Book Reviews

It is gratifying to see a continuing expansion of interdisciplinary studies, making the silos of ancient Near East, OT, NT, theology, and history a bit more porous. This work exemplifies the light illuminating a concept when emanating from multiple sources. The work is salutary for at times directing nonspecialists to simplified summaries of some more technical aspects, though unglossed transliterations are not completely reader friendly... All told, the author and publisher are to be thanked for a work needing consideration in future biblical and theological studies.

David W. Baker

Professor of Old Testament and Semitic Languages, Ashland Theological Seminary

Bulletin for Biblical Research 32, no 3 (2022): 319-322.

In Reconsidering Creation Ex Nihilo in Genesis 1, Nathan Chambers has offered a welcome, if not bold, contribution toward the growing dialogue between biblical studies, exegesis and theology. Given that the book grew out of a thesis supervised by Walter Moberly, this should not surprise... From the perspective of a historical theologian, Chambers’ work shows a promising reunion of two disciplines that were inseparable for so long. The importance of recognising development in the biblical text is balanced with the inevitability of the necessity of development in the theological task as the text continues to live.

Craig D. Aller

Professor of Theological Studies, Trinity Western University

Scottish Journal of Theology 75, no 4 (2022): 390-391.

Nathan Chambers—a pastor at Wiser Lake Chapel in Lynden, WA —has written a well-researched, nuanced, and insightful book on the traditional doctrine of creation out of nothing. This doctrine “has fallen on hard times” (1), and much modern scholarship considers it to be a post-biblical invention rather than a teaching derived from the biblical text itself. Though (post-) Enlightenment thinking (“prejudice”) calls this and other biblical traditions into question, the basic issue is whether the biblical text actuallywarrants this position (3). Thus, Chambers calls for a “reconsideration” ofthis doctrine... The doctrine of creation ex nihilo has been a rich and enriching scholarly pursuit of mine, and so I am glad to recommend Chambers’s excellent book, which effectively and persuasively defends it.

Paul Copan

Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics, Palm Beach Atlantic University

Presbyterion 48, no 1 (2022): 251-253.

Modern biblical scholarship widely regards the doctrine of creation ex nihilo as postbiblical and rejects it as 'anachonistic imposition'. Drawing on theologians from the Church Fathers to modern academics, Chambers challenges such an assumption... In concluding this innovative and important work, Chambers argues that biblical scholars and theologians must listen to each other.

Anthony Phillips

Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 46, no 5 (2022): 57.