Van Dominic Melad
Professor Elijah Mueller
Religion 102 C9
15 October 2018
Book report of Creation and the Persistence of Evil
The book “Creation and the Perisitence of Evil” is written by Jon D. Levenson who is a professor of Jewish Studies at Harvard Divinity School. In this work, he talks about God’s “reigned supreme”(6) over the world from the point of view of Rabbinical Jewish with ancient Near East context of creation. In the beginning chapter of the book, Levenson talks about the knowledge of how God is the sovereign when it comes to creation. He states that creation goes down as “the emergence of a stable community in a benevolent and life-sustaining order” (12). The author then follows the topic to temperament of Chaos with the use of Hebrew Bible. He talks about the part of Chaos, the ability, and existence of an evil. He states that “YHWH is not altogether YHWH, and his regal power is not yet fully actualized. Rather he is the omnipotent cosmocrater only in potential” (38). This means that, ulimately, YHWH will overcome all his battles with the evil.
Levenson then investigates the expansion of “the Israelite’s basic idea” about the evil which was based on Psalms that shows the expansion of God’s power. He believes that evil is still continuous even when God’s power covers over his creation. He also talks about, based on his traditions, the connection among the temple of as a place of creation, the seven days creation of God, and the justification supporting Sabbath. According to his observations, the way the Israelite’s lived was a way to be Order within the world of Chaos. He states, “It is through the cult that we are enabled to cope with evil, for the it is cult that builds and maintains order, transforms chaos into creation, ennobles humanity, and realizes the kingship of the God who has ordained the cult and commanded that it be guarded and practiced. It is through obedience to the directives of the divine master that his good world comes into existence” (127).
After summing the expansion of the “Israelite’s basic idea about the evil, he analyzes the dynamics of excellency and subordination in respect to God’s almighty power. Levenson proposes that people are both independent and heteronomous to God. This means that there is no difference among the two just like it was in the ancient world. Levenson then begins to investigate these two agreements which is given by God in regard to argument and obedience. He states, “an innocent sufferer makes just claims against God and, upon submitting and recanting, comes to know anew the justice and generosity of his lord” (155). He draws closer to the attention that God retains the Order even when people make life as an anthropocentric issue instead of theocentric issue where evil perseveres.
Levenson’s book the “Creation and the persistence of Evil” is a good source for anyone who wonders about the Evil and God’s creation because the author uses bible verses, rabbinical traditions, and ancient East context of creation to support his ideas. Although the author sometimes used deep words and I had to look up the meaning behind, I still managed to understand the topic the Levenson is trying to say. Overall, I agree with Levenson’s understanding of creation and the persistence of evil because he relates these ideas to concept of how God is the master and He has power over his creation.