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God the Creator

The Old Testament and the World God Is Making

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Christians today are focused on two important creation topics: how the world came to be and how we should care for it. A highly respected Old Testament theologian recommends that before discussing these questions, we focus on God the Creator and God's ongoing work in creation. We should explore what the Bible tells us and let the text set the agenda for our reflections.

Combining his storytelling gift with rigorous biblical exegesis and deep reflection, Ben Ollenburger describes the action of God the Creator as presented throughout the Old Testament. He shows how creation is about more than origins. It is about God acting against the hostile forces of chaos that can be historical, political, and military. About how God created a well-ordered world, and how human transgression ruptures God's relationship with humans and threatens creation. About how God responds as Creator to those threats by disturbing and reordering the disorder, bringing about what God intended--a world ordered in the social, political, and natural realms that is characterized by the justice, righteousness, and peace required for human flourishing.

1. God's World at Peace: Genesis 1 
2. From Virtually Nothing to the Garden of God: Genesis 2
3. From God's Peaceful Garden to Peace Divinely Disturbed: Genesis 3:1-11:9
4. "In Primeval Days": Creation Texts before the Bible
5. "Who Is the King of Glory?": God the Creator in the Psalms
6. "The Lord by Wisdom Founded the Earth": God the Creator in Wisdom Literature
7. Royal Theology: God the Creator in Isaiah
8. "Who Treads the Heights of the Earth": God the Creator in the Prophets after Isaiah
9. Rearranging the World: God the Creator in Zechariah and Daniel
10. God the Creator beyond the Old Testament


"In God the Creator, Ollenburger synthesizes and expands his career-long investigation of biblical concepts of creation. On display are the author's finest characteristics: keen attention to primary texts, breadth and depth of scriptural engagement, restraint of other scholars' overstatements, and the rare gifts of clarity and accessibility. Taking the Creator God as its touchstone, this book articulates a concise biblical theology: an assessment of divine-human interaction within the framework of the world's nature and structure. It comes most highly recommended."

C. Clifton Black, Otto A. Piper Professor of Biblical Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary

"God the Creator by Ben Ollenburger is the magnum opus of a mature scholar and teacher, the loving product of years of study, teaching, and reflection. Ollenburger focuses on multifaceted ways that Old Testament and some New Testament texts portray God in the mode of Creator. He discusses forms of interpretation, reads passages closely, and uncovers nuances of language in a way that yields biblical theology of poetic power. This book is a must-read for seminarians, ecologists, pastors, church groups, and anyone seeking an encounter with the Creator God."

Kathleen M. O'Connor, William Marcellus McPheeters Professor of Old Testament, emerita, Columbia Theological Seminary

"Biblical accounts of God as Creator may begin with Genesis 1, but they scarcely end there. In this deeply researched and accessible volume, Ben Ollenburger demonstrates the breadth of biblical reflection on the God who creates, protects, and sustains the world and its inhabitants. A splendid contribution that will amply enrich its readers."

Beverly Roberts Gaventa, Helen H. P. Manson Professor Emerita of New Testament, Princeton Theological Seminary

"While much attention now rightly centers on how the Bible might speak to the precariousness of our ecosystems, this insightful work instead focuses on God as Creator. Exploring passages across the Old Testament before offering a brief look at Second Temple Jewish literature and the New Testament, Ollenburger spotlights the Creator's involvements since the beginning of all things and the responses of the faithful. A careful, informed study from a master theologian. A well-written gem."

M. Daniel Carroll R. (Rodas), Scripture Press Ministries Professor of Biblical Studies and Pedagogy, Wheaton College and Graduate School

"In God the Creator, Ben Ollenburger skillfully weaves together the Bible's diverse portrayals of God as the maker of the cosmos. Combining scholarly acumen with inviting prose, Ollenburger serves as a trustworthy and engaging tour guide for specialists and laypeople alike. The book deeply engages the most famous creation stories in Genesis as well as lesser-known creation texts from prophetic, wisdom, and apocalyptic literature found in the Bible and beyond. In the introduction, Ollenburger laments the lack of a systematic work on God as Creator; this book capably begins to fill that void."

Jackie Wyse-Rhodes, associate professor of Hebrew Bible, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary

"Ollenburger has crafted an attentive portrait of God the Creator throughout the Old Testament, demonstrating that God's creative acts are not limited to origins. Rather, in freedom and love, God continues to maintain and sustain life, even through acts that disorder a false, life-threatening 'order.' Written with the wisdom of an accomplished teacher, scholar, and storyteller, this book will deeply enrich the theological imaginations of its readers."

Andrea D. Saner, associate professor of Old Testament and Hebrew language, Eastern Mennonite University

"God the Creator is an exemplary account of doing biblical theology. Ben Ollenburger creatively constructs a mosaic of the diverse views of what the Bible says about God the Creator. This eloquently written study overflows with thought-provoking insights gleaned from an impressive array of biblical texts. The fruits of the study stem from Ollenburger's hermeneutical wisdom, which combines literary sensibilities, historical knowledge, and theological imagination. God the Creator, whom Ollenburger animates within the biblical traditions, is dynamic, sovereign, and relational. The expansive understanding of God the Creator that is convincingly argued for in this book calls on faith communities to reflect on the implications of their belief in a God who established, sustains, and repairs this cosmos."

Safwat Marzouk, associate professor of Old Testament, Union Presbyterian Seminary

"This long-anticipated volume represents the distillation of a lifetime of exegetical reflection on the theology of creation in the Hebrew Bible. Ollenburger draws on a wealth of insight and engagement with generations of students and colleagues. But it is ultimately the wit and wisdom of the master theologian himself that marks these pages as a classic in the making. Covering every genre of relevant Old Testament literature, this book demonstrates the ubiquity and profoundly formative nature of creation theology--from ancient Near Eastern prototypes to apocalyptic texts and beyond. Ollenburger traces a creation that is ongoing and reveals something of the heart and soul of the God of creation."

Paul Keim, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary

The Author

  1. Ben C. Ollenburger
    Jason Bryant

    Ben C. Ollenburger

    Ben C. Ollenburger (PhD, Princeton Theological Seminary) is professor emeritus of biblical theology at the Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) in Elkhart, Indiana, where he has taught since 1987. Prior to AMBS, he taught for seven years at...

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