Re: Accepting Genesis 1 as scientific truth

Vernon Jenkins (
Mon, 31 May 1999 01:40:48 +0100

Hello Paul,

Thanks for writing again.

In my reply to Janet, I said:

> << When the 7 Hebrew words/numbers which constitute Genesis 1:1 are
> observed to total 2701 - a large triangular number with many other
> interesting associations - shouldn't all seekers of truth sit up and
> take notice?
> >>

You responded:

> I finally looked at the triangle and the triangle within the triangle, etc.
> which the first verse of Genesis is supposed to contain below the surface.
> The almost miraculous triangular pattern with further embedded triangles,
> rhombi, etc. reminds one of the recent "Bible Codes" and earlier numerical
> works of Ivan Panin and others. These "discoveries" which are supposed to
> show that the Bible really was divinely inspired testify to the human desire
> to rest Christian faith in something more tangible and scientific than the
> work and works of the Holy Spirit. I think this takes Christianity in the
> wrong direction.

Let me first address your closing remarks. The inherent power of miracle
to convince and convict unbelievers is clearly demonstrated (a) in the
Mount Carmel experience (1Ki.18:19-40), and (b) in our Lord's appeal to
the Jews (Jn.10:37,38). To make others aware of the standing miracle
embodied in the Hebrew of Genesis 1:1 is, therefore, hardly to take
Christianity 'in the wrong direction'.

I'm glad to know you have examined my writings, but confess to being a
little mystified by your somewhat grudging 'supposed to contain' and
'almost miraculous'. The phenomena consist of symmetrical and
symbolically-apposite numerical patterns; they are, therefore,
essentially different from the 'Bible Code' and Panin's presentations.

I observe you are silent on the empirically-related 'riddle' of
Revelation 13:18, and Creator's Name (Jesus Christ). I believe these -
taken along with the fact that the phenomena are found associated with
such a strategically-placed and fundamental assertion - to be convincing
evidence of supernatural design, specifically intended to achieve an
important work in our day.

> Further, it is evident that these numerical "discoveries" have no objective
> foundation--for the simple reason that they are all built upon a late form of
> the biblical text which does not represent the original text with sufficient
> accuracy to be the foundation for these "discoveries."
> This is not to suggest that the OT text which these "discoveries" are based
> upon is radically different from the original, but it is different enough
> that the "discoveries" lose their foundation--for the loss or change of even
> one letter destroys the "discovery." Even with a fundamentalist approach
> which denies any serious editorial revision of the OT text, there are still
> several reasons why the OT text upon which these "discoveries" are based is
> too far from the original to be a firm basis for the "discoveries"
> First of all, unlike the NT, the original text of the OT cannot be
> established with any high degree of accuracy. Although the Masoretic text
> seems to be more reliable than others such as the underlying Septuagintal
> text type, Wurthwein in his standard work on the Text of the Old Testament,
> notes, "Its relationship to the original form of the text, however, is quite
> another matter. This becomes apparent from a comparison of texts which have
> a double transmission." (Eg. 2 Sam.22 = Ps. 18; 2 Kgs 18:13-20:19 = Isa.
> 36-39, etc.) In other words, the Masoretic text upon which the numeric
> discoveries are based cannot be equated with the original text.
> Secondly, the Hebrew language as we have it in the OT is a language which did
> not exist in the time of Moses, albeit his language developed into Hebrew.
> Cf. the language of Chaucer developing into English. In other words the
> grammar of the text upon which the "discoveries" are based is different from
> the original.
> In addition and perhaps most importantly, the _spelling of the words has
> changed._ One might think of the English Bible as a parallel. Six hundred
> years ago, the Wycliffe Bible spelled the word "beginning" differently than
> in our modern texts, writing "bigynyng." The time from Moses to the OT text
> upon which the numerical "discoveries" are based is twice as long as between
> our times and Wycliffe. In his book, The Variable Spellings of the Hebrew
> Bible, James Barr, one of the greatest Hebraic scholars of our time, writes:
> "It cannot be sufficiently strongly emphasized: there is no part of the
> Hebrew Bible, as represented in the traditional text [upon which the
> numerical "discoveries" are based], that spells in the way in which they
> spelt in the time (say) of Isaiah. And that, after all, is not a very early
> time for the Bible: the same would, no doubt, have to be said even more
> strongly about parts of the Bible which originated centuries before Isaiah."
> The changes in spelling and grammar are evident partly from extra-biblical
> inscriptions, and partly from comparing OT prose with incorporated poetical
> accounts, such as Ex 15:2-18, which are older.
> What this all means in general is that one cannot build upon the current OT
> text with the assumption that it represents letter by letter the original
> text. What it means additionally and specifically for Gen 1:1 is that one or
> more of the plurals may have been written without the yod, as writing the
> vowels "defectively" was more common in earlier Hebrew and secondly that the
> accusative particle "eth" , which is used twice in Genesis 1:1, was probably
> not in the original since it rarely occurs in poetic passages (like Ex
> 15:2-18, Dt 32); and poetic passages represent the language as it was written
> in earlier times.

Concerning the Hebrew: an examination of a present-day Torah scroll
reveals that my rendering of Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 is correct. Of course,
I bow to your greater understanding of Hebrew etymology, but are you
really suggesting that all we have here is a staggering series of

The writing of Genesis predated the adoption of Hebrew letters as
numerals. When this happened(c200 BC), the phenomena in question sprang
into being - destined, however, to be withheld from the human eye, for
more than two millenia! In parallel with these developments the Greek
forms of the name 'Jesus', and of the title 'Christ', were already in
place (as the Septuagint and other sources reveal). Can there be any
doubt that the patterns are of supernatural origin? And that they are
intended for us!

> The "Bible codes" etc are wonderful displays of the power of the human mind
> and thus indirectly testify to God's power in whose image we are made; but,
> they can be found in any book, are not divine revelations and prove nothing
> about the divine inspiration of the original text of the Bible.

What you have expressed here is an opinion. Others who will have studied
and fully digested the facts of the matter will, undoubtedly, think

> Jesus taught that one could know if Christianity is true simply by following
> a course of doing the will of God as best one knows it (John 7:17). He
> frowned upon seeking a miraculous sign as a road to truth (Matt 16:4).

With regard to your last comment, surely if the Lord provides a sign
gratuitously (as in this case), we would be foolish to ignore it.

One of our greatest failings as Christians is that we appear not to
fully appreciate the term 'sovereign' as it is used with in respect of
God. I believe the standing miracle of Genesis 1:1 is intended to help
us see that nothing is impossible for Him, and, in particular, that
Genesis 1 has come straight from His mouth, and defines precisely what
happened long ago!