Re: Gen 1:1 and Concordism

From: Dick Fischer (
Date: Sat Feb 16 2002 - 12:52:34 EST

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    Paul wrote:

    >Gen 1:1 "God created the heavens and the earth." is taken by most scholars
    >today as either an introductory title or summary covering the entire creation
    >story down to 2:4 where the same merism, "the heavens and the earth" is used
    >again so that the merism brackets the story OR as Calvin, Luther and their
    >followers took the verse, namely, as referring to the creation of the raw
    >material of the universe which was then shaped and organized into the various
    >parts of the universe in the 6 days of creation. Classical concordism,
    >however, felt pressured to get the sun created before day four, so in the
    >19th century (18th?) they introduced a new meaning for Gen 1:1: It means that
    >before day 1, God created in finished form the sun, moon, stars, earth, and
    >given v. 2 apparently the ocean.

    Are there "neo-concordists? Can we start a group here to accommodate what
    was unknown to "classical concordists?"

    As a product of a novation (star burst) that occurred about 5.5 billion
    years ago, our solar system would have consisted of a proto sun surrounded
    by proto planets. Until the sun ignited, our emerging globe surrounded by
    primordial gases would have been quite dark indeed. About 4.5 billion
    years ago the sun ignited, gradually I suppose, to become our primary
    source of light and heat. Keeping that in mind when reading Genesis 1:1-5
    presents no problems for me.

    >4. On day 2, we read that God said, "Let there a firmament...and God made the
    >firmament...and called the firmament "Heavens", the same word as in 1:1. This
    >is clearly the creation of the shamayim (heavens), the same thing that was
    >supposedly created in v. 1.

    Birds fly (Gen. 1:20) in the firmament ("expanse" in the ASV), not in deep
    space. Water comes from clouds in the sky, and we have water underneath in
    the oceans. In between is where birds fly. That should help us understand
    Genesis 1:7-8, keeping in mind that the word for "heaven" and "sky" is the
    same in Hebrew. So God created (bara) "heaven and earth" (Gen. 1:1), and
    God called the area where birds fly, "sky" (Gen. 1:8).

    Genesis 1:11 mentions "fruit trees" on the third day of creation. In 1611
    that might have made sense, however in Hebrew, a "nut" is a
    fruit. Conifers bear seeds (nuts), and appear in the fossil record prior
    to fish, whereas cherry trees, apple trees, etc. do not. How the human
    writer understood this verse we cannot know. What the Holy Spirit intended
    we can only guess. The fossil record can be useful. Why not use it?

    >5. On day 4, v. 14 says, "Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven..."
    >and then in v. 16 "and God made the two great lights...the stars also." If
    >the sun, moon and stars had already been created in v. 1, why do they have to
    >be created again here? What happened to them in the meantime that made them
    >disappear? Concordists would have us believe these verses are just saying the
    >sun, moon and stars were not clearly seen until God removed the clouds
    >between the observer and the lights. But, the problem is not just that God
    >makes these lights again, but that v. 17 says he "placed them into the

    I like Steve Krogh's comment: "If they were there In v.1 they didn't go
    anywhere. Nathan can also mean "caused to appear" as opposed to
    bara." This is good. Genesis 1:14-18 could be understood in this context:
    When the clouds finally dissipated, on the fourth day, God appointed the
    sun, moon and stars as timekeepers for the sighted creatures who came along
    starting on the fifth day of creation.

    >There is plenty that tell us Gen 1 is not a revelation of scientific truth.

    Only in mistranslated and misunderstood form I would suggest. In my humble
    estimation, whatever discord may exist is more apparent than real.

    >Where then did the "science" in Gen 1 come from? The Mesopotamian background
    >of the rest of Gen 1-11 along with the Mesopotamian background of Abraham
    >suggests strongly that these ideas come from Mesopotamia. The solidity of the
    >firmament could have come from anywhere (all proto-scientific peoples
    >believed the sky was solid); but the dividing of the waters (Day 2) is unique
    >to Mesopotamia.

    We heartily agree on the "Mesopotamian background" of the Genesis
    account. Do we agree on the Mesopotamian background of the physical
    events, i.e.: Adam and Eve, the garden of Eden, the Genesis flood, and the
    tower of Babel?

    >In addition, since there is, in fact, no solid firmament and no ocean above
    >it, we need not suppose this concept is a divine revelation.

    Even to a casual Accadian or Sumerian observer the idea of a "solid"
    firmament would have been a curious notion. The stars in space were known
    to be different somehow from the "seven shepherds" we know as planets
    today. Even the number seven had a mystical quality derived from these
    mysterious lights that moved around versus the other lights that remained
    relatively fixed, but yet rotated about the sky. What could have been
    solid? Were the stars fixed to a solid dome rotating around the earth
    while the planets were free to roam about without hindrance? I think the
    ancients were smarter and knew more than we give them credit for.

    The following two versus, there are others, would require the writers to be
    cognizant of a gaseous "firmament," what we call "atmosphere"
    today. Gen.1:20: "And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the
    moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in
    the open firmament of heaven." Eze 1:26: "And above the firmament that was
    over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a
    sapphire stone ..."

    The creation of the animals and Adam in Genesis 1 versus Adam and then
    animals in Genesis 2 appears to be problematical, but taken as two accounts
    from two different sources, whether compiled by Moses or whoever; we can
    either look for reconciliation, or just throw up our hands. I prefer the
    former over the latter. Let's look at the verses in question.

    Genesis 2:19-20: "And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of
    the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see
    what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature,
    that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the
    fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was
    not found an help meet for him.

    "And" appears as the first word of a verse throughout the Genesis
    narrative. It is a connective that serves to link thoughts. "I am going
    to tell you this, and I am going to tell you this, and I am going to tell
    you this, etc." We get into trouble thinking "and" provides links in a
    chronology of events. "This happened, and then this happened, and then
    this happened, etc."

    The subject of Genesis 2:19-20 is that certain kinds of animals and winged
    creatures were brought to Adam and he gave them names. Some classes of
    animals are not included; no "fish," no "creeping things," no man-eating
    carnivores, no dinosaurs, etc. And the word bara is not found in these
    versus to tempt us into thinking God started with clay models of animals
    and breathed the breath of life into their nostrils.

    The word "formed" is expansive enough to allow plenty of room for
    scientific explanations of animal ancestry. In Hebrew, "all" and "every"
    are used similarly to our saying "much," many," or "some" in English There
    are plenty of OT examples where we can see exactly that. The phrase,
    "every living creature" applies to only what is named, domesticated animals
    and certain birds.

    So what can we say? Is the order of animals and Adam in Genesis 1 reversed
    in Genesis 2? Absolutely not! In Genesis 2, Adam is within the confines
    of the garden. The animals and birds are in his immediate environment. No
    penguins, polar bears or kangaroos.

    Absolute and total harmony between Genesis and science may not be possible,
    but I do think it is entirely possible that every point of difference could
    be explained by errors in transmission, translation and
    interpretation. The original text may have been inerrant in my
    estimation. To just throw in the towel, however, and proclaim Genesis to
    have theological value without historical integrity is at best premature,
    and at worst, plays into the hands of unbelievers.

    Dick Fischer - The Origins Solution -
    "The answer we should have known about 150 years ago"

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