Re: Gen 1:1 and Concordism

Date: Mon Feb 18 2002 - 04:48:29 EST

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    Dick wrote,

    << 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
    >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
    >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
    >before day 1, God created in finished form the sun, moon, stars, earth, and
    >given v. 2 apparently the ocean.
     Dick answered,
    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.>>

    Assuming Gen 1 is written from the point of view of a person on earth, Gen
    1:1-5 specifies that there was no differentiation between Day and Night, no
    Light alternating with Darkness, that could be discerned by a person on earth
    until Day 1. So, in Gen 1:2, when an ocean covers the earth, dated c. 3.5 to
    4.0 billion years ago, it was totally dark on the earth. This is c.
    500,000,000 years after sunlight appears. From what I have read, by that time
    (after the earth cooled enough to have an ocean) the earth was no longer in
    total darkness. However, astrophysics-geology is not my field and I would
    like to be corrected if I am wrong about that. If there is reason to believe
    that the earth was still shrouded in total darkness when the first ocean
    appeared on earth, I will concede that the concordist interpretation fits the
    facts of natural science up to v. 5.

    So, do you have some documentation to sustain your position? Or, Howard or
    some other person in the respective field, can you (I had to say it)
    enlighten us?

     PS: >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.
    >is clearly the creation of the shamayim (heavens), the same thing that was
    >supposedly created in v. 1.
    DF: Birds fly (Gen. 1:20) in the firmament ("expanse" in the ASV), not in
     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).>>

    PS: One might gather that idea from the KJV; but, most translations do not
    sustain this idea; and certainly the Hebrew text does not sustain it. The
    Hebrew does not say birds fly _in_ the firmament, but _in front of_ the
    firmament. What is _in_ (in the sense of within the confines of) the
    firmament is the sun, moon and stars (Gen 1:17); but the waters are _above_
    the firmament (same prepositional phrase with the same object) as in Ezek
    1:25 to describe the location of a voice above a firmament, and that voice is
    clearly from a person on a throne which is literally above, over, on top of
    the firmament, not in it in any sense. The biblical description of a solid
    firmament with an ocean above it and the sun, moon and stars under it is
    exactly the cosmology of the ancient Babylonians, albeit they sometimes have
    more than one solid firmament.
     DF: Genesis 1:11 mentions "fruit trees" on the third day of creation. In
     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?

    PS: I do not think there is any mystery about what the writer intended to
    say. Fruit trees and the vine were very important in the ancient Near East,
    nuts are comparatively insignificant. Further, Hebrew has a word for "nut"
    which was not used. It is not surprising that the historic interpretation of
    the verse is that it is a reference to fruit trees in the modern sense. It
    wouldn't make any difference anyway what the fruit was: The text says "trees"
    which in Hebrew is also the word for "wood;" and plants with woody stalks did
    not appear until after jawless vertebrate fish and numerous other sea
    creatures (Day 5); so their mention is out of order in any case..
     PS: >5. On day 4, v. 14 says, "Let there be lights in the firmament of
    >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
    >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
    >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
     DF: 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.

    PS: My Hebrew lexicon gives around two dozen meanings for "nathan" (most of
    them synonyms of "give" or "set") but not once do I see the meaning "appear."
    I have no idea how anyone came up with this meaning (except, of course, that
    the theory needs it). The Hebrew word for "appear" (niphal of "see") appears
    in 1:9. I cannot believe that the writer intended to say "appear" but did not
    use the word for "appear" but rather the word for "give" or "set."

    There is a very rare use of "nathan" with "beth", as occurs in Gen 1:17,
    that says it could mean "appoint" but if this were the meaning, the "beth"
    would be telling us that the sphere of the authority of the heavenly bodies
    was the heavens, not the earth; so that the last phrase "to give light upon
    the earth" would be a contradiction of the first phrase, "appointed over the
    heavens." The much more common meaning of "nathan" with "beth," is to place
    something into the realm or confines of something else. As in e.g. Ex 5:21
    "to give or set a sword INTO their hand;" 1Kings 7:51, "He placed the vessels
    IN or INTO the treasuries;" 2Chron 9:16, "The king put them (the shields) IN
    or INTO the house of the forest of Lebanon."

    PS: >Where then did the "science" in Gen 1 come from? The Mesopotamian
    >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
    >firmament could have come from anywhere (all proto-scientific peoples
    >believed the sky was solid); but the dividing of the waters (Day 2) is
    >to Mesopotamia.
    DF: 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?

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

    PS: We have texts from Meopotamia specifically telling what kind of rock the
    firmament(s) were made of. The movement of the planets does not falsify the
    solidity of the firmament anymore than the movement of the sun does. The sun
    and planets are either below the firmament (within its confines but not
    attached) or in tunnels within the firmament (there is Akkadian evidence for
    that idea.) It is not a matter of guessing, it is a matter of historical
    record. There is clear evidence that peoples in the ancient Near East
    believed the sky was solid, as did all pre-scientific peoples all over the
    world until modern times (the only exception being a philosophical school in
    China in c. 200 AD.).
    DF: The following two versus, there are others, would require the writers to
     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 ..."

    PS: As mentioned above Gen 1:20 is mistranslated "in the open firmament." The
    Hebrew says, "in front of the firmament." The verse cannot be used as
    evidence that the firmament is gaseous. As for Ezek 1:26, I checked 33
    commentaries on Ezekiel, and every single of them which comment on the nature
    of the firmament 1:26 say it was solid. There is no evidence of any kind,
    biblical or extra-biblical, that "firmament" (raqia') is gaseous. Ezek 1:26
    defines it as something solid, and the anthropological and historical data
    universally agree with that definition. Indeed, its solidity is mentioned as
    part of its definition in standard Hebrew lexicons.
      SNIP comments on Gen 2, as I am only commenting on Gen 1.


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