Loren Haarsma wrote (27 May 2002 13:31:19 -0400 (EDT)):
> I count approximately 11 Hebrew words which must be redefined (from the
> author's original intent) in order to make the Genesis 1 chronology match
> the scientific chronology in a typical concordist scenario. (In the NIV,
> for example: light, day, evening, morning, expanse, waters above, waters
> below, seed-bearing plants, fruit trees, form [the sun, moon, stars],
Can you specify in which way the 11 Hebrew words were "redefined"? In
particular, I'd like to know what you consider to be "redefined" in
"Genesis reconsidered" by Armin Held and myself, PSCF 51/4 (Dec. 1999),
Under redefinition, I understand an illegitimate or improbable
interpretation or translation. In principle, I accept your definition of
"from the author's original intent" as a point of departure. The mere
fact of a difference from traditional interpretations does _not_
constitute redefinition! But how do you know the author's original
intent? And, more precisely, we should ask for the original (divine)
Authors's intent (or possibly multiple simultaneous objectives).
To demonstrate redefinition, you need to do this primarily on the basis
of (A) the use made of the same Hebrew word or expression elsewhere in
the Old Testament (each text in its context; and not just a few
favorites), and secondarily (B) the use made in other Hebrew texts of a
similar age (do any exist?) and (C) the use made of clearly
corresponding words or expressions in texts written in related languages
of a similar age (by "similar age", I mean at least 1400 BC, but if you
don't agree, just take "500 BC or any higher age").
Of course, (A) has absolute priority. Within this class of argument,
interpretation has to take into consideration biblical theology, but not
just any theological opinion.
A case made on the basis of (B), (C), and theological opinion only is
too weak to be of any decisive value: it remains one theological opinion
among others. Any translations go under theological opinion. The beliefs
that Genesis 1 represents a myth, or that it is based on an ancient
near-eastern worldview, or that it cannot contain anything its author
couldn't know, or that any attempt at harmonization with modern science
is basically wrong, are also theological opinions.
In the natural sciences, you usually can make a good case by resorting
to "almost universal agreement", but not in theology, where a personal
faith in the God of the Bible is a precondition for a proper
understanding, but not for studying and expounding theology, where
virtually "anything goes".
-- Dr. Peter Ruest, CH-3148 Lanzenhaeusern, Switzerland <firstname.lastname@example.org> - Biochemistry - Creation and evolution "..the work which God created to evolve it" (Genesis 2:3)
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