Re: Does the Bible teach a flat earth?

Date: Wed Dec 18 2002 - 01:47:35 EST

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    Peter wrote,

    <<The verb "chug" is used in Job 26:10 for "marking (a
    circle?)", "He (God) marks out bounds on the face of the waters for a
    boundary between light and darkness" (and the only way a circular
    "boundary between light and darkness" "on the face of the waters" can be
    understood is to have a spherical earth, not a flat one!)>>

    The ancients with their belief in a flat earth had no problem making the
    horizon, which is a circular, the boundary between light and darkness. The
    sun simply comes up over the horizon to give light, and goes back down below
    the horizon to give darkness, going from west to east beneath the earth at
    night to come up again in the morning. As it is written, Ecclesiastes 1:5
    "The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth
    down, and hasteth to its place where it ariseth."

    << And Job 26:7 says, "He spreads out the northern [skies] over empty space;
      suspends the earth over nothing" (NIV), or "spreading-out north over
      empty-space suspending earth over not what" (Kohlenberger Interlinear).
      How one is to fit this into a three-storey cosmology eludes me, whatever
      the precise meaning of the mysterious terms used. >>

    The verse is not as clear as it could be; but, it is quite compatible with a
    flat earth. The flat earth was understood to be "founded" upon the sea Psa
    24:2. This raised the question which was also raised in other societies that
    believed a flat earth was floating on the sea, How can the earth stay on top
    of the water? that is, why doesn't it sink? Some societies answered the
    question by saying a turtle or fish were under the earth supporting it.
    Others said it was suspended by ropes or a cable which came down from the
    solid sky. It is not clear which view Job is rejecting, but his answer is
    that nothing supports it, whether from above or below. It is kept from
    sinking solely by God's power. This is not a novel interpretation of the
    verse. It is found in the ancient Targum to Job, which reads, "He erects the
    earth over the waters without anything to support it." This same
    understanding is found in the Fourth Book of Ezra or II Esdras *(Latin
    ending) 16:58 which reads, "He has confined the sea in the midst of the
    waters and by his word he has suspended the earth over the water."
    [See The Targum of Job, The Targum of Proverbs, The Targum of Qohelet
    (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1991) 62; Cf. N. H. Tur-Sinai, The
    Book of Job (Jerusalem: Kiryath Sepher, 1967) 381; II Enoch 47:5 as
    translated by F. I. Andersen in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha I (Garden
    City: Doubleday, 1983) 174; Cf. Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews 1
    (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1968) 59

    <<Nor can we validly claim they believed it to be flat. And even if they
    did, the biblical texts they wrote don't require a flat-earth

    How then can a sphere be "founded" upon the seas (Psalm 24:2)? The Hebrew
    word "to found" (yasad) which is used in Ps 24:2 means to lay down a
    foundational base for a building or wall (I Kgs 5:17 [31]; 7:10; 16:34; Ezra
    3:10-12) or to set something upon a foundational base (Cant 5:15; Ps 104:5).
    In either case the object founded sets directly upon the object upon which it
    is founded. It is easy to see the ancient Near Eastern view of a flat earth
    founded on the sea in Psalm 24:2. I think a flat earth _is_ required. I do
    not see how a spherical earth can be said to be setting directly upon the sea
    as a foundation.

    <<Does the Bible teach a flat earth, as your argumentation suggests, or
    does it teach a spherical earth? I think it does neither. But what _is_
    formulated in the Bible is _at least_ as easily harmonized (compatible)
    with the latter view as with the former. But this fact is often swamped
    by the penetrance of the falsely so-called "assured results" of the
    historical-critical method.>.

    The understanding of earth in the OT as flat is derived as it should be from
    the grammar and the biblical and historical context. A flat earth fits
    various passages in the OT like a hand to a glove. Not because the Bible
    teaches a flat earth, but because God has accommodated his revelation to the
    science of the times. The reason some reject this is because they have an
    ultimate commitment to a particular view of inspiration which simply will not
    allow the Bible to say such things.


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