From: <RDehaan237@aol.com>
Date: Wed Feb 18 2004 - 18:04:52 EST

Don Winterstein,

Thanks for making Conrad Hyars' article on "Dinosaur Religion: On
Interpreting and Misinterpreting the Creation Texts" available to all of us. I read it
avidly since Ted Davis recommended it so highly. I was not disappointed.
It is the best interpretation of the first chapter of Genesis I have ever read.
  I want to add my recommendation of it to everyone on this list serve.

Below are some excerpts from the article that convey the gist of his

Hyars points out that, "It is always of critical importance to know exactly
with what type of linguistic usage one is dealing, and to apply the appropriate
canons of interpretation." I think we could all agree to that. He reviewed
the historical situation in which Israel lived. They were surrounded by
idolatrous nations which had gods without number for every aspect of their lives.
 He wrote, “In the light of this historical context it becomes clearer what
Genesis I is undertaking and accomplishing: a radical and sweeping affirmation
of monotheism vis-a-vis polytheism, syncretism and idolatry.”

He went on to write, “The fundamental question at stake, then, could not have
been the scientific question of how things achieved their present form and by
what processes, nor the historical question about time periods and
chronological order.”

He summed up his interpretation as follows, “The issue was idolatry, not
science; syncretism, not natural history; theology, not chronology; affirmation of
faith in one transcendent God, not empirical or speculative theories of
origin. Attempting to be loyal to the Bible by turning the creation accounts into a
kind of science or history is like trying to be loyal to the teachings of
Jesus by arguing that his parables are actual historical events, and only
reliable and trustworthy when taken literally as such.”

Hyars then reviewed each of the days of creation and pointed out that each
one of them demolished one of the gods by showing that what was claimed to be a
god was actually an aspect of the world created by God. “On the first day
the gods of light and darkness are dismissed. On the second day, the gods of sky
and sea. On the third day, earth gods and gods of vegetation. On the fourth
day, sun, moon and star gods. The fifth and sixth days take away any
associations with divinity from the animal kingdom. And finally human existence, too, is
emptied of any intrinsic divinity-while at the same time all human beings,
from the greatest to the least, and not just pharaohs, kings and heroes, are
granted a divine likeness. And in that divine likeness, all human beings are
given the royal prerogatives of dominion over the earth, and of mediation between
heaven and earth.”

This paper deserves much wider distribution and reading than it has received
so far. Again, thanks to Ted for recommending it and to Don for making it

I would appreciate hearing about any other reactions to Hyars' article.


Received on Wed Feb 18 18:05:34 2004

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