Re: Hyers' Article - Cods Wallop!

From: Dick Fischer <>
Date: Sun Feb 22 2004 - 13:15:52 EST

Dave wrote:

>This, as well as Dick's approach, sounds irenic. However, I have trouble
>accepting your views, simply because I have carefully read what Genesis 1
>and other passages say. Consider the firmament, _raqia^_.
>I find (verses 6f) that there is water above the firmament, so that it
>divided upper waters from lower waters. The text specifies _me^al_--_me_,
>"from"; _^al_, "above," "over," "upon." This is the same construction as
>Ezekiel 1:25 (thanks, Paul). The waters remained there according to
>Genesis 7:11; 8:2; Psalm 148:4. So these waters did not disappear during
>the Flood, as popular YEC claims. (I don't attribute this to either of
>you, so don't bristle. I note it to point out that YEC is biblically as
>well as scientifically wrong.)

First, there are waters on the earth - in the sea, in the rivers, in lakes
and ponds, and in irrigation canals. Next there are waters in the
atmosphere in the form of clouds where rain comes from and beneath which
birds fly. Now, did the writer of Genesis conceive of a third layer of
waters above all that? I don't see a clear case from Scripture that he did.

 From a common sense stand point, I don't think the writer intended three
layers of water. Waters are opaque. What he thought the stars were I have
no idea. And the planets were known to move independently from the stars,
which revolved and changed with the seasons, but remained fixed in relation
to each other. We know this today, they knew that then. Did the writer
think that a layer of water was above the stars? I don't think a
convincing case can be made from Scripture that he did.

> I further find that there were lights
>placed in (_be_) the firmament (Genesis 1:14f, 17). The preposition,
>according to BDBG, when referring to spatial placement, means "in,"
>"among," "within," not "above." And I note that the heavenly bodies are
>not seen through the firmament and the waters above it. Finally (verse
>20), birds fly "above the earth and in face of firmament of the heavens,"
>to translate baldly. Since this declares that birds fly below the
>firmament, the firmament cannot be the atmosphere where birds fly.

I find it hard to believe that the writer intended to convey something that
contradicts what he could plainly see. Also, the Pentateuch is the most
copied and recopied literature that ever existed. Scribal glosses cannot
be overlooked as a possible source of error. But let's look to the
Septuagint for a change.

"And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the water, and let
it be a division between water and water, and it was so.
And God made the firmament, and God divided between the water which was
under the firmament and the water which was above the firmament. And God
called the firmament Heaven, and God saw that it was good, and there was
evening and there was morning, the second day. And God said, Let the water
which is under the heaven be collected into one place, and let the dry land
appear, and it was so. And the water which was under the heaven was
collected into its places, and the dry land appeared. And God called the
dry land Earth, and the gatherings of the waters he called Seas, and God
saw that it was good."

Here I don't see a problem. The firmament in which birds fly is under the
clouds. "Heaven" is the same word for "sky" in Hebrew, so to say the
firmament is "sky" should pose no problem.

"And, God said Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to give
light upon the earth, to divide between day and night, and let them be for
signs and for seasons and for days and for years. And let them be for
light in the firmament of the heaven, so as to shine upon the earth, and it
was so."

This appears to contradict what the writer told us in the previously quoted
passage. One word would correct everything. If the lights were "above"
the clouds and birds, which they clearly are, instead of "in," as they
clearly are not, then everything fits. Right? So it all hinges on one word!

Are you really so sure this word was in the original manuscript, especially
since the writer by using this word appears to contradict himself. How
many editors did this pass through in 3500 years (or even 2500 years if you
don't subscribe to Mosaic authorship) before we have it before us in
English today? Did not one of them make a mistake? Or is it a mistake by
the inspired writer? I don't know the answer, I only ask the question.

But let me just expand a bit and see if it makes sense. Are the lights
themselves "in the firmament," or do the lights (sun, moon and stars) from
above the sky light the sky beneath, which in turn "shines upon the
earth"? Would that be such a reach? I'm not saying that is correct, but
it is a possibility, is it not?

Or if it said, "Let there be light (instead of lights) in the firmament of
the heaven to give light upon the earth ...," again we would have no
issue. Here the word in the original may have been singular which through
scribal error became plural. Or maybe "lights" means sunlight, moonlight
and starlight.

In short, enough perfectly reasonable possibilities exist that I think it
is unfounded to believe that we have to search wildly for alternative
methods of accommodation.

Dick Fischer - Genesis Proclaimed Association
Finding Harmony in Bible, Science, and History
Received on Sun Feb 22 13:18:45 2004

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