Archive for the 'Genesis' Category

Are camels recorded in Genesis ridiculous?

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

(image courtesy, (Google, public domain)

By Spencer D Gear

It is not unusual to hear or read the secular media hacking into biblical Christianity.

Near the beginning of 2014, some of you may have been exposed to what seems like a tirade of derogatory comments in the mass media about camels recorded in the Book of Genesis; Genesis can’t be trusted, and the Bible is unreliable. This is a sample of what I’ve read:

  1. Camels had no business in Genesis‘, New York Times, 10 February 2014.
  2. Camel bones suggest error in Bible, archaeologists say‘, Fox News, 6 February 2014.
  3. Earliest Camel Bones Contradict Bible, Archaeologists Say‘, (Nature World News, 5 February 2014).
  4. Camel bones discovery suggests biblical inaccuracies‘ (Statesman, 6 February 2014).
  5. Camel archaeology contradicts the Bible‘ (The Times of Israel, 5 February 2014).
  6. ‘Will camel discovery break the Bible’s back?’(CNN, 11 February 2014)

From these articles, there are statements such as these:

clip_image002 ‘There are too many camels in the Bible, out of time and out of place’.

clip_image002[1] ‘One should be careful not to rush to the conclusion that the new archaeological findings automatically deny any historical value from the biblical stories’.

clip_image002[2] ‘Archaeologists from Israel’s top university have used radiocarbon dating to pinpoint the arrival of domestic camels in the Middle East — and they say the science directly contradicts the Bible’s version of events’.

clip_image002[3] ‘In addition to challenging the Bible’s historicity, this anachronism is direct proof that the text was compiled well after the events it describes’.

clip_image002[4] ‘Scientists say a new discovery involving camel bones is calling the accuracy of the Bible into question’.

clip_image002[5] ‘The more precise dating puts domesticated camels in Israel “centuries after the patriarchs lived and decades after the Kingdom of David,” according to the researchers’.

clip_image002[6] ‘A scientific report establishing that camels, the basic mode of transportation for the biblical patriarchs, weren’t domesticated in Israel until hundreds of years after Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are said to have wandered the earth’.

We could go on and on with examples trying to disprove the accuracy of the Bible. But, what’s the truth? Should we chuck out the Book of Genesis as an unreliable piece of literature that should be treated as containing myths? Or should we treat it as Jesus did? You’ll find some of Jesus’ evidence in the articles,

clip_image004Jesus, the New Testament and Genesis‘;

clip_image004[1]The use of Genesis in the New Testament‘; and

clip_image004[2]Genesis: Real, reliable, historical‘.

I recommend equipping yourself for a rebuttal of these mass media anti-Genesis views by becoming acquainted with the issues in these articles:

But there were camels in ancient Egypt

clip_image005Lita Cosner’s article, ‘Camels and the Bible‘ (Creation Ministries International, 11 February 2014) provides evidence to contradict the Israeli archaeologists. I’m grateful for those who know their Bible and the scientific literature and have material available to demonstrate the futility of the anti-Genesis charges.

Cosner wrote,

The first mention of camels in Scripture is in Genesis 12, after Pharaoh took Sarai into his palace. “He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels” (12:16). Job, widely regarded as living around the same time as Abram, had 3,000 camels at the beginning of the book, and twice as many at the end. He lived in Uz, which was in Arabia.

So the biblical evidence is that there were camels in Arabia around 2000 BC, and that Pharaoh had some too. This matches what we see from the archaeological record. A paper titled ‘The Camel in Ancient Egypt’ stated, “The proposed time of camel entry into Egypt after its domestication in Arabia was found between 2500 and 1400 BC”.[1] So not only did domesticated camels exist, they were in Egypt when Abraham was there. So this fits the biblical account perfectly.

(image courtesy Google, public domain)

clip_image005[1] See another refutation of the anti-camel stance in, ‘Camels in Genesis Prove Old Testament is ‘Very Accurate,’ Professor Claims as He Refutes Archaeologists’ Findings‘ (Christian Post, 16 February 2014). It stated:

“What these archaeologists are doing… is when they read about somebody like Abraham having camels, they’re saying, “Aha! The Bible is saying that camels were widespread in Palestine during this period of time, and there’s no archaeological evidence for that,” Dr. Andrew Steinmann of Concordia University-Chicago tells Issues, Etc., a Christian radio station….

Steinmann agrees there’s no archaeological evidence for widespread use of camels in Palestine at this time, but adds that that’s not what the Bible is saying.

Amy Hall, a staff with the Christian group Stand to Reason, has transcribed the professor’s interview on her blog.

“What it is showing is that somebody who originally came from Mesopotamia, like Abraham, he did have some camels,” she quotes the professor as saying. “And then the other mentions of camels in Genesis and in the early part of the Bible have to do with either people related to Abraham that were living in the Arabian Desert (for instance, the Ishmaelites…have camels when they come and buy Joseph and take him down to Egypt), or other peoples like that, associated with the Arabian Desert-the Amalekites…who live on the edge of the Arabian Desert are mentioned a number of times having camels. But there’s no mention of Israelites owning camels….”

Here is some more evidence in support of camels at the time of Abraham:

clip_image007Theology professor counters claim that camel bones disprove Bible, explains Abraham owning camels‘ (Global Dispatch, 17 Feb 14).

clip_image007[1]Abraham, Camels and Egypt, or, Where did Abram get his Camel from?Genesis 12:1‘ (Studylight.org).

clip_image007[2] ‘Is the Bible Wrong about Camels?’(Stand to Reason).

I pray that you will be equipping the people in your church to provide a defence of the Christian faith when this kind of opposition comes. Here I’ve attempted to provide enough links to get you started with a few opportunities for equipping. We are blessed that there are equipping ministries who have researchers and writers to deal with these issues – and provide us with ready information to pass on to our church people.

In addition, these ministries make their material freely available on the Internet.

Again, it’s the problem of [the archaeologist’s] assumptions

(Stand to Reason)

Notes:


[1] Saber, A. S., The camel in ancient Egypt, Proceedings of the Third Annual Meeting for Animal Production Under Arid Conditions 1:208–215, 1998, p. 208.

 

Copyright © 2014 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 2 September 2016.

Camel capers at the time of Abraham – baloney!

Friday, February 21st, 2014

https://i2.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/55/Camels_at_Giza.JPG/330px-Camels_at_Giza.JPG

Camels at Pyramids, Egypt (courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear

In February 2014, some of you may have been exposed to what seems like a tirade of derogatory comments in the mass media about camels recorded in the Book of Genesis; Genesis can’t be trusted, and the Bible is unreliable.

6pointblue Genesis 24:64 records this: ‘And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she dismounted from the camel’ (ESV).

6pointblue Leviticus 11:4 makes is clear: ‘Nevertheless, among those that chew the cud or part the hoof, you shall not eat these: The camel, because it chews the cud but does not part the hoof, is unclean to you’.

Was it a camel or not? Verses like these have come under criticism by the archaeologists who are saying that

camels were first introduced to Israel around the 9th century BCE, centuries after they were depicted in the Bible as Patriarch-era pack animals, new carbon dating of the earliest known domesticated camel bones found in Israel shows.

The research, conducted by Erez Ben-Yosef and Lidar Sapir-Hen of Tel-Aviv University, challenges ”the Bible’s historicity.” The discrepancy “is direct proof that the [Biblical] text was compiled well after the events it describes,” according to a statement released by the university on Monday.

The researchers examined ancient copper smelting sites in the Arava Valley, in southern Israel, and discovered that “camel bones were unearthed almost exclusively in archaeological layers dating from the last third of the 10th century BCE or later,” and that “all the sites active in the 9th century in the Arava Valley had camel bones, but none of the sites that were active earlier contained them.”

(The Times of Israel, 5 February 2014)

This is a sample of the negative comments I’ve read in the mass media online:

  1. Camels had no business in Genesis‘ (New York Times, 10 February 2014).
  2. Camel bones suggest error in Bible, archaeologists say‘, Fox News (6 February 2014).
  3. Earliest Camel Bones Contradict Bible, Archaeologists Say‘, (Nature World News, 5 February 2014).
  4. Camel bones discovery suggests biblical inaccuracies‘ (Statesman, 6 February 2014).
  5. Camel archaeology contradicts the Bible‘ (The Times of Israel, 5 February 2014).
  6. Will camel discovery break the Bible’s back?(CNN, 11 February 2014)

Abram’s Journey from Ur to Canaan (József Molnár, 1850) (courtesy Wikipedia)

 

We could go on and on with examples trying to disprove the accuracy of the Bible, especially the camels at the time of Abraham. But, what’s the truth? Should we chuck out the Book of Genesis as an unreliable piece of literature that should be treated as containing myths? Or should we treat it as Jesus did? You’ll find some of Jesus’ evidence in the articles,

cubed-iron-smJesus, the New Testament and Genesis‘;

cubed-iron-smThe use of Genesis in the New Testament‘; and

cubed-iron-smGenesis: Real, reliable, historical‘.

I recommend equipping yourself for a rebuttal of these mass media anti-Genesis views by becoming acquainted with the issues in these articles:

Here’s some more evidence in support of camels at the time of Abraham:

I pray that you will be equipping the people in your church to provide a defence of the Christian faith when this kind of opposition comes. There are enough links here to get you started with a few opportunities for equipping in your church over the next few weeks. We are blessed that there are equipping ministries who have researchers and writers to deal with these issues – and provide us with ready information to pass on to our church people.

Let’s not miss the opportunity.

 

Copyright © 2014 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 18 November 2015.

Did God create the world in 6 literal days?

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

 (image courtesy opednews.com, public domain)

 By Spencer D Gear

This is the type of question that thoughtful Christians sometimes ask:

This sounds like a dumb question but if in God’s time 1 day is 1,000 years, does that mean that He created the world in 6 days or 6,000 years? I know that God created the world in 6 days and rested on the seventh, but I was wondering that. If he literally created the world in six days then where does the 1 day = 1,000 years come from?[1]

The topic being addressed on this Christian forum was, ‘Did God literally create the world in 6 days?’

A.  Is a day compatible with a thousand years?

My initial response[2] was to ask, ‘Why don’t you quote the verse? It’s in 2 Peter 3:8,

“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day” (NIV). This has to do with God, the eternal One, and time. I urge you to read D Martyn Lloyd-Jones sermon on 2 Peter 3:8-9, ‘God and time‘.

These verses seem to indicate that God created in six literal days because of the parallel with 6 days to labour and to rest on the 7th, as in Exodus 20:8-11 (ESV),

8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labour, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

B.  Days, long periods of time or   figurative language?

Scarlet Time and Dates Button

There was another response to an issue raised about the creation of the sun:

No where in Genesis does it say God created the sun, you are reading into it and changing the sentence by trying to understand it on your terms and not Gods [sic]. God created light, you just assume he speaks of the sun. The first day is when light was created on the fourth day the stars were aligned into the zodiac we know today to give us signs to go by.
You my friend are not rightly dividing the word of God, with that said look at the verses I cited earlier in a KJV bible and explain them please if what I have been shown is wrong.[3]

How does one respond to such claims? This was my attempt:[4]

I think you are trying to split hairs.

Genesis 1:1 is VERY COMPREHENSIVE as to what God created, ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth’.
Are you saying that this does not include God’s creating the sun? I find that to be straining at a gnat!
Exodus 20:8-11 is specific as to the meaning of ‘day’ in comparison with the days in the creation of the heavens and the earth:

8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labour, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy (ESV).

Or do you want this to mean:

8 “Remember the Sabbath [long period of time or figurative day], to keep it holy. 9 Six [long periods of time or figurative days] you shall labour, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh [long period of time or figurative day] is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six [long periods of time or figurative days] the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh [long period of time or figurative day]. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath [long period of time or figurative day] and made it holy.

The comparison with the work week of 6 literal days and 1 literal day of rest, with the 6 days of creation and 1 day of rest by God makes the parallel very obvious. God is speaking of 6 literal days of creation and 1 literal day of rest.

I have a hunch that if it were not for the theory of evolution, we the 6 literal days of creation would not be creating issues for us. What did Darwin want to do when he invented the theory of evolution? I invite you to take a read of ‘Darwin’s arguments against God‘. Darwin wanted God out of the picture when it comes to creation of the world.

I invite you to consider how worldly science wants God to be eliminated from the creation events so that He can be replaced with a human ‘origin of the species’.

C.  The nature of ‘days’ doesn’t really matter?

Another view was, ‘I don’t think it’s a dumb question but does the answer really matter? None of us will know for sure till Abba answers us HimSelf or gives divine revelation’.[5]

Does it really matter?[6] For consistency of interpretation it does matter. Does it matter that ‘day’ as a long period of time or a figurative day conflicts with Exodus 20:8-11? Yes it does! I want to be a consistent biblical interpreter when comparing Genesis 1 with Exodus 20.

Alister McGrath has an interesting assessment in ‘Augustine’s Origin of Species‘.

D.  What about ‘day’ in Genesis 2:4?

Today

(image courtesy ChristArt)

Another fellow wrote:

The days in Genesis 1 are literal days, 24 hr or less. Both the Exodus passage agrees that God made everything in 6, 24 hr days. There is a problem though, and I think it’s in Gen 2:4 “in the day” the Lord made heavens and earth. Is this still 24 hour? Because here the author does not say what day it was. This is like saying “back in my youthful day” etc. What do you guys think?[7]

This question has been asked many times over by questioning people as the use of ‘day’ in Gen 2:4 seems to have a different meaning to ‘day’ in Genesis 1. My response[8] was that evangelical commentator on Genesis, H C Leupold (1942), divides Gen 2:4 into two verses and joins the second part with v. 5.

His translation of Gen 2:4a is, ‘This is the story of the heavens and the earth at the time of their creation’. He explains that his translation, ‘at the time of their creation’ is rendered literally: ‘in their being created’. He further wrote that ‘since it is a temporal phrase, we have rendered it: “at the time,” etc. It marks the occurrences that are to follow as practically a part of the creation story’ (Leupold 1942:111).

Then, Gen 2:4b, 5 he translates as, ‘At the time when Yahweh God made earth and heaven, then no shrub of the field was as yet in the earth and no plant of the field was as yet sprouting forth; for Yahweh God had not caused rain to descend upon the earth, nor did man exist to till the ground’.

He explains that verses 4a and 4b are usually translated

‘as a whole, with the result that two temporal clauses of nearly identical meaning appear within the sentence, calling forth artificial attempts at distinctions. By keeping 4a separate as a title and by combining 4b with 5, this trouble is removed, and a very natural rendering results. For the two initial clauses of v. 5, introduced by waw, may be correlative…: ‘when God made heaven and earth neither was there shrub … nor had any plant sprouted’. At the same time the complicated sentence structure which the critics make of v. 5-7 is shown to be quite unnecessary and quite cumbersome: v. 5 protasis; v. 6 rather parenthetical, or a concessive clause; v 7 apodosis – all of which calls for a very artificial rendering…. Nor is terem the conjunction ‘before,’ but the adverb ‘not yet’ (Leupold 1942:112, emphasis in original).

He explains that Gen 2:4b ‘takes us back into the time of the work of creation, more particularly to the time before the work of the third day began, and draws our attention to certain details, which, being details, could hardly have been inserted in chapter one: the fact that certain forms of plant life, namely the kinds that require the attentive care of man in greater measure, had not sprung up. Apparently, the whole work of the third day is in the mind of the writer’ (Leupold 1942:112).
The specific question asked by this person related to the meaning of ‘in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens’ (Gen 2:4 ESV).

Leupold explains that

it is not important to the author to mark the point of time within the creation week when this condition prevailed. Consequently, the opening phrase of 4b, beyom, is to be rendered as it so often is “at the time” and not “in the day” (1942:113).

I found this explanation helpful as it gives the meaning of the ESV’s translation of ‘in the day’ to be ‘at the time’. This clears up the confusion for me.

E.  Some resources

For some penetrating, thought-provoking articles on creationist topics, I have found Creation Ministries International (CMI) to have some targeted answers to questions about origins. And some of them are by Christians who are scientists.

[img]

I am somewhat guarded in recommending this CMI website because of  its short-sighted view that one has to be a Young Earth Creationist (YEC) to be regarded as having a high view of creation. This is not the case.

The YEC theory is only one view among Christians. There are other evangelical Christians who are as committed to the Gospel and the authority of Scripture as CMI who are convinced of Old Earth Creationism (OEC). One such person is Dr. Norman Geisler. He wrote:

There are unprovable presuppositions in most, if not all, the scientific arguments for an old earth…; that is, an earth that is millions or billions of years is biblically possible but not absolutely provable…. Given the basics of modern physics, it seems plausible that the universe is billions of years old. And as shown [in what he presented] there is nothing in Scripture that contradicts this…. There is no demonstrated conflict between Genesis 1-2 and scientific fact…. A literal interpretation of Genesis is consistent with a universe that is billions of years old (Geisler 2003:648, 650).

blue-arrow-small Did God create plants on Day 3 out of nothing?

blue-arrow-small Does yom with a number always refer to 24-hour days?

blue-arrow-small Answering 10 big questions in detail;

blue-arrow-small Geology and the young earth;

blue-arrow-small Distant starlight and the days of Genesis 1;

blue-arrow-small William Lane Craig’s intellectually dishonest attack on biblical creationists;

blue-arrow-small The dating game;

blue-arrow-small Evolution vs God;

On another website, Ken Ham deals with the question,

blue-arrow-smallCould God Really Have Created Everything in Six Days?

That should get you started on some Christian answers to the origin of the world.

Geisler lists these orthodox Christians who held to a universe of millions or more years old. These included: Augustine, B B Warfield, C I Scofield, John Walvoord, Francis Schaeffer, Gleason Archer, Hugh Ross, and most of the leaders who produced the 1978 Chicago Statement on the inerrancy of the Bible (Geisler 2003:650).

F.  Bibliography

Geisler, N 2003. Systematic theology: God, creation, vol 2. Minneapolis, Minnesota: BethanyHouse.

Leupold, H C 1942. Exposition of Genesis, vol 1, chapters 1-19. London: Evangelical Press (originally by The Wartburg Press).

G.  Notes:


[1] Lik3#1, Christian Forums, Apologetics, ‘Did God literally create the world in 6 days?’ http://www.christianforums.com/t7775833/ (Accessed 26 September 2013).

[2] OzSpen#3, ibid.

[3] Godssontoo#10, ibid.

[4] OzSpen#13, ibid.

[5] HisSparkPlug#12, ibid.

[6] This was my brief response at OzSpen#14, ibid.

[7]Faith24#15, ibid.

[8] OzSpen#18, ibid.

 

Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 2 September 2016.

Did Moses write the Pentateuch?

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

By Spencer D Gear

The Pentateuch consists of the first five books of the Bible – Genesis to Deuteronomy. Here is an overview of the JEDP theory:[1]

clip_image002

(courtesy www.cs.umd.edu)

The JEDP theory (sometimes called the Graf-Wellhausen or Documentary Hypothesis) was developed in the 18th and 19th century by critical scholars of the Bible. Under this view, the Pentateuch was not written by Moses. Instead, it was the result of a later author/editor, who pieced multiple sources together. Among these sources were:

J: From the German “Jahweh” or Yahwist source (dated ~950-850 BC).

E: From the Elohist source. Northern kingdom (~750 BC).

D: From the Deuteronomistic source. Southern kingdom (~650 BC).

P: From the Priestly source. Post-exilic (~587 BC).

An online discussion re JEDP

I engaged in discussion online with Jim, a promoter of the JEDP theory. Here is a copy of the discussion:[2]

OZ: The biblical evidence is right before us of Mosaic authorship.

JP: Does that evidence include Moses referring to himself in the third person and writing about his death, burial and 30 days of mourning AFTER he died?  believe it is from Moses’ time but not necessarily from his hand. (He was rather busy, you know.)

OZ: The Pentateuch claims in many places that Moses was the writer, e.g. Exodus 17:14; 24:4–7; 34:27; Numbers 33:2; Deuteronomy 31:9, 22, 24.

JP: It also has many places where Moses is referred to in the third person. So what? That means that Moses is reported to have written portions of “the Book of Moses.” It does not require that he wrote the whole thing. (Unless you are willing to hold to his continued, post-mortem, writing.)

OZ: Many times in the rest of the Old Testament, Moses is said to have been the writer, e.g. Joshua 1:7–8

JP: “Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you”.That does not say Moses wrote the entire Pentateuch. It says he commanded Israel to keep the Law.
Joshua 8:32–34 Ditto.  Judges 3:4 Ditto.

Here’s what the Bible DOES say Moses wrote:

Exodus 24:4, And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD. (The Laws)  And he rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars according to the twelve tribes of Israel (NKJV).

Numbers 33:2, Now Moses wrote down the starting points of their journeys at the command of the LORD. And these [are] their journeys according to their starting points:

Deuteronomy 31:9, So Moses wrote this law and delivered it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel.

Deuteronomy 31:22, Therefore Moses wrote this song the same day, and taught it to the children of Israel.

OZ: In the New Testament, Jesus frequently spoke of Moses’ writings or the Law of Moses,

JP: This is a very common and simplistic “proof.” The Torah was referred to as “The Book of Moses.” That name does not carry with it a statement of authorship. I have a “Webster’s Dictionary.” I have no misconception that it is a copy of what Noah Webster personally wrote.

OZ:   it seems likely that a sole author was responsible. Their exhaustive computer analysis conducted in Israel suggested an 82 percent probability that the book has just one author.

JP: I think Genesis is the work of a sole author. And a sole author can include more than one tradition and relating of the same story. It takes a great deal of skill and sophistication to do it well. I believe it was written by a sole author, most probably a contemporary of Moses and probably at the direction of Moses.

You seem to be rejecting out of hand, without consideration, the possibility that there could be more than one version of the creation and flood stories among these ancient people. That flies in the face of the existence of a variety of creation and flood stories among the ancient Mesopotamian people.

You also seem to be hung up on the idea that one author would, of necessity, have only one view to relate. That is not only unnecessary but, considering the text, it is unreasonable.

Further, you seem to assume that if I can see more than one tradition reflected in the text that I must agree with the whole of the documentary hypothesis, lock, stock and barrel. I do not. I think it is the result of over-analyzation combined with fertile imaginations and the need to publish.

I do see the two traditions, both representing valid recitals of the story of beginning from God’s creation of the heavens and earth through the dispersion. (Gen 1:1 – 11:9).

The dispersion is followed by a genealogy which connects the creation story to the story of the Hebrews who are the sons of Abraham, the descendant of Shem (SHem means “Name” and apparently refers to those who called upon Ha-Shem) the descendant of seth the son of Adam.

There is a felt need among many people that only Moses be allowed to be the author of the Pentateuch. It is an irrational need that flies in the face of the words of which Moses is demanded to be sole author. It is an imposition of man’s desire upon the word of God which detracts from it by restricting our understanding of His message to the views of one sect among God’s people.

Let my people go.

The Pentateuch and the JEDP theory

See my brief article, ‘JEDP Documentary Hypothesis refuted’.

This is not the place for a detailed critique of JEDP, but a few criticisms given by R. N. Whybray, who is certainly not a conservative, are in order:

1. While those espousing the documentary hypothesis assume that the biblical writers avoided repetitions, ancient literature from the same period reveled in repetitions and doublets as a mark of literary artistry.

2. The documentary hypothesis breaks up narratives into different sources thereby destroying their inherent literary and artistic qualities.

3. The source critics assume that variety in language and style is a sign of different sources, but it could just as well be a sign of differences in subject matter that carry with them their own distinctive vocabulary and style.

4. Inadequate evidence exists to argue for a sustained unique style, narrative story line, purpose and theological point of view in each of the four main documents that are thought to be the sources for the contents and message of the Pentateuch (cited in Kaiser 2001:137).

This we know from Scripture

The Pentateuch often refers to Moses as the author (eg Ex. 17:14; 24:4; 34:27; Num. 33:1-2; Deut. 31:9). Christ and the apostles gave unequivocal support for Moses as the author of the Torah (Law), eg John 5:46-57; 7:19; Acts 3:22 [cf. Deut. 18:15]; Rom. 10:5.

Works consulted

Kaiser Jr., W C 2001, The Old Testament Documents: Are They Reliable & Relevant? Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press.

Notes:


[1] This summary of JEDP is provided by James Rochford of Xenos Christian Fellowship, ‘Authorship of the Pentateuch’, Evidence Unseen, available at: http://www.evidenceunseen.com/authorship-of-exodus/ (Accessed 31 July 2013).

[2] This is based on an interaction I (ozspen) had with Jim Parker on Christian Fellowship Forum, Contentious Brethren, ‘Dawkins won’t debate creationists’, FatherJimParker #41, 5 June 2012, available at: http://community.compuserve.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?msg=121081.41&nav=messages&webtag=ws-fellowship (Accessed 6 June 2012).

 

Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 3 November 2015.

Genesis 6:2, The ‘sons of God’ and ‘the daughters of man’

Friday, November 30th, 2012

God Spoke

ChristArt

By Spencer D Gear

Genesis 6:2 reads:

  • ‘the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose’ (NIV);
  • ‘the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose’ (ESV);
  • ‘The sons of God saw the beautiful women and took any they wanted as their wives’ (NLT);
  • ‘the sons of God saw that they were fair; and they took wives for themselves of all that they chose’ (NRSV);
  • ‘the sons of God saw that the daughters of humankind were beautiful. Thus they took wives for themselves from any they chose’ (NET).

Who are ‘the sons of God’ and the ‘daughters of men’?

1. The sons of God

Let’s canvas a few commentaries. H. C. Leupold wrote:

But who are these “sons of God”? Without a shadow of doubt, the Sethites – the ones just described in chapter five as having in their midst men who walked with God, like Enoch (v. 22), men who looked to higher comfort in the midst of life’s miseries, like Lamech (v. 29), men who publicly worshipped God and confessed His name (4:26). Such men merit to be called the “sons of God” (benê ‘elohim), a title applied to true followers of God elsewhere in the Old Testament Scriptures (Leupold 1942:250).

John H. Sailhamer stated that ‘historically there have been primary interpretations of vv. 1-4’. These understandings of the meaning of the ‘sons of God’ are: (1) Angels, which is the oldest view; (2) Royalty, also very old, meaning ‘sons of lords’, sons of judges, kings; and (3) Pious men from the ‘line of Seth’. He rejects the ‘angels’ interpretation as it conflicts with Matthew 22:30 [‘For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven’ (ESV)]. ‘The commonly accepted view is that the “sons of God” refer to the godly, pious line of Seth’ [Calvin, Scofield Bible]. His preferred understanding is that it is a summary of chapter 5 and

there is little to arouse our suspicion that the events recounted are anything out of the ordinary. As a summary of the preceding chapter, this little narrative is a reminder that the sons and daughters of Adam had greatly increased in number, had married and had continued to have children. The impression it gives is that of an interlude, a calm before the storm. For a brief moment we see a picture of man in the midst of his everyday affairs: “marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away” (Matt 24:38-39) (Sailhamer 1990:76).

Harold Stigers is adamant: ‘The “sons of God” of v. 2 cannot be angels, not even fallen angels, for that matter, for their fall would not change their physical character or any other limitations that would prevent their marrying. The emphasis is one of contrast: the “sons of God” stand opposed to the “daughters of men”…. It is a contrast of the followers of God and the followers of the ways of sinful men. Out of the marriages of those opposing groups arose the final corruption’ (Stigers 1976:98)

Stigers’ assessment seems reasonable that the ‘sons of God’ represent the followers of God and Sailhamer’s understanding that it refers to everyday marrying of people that led to the Flood.

2. The daughters of men

Some understanding of this is in the above description. So, briefly, Stiger’s understanding of ‘daughters of men’ is a referral to ‘the followers of the ways of sinful men’ (Stiger 1976:98). For Sailhaimer, ‘this little narrative is a reminder that the sons and daughters of Adam had greatly increased in number, had married, and had continued to have children’ (Sailhamer 1990:76). I do not find this a very adequate explanation.

As for Leupold, ‘”daughters of men” refers indiscriminately to all “daughters of mankind,” which were unfortunately lumped together by the sons of God without regard to their classification, whether Sethite or Cainite. When God’s children lose sight of such basic distinctions and look about only for the pretty faces and the shapely forms, then, surely, degeneracy has set in’ (Leupold 1942:252).

3. Conclusion

While there are differences in understanding the meaning, there seems to be a thread of the godly intermarrying with the ungodly and this ultimately led to the pollution (degeneracy) of the human race that led to the destruction of Noah’s flood.

References

Leupold, H C 1942. Exposition of Genesis, vol 1 (chapters 1-19). London: Evangelical Press.

Sailhamer, J H 1990. Genesis, in The expositor’s Bible commentary, 1-284, F E. Gaebelein (gen ed). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

Stigers, H G 1976. A commentary on Genesis. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

 

Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 21 May 2017.

Did Genesis 6:3 get it wrong?

Friday, October 19th, 2012

https://i1.wp.com/www.creationism.org/images/DoreBibleIllus/aGen0724Dore_TheWorldDestroyedByWater.jpg?resize=308%2C417

(image courtesy Gustave Dore)

By Spencer D Gear

This verse reads, ‘Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not abide in[1] man for ever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years”’ (Gen 6:3 ESV).

These are the kinds of objections that sometimes come:

I was reading my bible earlier and finally finished Genesis.

Anyways there were a few bits in there that caught my eye; it`s to do with Jacob’s, and Joseph’s lifespan, and well I remember in the first few chapters of Genesis god said he would make man mortal and … found the quote: ‘Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not put up with humans for such a long time, for they are only mortal flesh. In the future, their normal lifespan will be no more than 120 years”’ (Gen 6:3 NLT).

And so then I found this quote: ‘Jacob replied, “I have traveled this earth for 130 hard years. But my life has been short compared to the lives of my ancestors”’ (Genesis 47:9 NLT).

And there`s, ‘Jehoiada lived to a very old age, finally dying at 130’ (2 Chron 24:15 NLT).

Also: ‘Job lived 140 years after that, living to see four generations of his children and grandchildren (Job 42:16 NLT).

There are probably more but I can`t be asked to look. Can a Christian please explain, why god said people won`t live more than 120 years, yet they’ve lived for 130+ years.

This to me makes the bible sound like one big story, I`m hoping someone can change my mind.

Please also can you quote from the bible or just say the passage that`s relevant.[2]

These were reasonable objections from Jahleel. On the surface, it does look like the Bible is contradicting itself.

How to deal with the apparent contradictions

H. C. Leupold Commentary Collection (7 vols.)

Courtesy Logos Bible Software

Hebrew exegete, H C Leupold (1942), in his commentary on Genesis translates Genesis 6:3 as,

And Yahweh said: My spirit shall not judge among mankind forever, because they also are flesh. Yet shall their days be one hundred and twenty years (1942:254).

He gives the Hebrew grammatical reasons for this translation and then his commentary states:

Entirely in harmony with our rendering is the concluding statement of the verse, which marks the setting of the time limit of divine grace. For these words, “yet shall their days be one hundred and twenty years,” are to be taken in the sense of the traditional interpretation: one last period of grace is fixed by God for the repentance of mankind. The previous word indicated (3a) that God might well have cut off all further opportunities of grace. This word (3b) shows that grace always does more than could be expected. Before disposing of the guilty ones a time of grace of no less than one hundred and twenty years is allowed for their repentance. This use of “days” (v3) is established by the use of the same word (v4) “those days.” Consequently, the modern interpretation that takes this word to mean that God here decreed that in the future the span of man’s life was not to exceed one hundred twenty years is quite unfounded. This view is proved untenable by the fact that quite a few after the Flood lived in excess of this limit: 11:11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25; 25:7; 35:28; 47:9. The evasions of the critics in meeting this argument need not be mentioned, being too palpable (Leupold 1942:256-257).

Hebrew exegetes, Keil & Delitzsch (n d, 1:136) also reach the same conclusion:

Therefore his days shall be 120 years:” this means, not that human life should in future never attain a greater age than 120 years, but that a respite of 120 years should still be granted to the human race. This sentence, as we may gather from the context, was made known to Noah in his 480th year, to be published by him as “preacher of righteousness” (2 Pet. ii.5) to the degenerate race.

Conclusion

We know from the following context of Genesis 6:5-8 that God is preparing for the judgment of the Flood. So the 120 years has nothing to do with the longevity of a person’s life after that time, but the time given to the people until the judgment by destruction in Noah’s Flood will come.

Isn’t it amazing how people can come to the wrong conclusions of Genesis 6:3 when they don’t know how to carefully exegete the Hebrew text? To overcome a wrong interpretation of Genesis, we need three tools:

  • Knowledge of the Hebrew language so we can engage in exegesis of the text;
  • If such knowledge is not available to a Bible reader (which is the case for me), a sound commentary, based on the Hebrew, is needed. What do I mean by ‘sound’? I am referring to commentaries that accept and promote biblical authority and are not written by theological liberals who want to denigrate or destroy the Bible.
  • All verses must be read in context to obtain the best interpretation. By the way, verses were not included in the original Hebrew of the OT or Greek of the NT (see ‘Who divided the Bible into chapters and verses?’)

A sound commentary, based on the Hebrew language, helped me to overcome these difficulties.

(Noah preaches to the people, image courtesy Ultimate Bible Picture Collection)

References

Keil, C F & Delitzsch, F n d. Commentary on the Old Testament: The Pentateuch, vol 1. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Leupold H C 1942. Exposition of Genesis. 1942. The Wartburg Press, also London: Evangelical Press. Also available online at CCEL at: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/leupold/genesis.i.html (Accessed 19 October 2012).

Notes:


[1] Or My Spirit shall not contend with.

[2] Christian Forums, Christian Scriptures, ‘Can a Christian please explain this?’ Jahleel #1. Available at: http://www.christianforums.com/t7695361/#post61587089 (Accessed 19 October 2012). Some grammatical and spelling corrections have been made to this quote.

 

Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 2 September 2015.

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Circumcision and masturbation

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Courtesy Wikipedia

By Spencer D Gear

I read Macro Torres’ article with interest, ‘When, how & why do we continue to let this happen‘ (online), Prevent Disease, Oct 25, 2011. In this article, Torres stated:

Circumcision is one that still baffles many. When was it that men (and women) decided it was ok to actually start cutting the skin of babies’ and young boys’ penises in an attempt to curb masturbation? Again, why was there always such an interest in curbing masturbation and why resort to such barbaric rituals in an effort to reduce this natural instinct in boys? Why does it still continue today when there is absolutely no accepted and established scientific evidence for any benefits?

This article has many excellent points to make about what is happening to our environment, but it has one major flaw and that has to do with the origin and nature of circumcision. The origin of circumcision had nothing to do with cutting skin off babies’ and young boys’ penises in an attempt to curb masturbation.

This writer shows a gross lack of knowledge about how circumcision began in the Jewish nation in calling them ‘barbaric rituals’. There is a brief overview of the origin of Jewish circumcision in the BBC article, “The circumcision ceremony: Judaism and circumcision“. The BBC article rightly stated, ‘According to the Torah (Genesis 17:9-14), Abraham was commanded by God to circumcise himself, all male members of his household, his descendants and slaves in an everlasting covenant”. For the Jews, this was God’s command to them re circumcision as a sign of an everlasting covenant he made with them:

9And God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. 10This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. 12He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring, 13both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. 14Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant” (Genesis 17:9-14 English Standard Version).

As a non-Jew, but a committed Christian, I can assure you from 65 years as a circumcised male that it has not had the effect of curbing masturbation.

Torres states that ‘there is absolutely no accepted and established scientific evidence for any benefits’. Really? NO EVIDENCE? Let’s check out the evidence.

Please observe some of the health benefits of circumcision. See the article, ‘Circumcision: Medical Pros and Cons’. This article stated:

“Recently, however, several large studies revealed a 60% decrease in HIV transmission in circumcised males compared to uncircumcised males”.

Professor Brian Morris provides this evidence-based appraisal of circumcision. Here is the summary:

Circumcision of males represents a “surgical vaccine” against a wide variety of infections, adverse medical conditions and potentially fatal diseases over their lifetime, and also protects their sexual partners. In experienced hands, this common, inexpensive procedure is very safe, and can be pain-free. Although it can be performed at any age, the ideal time is infancy. The benefits vastly outweigh risks.

The public health benefits are enormous, and include protection from urinary tract infections, that are common over the lifetime, inferior genital hygiene, smegma, sexually transmitted HIV, oncogenic types of human papillomavirus, genital herpes, syphilis and chancroid, penile cancer, and possibly prostate cancer, phimosis, paraphimosis, thrush, and inflammatory skin conditions such as balanitis and balanoposthitis. In women circumcision of the male partner provides substantial protection from cervical cancer, genital herpes,  bacterial vaginosis (formerly termed “gardnerella”), possibly Chlamydia (that can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and ectopic pregnancy), and other infections.

Circumcision has socio-sexual benefits and reduces sexual problems with age and diabetes. It has no adverse effect on penile sensitivity, erectile function, or sensation during sexual arousal and is reported to enhance the sexual experience for men. Most women prefer the circumcised penis for appearance, hygiene, lower infection risk and sexual activity. At least half of all uncircumcised males will develop one or more problems over their lifetime caused by their foreskin, and many will suffer and die as a result. The benefits exceed the risks by over 100 to 1, and if fatalities are taken into account in men and their sexual partners the benefit is orders of magnitude higher than this. Given the convincing epidemiological evidence and biological support, routine circumcision should be highly recommended by all health professionals.

See Professor Morris’s articles:

Who is Professor Brian J Morris?

Professor of Molecular Medical Science
Physiology, School of Medical Sciences
Bosch Institute

F13 – Anderson Stuart Building
The University of Sydney
NSW 2006 Australia

It is not unusual to have secular people object to a quote from Genesis, calling it myth and that it can not be believed as fact. Here I mention Abraham from Genesis 17:9-14. Is Abraham a real historical person? Is Genesis a reliable historical source? I’m not a specialist in this area, so I rely on those who know this field well. I refer to two who know their product:

  • Professor Emeritus of Egyptology at the University of Liverpool (UK), Dr. K. A. Kitchen (2003) and
  • Professor of Old Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (USA), Dr. Walter C. Kaiser Jr (2001).

Here I present their views based on a study of history and a study of the Old Testament.

Professor Kitchen, based on his research, has answered these kinds of questions in his 500 pages of research:

Whether or not the existing Old Testament writings were composed (and their contents originated) entirely within the brief and late period of circa 400-200 V.C., or whether or not their contents are pure fiction, unrelated to the world of the Near East in circa 2000-400 B.C.

To pursue such questions, the only practical method of inquiry was to go back to those ancient times and compare the data in the Hebrew Bible with what we have from its putative world. Merely theorizing in one’s head can achieve nothing. Looking back, we do have some definite results. On the independent evidence from antiquity itself, we may safely deliver a firm “No” to both questions as posed above. Namely, the Old Testament books and their contents did not exclusively originate as late as 400-200 B.C.; and they are by no means pure fiction – in fact, there is very little proven fiction in them overall.

What can be said of historical reliability? Here our answer – on the evidence available – is more positive. The periods most in the glare of contemporary documents – the divided monarchy and the exile and return – show a very high level of direct correlation (where adequate data exist) and of reliability. That fact should be graciously accepted by all, regardless of personal starting point, and with the firm conclusion of alien, hence irrelevant, modern “agendas”….. The primeval protohistory embodies early popular tradition going very far back, and is set in an early format. Thus we have a consistent level of good, fact-based correlations right through from circa 2000 B.C. (with earlier roots) down to 400 V.C. In terms of general reliability … the Old Testament comes out remarkably well, so long as its writings and writers are treated fairly and evenhandedly, in line with independent data, open to all (Kitchen 2003:499-500).

Professor Kaiser stated:

The claims for the historical accuracy of the patriarchs, despite the rich archaeological finds in the middle of the twentieth century, have not found smooth sailing in this twentieth century ever since Julius Wellhausen (1844-1918) declared around the turn of the century that “no historical knowledge” of the patriarchs could be obtained from Genesis, for Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were a mere “glorified mirage” projected backward into Hebrew history. However, from the 1940s to the 1960s a successful challenge was made to Wellhausen’s estimates of the historical worth of the patriarchs. Two scholars set the stories of the three ancient worthies into the background of the ancient Near East: William Foxwell Albright (1891-1971) and Cyrus Herzl Gordon (1908-2001)….

W. F. Albright, Cryus H. Gordon, and Ephraim A. Speiser mounted an impressive number of parallels between the patriarchal stories and second millennium laws and social customs. The effect was so strong that the evidence seemed to support the essential historicity of the narratives found in Genesis 12-50. A consensus did occur in identifying many of the poems in the Pentateuch as being very early, such as Genesis 49, Exodus 15; Numbers 23-24; and Deuteronomy 33.

Given this mounting evidence, Roland de Vauz declared “that these traditions have a firm historical basis,” while John Bright concluded, “We can assert with full confidence that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were actual historical individuals”….

It must be acknowledged that there is no direct external evidence supporting the existence of any one of the three patriarchs. However, the data does exist to demonstrate the fact that they are correctly located in the Middle Bronze setting beginning approximately 2000 B.C…. An increasingly high degree of probability and corroborating evidence continues to mount up from the external evidence to such a point that the case for the genuineness of the patriarchal stories is strong indeed (Kaiser 2001:84-85, 96).

Let’s go back to the first two chapters of the first book of the Bible, Genesis. How do we know whether these two chapters are poetic, figurative, mythological or historical? See Kaiser Jr, et al (1996:89f), Hard Sayings of the Bible for a refutation of the mythological, poetic view and support for the language containing figures of speech in affirming its recording of actual events in the space-time world. Here are a few points made:

  1. Genesis 1 and 2 do not contain the mythic, poetical style of ancient Near Eastern stories. But, like much writing, it contains figures of speech, with God depicted with hands, nostrils, etc. Bullinger lists 150 examples in Genesis 1:1-11:32 of figures of speech used.
  2. It is an error to think that because figurative language is used in Genesis 1-3 that it is not a straightforward presentation of real events.
  3. The biblical account of creation does not demonstrate the forms and substance of myth as ‘nothing has been found in the biblical narrative of creation to tie it to the mythical ancient Near Eastern cosmogonies’ (Kaiser et al 1996:89).
  4. We can’t link Genesis 1-2 to a poetic form as the the Hebrew form of the verb is the same as that used in Hebrew narratives. There are other grammatical and syntactical forms in these 2 chapters that conform to literary genre and are not those used in poetry.
  5. Gen. 1-2 provides a closely reasoned narrative of events ‘in almost a dry didactic form’ with emphasis on ‘definition, naming, evaluating and a general ordering of events. As such the accounts have more in common with narrative prose than anything else’ (Kaiser et al 1996:89).
  6. Based on the available evidence from ancient history, we can rely on the Book of Genesis as a reliable historical document.
  7. While we cannot say that Gen. 1-2 is ‘historical’ in the ordinary sense that facts can be independently verified through other sources and witnesses, ‘it certainly appears to be claiming to record actual events in the stream of happenings in our kind of space-time world’ (Kaiser et al 1996:89).

We can conclude with Professor K.A. Kitchen that “the Old Testament comes out remarkably well, so long as its writings and writers are treated fairly and evenhandedly, in line with independent data, open to all” (Kitchen 2003:500).

Notes:

Kaiser Jr., Walter C.; Davids, Peter H.; Bruce, F. F. and Brauch, Manfred T. 1996. Hard sayings of the Bible. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press.

Kaiser Jr., Walter C 2001. The Old Testament documents: Are they reliable & relevant? Downers Grove, Illinois /Leicester, England: InterVarsity Press.

Kitchen, K A 2003. On the reliability of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, Michigan / Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

 

Copyright (c) 2012 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 7 October 2015.

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The creation of the sun on day 4: Actual days or day-age of millions of years

Monday, September 10th, 2012

Sunset

(image courtesy ChristArt)

By Spencer D Gear

If the common evolutionary perspective is accepted, then the days of Genesis 1 are considered very long periods of time. An example of this explanation is that of Rich Deem, with his support for the Day-Age theory,

I believe in what has been called the “day-age” interpretation of Genesis one – that is, that each “day” is actually a long period of time during which God created life. This interpretation is not figurative in any way, but adheres to the scientific method in its analysis of the biblical texts. At its foundation is a literal translation of the Hebrew word, yom, which can mean a twelve hour period of time, a twenty-four hour period of time, or a long, indefinite period of time. The biblical basis for the translation of the word yom as long periods of time appear on another page.

Evidence to believe’ claims the following:

Based on the evidence, we submit:

  •  That the Day-Age interpretation is the more reasonable interpretation
  •  That when one properly reads Genesis 1, going back to the original language, one find(s) no contradiction with the findings of modern science.  In fact, one finds confirmation of the Biblical record in modern scientific findings!
  •  That one can fully accept from a literal perspective the Genesis 1 record, accept the proofs from science of an old universe and old earth, and still be consistent in their beliefs about God and science

Consistency between the Bible and science is what we should expect.  For if the Creator of the heavens and the earth also inspired the writers who penned the words of the Bible, why shouldn’t we expect the discoveries of science to support the Bible?  It would be surprising if they did not.[1]

Brad Bromling gives a contrary view:

The ancient Hebrews hardly could have imagined that the creation week was any different from theirs. Thus when the Ten Commandments were issued, requiring them to observe a day of rest, it was natural for the creation week to serve as their model (Exodus 20:11). It is doubtful that any of the Jews who heard this command raised a hand to inquire about the duration of either their week or God’s. Regardless of what the astronomers and cosmologists may say about the age of the Universe, Genesis describes a creation week comprised of ordinary days. Contemporary efforts to reinterpret these days succeed neither to enhance confidence in the truthfulness of Scripture nor to accommodate current age calculations.

For a similar view that supports literal 24-hours for the days of Genesis 1, see ‘How long were the days of Genesis 1?’ from Creation Ministries International.

An exegetical understanding, based on Genesis 1 grammar

There is an explanation that harmonises Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:14-19 that John H. Sailhamer (1990:33-34) has suggested. This is involved with the meaning of ‘the heavens and the earth’ in  Gen. 1:1  which reads, ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth’ (NIV)

If the phrase, ‘the heavens and the earth’, refers to the universe or the cosmos (which seems to be the most likely understanding), then it is taken in the same sense as throughout the Bible as in passages like Joel 3:15-16. Thus, the creation of the universe would include the sun, moon and stars according to Gen. 1:1.

This is the kind of objection that is commonly raised:

According to the Bible, on what day was the sun created?[2]…. I’ve read conflicting opinions. Most of which say the 4th day but that begs the question “How can you have 3 days without a sun?”[3]….

[4]Sailhamer’s exegesis and exposition stated that the place to begin with an understanding of the fourth day of creation (Genesis 1:14-18) is to view the whole of the universe (including the sun, moon and stars) to have been created ‘in the beginning’ (Gen. 1:1) and NOT on the fourth day.

If we try to understand the syntax of Gen. 1:14 and it is compared with the creation of the expanse in 1:6, the verses have two different senses. The syntax of 1:6 suggests that God said, ‘Let there be an expanse’. God was creating an expanse where there had not been any previously. So the author of Genesis clearly wanted to state that God created the expanse on the first day.

But when we come to 1:14, the syntax in the Hebrew is different though in English the translations are often very similar to 1:6. Gen. 1:14 states:

And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years (NIV).

In 1:14, God did not say, ‘Let there be lights … to separate’ in the Hebrew language, as if there were no lights before that and the lights were created. Instead, the Hebrew text reads, ‘And God said, “let the lights in the expanse of the sky separate”‘. So, instead of the syntax of 1:6, in 1:14 God’s command is assuming that the lights were already in the expanse and that in response to the command of 1:14 they were given a purpose, ‘to separate the day from the night’ AND ‘to mark seasons and days and years’. However, this grammar is not seen in the English translations. Let’s look at a few of them:

  • NIV, ‘Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night….’;
  • ESV, ‘And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night….’
  • NLT, ‘Then God said, “Let lights appear in the sky to separate the day from the night….’
  • KJV, ‘And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night….’
  • NASB, ‘Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night….’
  • NRSV, ‘And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night….’
  • New Jerusalem Bible, ‘God said, ‘Let there be lights in the vault of heaven to divide day from night….’
  • NET, ‘God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night….’

None of these actual translations convey the grammatical difference that causes us to understand the Hebrew grammar, ‘Let the lights in the expanse of the sky separate…’ The New Living Translation (NLT) comes closest with, ‘Then God said, “Let lights appear in the sky to separate the day from the night….’

What is the grammatical difference? The syntax of Genesis 1:6 uses hayah alone, while in Genesis 1:14, it is hayah + l infinitive (Sailmaher 1990:34).

Conclusion

The exegetical response, with God’s revelation (Scripture being the decider), is that if we are to understand the grammar of Gen 1:14 correctly, the author does not state that this was the creation of the lights, but the narrative assumes that the heavenly lights were already created. What is the assumption? The lights were created ‘In the beginning’ as stated in Genesis 1:1.

I’m indebted to John Sailhamer for this explanation and it makes sense when the grammar is considered.

I leave that for your consideration. I do not find the regular secular scientific and doubting argument about literal days to hold much theological ‘water’. It is designed to create doubt when the Hebrew grammar seems to fix the supposed problem.

Works consulted

Sailmaher, John H 1990. Genesis, in Frank E Gaebelein (gen. ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol. 2, pp. 1-284.

Notes:


[1] This conclusion is based on science being the final arbiter over the Bible’s exegetical statements from Genesis 1. The alleged scientific, evolutionary conclusion is the decider. Human reason usurps the role of God’s revelation. It makes Scripture fit into the scientific framework, which is intolerable for biblical revelation.

[2] RayComfort #1, 9 September 2012. Christian Forums, Christian Apologetics, ‘On what day was the sun created’, available at: http://www.christianforums.com/t7686289/ (Accessed 10 September 2012).

[3] Ibid #8.

[4] Much of the following response was given by me as OzSpen at ibid #16.

 

Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 6 May 2016..

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Has evolution been proved by science?

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

Creation Fish Wins

(courtesy ChristArt)

By Spencer D Gear

That was the heading of a letter to the editor in my local freebie newspaper, The North Lakes Times (northern Brisbane, Australia), August 8, 2012, p. E8: The letter read:

Evolution proved by science

Contrary to Col of Petrie’s comments (Press July 18) there are no facts being discovered that bring the theory of evolution into question.

In fact, the reverse is true. Evolutionary theory is based on science not on belief. Every discovery, bit of evidence and experiment confirm the theory. Mainstream faiths accept this and don’t take the first book of the Bible literally. It is only fundamentalist fringe that seem incapable of accepting scientific fact and seem set on trying to impose their ignorance on the rest of us.

Marcus Toyne, Mango Hill

What is a theory?

This brief explanation of ‘theory’ states: ‘Theories are analytical tools for understanding, explaining, and making predictions about a given subject matter. There are theories in many and varied fields of study, including the arts and sciences’. When applied to evolution, this means that an evolutionary theory is a way of explaining and making predictions about Darwin’s and continuing explanations of evolution in science. Yes, there are theories that are developed, based on facts that have been uncovered.

What was the basic content (in summary) of Darwin’s evolutionary theory? This is one reasonable summary:

Natural selection explained how life evolved from the first simple organisms; how in nature the fittest win out, leaving more offspring with more of their desirable characteristics. This survival of the fittest would, over time, allow a species to change and develop until eventually new species could arise. Given billions of years, natural selection could create, unguided, the diversity of life on Earth.

Dr. Henry Morris wrote, ‘The vanishing case for evolution’, in which he stated:

Evolutionary belief is a remarkable and largely unexplained phenomenon. It is a belief held by most intellectuals all over the world, despite the fact that there is no real scientific evidence for it at all. Evolutionists allege that evolution is a proved scientific fact, based on a multitude of scientific proofs, but they are unable to document even one of these supposed proofs!

Morris cited David Kits who stated that ‘Evolution, at least in the sense that Darwin speaks of it, cannot be detected within the lifetime of a single observer’.

What are the holes in the argument in Toyne’s letter to the editor?

  • He confuses theory and fact. Evolution is a theory. Some could even say that there is insufficient evidence for it to be called a theory and that it is nothing more than an hypothesis. Facts may point to the need to develop a theory, but we must not confuse facts with a theory. A theory is a proposed explanation; it is not a statement of facts.
  • If evolution is based on science and not belief, why does this ‘belief’ continue when the transition species are just as non-existent as they were when Darwin announced his theory 150 years’ ago?
  • He gives this false statement, ‘Every discovery, bit of evidence and experiment confirm the theory’. What are the facts concerning transition species? We’ll briefly examine this below.
  • ‘Mainstream faiths’ are not defined, but I expect he is referring to theological liberalism in mainline denominations. This is using the logical fallacy of ‘appeal to authority’. Rational discussion is handicapped when people resort to the use of logical fallacies.
  • He uses a genetic logical fallacy by diverting attention to the ‘fundamentalist fringe’ and rejecting it because of its origin. He should be addressing the issue and not associating it with a group of which he apparently does not approve.
  • If mainstream faiths do not read the book of Genesis literally, this is not an argument for whether literal or otherwise should be used. A short letter just gives opportunity for him to make assertions without defending his claims. Therefore, his views are open to challenge, as I’m doing briefly here.

What are the facts about transition species?[1]

Charles Darwin knew about 1.5 centuries ago when he developed his theory of evolution that the fossil record did not demonstrate what he tried to predict in his theory. He wrote:

Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory. (Darwin 1902:413, ch 9 link; also in ch 10).

What was the situation in the late 20th century? The late Dr Colin Patterson, senior palaeontologist of the British Museum of Natural History, wrote the book, Evolution. In reply to a questioner who asked why he had not included any pictures of transitional forms, he wrote:

I fully agree with your comments about the lack of direct illustration of evolutionary transitions in my book. If I knew of any, fossil or living, I would certainly have included them …. I will lay it on the line—there is not one such fossil for which one could make a watertight argument.[2]

The renowned evolutionist, the late Stephen Jay Gould, formerly of Harvard University, wrote:

The absence of fossil evidence for intermediary stages between major transitions in organic design, indeed our inability, even in our imagination, to construct functional intermediates in many cases, has been a persistent and nagging problem for gradualistic accounts of evolution (Gould in Smith 1982:140).

And Gould also wrote:

“New species almost always appeared suddenly in the fossil record with no intermediate links to ancestors in older rocks of the same region” (1977:12).

‘The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils’ (1977:14).

‘I regard the failure to find a clear ‘vector of progress’ in life’s history as the most puzzling fact of the fossil record’ (Gould 1984, link).

A letter of reply to the North Lakes Times

This is my letter of reply to this newspaper, dated 8 August 2012:[3]

Letters-to-the-editor
North Lakes Times

Dear editor,

Marcus Toyne (North Lakes Times, Aug 8) seems to have confused theory and fact with his statement that ‘there are no facts being discovered that bring the theory of evolution into question’. Evolution is a theory and its problem with finding transition species to agree with the theory is as bad now as in Darwin’s day, 1.5 centuries ago.

There are major facts that question the evolutionary theory. Darwin said that every stratum of geological formation should be full of intermediate links. They weren’t there in Darwin’s day and are still not.

Dr Colin Patterson, former palaeontologist of the British Museum of Natural History, wrote that ‘there is not one such fossil for which one could make a watertight argument’.

Former leading evolutionist of Harvard Uni, the late Stephen Jay Gould, wrote that the absence of fossil evidence for intermediatry stages ‘has been a persistent and nagging problem for gradualistic accounts of evolution’.

As for Toyne’s view that mainstream faiths ‘don’t take the first book of the Bible literally’, this is a red herring. ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth’ and then statements of what was created on day 1, day 2, etc., are literal ways of stating God’s creation of our magnificent universe, according to Genesis 1.

Spencer Gear
North Lakes

Was the newspaper so adventurous as to print this letter? At least the paper did print a significant part of the above letter for which I’m grateful. How much of this letter do you think that the North Lakes Times printed? Here is what appeared in the paper on August 15, 2012, page E10.

Evolution theory ‘lacks facts’

Marcus Toyne (Pine Rivers Press, August 8) seems to have confused theory and fact when saying “there are no facts being discovered that bring the theory of evolution into question”.

Evolution is a theory and its problem with finding transition species to agree with the theory is as bad now as in Darwin’s day, 150 years ago. Darwin said that every stratum of geological formation should be full of intermediate links. They weren’t there in Darwin’s day and are still not.

Former leading evolutionist of Harvard University, the late Stephen Jay Gould, wrote the absence of fossil evidence for intermediary stages “has been a persistent and nagging problem for gradualistic accounts of evolution”.

As for Toyne’s view that mainstream faiths “don’t take the first book of the Bible literally”, is a red herring. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” and then statements of what was created on day one and so on are literal ways of stating God’s creation of the universe, according to Genesis 1.

Spencer Gear, North Lakes

Two further letters in the North Lakes Times

On August 29, 2012, p. E8, The North Lakes Times published two further letters responding to my letter (above). The large heading in the newspaper was, ‘Evolution: Genesis v scientists’. There were 2 responses to me. One was by the author to which I responded, Marcus Toyne of Mango Hill. His main emphases were:

  • Scientific theory explains facts;
  • Theories provide the framework for understanding how we share a common ancestor with other apes through evolution.
  • There are transition fossils that scientists find regularly but they don’t label them as such.
  • The second version in Genesis 2 contradicts parts of chapter 1.
  • Some do not consider the biblical creation story to be literal as a description of origins.

My reply to Mr. Toyne

On 3 September 2012, I sent this latter to the North Lakes Times to respond to some of Mr Toyne’s issues:

Marcus Toyne (NLT, 29 Aug) takes me to task over evolution as a theory and how Genesis 2 “contradicts part of the first (chapter of Gen.)”. Contrary to Marcus, a scientific theory doesn’t explain facts. It explains scientific observations and must be open to be falsifiable. The theory of evolution deals with unique events of the origin of life, including intelligence. These events are unrepeatable and cannot be subjected to the same kind of experimental investigation of a regular scientific theory.

He claimed scientists regularly find transition fossils but gave not one example. Not one! Dr Colin Patterson, senior paleontologist of the British Museum of Natural History, wrote in 1981 that evolution was “positively anti-knowledge” and that “all my life I had been duped into taking evolution as revealed truth” [in Taylor 1984:393]. Evolutionary biologist, Ernst Mayr, wrote that the basic theory of evolution “is in many instances hardly more than a postulate and its application raises numerous questions in almost every concrete case” [in Taylor 1984:393].  A postulate is a supposition that is assumed without proof. These scientific specialists are not as certain as Marcus.

So Genesis 2 contradicts chapter 1? But Marcus gave zero examples. This makes his a red herring kind of argument. However, the JEPD theorists have proposed this for many years and it has been refuted over and over. Ch 2 does not present a complete creation story or the time sequence of ch 1.

If anyone misses the nature of a key word in the first 5 words of Genesis 1, there will be misleading information promoted. Those words are, “In the beginning GOD created”. If one does not understand the omnipotent Yahweh God who created (Hebrew bara = out of nothing) the universe, the one who parted the Red Sea for the Israelites to pass over on dry land and drowned the pursuing Egyptians, and the God who raised Jesus Christ from the dead, then one will misunderstand the mighty acts of God in creating the universe.

Another letter opposing my position

Phil Gilbank’s response included these elements:

  • A theory is a collected theory of facts that explains observed phenomena.
  • The theory of evolution by natural selection is fact that is explained by the scientific facts.
  • The book of Genesis is a myth.
  • How does Spencer explain the anomaly in Genesis 1 that green vegetation was created on day 3 and there was no sun until day 4.

How should I respond?

I sent a letter on 3 September 2012 to The North Lakes Times:

So “the book of Genesis is a myth”, says Phil Gilbank (NLT, Aug 29). That’s his assertion that reveals one of his presuppositions. He provided no evidence. The wayyiqtol narrative structure of the Genesis creation accounts shows that the author wanted the readers to understand the account as happening in history.

There is evidence to show that Adam and Eve were real people. Genesis 1-2 presents them as actual human beings and it narrates the events of their lives as history. Have a guess what? They gave birth to literal children who produced similarly (Gen. 4:1, 25; 5:1ff). Later Old Testament genealogies placed Adam at the top of the list (see 1 Chronicles 1:1).

In the New Testament, Adam is placed at the beginning of Jesus’ literal ancestors (Luke 3:38). Jesus Christ himself referred to Adam and Eve as the first literal “male and female” indicating that their physical union was the basis of marriage (Matthew 19:4).

Phil thinks there is an anomaly between God creating vegetation on day 3 with no sun until day 4. Is Phil assuming days as representing millions of years? Whenever the Hebrew yom (day) is used with a numeral, it refers to a literal 24-hour period. Hebrew scholars, Keil & Delitzsch, stated that the days of creation, using the interchange of light and darkness, “must be regarded not as periods of time of incalculable duration, or years or thousands of years, but as simple earthly days” (n.d.:51).

By the way, the sun is not the only source of light. Phil will continue to have an issue with God’s creation of the universe as long as he retains the false view of Genesis being myth (not an uncommon theory) and failure to understand the nature of the omnipotent Lord God Almighty who created the heavens and the earth.

What is the meaning of ‘wayyiqtol narrative structure’ in the Hebrew language?

‘The most predominant verbal form in Biblical Hebrew narrative prose is WAYYIQTOL (41% of the total clauses in the texts and 79.2% of the total clauses in the narrative portion of the texts analyzed).  The use of this form in uninterrupted syntactical chains consistently implies sequentiality of action in the narrative’ (Journal of Hebrew Scriptures, Vol 5, 2004-2005).

Another put it this way: ‘Biblical Hebrew narrative usually employs verbal forms referring to the past, the variety of which is due not to an indication of tense, but rather aspect and narrative organization. Narrative sequence is mostly achieved by wayyiqtol clauses, which appear to be dominant in this genre, while boundaries of paragraphs and off-line information are usually achieved by non-wayyiqtol clauses’ (review of Roy L Heller 2004, Narrative Structure and Discourse Constellations, The Free Library).

See the article, ‘Are there two creation accounts?’ (Tekton). See also, ‘Alleged biblical contradictions – creation stories’ (CreationWiki); ‘Are there two creation accounts in Genesis’ (Wayne Jackson). See my own very brief article, ‘Are there two creation stories in Genesis?

References

Darwin C R 1902, The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection (online), 6th ed. London: John Murray,available at: http://www.literature.org/authors/darwin-charles/the-origin-of-species-6th-edition/index.html (Accessed 8 August 2012).

Gould, S J 1977. Evolution’s erratic pace, Natural History 86, May, 12-16.

Gould, S J 1984. The Ediacaran experiment, Natural History 93(2):14–23, February. available at: http://www.sjgarchive.org/library/text/b16/p0298.htm (Accessed 8 August 2012).

Keil, C F & Delitzsch, F n.d. Commentary on the Old Testament: The Pentateuch, vol 1. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Smith, J S (ed) 1982. Evolution now: a century after Darwin. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co.

Taylor, I T 1984. In the minds of men: Darwin and the new world order. Toronto: TFE Publishing.

Notes


[1] I am indebted to this author for some of the following citations: Johathan Safarti’s article, ‘Refuting evolution’, Creation Ministries International, available at: http://creation.com/refuting-evolution-chapter-3-the-links-are-missing (Accessed 8 August 2012).

[2] C. Patterson, letter to Luther D. Sunderland, 10 April 1979, as published in Darwin’s Enigma (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 4th ed. 1988), p. 89.

[3] The email was sent to: letters@northlakestimes.com.au.

 

Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 29 October 2015.

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Are there two creation stories in Genesis?

Saturday, June 9th, 2012

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ChristArt

By Spencer D Gear

It is a common view promoted by liberal theology and sceptics that there are two creation stories in Genesis 1 and 2. Here are a few examples:

  • In the Skeptics Annotated Bible, they outline, ‘The two contradictory creation accounts’;
  • Arthur Weiser: ‘It is evident that the Pentateuch cannot be the continuous work of a single author. This is shown by the existence of two differing accounts (doublets) of the same event: thus e.g. the story of the creation in Gen. 1 and 2:4ff’,,[1]
  • The Wikipedia article on the ‘Genesis creation narrative’ states that ‘The opening of [Genesis] verse 2:4 provides a “bridge” connecting the two accounts of the creation narrative’.

At the popular level, I encountered this view on a www forum, Christian Fellowship Forum. Jim Parker replied to me:

You seem to be rejecting out of hand, without consideration, the possibility that there could be more than one version of the creation and flood stories among these ancient people. That flies in the face of the existence of a variety of creation and flood stories among the ancient Mesopotamian people.[2]

I replied: Noah’s flood and the Gilgamesh epic have been answered over and over, but you trot it out again.[3]

Kermit: << There is only one creation story >>[4]
Jim: My Bible has two. One begins with: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Gen 1:1)
The other one begins with:  This [is] the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, before any plant of the field was in the earth and before any herb of the field had grown. For the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and [there was] no man to till the ground; but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground. (Gen 2:4 -6)
Kermit: <<There is …only 1 flood story.>>
Jim: There are two. I already posted the facts. If you don’t want to know then that is your choice.

Spencer:[5] Can’t you see what you did? You confused your view that there are two creation stories with two flood stories.
Genesis 2 does not present a different creation account to the one in Genesis 1. Genesis 2 presupposes God’s completed work of creation from Genesis 1. What we have in Gen. 2:1-3 is the logical conclusion of carrying on the information from Genesis 1, using the same vocabulary and style as was used in chapter 1.

What Genesis 2 does is lay out the completion of God’s primary work done in Genesis 1 with the sanctity of the 7th day conferred as a memorial of what God had created.

Then Genesis 2:4 sums up the sequence of what had been surveyed previously with the words, “These are the generations of heaven and earth when they were created, in the day that Yahweh God made heaven and earth”.

Since Moses (yes, author Moses) had now finished the overall survey of the subject, what does the author do? He then develops in detail one important feature, the creation of human beings.

It is Kenneth Kitchen who writes in Ancient Orient (p. 117):

“Genesis 1 mentions the creation of man as the last of a series, and without any details, whereas in Genesis 2 man is the center of interest and more specific details are given about him and his setting. Failure to recognize the complementary nature of the subject-distinction between a skeleton outline of all creation on the one hand and the immediate environment on the other, borders on obscurantism”.[6]

How do you like that description of what you have tried to do with trying to convince us of two creation accounts – obscurantism?

You have provided the argumentation of the historical-critical method and your presupposition comes gushing forth.

Conclusion

There is a reasonable contextual explanation for affirming that Genesis 1 and 2 form the fabric of one creation account and not two.

I recommend the article by Wayne Jackson, Apologetics Press, “Are there two creation accounts in Genesis?’ The straightforward biblical answer to the question, if one follows the Genesis text, is, NO! There is only ONE creation account in the Book of Genesis.

Notes:


[1] In Wayne Jackson, ‘Are there two creation accounts in Genesis?’, Apologetics Press, available at: http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=6&article=1131 (Accessed 9 June 2012).

[2] Christian Fellowship Forum, Contentious Brethren, ‘Dawkins won’t debate creationists’, #41, 5 June 12, available at: http://community.compuserve.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?tsn=40&nav=messages&webtag=ws-fellowship&tid=121081 (Accessed 6 June 2012).

[3] Ibid., ozspen, #49.

[4] Ibid., FatherJimParker, #45.

[5] Ibid., ozspen #51. The following information is from Gleason L. Archer 1982. Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Regency Reference Library (Zondervan Publishing House), pp. 68-69.

[6] Ibid., p. 69.

 

Copyright © 2012 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 28 October 2015.

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