Ben Stanhope addresses AiG positions

So I saw this video on YouTube today by Ben Stanhope:


The only thing I disagree with him on is that the Raqia was a solid dome.


I haven’t taken time to watch the video, but I do want to encourage you to consider to the language you use in this type of discussion. (Example: “Ben Stanhope masterfully debunks AIG’s Biblical interpretations” vs. “Ben Stanhope destroys AIG”) Do you think saying that someone “destroys AIG” could seem off-putting to a well-meaning individual who currently admires AIG but may potentially change their mind in the future? I wonder if language about “destroying” an organization might seem to heighten the sense of division in their minds between them and their opponents, rather than a more welcoming (and accurate) language that emphasizes the errors in people’s beliefs and not the people themselves. Do you think that’s a reasonable concern or am I making a geological mountain out of a molehill? :slight_smile:


agree, topic heading has been edited. Thanks for the reminder.

Great video. I’m subscribed to Stanhope’s channel (Stanhope is a scholar I might add) which is a fantastic resource for understanding the OT in its ancient historical context.


I think that’s a darn good video! It touches on many of the topics that are being discussed right now … and it does so brilliantly.

You reject his treatment of Raqia … but his treatment there is at least as strong as most of his other topics. How do you handle his quoting from Psalms? He even flashes up an image showing how ANE writings imply waters above as well. Maybe we can revisit just his section on the firmament here in this thread.

In earlier Biologos threads on the firmament, it was discussed the using the term “dome” may have problematic results. So I do recommend that you avoid the term “dome”.

Medieval Jewish texts use “raqia” to refer to floors and ceilings… which are essentially flat, not dome like.

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Another thread that might interest you would be exploring his “Calf of Chaos” references. It would help explain the origin of this pagan symbol in Exodus… the golden calf. Archaeology texts frequently present bull or calf imagery without spending much time explaining it. But I think we can make a good case of associating the bull or calf with chaos symbols that have already been accepted by historians.

Let me know what you think about the topic, or how Stanhope treats the “calf” - - ever so briefly !

As in the Calf of El and Behemoth, which he mentioned?

  1. In Psalm 150:1 the word Raqia clearly refers to God’s sanctuary, the ‘space’ of his power.

  2. Job 37:18 (which is a statement by Elihu, not God) actually clearly refers to a meteorological phenomenon in the context of the previous verses. See Jon Garvey’s article here.

  3. According to Genesis 1:20 birds fly upon the face of the Raqia, this is a phenomenological description of how birds fly upon the face of the sky.

  4. Stanhope is correct in pointing out the parallelism between days 1-3 and days 4-6. But this parallelism fits even better if either the firmament, or the waters above (read, clouds) is where birds fly.

See also this article:

All things considered I find the Raqia is most likely a phenomenological (read, non-scientific) description of the sky as a whole, without endorsing any cosmology per say. I find that Genesis 1’s description of the cosmos devotes no time to explain what is above, or what is below, only giving focus on the world as it appears to the naked eye.

Now having said that, how the universe appeared to them was different to how it appeared to us. We take for granted that daylight is caused by the sun, but strange as it may sound, this is not how it appeared to inhabitants of the ANE. According to Horowitz:

si = nu-ú-rum ‘light’
si = na-ma-rum ‘to shine’
si = na-pa-ḫu ‘to kindle’
si = šámu-u ‘heaven’
(MSL 14 341:168-7])

Here si may be a name for heaven because si has a general meaning ‘light’. According to NBC 11108 (see p. 139), the heavens glow with their own light independent of the luminaries in the sky.

Hence, daylight exists ‘before’ the sun in Genesis 1, as it is independent of it. A phenomenological account, made by the ancients will inevitably lead to some ‘inaccuracies’, but I don’t think the solid Raqia was one of them.

Ben Stanhope is great. Have you checked out his other videos responding to YEC claims?

Yes indeed!!! I think that could be very productive area - - since it is pretty badly ignored by most everyone.


You hang everything on this one issue… and yet there are so many other counter-vailing issues.
And as I have said several times (without any acknowledgement or response from you), you keep fixating on the English word “in” in the translations… In the Firmament.

But the Hebrew can be just as easily translated as:

“around the face of the Firmament”
“under the face of the Firmament”
“by the face of the Firmament”
“near the face of the Firmament”.
“along the face of the Firmament”.

As to Garvey’s article on Job 37: @Jon_Garvey is certainly skilled in knitting together a collection of thoughts, to prove something which is pretty clearly not in the original.

Let’s read it in the Revised Standard version:

Job 37:16-18

Do you know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of him who is perfect in knowledge,

You - - whose garments are hot when the earth is still because of the south wind? - - Can you, like Him,
spread out the skies, hard [strong] as a molten mirror?

This is a nice bit of Biblical rhetoric. It is sarcasm asked of Job who complains of how hot it is when the south wind blows… would he ever be able to withstand the heat of working with God Himself in spreading the molten substance of the firmament in the making of the skies?

Reggie, your reference to Psalm 150:1 … again, I think you try too hard. You emphasize “space”, but the text refers to a sanctuary. Is the Sanctuary in the temple represented by an open field? Or is it a space defined by secure and rigid walls, floor and ceiling?

Psalm 148:4 is actually the verse that Stanhope refers to in his discussion. His slide says 148:8! … but it is really 148:4:

“Praise him … you waters above the heavens!”


Stanhope then shows us an image of Shamash in his heavenly apsu! We are used to seeing the term Apsu in connection with the waters of the underworld… but seeing it in connection with the heavens tells us reams about what the ancients were expecting to find “above”!.. and not just a little mist and clouds!

Notice that stars are shown… resting on the firmament, apparently transparent in this rendering. And floating on his throne above the stars is Shamash … floating on a thick layer of water!


Okay, okay, but I find that Job 37:18 is still a statement of Elihu, not an inspired writer.

You misunderstand what I’m saying.

  1. Birds 'appear; to fly ‘in front of’ the sky, when we look up, so this is entirely phenomenological.

  2. With that being said, the parallelism in Genesis 1 fits better if the birds fly either in the firmament or the waters above.

Do you think Job is inspired? Did he write the book of Job? No. I don’t think Job wrote Job.

Someone inspired wrote Job.

And the inspired writer puts truth in the mouths of whom he will, does he not?


If Firmament = sky, then why does the bible repeat, like a mantra, the phrase

Firmament of the Skies (or Heavens)?

Does it make sense to you that they are really saying the Sky of the Skies?

Fine, but Elihu is still not an inspired writer, neither is Job.

Firmament is not equivalent to the sky, we see this in Psalm 150, but The Firmament ‘of the sky’, is the sky.


Oh brother … ok …Apply your logic to the Shamash illustration I posted on behalf of Stanhope.

Show us where the “Firmament of the Sky” is.

Why is this even relevant? The Bible is calling the sky a Raqia.

Another thing @gbrooks9 is there any reason why Raqia cannot be translated as ‘expanse’ in light of the fact that elsewhere the heavens are said to be stretched out using the verb ‘natah’, which has nothing to do with stretching out metal?