Bible Terminology - a Perfectly Systematic Vocabulary?

Continuing the discussion from Randomness shorn of people and books:

Continuing the discussion from The Bible, Rocks, and Time: Christians and an Old Earth (Conclusion):

So… @Wookin_Panub, when I read

John 10:9 where Jesus says: “I am the door…”

am I REQUIRED that I translate this word as a literal door?

Strong’s tells us that the Greek term “thyra” is used 30 times to mean “door” and once to mean “gate”.

SO… does Jesus REQUIRE us to realize he is a gate or door?

I find it interesting how you use a systematic approach, and give only one verse to support your argument. If you read the entire passage. We can easily see that Jesus is not a literal door, since the rest of the passage is not talking about hinges, wood, measurements etc… Instead, talking about salvation and anyone who attempts to enter into God’s house without entering through the door is a thief and a robber. Jesus is that door. He is the only way.

(John 10:1) “10 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.”

But @Wookin_Panub… this is not how you process the word DAY in Genesis. You say that the word DAY is ONLY used in a limited number of ways. And so the reader is NOT PERMITTED to use a non-literal meaning.

Nowhere in the New Testament is the term “THYRA” used to mean a “phase transition”… or a “figurative indication of a new status”… etc. etc. …

Thyra is ONLY used as a referrence to a real door.

So… in the AMBIGUOUS use of the term in this part of John … Jesus MUST be real door… right?

In Genesis, how can there be a day (a time interval marked by the sun) when there is no sun for four days?

(Typo Edited)
Frankly, all your linguistic scrupulousness aside, your approach goes to prove that the nature of the Earth and the Sun was not understood by the writer of Genesis.

1 Like

Well stated George!

While individual word studies are helpful, they are only one small aspect of biblical interpretation. The meaning of words fluctuate depending on its relationship to other words, authorial intent, historical context, and so forth.

Here’s a quote I heard awhile back (though I can’t remember the person), that stuck with me ever since.


“There are two ways of reading the Bible: through a microscope or through a telescope. My suggestion is to read the Bible, first, through a telescope. Get a good idea of the big picture. Then afterwards, zoom in on the details with a microscope.”

1 Like

George, your use of the phrase “linguistic officiousness” was probably an oversight - it has a snarky sound, don’t you think? It’s so easy to forget to be nice when we get carried away with a topic like this.

All the same, this is a most interesting topic to me. How do we deal with the not quite literal in the text? Clearly we can’t use the same approach to each instance, since they vary a great deal.

When Jesus calls himself a door, he is equating a person, himself, with an object, a door. We know that a person cannot be an object; Jesus knows this too. So we have an obvious metaphor. Jesus is telling us that his role in the universe shares an important quality with doors. We have to think about this. Probably it isn’t that he has hinges, or that he is a carpenter. More likely it is that he provides a way into and out of something.

But in Genesis no one is claiming to be a day. Day is used more or less the way it is used in other places. In this case the days are numbered as one counts from one to six, not given dates from a calendar. That has to be significant. The enumeration of each day is preceded by the phrase “and there was evening and there was morning.” Both the enumeration and this phrase are repeated again and again, from beginning to end. We can’t dismiss this either. Yet the number of activities that occur on each of these days varies a great deal. How can they all be the same length? We also notice that evening and morning both occur before the sun and moon are set in the sky to regulate and mark seasons and days and years. How can this be? There are clearly great mysteries involved here. We can neither dismiss the text and say this is just myth authored by those ignorant of current cosmology, nor can we simply insist that there were six ordinary days such as we experience now. There is a lot of work to be done here.

Nothing is more enticing than a good mystery. We should not hurry to solve it; we should not toss out any of the information we have. We have to be able to ponder, try different possibilities, and be patient with the process. Not easy, but very important.


Before there were digital watches or clocks of any kind, how did someone count a day?
It invariably required the sun.

So… what could the writer possibly mean by a DAY when there was not yet a sun?
A “day” must have meant something other than 24 hours, yes? . . . just as we knew Jesus MUST have meant something OTHER than a real door.

NOTE: Thank you for drawing my attention to my use of the word “officiousness”. I double-checked and realize that I was wrong about that word. It’s not the meaning I intended. I have updated the original post to use a better phrase: “linguistic scrupulousness”.

Yes, I agree that “day” in Gen 1 must mean something a bit different from just an ordinary day. It is a very important concept in the description of the creation, repeated poetically throughout the account, and for that reason I think it means something more complex. For one thing, you’re right that all our time keeping is based on the sun, from a historical point of view; and even now we keep time based on other regularly repeating events found in nature, like the vibrations of the cesium atom, or whatever. I think that one reason we are told that creation begins on the first “day” is that time was created along with light. I always thought that time was just how we measured the flow of events, but as it turns out, time is a thing. Time exists, and we move in it. Time runs faster or slower depending on where we are and how fast we are moving. All this variation, or relativity, of the pace of time is related to the speed of light. We only learned this at the beginning of the 20th century, so it is astonishing that Genesis seems to be telling us that time itself started along with light.

I think that the beginning of the first day God initiated what we have lately come to call the Big Bang. At no other point could we reasonably speak of separating light and darkness. Darkness is the absence of light. Something made of matter has to block the flow of light in order to make darkness. So darkness is closely related to matter. When was light or energy, ever together with matter so that they needed to be separated except in the singularity?

I don’t think any other creation myth offers anything like this. I am convinced that Gen 1 describes modern cosmology in a way that the ancients could also find useful, although they would not know the details that we now know. The time factor is described by Gerald Schroeder in Genesis and the Big Bang. If you could read his book I would love to know what you think.

I would agree accept for the small problems…

… like no reference of the earth circling the sun?
… like no reference of the moon circling the earth?
…like the references to light not connected with the sun … without any explanation?

If you look at Augustine’s writings, you will find that he came to the same conclusion over 1600 years ago from a philosophic basis. Pretty amazing.
from Confessions:

  15. But if the roving thought of any one should wander through the images
  of bygone time, and wonder that Thou, the God Almighty, and All-creating,
  and All-sustaining, the Architect of heaven and earth, did for innumerable
  ages refrain from so great a work before Thou would make it, let him awake
  and consider that he wonders at false things. For whence could innumerable
  ages pass by which Thou did not make, since Thou art the Author and Creator
  of all ages? Or what times should those be which were not made by Thee?
  Or how should they pass by if they had not been? Since, therefore, Thou
  art the Creator of all times, if any time was before Thou made heaven and
  earth, why is it said that Thou did refrain from working? For that very
  time Thou made, nor could times pass by before Thou made times. But if
  before heaven and earth there was no time, why is it asked, What did Thou
  then? For there was no “then” when time was not.

This topic was automatically closed 6 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.