"I'm not interpreting it, I'm just reading it!"


(Richard Wright) #30

Hi Jonathan!

Sorry about the name mix-up.

This is from my 39-page apologetic paper comparing the Day Age and Framework theories of interpreting Genesis 1:

“However, every time that, “yom” appears with a number, 410 times outside of Genesis 1, it is translated as a literal 24-hour day in the Old Testament. Also, the Hebrew words for, “morning” and, “evening” used together, which occurs 38 times, always represent a regular day, as do the combinations of “yom” plus, “morning, used 23 times, and, “yom” plus, “evening” which is used 52 times.”


#31

Ever notice how the “And there was evening and there was morning, a Xth day” for each of the first 6 days? Where else have you ever seen a repeating piece of text? Try a hymn. Genesis 1 is a poem and literal history is not normally written in the form of poetry. There are other features of the Hebrew that also point to poetry, but this is the easiest for an English reader to see. Poetry can contain historic true but I don’t believe any of the other history in the OT is written in poetry.


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #32

If the Bible is the Word of God, then Who is Jesus Christ?

John 1:1-4 (KJV)
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 The same was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made.
4 In Him was life; and the life was the light of men.
John 1:14-15 (KJV)
14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only Begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.


(James McKay) #33

Ah, the good old “yom with a number” rule, which first appeared in material published by the Institute for Creation Research in the 1970s, only ever crops up in YEC attacks on the day-age, framework and gap interpretations, and is not recognised as a valid rule of Hebrew grammar by any Hebrew scholar outside the YEC community.


(Albert Leo) #34

Bravo, Roger. We must not lose sight of what we really mean when we call ourselves Christian. In my view, we should acknowledge the fact that the authors of Genesis (and other books of the O.T.) were people of great intellect, and God chose to reveal to them as much of His nature as their experiences on this earth had prepared them for. This initial covenant was sufficient to guide the Israelites to lead better lives (as a nation) than the heathen peoples surrounding them. However, as we Christians believe, the implications of that first covenant were not clearly understood–or sufficiently taken to heart, and thus a _New Covenant_ was required, one in which “_the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.”_Jesus himself was careful NOT to imply that his gospel was meant to replace the O.T. But is it possible to over-emphasize its relevance to modern times?

I greatly admire O.T. scholars, such as Richard Wright, whose studies give us the best perspective possible of what the original text must have meant to the original readers. But, for whatever good effect it had, the O.T. still fell short–at least in the eyes of Christians–and it necessitated Jesus’ mission and his suffering to set us straight.

IMHO the materialistic society in which we now live poses moral problems inconceivable to our forebears who made the earlier covenants with God. Sure, the basic core principles remain, but in determining how they actually apply we could use some new revelation. Studies on how many times ‘yom’ was used and in what context may be of intellectual interest, but of far greater importance is to guide bioethicists in how much freedom should be allowed to scientists using CRISPR-C9, for example, in altering the human genome to cure disease (e.g. such as cancer or Huntington’s). How should humankind avoid the danger expressed as: "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions." Personally I believe God has invited humans to become co-creators with Him, at least in the spiritual realm, the Noosphere. But I am truly frightened that we will ‘screw up’ in doing so in the Biosphere.
Al Leo


#35

Yes, it’s a very methodologically-flawed myth that has become a kind of “tradition” in some American Christian circles in just a few decades. Anybody with some basic linguistics background knows that just because a certain collections of texts (e.g., the Hebrew Old Testament) tends to use a word or phrase in a particular way does NOT mean that there is a rule requiring that alleged restriction.

Of course, that particular alleged rule of Hebrew grammar doesn’t even hold up consistently in the Old Testament itself. (A counter-example comes to mind from the Book of Joel.)

It is also worth mentioning that much of the OT is dealing with the Children of Israel, their kings, and chronologies of events. But in Genesis 1, for example, the context is entirely different. We aren’t looking at the day to day events in the nation of Israel. Indeed, it is not about human events at all. It is about God and his creation. So we would expect some of the words to potentially be used in ways which are different from various other books in the NT. (To give an example in English, I have a shelf of books dealing with Edwardian England, and the word class used in those books almost always refers to social classes. But if I grab one of my biology books, that particular definition of the word class would rarely if ever apply. Instead, class refers to a taxonomic classification of organisms. Context and subject matter can be far more important than some imagined “grammatical rule” created out of thin air to support a theological objective.)

These are topics that tend to raise my blood pressure, so I always have to temper my reactions. I just hate to see misled by poorly-evidenced scholarship.


Young Earth creationists go after the word 'yom' (again)
Help, Deuteronomy 13 and the Omphalos hypothesis
Innocence and Evolution: You Don't Have to Choose Between Christian Faith and Evolutionary Biology
(David Heddle) #36

In Leviticus (And Exodus) God talks about years (not days) and relates it to the Sabbath.

1 The LORD spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying, 2 "Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you come into the land that I give you, the land shall keep a Sabbath to the LORD. 3 For six years you shall sow your field, and for six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its fruits, 4 but in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a Sabbath to the LORD. You shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. (Lev 25:1-4)

It’s all about the right time scale for the job.


(Brad Kramer) #37

Just re-discovered this great blog post by Rachel Held Evans, relevant to this discussion: https://rachelheldevans.com/blog/bible-clear


(Laura) #38

Good point. That is actually a great rebuttal to what I have heard from Ken Ham many times, this one a quote from an Answers in Genesis article:

The seven-day week has no basis outside of Scripture. In this Old Testament passage [Exodus 20:11], God commands His people, Israel, to work for six days and rest for one—thus giving us a reason why He deliberately took as long as six days to create everything. He set the example for man. Our week is patterned after this principle. Now if He created everything in six thousand (or six million) years, followed by a rest of one thousand or one million years, then we would have a very interesting week indeed.

Seems God is capable of at least some flexibility when it comes to applying symbolic commands, despite what some imply.


(James McKay) #39

You’ve absolutely nailed it there. This must be the best takedown of the “yom with a number” fallacy that I’ve seen.


(George Brooks) #40

@J.E.S

So, when I read about the first 3 days of Creation, I see that it is not until the 4th day that we have the Sun created.

You would agree, then, that the 6 day creation story must be a parable, yes?

I mean … come on… we weren’t born yesterday. You can’t have a day without the sun indicating a night and day has passed.

Right?


(Tom Larkin) #41

In my strong opinion, these verses are to be taken very literally. This comes from the sermon on the mount where Jesus is providing clarity regarding if you want to be declared righteous before God under the Law. It would be better to lose your right hand than to be declared unrighteous before God. Thank God, through Jesus death and resurrection, we can claim his righteousness before God.

This is why Jesus said “Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet even the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” as he died before the age of Grace.


(Matthew Pevarnik) #42

I’m familiar with this idea regarding the Sermon on the Mount… that Jesus’ main point is just to show us that we cannot ever fulfill the law and thus are set to be eternally condemned under it, thus making his death and resurrection all the more valuable. In other words, it doesn’t really apply to the Christian believer anymore as they have been set free from the fullest and strictest requirement of the law (as given in the Sermon on the Mount).

Either way, you are doing a lot of interpretation there which in some sense is also proving @Christy 's point that the plain sense of Scripture (i.e. ‘just reading it’) does not capture the essence of God’s word and thus ‘just reading it’ with Genesis is a very precarious and dangerous thing to do.


(Tom Larkin) #43

I agree with both of you, but I think there is a difference between “just reading it” and letting the Bible just say what it says. As you say, lifting a single verse out of Scripture is always dangerous, or trying to base a belief system on a single verse. There are a few key rules that I find helpful in interpreting scripture:

  1. All scripture must be interpreted in the context of all other scripture. The Bible is one work with one author.
  2. Know who is speaking and who is the audience - is the text directed to the nation Israel? Is it directed toward believers? Is it directed toward non-believers?
  3. What is the current “dispensation”? Adam and Eve had just one rule to live by, the nation Israel was under the “Law”, we are now under “Grace” and (try to) keep His commandments out of love for Him.

Put in this framework, you can then let the Bible just say what it says.


(Matthew Pevarnik) #44

I can agree and disagree on #1. I would say all scripture must be interpreted in the context which it was written as it is one work but has multiple authors spanning centuries who lived in different times and in different places. This in a sense also helps address #2. Generally speaking though, I would argue very little is actually written directly to today’s believers as again, say the church at Corinth had a different culture and context than today’s world. I think it is also a dangerous thing to just find where the Scriptures are written to believers and then just let it say what it says.

For example, I think this blogger mentioned above highlights some excellent challenges to reading Scriptures plainly to believers even under this final dispensation of “Grace”:

or even more controversial in today’s church:


(Mervin Bitikofer) #45

While some frameworks are no-doubt better than others, and yours has much to commend it, even so I doubt any framework no matter how good gets one to a point where they can now passively let the Bible just “say what it says”. I propose that another rule to add to your good bunch might be: All of us in every place every time always bring our baggage with us and we’ll never escape the need to do interpretive work. So it is best just to acknowledge that and keep on eye on it as best we can.


(Chris Falter) #46

Hi Tom,

Hope you are doing well by God’s grace.

Most people don’t realize how much hard work, scholarship, and imagination are needed to apply your point #2. To truly understand the audience, you have to understand their culture very deeply. For example, which idioms are based on a literal understanding, and which are hyperbolic or symbolic? What are the common understandings of the role of the divine, of demonic forces, of human agents in natural events? What is the message that underlies the medium?

These questions that interpreters bring to the Hebrew, Aramaic and Grerk texts are not necessarily intractable, but they have demanded a lifetime of assiduous scholarship from our finest minds. And many questions are still subject to vigorous disagreement among faithful scholars.

Grace and peace,
Chris Falter


(Tom Larkin) #47

Very good points


(Tom Larkin) #48

Yes, i did not say the framework made it easy. I am resigned to the fact that there will be some things I will never understand, which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try your best to understand.

I did not mean to understate the effort involved, you bring up a good point.


(Jonathan) #49

@Relates
The Bible is simply the record of the Word of God (Jesus).

@heddle
Also in exodus, God does indeed talk about days (in reference to the Sabbath week), which I have recorded in another post.

@gbrooks9
I have also addressed this in a different post…unfortunately, this topic is now rather split… [quote=“pevaquark, post:42, topic:36573”]
Either way, you are doing a lot of interpretation there which in some sense is also proving @Christy 's point that the plain sense of Scripture (i.e. ‘just reading it’) does not capture the essence of God’s word and thus ‘just reading it’ with Genesis is a very precarious and dangerous thing to do.
[/quote] @pevaquark
Genesis is a lot more straightforward than other parts of scripture. [quote=“TGLarkin, post:43, topic:36573”]
I think there is a difference between “just reading it” and letting the Bible just say what it says. As you say, lifting a single verse out of Scripture is always dangerous, or trying to base a belief system on a single verse. There are a few key rules that I find helpful in interpreting scripture:

All scripture must be interpreted in the context of all other scripture. The Bible is one work with one author.
Know who is speaking and who is the audience - is the text directed to the nation Israel? Is it directed toward believers? Is it directed toward non-believers?
What is the current “dispensation”? Adam and Eve had just one rule to live by, the nation Israel was under the “Law”, we are now under “Grace” and (try to) keep His commandments out of love for Him.

Put in this framework, you can then let the Bible just say what it says.
[/quote]

Bang on! However…[quote=“TGLarkin, post:48, topic:36573, full:true”]
Yes, i did not say the framework made it easy. I am resigned to the fact that there will be some things I will never understand, which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try your best to understand.

I did not mean to understate the effort involved, you bring up a good point.
[/quote]

Mostly agreed, I would say, however, that the more “interpretation” that goes into any given interpretation, the farther from the pure truth it may get…Anyhow, I am still waiting for evidence from scripture (accompanied by sound reasoning) that points to a non-literal interpretation of Genesis.

I look forward to your responses!