@Christy, @Chris_Falter, @gbrooks9, @Edward
I took the time and read aforementioned JOT article and, for starters, noticed there’s a conflation in Christy’s statement. The article’s author, John R. Roberts, a Genesis 1-11 specialist, is the one who concluded from reviewing ANE literature that, “daylight is independent of the sun". The statement about sun only providing only, “warmth”, and not light, was the conclusion of Aalen, one of the scholars cited.
And as it turns out, neither conclusion is justified, at least not IMHO.
First, a refutation of the conclusion that the ANE held that daylight was independent from the sun. In all, the evidence is a mixed bag. Robert states that the Babylonian epic Enuma Elish has days before the sun was created. He states that in one of the Egyptian accounts, “From there the creator, the sun god, Ra, the embodiment of all life and energy, all light and warmth, rose for the first time casting his radiant light on the world.” But that to me says that the author of the account sees the sun as providing light for the earth. Some Sumerian accounts, not all, have daylight as independent of the sun. So, according to the evidence presented, there really is no overarching ANE view of, “daylight independent of the sun”.
And despite the above quote stating Ra provided light and warmth at creation, Roberts states the following:
The ancient Egyptians believed that at the end of the day, Nut swallowed the sun god, Ra—and gave birth to him again the next morning. They had a book of the day and a book of the night. The day and the night were each divided into twelve hours. The book of the day described the passage of the twelve hours of day and the book of the night, the passage of the twelve hours of night. Ra is depicted travelling through the day and the night. The day and the night are therefore independent of the sun god Ra.
Ra gets swallowed up by Nut, which gives birth to night, then gives birth to Ra the next morning, giving birth to day. But Roberts still concludes that, “Ra is depicted travelling through the day and the night. The day and the night are therefore independent of the sun god Ra.” Again, I just don’t agree with Robert’s conclusion, which actually seems to contradict not only the above but the following statement as well.:
There are two openings in the sky—the East Gate and the West Gate. The sun enters through one in the morning and exits through the other at dusk. During the night it follows the dark path of the underworld back to the East Gate.
This common worldview, as Roberts calls it, of the ancient Mesopotamian and Egyptians, shows that daylight, which disappears when the sun is following the dark path, is in fact dependent on the sun.
Turning to the biblical evidence that the sun only was thought to provide warmth and not daylight, Aalen says:
I find that Aalen is simply being misleading here. He’s trying to make the point that light in these passages comes from all the heavenly bodies, not just the sun. However, that point is simply not valid per the evidence.(Passages below from the NIV)
The moon will shine like the sun, and the sunlight will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven full days, when the Lord binds up the bruises of his people and heals the wounds he inflicted. (Isaiah 30:26)
This passage does in fact mention sunlight on its own. It only compares the moonlight to sunlight, but they are presented as separate entities.
The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. (Isaiah 60:19)
In this passage Isaiah not only sees sunlight and moonlight as separate entities, he also clearly sees the sun as being the, “light by day”.
'This is what the Lord says, he who appoints the sun to shine by day who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—the Lord Almighty is his name:' (Jeremiah 31:35)
Again, sunlight is presented as distinct from moonlight and starlight, and is presented as the source of light in the day, and the moon and stars the source of light at night, as stated in Genesis 1:14-8. If anything, these passages show evidence FOR the ancient Hebrews seeing the sun as being responsible for daylight.
Here are supposed evidences from the Brown, Driver and Briggs OT Lexicon (1906):
“However, passages such as Pro 4.18; Ecc 12.2; Isa 5.30 suggest that in the biblical worldview the day has its own light independent of the sun.”
The 3 passages in the NIV are, in order, as follows:
The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.
before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark, and the clouds return after the rain;
In that day they will roar over it like the roaring of the sea. And if one looks at the land, there is only darkness and distress; even the sun will be darkened by clouds.
In these poetic passages, first, the path of the righteous is compared to the morning sun, “shining ever brighter until the full light of day”. Translating the Hebrew, ‘or’ as “morning gleam” (as in other translations) instead of, “morning sun” doesn’t change anything, because the morning gleam, or sunshine, can only be due to the sun. The second passage can be interpreted any number of ways. The third merely says that the clouds will darken the sun. I guess he means to say that there is no sunlight with clouds according to the passage, but that’s not what it’s saying. It’s clear - these passages simply don’t support the conclusion that, “the day has its own light, independent of the sun”.
And isn’t the whole point made moot by the first chapter of the bible itself, which says in Genesis 1:14-8:
‘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, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good.’
It’s clear that the author saw the sun as the source of daylight, and the moon for night-time light (presumably the stars for night-light as well, from the way the verse is worded and Jeremiah 31:35). There is no other light source.
Having given up on concording Genesis 1 with science, I adopted the Framework Theory as an explanation for the text, which I see as wholly theological in nature. The framework schema is:
(That is from my apologetic paper that argues against concordance, which you may read here here if you like.) According to the theory, God created 3, “kingdoms”, in days 1 through 3 then filled them in with their ruling, “kings” in days 4-6. If this theory is correct, then the light in vs. 3-5 is to create the kingdom for it’s rulers, the sun, moon and stars. It doesn’t relate to anything that happened in the physical world, which should be sensible in the non-corcordist view. If you want to concord that text with science, then you have 2 discomforting options. One, that there was some sort of light God provided for the the first 3 days that disappeared in day 4, which theologically is semi-absurd. Or, which is popular now, that the sun, moon and stars were already in existence but appeared on day 4 when the methane haze disappeared, causing the sky to form which allowed the lights to become visible. But then why does the text state that the luminaries were, “created” on day 4? That just shows the impossibility of Genesis 1 to be concorded.
I could have made this response much longer, every passage I checked out from the article, and there were probably 10 more that I did, didn’t say what the author said they did. But the lesson for this post is not what to believe the light in Genesis 1:3-5 is, it’s that just because a scholar (or scholars, Roberts and Aalen in this case) says he/she proved something from a list of passages, it doesn’t mean they did. Everyone has a bias - Roberts, the author, is on the conservative side, wanting to accept the traditional interpretations whenever possible, though he shows stout objectivity with the, ‘raqia’, stating that it can only mean a solid dome (though I’m not sure what Roberts’ presupposition would be for, “light before the sun”, other than wanting to avoid a logical incoherence or that the bible mentioned something that has no correlate in the real world). That said, it’s easy to commit bible eisegesis, reading our presuppositions into a text, rather than exegesis, or proper, objective interpretation, and that’s what I believe Roberts and Aalen (and others in the article) did with passages on the sun and light in the bible.