Day for a year

by startingover 17 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • hmike

    Leolaia, Narkissos, Pete, Paudin, any other scholars:

    Assuming that the first chapter was composed by the Elohistic source, this person, or group, would have been well-educated and observant of the natural world. Understandably, they put the creation of plant life before animal life because animals needed vegetation for food, comfort, and shelter. They also would have known enough to realize that plants need light to survive based on the lack of plant life in perpetually dark areas, like caves, hence, the creation of light before vegetation. But they also must have realized that all light has to have a source, so why not have the sun created before plant life?

    Not relevant to this question, but I'd like to point out that light is electromagnetic radiation in a range that our optical system can detect, from 4000 Angstroms to 7000 Angstroms. So, actually, what makes light special is that it can be perceived by humans. Now we have technology that allows us to "see" outside of this range. So what can be considered light would depend on the one perceiving. The emission of EM radiation occurs when atoms change energy levels, so the generation of radiation requires the existence of matter. Maybe Day 1 was the creation of matter. It's something the ancient people wouldn't have understood, but still, it could be something to ponder.

  • hamsterbait

    Any High school graduate could have refuted the creation crap in the "Paradise lost to Paradise regained" book in 1958.

    How is it that the all knowing all powerful god told his only appointed representatives to print toilet paper that they would have to renage on 40 years later.

    No geologist would say the earth took 40, 000 years to go from molten rock to what we see now. They did and are now eating humble pie.

    Maybe it's like the feast Jesus spoke of. Someone took a high seat he thought he deserved, and was told to move down, in front of all the other guests.


  • Narkissos


    It is true (as Westermann and others have pointed out) that the Priestly writer of Genesis 1 has a sort of "pre-scientific" interest in the order of the world. However, the sequence of days follows an obvious formal pattern (partly derived from earlier cosmogonies) which can be summed up as A. creating a frame by separation of antithetic elements out of an original indistinction; B. populating this frame:

    Day 1: separation of light / darkness....... Day 4: sun / moon and stars
    Day 2: separation of up / down waters..... Day 5: birds / fish
    Day 3: separation of sea / land............... Day 6: land animals / man

    Iow, the sun is to the light of day what the birds are to the heavens, the moon and stars are to the darkness of night what the fish are to the sea. It is a different logic (but a logic nonetheless). And imo putting the light first answers theological/philosophical considerations rather than natural observation.

  • Leolaia
    Assuming that the first chapter was composed by the Elohistic source

    Actually it fits with the language and style of the so-called Priestly (P) source.

    But they also must have realized that all light has to have a source, so why not have the sun created before plant life?

    Because the author already believed that light existed independent of the main luminaries. Since the darkness was on the face of the watery deep, the banishment of darkness to the temporal abode of "Night" would involve its replacement by light during "Day". I'm not sure if the author is at all concerned about where the light comes from, anymore than where the darkness comes from. Light simply appears at its designated time, presumably on the face of the deep as well.

    BTW, the literary structure of the narrative requires a creation of luminaries later than the creation of light. The whole act of creation is placed in a temporal day-night scheme which marks the passage of units of time, and thus the first act had to be the creation of this temporal scheme. However, since this was the first act, there would be no heaven in which to locate luminaries, as heaven was not created until Day 2. The cosmos at this point is nothing but the watery deep and darkness and wind on top of it. Short of placing the sun and moon inside the watery deep, it doesn't make much sense to describe the creation of the luminaries before the division of the waters. The interesting question tho is why God is not depicted as creating the luminaries on Day 3; why did the creation of vegetation have to precede the luminaries? This is again due to the literary structure. The first three days involved the creation of the environment through division, the last three days involved the creation of the inhabitants of the environment. The first day involved the creation of Day and Night; the fourth day populated Day and Night with the luminaries designed to rule over them. The second day involved the creation of Heaven and the two watery deeps; the fifth day poplated Heaven with birds and flying creatures and the ocean with sea creatures. The third day involved the creation of Land and plants; the sixth day involved the creation of land animals and man (given every plant to eat). The literary structure is also dependent on Psalm 104, which was a primary source of the creation narrative: (1) Light, v. 1; (2) Stretching the heavens out and placement of the "waters above", v. 2; (3) Gathering the terrestial watery deep into one place to create land, v. 5-9; (4) Vegetation to be used as food, v. 14-17; (5) Luminaries, v. 19-24; (6) Sea creatures, v. 25; (7) All other creatures (v. 27-30).

    Maybe Day 1 was the creation of matter.

    Actually, the narrative assumes that there was matter in the beginning (Genesis 1:2), but it was in a chaotic, unordered state. Creation involved a rearranging of matter (if such a concept as "matter" is at all appropriate), so that the heavens, the heavenly waters, land, and the seas were created through dividing what existed in the beginning in different ways.

  • hmike

    Thanks for the replies. Sorry about the errors. I'm even more rusty with JDEP than I am with physics.

    This is getting even further off the subject, but is there ancient literary support for the Gap hypothesis (i.e., Genesis 1 is about the re-creation of earth after a calamity)?

  • peacefulpete

    you can knock off calling me a scholar hmike, I'm not nearly as educated or perceptive as I pretend to be. Anyway the Gap theory is just another spin by creationists eager to appear scientific. As I understand the theory they insert 4 billion years, the creation of a world of plants, animals and protomen, then world destruction by flood between vs 1 and 2. So no, there is not any texual evidence that the author of Gen 1 meant that the world we now know is the rerun of an earlier failure. The creation of the sun and moon as part of the sequence would seem a problem for this idea.

  • Leolaia

    If anything, there is textual evidence that the sentence in v. 1 is a dependent clause on v. 2, and thus does not refer to any other time previous to the situation described in v. 2. The critical word br'syt, usually translated "in the beginning", is composed of a preposition and the verbal noun rs'yt -- which occurs 50 times in the OT and in nearly all of these it occurs not as an absolute state (e.g. functions by itself) but as a construct state, meaning that it functions in close connection with another noun. See, for instance, Jeremiah 26:1, "In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim". In other words, the word could be understood as "In [the] beginning of" instead of "In [the] beginning", tho the interpretation of this passage remains ambiguous and controversial. If we understood the initial noun as in a construct state, we might translate as:

    "When God began to create the heavens and the earth, the earth was non-existent and without order (thw-w-bhw), and darkness lay upon the primeval deep and God's wind was moving across the surface of the waters. Then God said, "Let there be light!' And there was light" (Genesis 1:1-3)

    This rendering is thus found in the NEB, NAB, NJPS, RSV, and AB, but usually in footnotes. Young's Literal Translation also reads: "In the beginning of God's preparing the heavens and the earth..." The traditional rendering is maintained in most other translations. Also consider how many other ANE creation stories begin with a temporal clause. Examples:

    "When Yahweh God made earth and the heavens, there was not yet any plant of the field on the earth nor had any shrub yet sprung up" (J's Creation Story; Genesis 2:4b-5)
    "When nothing at all had yet come forth, while the earth was still in night and darkness...." (Egyptian Creation Story, cited in Westerman, p. 104)
    "When on high the heaven had not been named, firm ground below had not been called by name, then it was that the gods were formed within them..." (Enuma Elish)
    "At the beginning of everything there was darkness and a strong wind or darkness and a whining wind and a black slimy chaos. It was unordered and undefined and remained so for an age" (Philo of Byblos, Phoenician History)

    Some Gap theorists try to translate the passage in a manner that supports their belief (e.g. "In a former state, God created the heavens and earth. But the earth had become a ruin and a desolation, and the darkness of judgment was upon the face of it"), but I know of no Hebrew scholar who would render the passage in such a way, and the reading creates many problems (such as, "What was the former state?", "How did the earth become a ruin?" "The judgment is of what?", "If it is the earth that was ruined, why are the heavens created again?"), and the entire Gap theory is supported by a rather creative mixing of passages (such as Ezekiel 28) which have nothing to do with the present text.

  • heathen

    garybus --- It doesn't call the serpent the devil in genesis but if you read in revelation the dragon is refered to as the original serpent and also called devil and satan . Rev 20:2 .

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