Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Did the Ancients Interpret Their Cosmologies Literally?

The blogosphere is abuzz with discussion about Kevin deYoung’s post, 10 Reasons to Believe in a Historical Adam. James McGrath responded to deYoung’s post, as did Joel Watts.

Charles Halton has an excellent response to deYoung, and Charles links to an older post that he wrote on whether the ancients interpreted their cosmologies literally. Charles argues that they did not necessarily, whereas, in the Comments section, Doug Becker of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School holds that they may have.

I find the discussion on Charles’ blog refreshing because, in many cases, I think that people use the canard of “Genesis 1 was not intended to be a literal account of creation, but was poetry” without offering support for that proposition. It’s like they’re just saying that so they can believe in the Bible and evolution at the same time, which means that they’re projecting their modern concerns onto the ancients. Charles and Doug, by contrast, offer actual arguments on whether or not the ancients interpreted their cosmologies in a literal, factual manner, based (in large part) on the ancients themselves.


  1. Have you come across:
    The Evolution of Adam

  2. Yeah, that's actually the book that's been igniting the debate on the blogosphere! I haven't read it yet---only some of Enns' Biologos articles.

  3. E. W. Faulstich’s chronology is strong evidence to refute those that would undermine truth of the Bible.
    “Adam was born 3/24/4001 BC.”
    “Two days earlier earth, moon, mercury, venus, and mars were in 343 degree geocentric alignment.”
    His books are available free through his website for postage.

    “Eugene Faulstich, of the Chronology-History Research Institute, refined the above Ussher method. He knew that Biblical months always began on the evening of a new moon, and that years began on a vernal equinox. So Faulstich used a computer program to calculate many timing cycles, including precise moon phases, vernal equinoxes, Sabbath and Jubilee years, priestly cycles, astronomical events such as eclipses, and also backward-extrapolated Gregorian (modern calendar) equivalent dates. By careful study of Biblical texts, as well as some extra-Biblical sources such as Babylonian king-lists, he arrived at what he considers much more precise dating of most Old Testament events. For example, his creation week occurred March 20-26, 4001 BC, at a time known to have a highly unusual planetary alignment. He based his work on the Hebrew (Masoretic) text.. E.W. Faulstich, Bible Chronology and the Scientific Method, Part II : Creation Through the First Temple., (Spencer, Iowa: Chronology-History Research Institute, 1990 ). “

  4. Response to Timothy Law also.

    See there or at DeYoung's blog. Too many characters for here.

    ” 5. The genealogies in 1 Chronicles 1 and Luke 3 treat Adam as historical.

    ... that Jewish readers of Scripture felt these bits of genealogical information could be manipulated.”

    Click at Science and God in Balance for free book.
    P. iii introduction: “A. From Hebrew Sources:
    1. The Masoretic Text:
    Years of study have demonstrated that the Hebrew Bible (called the Tanach) contains the most accurate
    of all chronologies. It begins with Creation and ends with the destruction of Jerusalem 3413 years later in
    588 B.C.E. It contains one or two minor discrepancies, but another text contains a reference which correctly
    modifies it. These concepts will be shown to be accurate in the following pages.2. The Septuagint:
    The Septuagint was translated by Jews. Its chronology is corrupt. It has added 100years to many of the ages of the patriarchs, as it is compared to the Hebrew text. If the Septuagint were accurate, there would be many of the pre flood men still alive after the flood of Noah….

    4. Samaritan Pentateuch:
    The Samaritans are a mixed breed, a sect of ancient Israel who have survived the thousands of years of
    exile, and still live in the Holy Land. Their canon consists of the five books of Moses. The chronology is
    obviously corrupt in their text because it omits a hundred years from the ages of many of the patriarchs. The
    flood took place when Methuselah died, according to the meaning of his name. According to Hebrew
    chronology, he died in year 1656, the year of the flood. According to the Samaritan text, he and many other
    men who were born pre-flood, would have had to live through the flood of Noah.

  5. This is second part of previous comment.

    Chapter II, Bible Chronology
    You shall not add to the word which I command you,
    neither shall you diminish nothing from it (Dt. 4:2)
    I. Introduction to Bible Chronology
    Chronology is the backbone of history. This portion of the book will examine the details of Bible chronology.
    Parts of the historical record have been shrouded in mystery, and so they were difficult for the best
    of the sages to understand. These included such items as the time spent in Egypt, and the duration of the
    Persian rule. My intelligence is not to be compared with the wisdom of the sages, however I have at my disposal
    tools which the sages did not have. Astronomy is an exact science, and through the use of it, we can
    make chronology an exact science too. An outline of Bible chronology will be shown which shows the actual
    age of the universe as was calculated by our scholars at Chronology-History Research Institute (CHRI) compared
    to that which appears in the Seder Olam (SO) as given by Jose Halafta, the standard Jewish chronology.
    A running difference between the two is shown on the right -most column. A brief discussion will be
    made at each juncture in history where it was necessary to deviate from the SO and why. When the construction
    is finished, computers will be used to grade the two chronologies for accuracy.
    A. Creation Week & Genesis chapter 5
    The sages are not in agreement with the date of Creation. Some argue that it took place in the spring
    of the year, and others that it took place in the fall. The SO has chosen the fall. We started with the
    premise that it was in the spring of the year, because Moses clearly identifies Nisan as the first month of
    the year (Ex. 12:1). Furthermore, Nisan was considered the first month of the year even through the time of
    the second Temple destruction. Computers will later be used to validate a spring Creation rather than a fall
    creation. Our method, however, does not demand that we make that decision now. It allows us to work forward
    from Creation to a year in modern history where we can tie secular and Bible chronology together, and
    then work back to Creation, making sure that all of the Sabbath cycles remain intact.
    C. H. R. I. SO Rabba Difference
    Reference Add Event Total Total
    Ex. 12:1 0 Creation Spring Creation Autumn Creation -.5
    Gen. 1:26 130 Adam 0 0 -.5
    Gen. 5:3 105 Seth 130 130 -.5
    Gen. 5:6 90 Enosh 235 235 -.5
    Gen. 5:9 70 Kennan 325 325 -.5
    Gen. 5:12 65 Mahalalel 395 395 -.5
    Gen. 5:15 162 Jared 460 460 -.5
    Gen. 5:18 65 Enoch 622 622 -.5
    Gen. 5:21 187 Methusaleh 687 687 -.5
    Gen. 5:25 182 Lamech 874 874 -.5
    Gen. 5:28 600 Noah 1056 1056 -.5
    Gen. 7:11 4 The flood of Noah 1656 1656 -.5
    B. The Flood of Noah & Genesis 11
    The SO counts the birth date of Arpachshad, two years after the Flood began. CHRI chose to date the
    birth of Arpachshad two years after the Flood was over. I have done this out of respect for the Talmud,
    which states that there was no sex on the Ark, and the fact that he must have had two elder brothers, Elam
    and Ashur. The names of sons normally appear in the order of their birth. Elam-Ashur-Arpachshad, is the
    sequence given for their birth order.
    The birth date of Arpachshad, was 2 years after the Flood was over; Shem was 100 years old. The
    three sons of Shem were born in succession, first Elam, then Assur, and finally Arpachshad (Sanhedrin 69b)
    There was no sex during the Flood, Elam was born in 1658 (Sanhedrin 108b)
    Year 1658, Elam Year 1659, As sur Yr 1660, Arpaxshad
    Flood Duration 1560 Shem was born + 100 years = 1660, Arpachshad was born
    Flood Touching 2 Years Two Years After The Flood
    Year 1656 Year 1657″

    The whole book, Science and God in Balance, is free on-line.

  6. Haftarah for yesterday in which Torah sidrah was about Jethro-Job?

    Gene's chronology has 748 BC year of Uzziah's death. Jesus died 30 AD. 777 years apart.

    Uzziah was leper.

    Gospel for today.

    Mark 1.40-45 And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.

  7. Haftarah for yesterday in which Torah sidrah was about Jethro-Job?

    Gene's chronology has 748 BC year of Uzziah's death. Jesus died 30 AD. 777 years apart.

    Uzziah was leper.

    Gospel for today.

    Mark 1.40-45 And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.

  8. Sorry about long comment.


    Are you aware of John being a New Genesis?

    Have you seen any links of "protkletos" Andrew to first Adam of Genesis?

  9. I think you commented somewhere here on John being the New Genesis. I forget under which post, though.

  10. Before this discussion goes any further, I really should say that the ancients showed no sign of believing the earth to be a sphere, a planet. They didn't even know that the planets were planets, but called them wandering stars. Neither did they know that sun was a star, but instead it was a major god, a great lamp created and set in the sky by a god or other such descriptions. And ancients also demonstrated continually that they believed heaven and earth were two parallel planes and/or that they met at the horizon, and that the sun literally moved through the sky rather than the earth spinning, and the sun was a god or a great lamp that God could stop moving, and at night it had to hasten to return to the place where it rose each day. And an ancient Greek philosopher was accused of blasphemy for saying the sun was a huge firey rock, and another ancient Greek philosopher astonished his fellows by suggesting that the sun might be as large as the land of Greece itself. People simply didn't conceive of things like we did. Meanwhile, speaking of the Babylonian Map of the world, it agrees with the literary work, Sargon's Geography concerning the limits of the world known by the Babylonians. And ANEasterners like the Babylonians placed heaven directly overhead, the place where the gods lived, it wasn't light-years away. It could be reached, per stories, by riding on the back of an eagle. And the land of the dead lay beneath the earth (which the sun passed through at night on its way back to the far horizon to rise again).

    Paul Seely has published works outlining the cosmologies of primitive people, and the flat earth view is seemingly unanimous.

    In Egypt they also held less anthropomorphic views of the stretched out heavens, instead of always showing a goddess with her feet and toes on opposite horizons, they also used a ring-circle view, and the view that heaven was supported by four pillars at the far corners of the earth. In the Babylonian creation epic heaven is created by stretching out the body of a defeated goddess, and heaven is connected with the earth in various ways, in fact the Babylonian creation epic suggests that heaven is tethered to the earth in order to hold the earth up above the underworld and the watery chaos beneath.

    Also in such ancient views there were vast waters above the firmament (also in the Babylonian creation myth as well), and vast waters beneath the earth. It was the job of creator-deities to hold back primeval waters, to set the boundaries of the sea, and of the waters of the deep, and of the waters above the firmament; and to maintain the stability of the sky and of the earth, that it shall not be moved. The prologue to the Babylonian laws of Hammurabi state that Marduk makes firm the sky and earth.

    Please read my chapter, "On the Cosmology of the Bible," in The Christian Delusion and note my references to both Catholic and Evangelical scholars on these matters.

  11. Thanks for the information and the reference, Edward.


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