The pronounciation of ancient Hebrew almost certainly changed a lot
over the 2000 years since Moses, and there were regional dialects (see
Judges 12:6). Scholars have only theories, and
modern Israeli Hebrew has dropped many of the distinct consonants and
vowels, to be easier to learn for European Jews. However, we will try to
learn "university" Hebrew - scholarly guesses at ancient Hebrew. These
are some simple terms to describe unfamiliar sounds:
unvoiced labial stop
voiced labial stop
voiced labial-dental fricative
unvoiced labial-dental fricative
unvoiced dental stop
voiced dental stop
unvoiced dental fricative
voiced dental fricative
unvoiced glottal stop
unvoiced glottal fricative
unvoiced dental sibilant
voiced dental sibilant
We know absolutely from St. Paul (1 Corinthians 10:11) that Genesis is to be
taken figuratively, and from the words of Christ (John 5:46), it is to be taken
prophetically. It is also literal, for these things *did* happen to them, for
Christ says that Abraham was. (So we can discount for the purposes of this
class theories that Genesis or parts of it are purely allegorical.) But there
is still much controversy over what exactly *is* the "Literal Meaning of
Genesis" - especially with the creation and flood stories.
1:1 אֵ֥ת הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם וְאֵ֥ת הָאָֽרֶץ׃ "the heavens and the earth." Isaiah 51:6, 40:22
Matthew 24:35. What is "heavens"? The word is used many times in scripture,
refering to Heaven the abode of Angels, Sky/atmosphere, Space/Celestial sphere.
Is this the heavenly and material realms? Or the universe as a whole,
and earth, our home in it?
1:2 Jeremiah 4:23 Revelation 20:13, 21:1
וְהָאָ֗רֶץ הָיְתָ֥ה תֹ֙הוּ֙ וָבֹ֔הוּ "And [or but] the earth was [or became]"
"formless and void/invisible"
וְחֹ֖שֶׁךְ עַל־ פְּנֵ֣י תְה֑וֹם "and darkness upon the face of [the] abyss" Was the
darkness of the abyss unenlighted spiritual beings? Or some part of the earth
וְר֣וּחַ אֱלֹהִ֔ים מְרַחֶ֖פֶת "and breath of Elohim brooded/hovered"
עַל־ פְּנֵ֥י הַמָּֽיִם׃ "upon the face of the waters"
1:3 John 1:5
וַיֹּ֥אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֖ים יְהִ֣י א֑וֹר וַֽיְהִי־ אֽוֹר׃ "And God said, "Light be!", and light was."
Was this the spiritual light of newly created heavenly beings? Or
1:4 Revelation 22:5
1:7 What was wrong with the second day?
1:14 Revelation 21:23
Overview of Theories of Genesis 1
Augustine Literal Meaning of Genesis, Book 1, Chap 19: Embarassment of bad
science presented as sacred truth to unbelievers. All theories of Genesis must acknowledge certain facts to be valid.
1:5 י֥וֹם אֶחָֽד (day one) refers to a day and night cycle. While yom can
mean "age", it never, ever means "age" with a number. And just in case you
still try to weasel out of it, וַֽיְהִי־ עֶ֥רֶב וַֽיְהִי־ בֹ֖קֶר (and evening was and morning
was) makes it absolutely clear. However, this does not rule out "day-age"
theories, since a day is defined by the observer (both in modern relativity
and in first millenium Greek science).
The Earth *appears* to be much older than 6000 years from earth's frame
of reference. This does not rule out "young earth" theories, as it may only
appear to be old.
God is the actor in the text. Undirected evolution is not compatible
Genesis does not say when the earth was created.
The 4004BC date derived from genealogies only tells when Adam was created.
There is no absolute time in our modern universe. There is not even a one true
ordering of events. This has been confirmed many times. To specify
a measurement of time, you must also specify the observer (or "frame of
reference"). Genesis does not explicitly specify the observer, and
the theories differ mainly in the presumed observer of the days.
We will read selections from Augustine addressing theories of Genesis in
the early church, including adaptations of Greek Cosmology. This will
remind us that science is always changing, and presenting it as
sacred truth is foolishness. The "firmanent" was the celestial sphere,
which kept Chaos ("waters") outside the ordered universe.
The days of Genesis one are measured from the frame of reference of Adam
(even though Adam could not be the observer).
This makes light 5 days older than Adam. Furthermore, "in the beginning"
is assumed to be the same day as light was created - making the universe
5 days older than Adam. This still doesn't explain how the earth *appears*
to be much older, so in addition there is the ...
Did Adam have a belly button? Did the trees in the
Garden have rings? Omphalos is Greek for "belly button", and
accordingly Adam did have a belly button, and the trees had rings.
All things were created mature. Apparent age is based on comparison
with the observed development of a similar process, and is based on
assumptions for unique events like cosmology.
The observer is God, with whom "a day is as a thousand years".
By extension, each day is an age. Not because yom can mean "age"
(it doesn't in Genesis) but because God is the observer, and He is
outside time. Each day is interpreted as an epoch in the formation
of earth and development of life according to 20th century science.
The observers were the Angels, Job 38. Augustine favored this
view. The angels do not inhabit our universe, or its time. So there
is no corresponding earth measurement. In this view, the days are
days of a "seminar" where the design of the new world is proclaimed
as three realms, with rulers of each realm:
1. The realm of light and darkness.
2. The realm of sea and sky.
3. The realm of dry land.
4. Sun to rule day, moon and stars to rule night.
5. Fish to rule sea, birds to rule sky.
6. Animals to rule dry land.
The observer is the cosmic background radiation. The universe was
formless during the first few moments, vibrating as it expanded and cooled,
until matter cooled enough to separate from light. That first light is still
visible (at microwave frequencies now), and it records the
vibrations of the universe for the first few minutes (from the reference
frame of the light) after the separation of darkness (matter) and light.
From the point of view of the cosmic background, the universe is about 5½
days old. The days of Genesis are stages in the evolution of the universe,
and then our earth. It is Day Age updated for modern cosmology.
Gap Theory Modifier
Genesis 1:2 can be translated, "but the earth became formless and an empty
waste". The idea is that the earth created in 1:1 was destroyed by the fall
of Lucifer, and made inhabitable again beginning in 1:3. This theory
must be combined with one of the others to specify an observer of the days.