The 24 hour "evening and mornings" ???

Ian Hutchesson mc2499 at mclink.it
Mon Aug 28 23:58:25 EDT 2000


>It is my belief that, linguistical arguments which contradict 
>sound theological answers -- should be taken with a grain
>of salt the size of Lot's wife.

"Sound theological answers" is a polite way to talk about an individual's
personal or received interpretation of a text and has in itself, no value
*whatsoever* as evidence in understanding the significance of a text. It is
the text we are dealing with. What does it mean? I mean without the
accretions of a few thousand years that we have imposed on the text, but
what it actually says. It is very hard to look at a text without projecting
these "sound theological answers" onto the text and obscuring the little we
can extract from words written by people who can no longer indicate what
their intentions were. (Remember how the Bible was used by southern slavers
to justify slavery: "sound theological answers"? Well, they thought so.)

Our efforts are to reconstruct the context in which a text was written (and
that includes the linguistic context), for without a contextualisation a
text cannot be understood. This context is merely a necessary requirement,
not a sufficient one, ie you need the context but that's not all.

Going back to the text of Genesis 1, what is there in the particular text
which suggests that the writer was dealing with anything other than a 24
hour day?

He writes of God working during the day, then evening comes, then morning
and the day is finished. Each day is illustrated that way. What is there in
the text which suggests that "evening" and "morning" here refer to anything
other than aspects of a 24 hour period?

Each of the terms has a normal clear simple significance. (And I commend
Peter Kirk for his attempt to read a parallelism in Is 61:2, though he
himself points out the flaw in his attempt: 'the parallel between "favour"
and "vengeance" seems odd.' There is nothing to suggest that "year" is
paralleled with "day": these are in fact two separate proclamations [in a
list of things that the writer has been appointed to do] vaguely related by
subject matter as other verses in the passage are.)

When God says to man that he shall eat of of the tree "all the days of your
life" (kl ymy xyyk), Gen3:17, does this imply anything other than each and
every 24 hour period?

The text of Genesis one is quite a complicated text which has among other
aims the setting out of certain calendrical matters: it establishes the
seven day week as well as clarifies the structure of the day, ie from
morning to morning as against the later evening to evening structure (which
apparently came in with the generalisation of the Passover feast which
started the evening before the day...). Then it presents a God who can
create without the necessity of physical involvement. (And many other
things...)

"Sound theological answers" are not evidence (though they may be sufficient
for guiding one's personal life). Mostly though, things done in scholarly
debate require evidence, and, without evidence, one cannot communicate much
other than beliefs or sentiments.


Ian







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