The 24 hour "evening and mornings" ???

Bill Rea cctr114 at it.canterbury.ac.nz
Tue Aug 29 18:19:43 EDT 2000


John Ronning wrote:-

>Thanks to astrophysics we now know the answer to that one -
>it's not anachronistic at all.  The earth, along with the
>rest of our solar system, began as a dark amorphous (tohu
>wabohu) cloud of hydrogen along with some heavier stuff
>which began to contract due to gravity.  The particles
>accelerated towards the center, and after a time they were
>going fast enough that the whole cloud began to glow (there
>was light).  Some time later, the outer planets formed, and
>there would have been light only on the side towards the
>center (God separated the light from the darkness).  Even
>after the sun was formed, the primitive earth atmosphere was
>a dense cloud (like it says in Job 38:9), and the sun was
               ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>not visible until the production of sufficient oxygen
>cleared the atmosphere.  The order of the six phases in
>Genesis 1 is quite correct both astronomically and
>geophysically.

While this is all very interesting, citing Job in support of your
argument isn't a good thing to do.

Job is an exceptionally difficult book to understand partly because of
its size, being devoted to a single question known as theodicy or --
How can we reconcile an ethical and all-powerful God with the fact that
countless righteous people suffer through no fault of their own? But
also the very power of the poetry itself makes it difficult to get
beyond the surface. This is, without a doubt, the most difficult book
in the Bible to translate. There are large sections where even the best
Hebrew scholars are left bewildered as to how best translate it.

Job usually gets quoted for a few proof-texts or as a whipping boy
for those who agree with his three friends. But the fact that
Job finds the answer sufficient for himself tells us there is far
more to this book than a superficial reading reveals.

Some of those proof-texts are exactly like the one cited above -- looking
for science in ancient poetry. I don't know of anyone who reads
English poetry looking for an accurate presentation of our present
day scientific knowledge. Why? Because poetry is not about science
in the manner of a scientific journal article. Poetry is about
building images, capturing in words the indescribable, conveying
feeling and emotion. So if we don't do this with English poetry
what is our excuse for doing in with Hebrew poetry?

There is no question that the book of Job is the pinnacle of Biblical
poetry, and also one of the greatest works of poetry in the world. Its
anonymous writer can rightly take his place beside poets like Homer,
Euripides, and Shakespeare.  His work possesses phenomenal expressive
power coupled with an impressive technical mastery of his medium.

If Job gets his science right, it's purely coincidental, perhaps even
accidental. Try these verses from later in the same chapter (my
translations)

22 Have you come to the storehouse of snow   
   Or have you seen the storehouse of hail            
23 Which I hold back for the time of strife 
   For the day of battle and war?    

Or perhaps:-

31 Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades 
   Or untie the cords of Orion?   
   
All very bad science, but great poetry.


Bill Rea, Information Technology Dept., Canterbury  University  \_ 
E-Mail b dot rea at it dot canterbury dot ac dot nz             </   New 
Phone   64-3-364-2331, Fax     64-3-364-2332                   /)  Zealand 
Unix Systems Administrator                                    (/' 




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