the twenty-four hour day

Bryan Rocine brocine at earthlink.net
Wed Aug 30 17:08:47 EDT 2000


The following is forwarded from Dave Washburn:

Michael,

>
> >  On Tue, 29 Aug 2000, Dave Washburn wrote:
> >
> > > Michael,
> > > > Dave,
> > > > The sun and moon are simply God's time pieces.
> > >
> > > So what?  Assuming this statement is correct, which is
> > > questionable, before these "timepieces" there would
have
> been no
> > > such discerning of time, so I don't see what this adds
> to the
> > > discussion.
> >
> > I am summarizing my view by this statement, it doesn't
add
> to it.
>
 In that case, how about expanding on that statement for me
 so I
 can follow your reasoning about these "timepieces."
>
> > > Evening and
> > > > Morning existed before the sun and moon were
created.
> > >
> > > How?  That's the whole question.  Simply saying it is
so
> isn't
> > > enough.
> > >
> >
> > I am simply stating what the text says.  If I am to
> understand what the
> > author is presenting in Gen 1, I must understand that
for
> him, evening a=
> nd
> > morning existed before the sun and moon.  You *must*
> understand that tha=
> t
> > is what the author is *saying* whether or not that makes
> sense to us.
> > The language is clear.
>
 But that's just the problem, isn't it?  The language isn't
 clear,
 because any reader, ancient or modern, would have seen the
 problem of "evening and morning" 3 days before "sun and
 moon."
 So it seems to me we're not getting very far with this line
 of
 reasoning.  Yes, the text "says" evening and morning.  I
 have a
 text in my library that says "he kicked the bucket."  The
 question
 is not what the words themselves say, but what the writer
 was
 trying to convey.
>
> > > Evening and
> > > > morning exist if it is cloudy in our present day.
You
> may argue tha=
> t the
> > > > sun and moon are despite the clouds in the way, but
> you are not
> > > > understanding the phenominality (is that a word?) of
> the text.
> > >
> > > I don't see how one follows from the other.  Of course
> cloudy days
> > > have evening and morning, because these phenomena are
> caused
> > > by the rotation of the earth in relation to the sun
and
> moon, which
> > > is exactly my point.  As concerns the text, whether we
> speak of
> > > earth's rotation or of heavenly orbs rising and
setting,
> the
> > > phenomena of evening and morning still owe their
> existence to the
> > > presence of those orbs, however limited their
visibility
> may be at
> > > times.  I have no idea what you mean by "phenominality
> (is that a
> > > word?) of the text."  Literal evening and morning
> without at least a
> > > sun is an absurdity.
> >
> > According to what the author writes in Gen 1, morning
and
> evening existe=
> d
> > before the sun and moon.  The text does not speak of the
> rotation of the
> > earth.  And, BTW, there was *light* before the creation
of
> sun and moon.=
>
> > This is what the text states.  "Literal evening and
> morning without at
> > least a sun is an absurdity" only if you take the point
of
> view outside
> > that of the author.  Obviously, he did not think it was
> absurd.  He was
> > well aware that he was presenting the sun as created
after
> the creation =
> of
> > light.  The point of view is that of one on the earth.
If
> you see light
> > coming, the appearance would be like morning, its
leaving
> like evening.
>
 Once again, this does not deal with the problem.  Yes there
 was
 "light."  What was the nature of it?  We don't know.  I am
 not
 taking a point of view outside that of the author, I am
 trying to
 understand what the author had in mind.  You seem to think
 there
 is only one possibility; I disagree.  You say it's literal,
 I say it's
 metaphorical, and I find several indicators in the text
that
 hint at
 use of extended metaphor in this passage (sun and moon
being
 just one such indicator).  I still haven't seen a sound
 argument
 against the text's use of metaphor, unless you also insist
 on
 saying that the other author I mentioned wants me to think
 the
 character literally slammed his foot against a pail and
then
 went on
 about his business.  Metaphor is common in the Hebrew
Bible,
 and
 we have to deal with it even when it shakes our tree a
 little.
>
> > > The text
> > > > describes things as one would view it from earth.
> > >
> > > Oh, of course.  So even without the sun, an observer
on
> earth
> > > would be able to discern evening and morning by
recourse
> > > to...what?  You're just digging a hole for yourself
> here.  Once again,=
>
> > > trying to insist on a literal "evening and morning"
> without the sun as=
>
> > > a reference point would be utterly absurd, especially
to
> an observer
> > > on earth.
> > >
> > > I fail to see how
> > > > one should take evening and morning any other way
than
> literal.  How=
>  would
> > > > you *translate* evening and morning?  This would
> indicate how you
> > > > understand the terms.
> > >
> > > That's easy.  "Pause, move on to the next step."
> > >
> >
> > Do you have any other passage where it should be
> translated that way?  I=
> f
> > not, you are resorting to special pleading.
>
 It's already been pointed out that there are no such "other
 passage" citations, so this is one of those straw men you
 mentioned in your first paragraph.  Once again, I'm looking
 at the
 passage and trying to understand what the author meant; in
 particular, I see indications that s/he was using
 metaphorical
 terms.  And as Peter pointed out, the only other passage
 that
 seems to use a similar formula indicates 12-hour time
 cycles, not
 24, so trying to resort to other passages simply digs the
 hole
 deeper.  Let's stick to the text at hand, shall we?

> > > Would you translate them "evening and morning" with
> > > > a little aside "hey that's what I said, but I really
> mean it
> > > > differently"?  If it isn't literal (as both of the
> terms are used
> > > > *everywhere* else), what is it?
> > >
> > > The mnemonic structure of the passage has already been
> > > observed, and your reductio ad absurdum did not refute
> it.  I would
> > > also point to the clear poetically-inspired structure
of
> the passage. =
>
> > > There is no need to try and force literalness on these
> terms, and in
> > > fact there are many good reasons not to when we look
at
> the text
> > > in its historic, linguistic and formal context.
> >
> > I am not sure that the structure is for mnemonic
purposes
> nor how that
> > relates to my argument.  It *is* highly structured, but
> for memory?  How
> > does a "poetically-inspired structure" refute our
> necessity of
> > understanding the language here as simply language?
> Poetry must also be
> > understood literally.
>
 LOL.  Poetry is the ultimate in NON-literalness, in every
 language
 where it exists.  Poetry is the art of word pictures.  But
I
 guess that
 when Song of Songs says that the beloved's nose is a tower,
 we
 should picture a honker the size of the Sears Tower.  Or
 when
 Psalms says "I wither away like grass" we need to picture
 the
 writer literally shriveling up, perhaps curling over 2 or 3
 times,
 turning brown and his body tumbling off motionless legs.
Or
 perhaps in Psalm 1, the man who delights in YHWH's law
 sticks
 his feet into the dirt beside the stream, holds his arms
out
 like
 branches and waits for birds to build a nest on his head.
 In Psalm
 91 we have to conclude that God has feathers and wings.
 Come
 on, Michael.  I think you know better than this.

> It must be understood as poetry (which Gen 1 is
> > not), but still literally-or perhaps better-literarily.
> That is
> > understanding its poetic idioms as just that. If a text
> exists in poetry=
> ,
> > then the language can be described in terms of clearly
> defined figures o=
> f
> > speech.
>
 Now we're getting somewhere.  It's clear that you have a
 rather
 elastic definition of "literally."  That should have been
 made clearer
 at the outset.  However, you have in no way demonstrated
 that Gen
 1 is not poetic, or more precisely, poetically-inspired.
 Again,
 simply saying it does not make it so.

> What figures of speech exists in this text?  If you
examine
> the
> > terms used in Gen 1, they cannot be classified as
idomatic
> language or
> > figures of speech.
>
 Once again, simple assertion is not proof.  I can easily
 conclude
 that "evening and morning" without a sun and moon are just
 that:
 figures of speech.  And I suspect that an ancient Hebrew
 reader,
 coming upon the same phenomenon, would reach the same
 conclusion.  I strongly suggest you look again at the other
 posts
 on this thread, especially those related to memory devices,
 repetition etc. (repetition and restatement tend to be
 common
 features in Hebrew poetics) and consider them a little more
 carefully.

> If they could, one could put a name on the type of
> > figure (for an overwhelming list of figures of speech,
see
> Bullinger
> > _Figures of Speech_, I'm sure you are aware of this
> work-if only to prop
> > your door open!).
>
 I'm aware of the book; I'm also aware of how severely
 outdated it is.
 Hardly something to hang one's hat on.  At the same time,
 dragging him into it is pointless, because I've already put
 a name
 on the figure of speech represented by the "evening and
 morning"
 formula: metaphor.  More important, though, is the question
 of what
 type of literature we're dealing with here.  It's not
simple
 "history" or
 narrative; the repetition of the formula rules that out.
 The "evening
 and morning" motif looks an awful lot like a refrain of the
 type used
 in several psalms and other poetic passages, so we can't
 legitimately give it the simplistic kind of reading that
 you're
 suggesting.  If you have something to back up your
assertion
 beyond simply saying "this is how it is" I am interested in
 seeing it.


Dave Washburn
http://www.nyx.net/~dwashbur
"Éist le glór Dé."





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