the twenty-four hour day

Ian Hutchesson mc2499 at
Wed Aug 30 18:40:53 EDT 2000

>> > 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 and
>> > morning existed before the sun and moon.  You *must*
>> > understand that that 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."

I think you are reading minds, Dave. There is nothing for you to base your
assumptions on about acient readers.

The language seems to be straightforward. You just seem to be having
problems fitting it into your ideas. The text talks of days. This normally
means periods of approximately 24 hours, or if you like the period from one
morning to the next. What *in the text* makes you think that the word
implies anything other than the common understanding? The best you've done
is to say without any evidence that you think that ancient people would
have had problems with there being light without the sun. You can't support
an argument with an unsupported assumption.

> 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.

You and I know that in our cultural heritage there is an expression "to
kick the bucket". What do you know about the author's cultural heritage
regarding the use of ywm? I think, very little.

>> > According to what the author writes in Gen 1, morning and
>> > evening existed 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 think that this is irrelevant, Dave. You are not dealing with the text,
but with your expectations of knowing what was in the writer's head. This
is no t necessarily a wrong thing, but I have seen no evidence that you
have any understanding of what was in the writer's head.

What we do know is that he thought it ok to place the creation of light
before the sun and moon. This all follows the preconceived structure of the
passage which involves the creation of the cosmos before populating it, so
naturally you would have light and dark before you had night and day
populated with sun and moon. This was also the case with the sea and the
the region between the firmament and the earth. They were created on day
two, yet the fish and birds were created on day five. (Yet again:

1 Light and dark           4. sun and moon
2 sea and sky              5. fish and fowl
3 land                     6. animals

obviously you could have light before the sun and moon.)

> 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 haven't seen *one* of your indicators, Dave, just your assumptions about
the aauthor and his reader without any ancient reasoning to support those

> I still haven't seen a sound
> argument against the text's use of metaphor,

I haven't seen one argument based on the text for a metaphorical analysis.
Of course you can make a metaphorical analysis, but it will probably be
totally unrelated to the author's intention.

> 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. 

Your analogy is simply inappropriate, Dave, as I have already mentioned.

> Metaphor is common in the Hebrew Bible, and we have to deal with it
> even when it shakes our tree a little.

Clearly. But show that there is any evidence of metaphor in THIS PASSAGE.

> 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. 

You have said this again, and again without any supporting evidence. Sorry,
Dave, but you're not getting anywhere this way.

> And as Peter pointed out, the only other passage that
> seems to use a similar formula indicates 12-hour time
> cycles, not 24,

It is not analogous and Peter is correct. It is, however, irrelevant.

> so trying to resort to other passages simply digs the hole
> deeper.  Let's stick to the text at hand, shall we?

Oh, please, Dave. Let's start to use it. Tell me from the text why you
think that there is a metaphorical use of the term ywm??


> Poetry is the art of word pictures. 

I'd avoid definitions that don't do the job. Word pictures are only one
type of tool available to the poet and an artisan doesn't always use the
same tools for the various jobs available.)

I'll avoid your banter about metaphor, though I wish you'd pull out some in
this passage.

>> 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. 

Of course you can. But what that has to do with the text, I cannot see.
You've made no connection between your conclusion and the text.

> And I suspect that an ancient Hebrew reader,

You can't without evidence.

> coming upon the same phenomenon, would reach the same
> conclusion. 

I'll just say "rubbish" here, until you can get past the "it's my opinion
based on my own personal experience" approach to the analysis.

> I strongly suggest you look again at the other posts
> on this thread, especially those related to memory devices,
> repetition etc. 

I strongly suggest you take the bit between your teeth and produce some
evidence for your so far unsupported conjectures, Dave. The stuff I have
read so far has no evidence in it at all to support what you intimate. All
you are doing is avoiding looking at the text by shooting holes in someone
else's arguments. That won't help you suport yours.

> (repetition and restatement tend to be common
> features in Hebrew poetics) and consider them a little more
> carefully.
> 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. 

I'll put a name to that: rubbish. Now you think I'm wrong, but I've put
forward as much evidence to support my naming statement as you have yours.

> 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

Now this is a little more interesting, in that you are showing signs of
confronting the text. Yes, it is formularistic. Does that in itself mean
that the text should be taken metaphorically? If not, what is it that makes
you think the text should be taken metaphorically?

When one says the Athanasian creed, should one, because of its highly
formularistic nature, take it as metaphor?

The text we are dealing with makes perfect sense taken literally. It
however doesn't appeal to certain people's presuppositions. Those
presuppositions have no value. You need to go a lot further than you have
to establish a metaphorical use of terminology in this passage.


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