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Critics of the Genesis narrative have regularly suggested that it describes a cosmology in which the sky is a solid vault, or an inverted steel bowl, to which are afaddressed the sun, moon and also stars. This interpretation has actually newly been endorsed in a book titled God, Sky & Land: Genesis One as the Ancient Hebrews Heard It, by 2 Adventist authors, Fritz Guy, a theologian and former president of La Sierra University, and also Dr. Brian S. Bull, a pathologist and previous dean of the LLU School of Medicine. Guy and Bull argue that a solid vault is what the original hearers of the Genesis narrative would certainly have actually understood from the words offered, and for this reason what we must infer as the author"s intfinished meaning.The Hebrew term raqia, the discussed meaning of which is at the heart of our discussion, initially appears in Genesis 1:6:

And God said, “Let tright here be an expanse <raqia> in between the waters to sepaprice water from water.” So God made the expanse and also separated the water under the expanse from the water over it. And it was so. God referred to as the expanse "sky." <shemayim> And there was evening, and also tright here was morning —the second day (Gen. 1:6-8, NIV 1984).

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The term raqia, here analyzed as “expanse,” suggests somepoint that has been spreview out or stretched out; it is a cognate of the verb raqa, which indicates, “to spreview out or stretch out.” No certain material substance is natural in the term raqia, so just what has actually been spcheck out out should be established from the conmessage. The context of raqia in the Genesis narrative does not indicate any type of kind of solid framework. Genesis 1:8 says that God dubbed the raqia shemayim, hence equating the raqia via the “sky” or “the heavens.” The term raqia of the shemayim, or “expanse of the sky” or “expanse of the heavens,” occurs 4 times in the creation narrative: Gen. 1:14-15,17, 20. Birds are sassist to fly “in the open up expanse of the sky” (Gen. 1:20).

The raqia is simply the skies, and also, obviously, the skies is not a solid structure. How, then, did anyone ever get the concept that the raqia was a solid structure, such as a vault, a dome, or an inverted metal bowl? Therein, by several strands, hangs a tale.

Many kind of English-speakers have been influenced by the King James Version"s translation of raqia, “firmament,” which definitely conveys the idea of somepoint firm and solid. Remarkably, the beginnings of the word “firmament” go all the method earlier to the Third Century before Christ. The Septuagint was a Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, created around 250 BC by 70 Jewish scholars in Alexandria, Egypt, at the behest of Ptolemy Philadelphus, the Hellenistic leader of Egypt, for inclusion in the famed library of Alexandria. Apparently, these translators were affected by then-popular cosmological notions that contained the idea that the skies was a rock vault. They translated raqia into Greek as stereoma, which connotes a “solid structure.” Over six hundred years later, as soon as Jerome was translating the Hebrew Scriptures into the Latin Holy bible that would come to be known as the Vulgate, he was influenced by the Septuagint, and analyzed raqia into the Latin word firmamentum, meaning a solid or steadfast assistance. Finally, some 1200 years later on, once English scholars were translating the Scriptures into what would come to be the many influential English Bible—the King James Version---Jerome"s Latin term firmamentum was sindicate transliterated into English as “firmament.”

But the background of the KJV"s translation does not define why any kind of modern commentator, familiar via modern scholarship, would certainly argue that the Hebrew term raqia signifies a solid vault. In resources such as the famed Vine"s Expository Thesaurus of Old and New Testament Words, it is stressed that:

While this English word is acquired from the Latin firmamentum which signifies firmness or strengthening,...the Hebrew word, raqia, has no such definition, but dedetailed the “expanse,” that which was extended out. Certainly the sky was not related to as a hard vault in which the heavenly orbs were fixed.... Tbelow is therefore nopoint in the language of the original to suggest that the writers were affected by the imagiaboriginal principles of heathen countries (1981, p. 67).

So wthus comes the idea that the raqia is a solid structure? We should research one more strand also of our story.

In the mid 19th century, Sir Austen Henry Layard discovered, at a mound close to Mosul, Iraq, that turned out to be the website of biblical Nineveh, a treacertain trove of clay tablets through picture writing inscriptions. Layard had stumbled onto the ruins of a imperial library amassed by the primitive Assyrian king Ashurbanipal. On some of these tablets were discovered the Babylonian development story understand as the Enuma Elish, thneed to have been initially composed approximately 1,100 BC. Around 1890, German Assyriologist Peter Jensen translated the Babylonian word appearing on tablet IV, line 145, as Himmelswölbung (“heavenly vault”). At around this exact same time, a college of German movie critics of Scripture started cultivating a concept recognized as “pan-Babylonianism,” which organized that the majority of of the Old Testament was written in the time of the Babylonian bondage, and the Jewish writers of Scripture were heavily affected by Babylonian cosmology. The concept that the Babylonians believed in a vault of heaven, unified via the principle that the Holy bible authors were influenced by Babylonian cosmology, resulted in the concept that raqia meant a solid vault. Soon, Hebrew lexicons and also Holy bible commentaries began to reflect this principle that the raqia was a solid vault or dome, most likely written of metal.

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Pan-Babylonianism strikes me as an unmost likely notion. We are supposed to believe that Hebrew scribes, the guardians of the spiritual Scriptures that were the core of the Hebrew national identification, would certainly willingly take on facets of the Babylonian worldsee, despite the fact that Babylon was a deadly opponent of the Hebrew country, had conquered the Hebrews, and had actually destroyed the a lot of spiritual and also treasured Jewish building, Solomon’s Temple. Moreover, conservative Christians have lengthy believed that Moses created the Book of Genesis around 1,500 BC (prior to the Enuma Elish was written). If any kind of prehistoric pagan cosmology could be expected to be reflected in the Genesis narrative, it would certainly be that of ancient Egypt, where Moses was educated, not that of the a lot later on Babylonian human being.

But even if one accepts the important, decidedly hesitant theory of pan-Babylonianism, tbelow is bit assistance for the idea that raqia signifies a solid vault or dome. In 1975, as soon as Assyriologist W. G. Lambert re-examined this worry, he uncovered tright here was no evidence for the idea that the Babylonians conceived of the sky as a solid vault. The just “evidence” was Jensen"s supposedly unjustified translation of the term in Enuma Elish as “heavenly vault.” Lambert thought there was some assistance for the notion that the ancient Babylonians viewed the cosmos as a collection of level, superenforced layers of the same size separated by space, organized together by rope. But tright here was no dome or vault in Babylonian cosmology.

The larger and also more standard problem via the raqia-as-solid-dome theory is that is assumes that the Bible deserve to reflect just the humale wisdom and expertise of its human authors. Whatever before the cosmology of the primitive Near East, that cosmology should be reflected in the Scriptures. But this concept ignores the Bible"s own insurance claim that all Scripture is inspired by God (theopneustos, literally “God-breathed”) (2 Timothy 3:16). If “holy males of old spake as they were relocated by the Divine Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21), then Scripture will certainly reflect more than human wisdom. We err if we assume that it mirrors just prehistoric Near Eastern cosmology.

The perspective we carry to Scripture will certainly inevitably recognize wbelow we come out on this worry. If we think that Genesis reflects just huguy concepts, then we deserve to construct an discussion that raqia suggests a solid vault or dome. But if we believe that Scripture was influenced by God, and for this reason reflects more than humale wisdom, then the raqia of Genesis is simply the “expanse of the sky.”