Understanding Inerrancy – Autographa

MS2650Inerrancy. It is a word that is rather controversial today. The basic notion of it has really been held as the majority report through all of church history. The reason being that people believed it to be the word of God, and as such it was authoritative and without error since it is impossible for God to lie. With the rise of 19th century liberalism, that basic belief came under attack in a way that it never had before. Critics would try to find faults with the Bible in order to discredit it. Source criticism, form criticism, redaction criticism and other forms of criticism were used as tools to destroy the Bible and Christianity. However, there was also a lot of good that came from these disciplines. We sharpened our understanding of the Bible in a very helpful way.

During this time, believers rose to defend the truthfulness of the Bible. A few of the defenses were silly and jejune, but there were also a lot of solid, and I believe convincing, arguments given in response to these challenges. Since that time, evangelicals have always held to the inerrancy of Scripture. That is, until recently. The old critics of the Bible would point out flaws in order to disprove it and dismiss it as just another man-made religion. The new critics consider themselves to be evangelicals. They point out the same things that the critics of the 19th century did with the difference that this new group claims that the Bible, in spite of all its errors, is still true. I want to explore this new, and admittedly confusing subject is a series of posts.

But in order to lay the proper groundwork for this analysis, I’d like a do a few posts on what inerracny means. To start off, inerrancy is only applicable for the original writings. I am not an inspired copyist. When I transcribe a bible verse onto an index card, I am not divinely prevented from making a mistake. The copies of scripture are not considered to be without error, only the originals.

Now it is important to note that we don’t hav any of the orginials. All we have are the manuscripts, so what difference does it make? How can we claim that the Bible (in its originals) is inerrant if we don’t have any originals? But that cuts both directions. How can one claim that the originals are in error if we don’t have the originals? The answer is the same for both sides of the debate. We can, through careful study of the manuscripts, have a very high confidence level that they accurately represent the originals. This is not the place to discuss manuscripts families, textual transmission, and eclectic texts – the answer to the “how do we know” question. It is sufficient to simply note the difference between copies and originals.

What this means is that the one claiming that there is an error has to be able to demonstrate that the claimed error is not the result of the transmission process. While we are on the topic of scholarship, it is also necessary for the critic to show that the error does not rest on faulty translations or weak lexical data. They need to demonstrate that the error does not come from a differences in culture such that we may be guilty of reading a 21st century understanding of a concept back into an ancient Near Eastern culture. There are other things to consider, but the point is that if we claim that an ancient document is in error, we need to do our homework first. And the first line to consider is whether this is an alleged error is part of the original and not a copy error.

Analogical Day View – Summary

This is my last post on the analogical day view. There is a lot that is still unsaid, but I should wrap up sometime, and the time has come. This post just kind of summarizes what I’ve said so far. In dealing with an ancient text like Genesis, it is important to show some humility. It is important first because many good men have variously understood this passage which should give us pause before we be too dogmatic.

Second, humility is needed in light of the antiquity of the text. It has been enlightening for me as I have read dozens of books, hundreds of articles, several commentaries and a lot of ANE literature. Scripture is clear, but sometimes our culture can obscure it meaning. We need to make sure we don’t read our own questions into the passage.

It is vital that we follow the right method. We need to interpret it in its historical setting. As such it is helpful to see that temples were seen as microcosms for both the ANE in general and Israel in particular. It is also interesting to note that creation itself is also described with temple language. This is as true in Genesis 1-2 as it is in any other place.

The question now arises about the days in particular. How do they fit into all of this? With God pictured as a temple-builder, it seems that the “days” of creation fit into this scheme. They are not the primary analogy, rather they are a supporting analogy. Perhaps one could acknowledge all of the above temple connections and still insist that the days are normal 24 hr days. At this point we’d have two options. The context could support either a 24 hr day view, or it could see the days as part of the analogy. At this point it is helpful in resolving this issue to note that the number seven specifically, but seven days in particular, are also connected with temple building/dedication. Now the days are not just a supporting analogy, but part of the main analogy that have significance in their own right.

Even though there is now a good case for understanding the days analogically, I suppose one could still insist they are 24hrs long and yet maintain all of this imagery. However, holding to a 24 hr day view would require other things of the text that would not be required of the analogical day view. For instance, it would require the water of day 3 to drain at almost 3 times the speed that could be expected in order to finish in 12 hrs. It would also require that God supernaturally dry the land to such a degree that it runs against his planting purposes on day 6. It requires Adam to have superhuman abilities in order to fit all of the day 6 activities into 12 hrs. It further requires us to understand “grow” (tsamach) in a non-normative way by needing to take it as a supernatural growth. Lastly, it requires that all accepted scientific dating methods to be in error. Few, if any of these things can be found in the text, they are simply things that must be true in order to make the 24 hr day view work. I think that the analogical day view or the 24 hr day view are the only viable interpretations (although the framework view has a lot to commend it) but for the reasons above, I consider the analogical view to be the strongest.

7 Days of Temple Building/Dedication

I am continuing my presentation of the Analogical Day View. We have seen the many temple texts reflect creation. We have seen that many creation texts reflect the temple. We have even seen many connections in Genesis 1-2 specifically to the later tabernacle/temple. Someone could recognize all of these elements but wonder why the days should be wrapped into that imagry rather than taken in their normative sense. My answer, in part, is that with God being pictured as a temple builder who constructs his own house to take up his rest on the seventh day, it is reasonable to see the days of creation as part of that imagery. But we need not rest on only that. Indeed, when we examine the text of scripture and other ANE literature, there is a 7 day scheme that connects with temples.

The temple/creation connection, as we noted previously, was common in the ANE. Even the heptadic structure was not unique to Genesis. For example, in the Gudea Cylinder we read of the building of the temple, and after the large stones had been procured and formed:

Then it needed a day’s work to set up each one but by the seventh day he had set them all up around the house. (Gudea Cylinder B xvii 18-19)

While the ANE environment is interesting, and confirmatory, it is scripture that we are interested in. God constructed creation in seven days and we see that on the seventh day, Moses went up onto the mountain and God gave him the instructions to construct the tabernacle. There were seven creation commands in Genesis 1 each beginning with the words, “and God said…” There are also seven speeches for the building of the tabernacle each beginning with “The Lord spoke to Moses…” The Genesis text ends with the Sabbath, and the seventh speech of Exodus contains instructions for the Sabbath.

After receiving the instructions, it remains of course to actually build the tabernacle. If we compare the completion of creation with the completion of the tabernacle (the “Sabbaths” if you will) there are some striking similarities:

And God saw everything that he had made
Genesis 1:31

And Moses saw all the work…
Exodus 39:43

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them…
Genesis 2:1

Thus all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting was finished…
Exodus 39:32

2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done…
Genesis 2:2

…So Moses finished the work.
Exodus 40:33

3 So God blessed the seventh day…
Genesis 2:3

…Then Moses blessed them.
Exodus 39:43

So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy.
Genesis 2:3

“Then you shall … consecrate it … so that it may become holy.
Exodus 40:9

The priests serving in the tabernacle had to undergo a 7 day purification or consecration.

Leviticus 8:33 And you shall not go outside the entrance of the tent of meeting for seven days, until the days of your ordination are completed, for it will take seven days to ordain you.

If we fast forward to Solomon’s temple we see that the temple took 7 years to build:

1 Kings 6:38 And in the eleventh year, in the month of Bul, which is the eighth month, the house was finished in all its parts, and according to all its specifications. He was seven years in building it.

The ark, representing the presence of God was brought in on the feast of Succoth which is a 7 day feast in the 7th month.

1 Kings 8:1-2 Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the leaders of the fathers’ houses of the people of Israel, before King Solomon in Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the city of David, which is Zion. 2 And all the men of Israel assembled to King Solomon at the feast in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month.

Just as there were seven divine commands in creation, and seven speeches for the building of the tabernacle, there were 7 petitions to the Lord that Solomon made in his prayer (1 Kings 8:31-53).

  1. If a man…(31)
  2. When your people…(33)
  3. If the heaven…(35)
  4. If there is famine…(37)
  5. If a foreigner…(41)
  6. If your people…(44)
  7. If they sin…(46)

In 2 Chronicles we learn that Solomon actually had two 7 day celebrations:

2 Chronicles 7:8-9 At that time Solomon held the feast for seven days, and all Israel with him, a very great assembly, from Lebo-hamath to the Brook of Egypt. 9 And on the eighth day they held a solemn assembly, for they had kept the dedication of the altar seven days and the feast seven days.

Seven is pervasive in this account of Ezekiel’s temple, but again we notice the seven days:

Ezekiel 45:21-25 “In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, you shall celebrate the Feast of the Passover, and for seven days unleavened bread shall be eaten. . . .25 In the seventh month, on the fifteenth day of the month and for the seven days of the feast, he shall make the same provision for sin offerings, burnt offerings, and grain offerings, and for the oil.

While perhaps none of this is necessary to recognize that Genesis pictures God as a temple builder, and the days are part of that image, yet all the connections with seven days and the construction/dedication of temples does add strength.

Genesis 1-2 as a Temple Text

I am continuing my presentation of the Analogical Day View in this post by looking specifically at Genesis 1-2. We have seen that in the ANE in general & Israel specifically, the temples were seen as a kind of microcosm. If that is the case, then perhaps we would expect that the Jews also interpreted it that way and that creation passages may reflect the temple. So perhaps it is not surprising that Genesis 1-2 itself has a lot of temple connections. One of the lines of evidence that Eden should be viewed as the first temple is in the verbal similarities between the creation accounts and the later temple and tabernacle accounts.

Walk (Halak)

Both Eden and the later tabernacle were considered a special dwelling place of God. We know that God is omnipresent, that is to say, God is everywhere, but at the same time we can recognize that he was present in a unique way in the temple or in the tabernacle.

  • Leviticus 26:12 And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people.
  • Deuteronomy 23:14 Because the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and to give up your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy, so that he may not see anything indecent among you and turn away from you.
  • 2 Samuel 7:6 I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent for my dwelling.

Each of these passages has reference to the tabernacle, and specifically how God in the tabernacle would walk with his people. The same Hebrew word for “walk” used in these tabernacle texts is also used in Genesis to refer to God walking in the garden.

Expanse (Raqiya)

On day 2 God created the expanse to separate the waters above from the waters above. The word expanse (in the Hebrew it is raqia) is used to describe an extended metal surface. Liberals have used that to try to disprove the Bible saying, “See! This is obviously just made up by ancient people who thought that the sky was a solid dome.” But once you understand Genesis 1 as a creation text, then the solid dome makes sense as part of the imagery that communicates creation as God’s temple.

God, through Moses is structuring the telling of creation in such a way that creation itself is to be seen as the temple of God. So Moses uses the term raqiya` as a metaphorical way to refer to the sky. He could have simply said “sky” or “heaven” but he wanted to paint a picture of creation as God’s temple. Hence using the term Raqiya` gives that picture of a temple dome. It is interesting that the term raqiya` is also used in Psalm 150 where the heavens are likened to God’s sanctuary.

Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! (Psalm 150:1, ESV)

In this case the first line “Praise God in his sanctuary” is paralleled with the second line “praise him in his mighty heavens!” So sanctuary is a synonym with raqiya or expanse.

Lights (Ma’owr)

On day 4 God created the sun, moon, and stars. But oddly enough, he avoids calling them sun and moon. Rather, the terms greater light and lesser light are used. In fact he uses a rather obscure term that is only used perhaps a dozen or so times in the Bible and almost all of them are found in the Pentateuch. A number of commentators mention that “What is intriguing is that the ten occurrences in the Pentateuch outside of Genesis all refer  to the light of the lampstand that lights up the tabernacle.” So it seems that God is making another reference to the temple or tabernacle which will figure so prominently later in the Pentateuch.

Work and Keep It (`abad shamar)

In chapter 2 God made Adam, then he put him in the garden and commanded him to “work it and keep it.” The only other place we see these two words occur together is when God instructs the priests to work and keep the temple.

  • Numbers 3:7-8 They shall keep guard over him and over the whole congregation before the tent of meeting, as they minister at the tabernacle. 8 They shall guard all the furnishings of the tent of meeting, and keep guard over the people of Israel as they minister at the tabernacle.
  • Numbers 8:25-26 And from the age of fifty years they shall withdraw from the duty of the service and serve no more. 26 They minister to their brothers in the tent of meeting by keeping guard, but they shall do no service. Thus shall you do to the Levites in assigning their duties.”
  • Numbers 18:5-6 And you shall keep guard over the sanctuary and over the altar, that there may never again be wrath on the people of Israel. 6 And behold, I have taken your brothers the Levites from among the people of Israel.They are a gift to you, given to the Lord, to do the service of the tent of meeting.

In each of these instances, the priests were told to keep and to guard, which are the same Hebrew words in the instructions God gave to Adam regarding his service in the garden. As Beale points out:

When Adam fails to guard the temple by sinning and letting in an unclean serpent to defile the temple, Adam loses his priestly role, and the two cherubim take over the responsibility of “guarding” the garden temple. . . . Their role became memorialized in Israel’s later temple when God commanded Moses to make two statues of angelic figures and station them on either side of the ark of the covenant in the holy of holies in the temple. (Beal, “Eden, The Temple, an the Church’s Mission in the New Creation” JETS 48/1 (March 2005) 5–31)


The entrance of the temple was on the east side. That was always to be the case. Even with the tabernacle which moved around all the time, it was to be set up so that its entrance was always on the east side. Given the other temple connections, the otherwise odd detail of the entrance of the garden being in the east now has added significance.

The rivers in Genesis 2 have been the subject of much debate. Not only because two of the four rivers are unknown to us, but also because it is unknown to have a river divie into four parts. It is common to have rivers join together, but unheard of to have them divide. It is interesting that, just as a river flowed out of Eden, so also does a river flow out of both the post-exilic idealized temple in Ezekiel, and the eschatological temple of Revelation.

The Temple / Creation Link

In my last post I argued that temples, both for the culture in general and Israel in particular, were viewed as a kind of microcosm – a miniature representation of creation.To further strengthen that observation, I’d like to explore two more angles: First, I’d like to briefly consider how the Jews themselves interpreted many of the elements of the temple. Second, since the temple reflects creation, I’d like to reverse the question and ask if creation reflects the temple at all.

Jewish Interpretations of Temple Details

Many Jewish ancient sources also confirm this interpretation. Josephus in his Antiquties (3.181; 3.123) and Midrash Rabbah Numbers 13:19 confirm the tripartite structure as reflecting the earth and heavens. For example, Josephus, in describing the tabernacle in general says that

As for the inside, Moses parted its length into three partitions… to be an imitation of the system of the world; for that third part thereof … is, as it were, a heaven peculiar to God. (Josephus, Ant, Book 3, Chapter 6.4.)

He continues on to describe the lampstand saying, “ It terminated in seven heads, in one row, all standing parallel to one another; and these branches carried seven lamps, one by one, in imitation of the number of the planets.” In fact, many sources confirmed the lights of the lampstand as representing the lights of the heavens (Josephus, Ant. 3:145; War 5:217; Philo, Rer. Div. Her 221-225; Vit. Mos. 2.102-105; Quaest. Exod. 2.73-81; Clement of Alexandria, Stromata 5.6).

Josephus speaks at length in book 5 of his Wars of the Jews about the temple. In there he speaks of the curtains:

It was a Babylonian curtain, embroidered with blue, and fine linen, and scarlet, and purple, and . . . was a kind of image of the universe; for by the scarlet there seemed to be enigmatically signified fire, by the fine flax the earth, by the blue the air, and by the purple the sea; two of them having their colors the foundation of this resemblance; but the fine flax and the purple have their own origin for that foundation, the earth producing the one, and the sea the other. This curtain had also embroidered upon it all that was mystical in the heavens. (Josephus, War, Book 5, Chapter 5.4.)

He adds that the veil “typified the universe” and on it “was portrayed a panorama of the heavens” (Josephus, War, 210-214, as quoted in Beal, The Temple and the Church’s Mission, p 46). Philo agrees with this interpretation saying, “Moreover, he chose the materials of this embroidery, selecting with great care what was most excellent out of an infinite quantity, choosing materials equal in number to the elements of which the world was made” (Philo, Life of Moses, Book 2.88).

In a rather sweeping statement, Josephus claims that, “everyone of these objects [of the tabernacle] is intended to recall and represent the nature of the universe.” (Ant 3.180).

A talmudic sage of the second century A.D. said that

The house of the Holy of Holies is made to correspond to the highest heaven. The outer holy house was made to correspond to the earth. And the courtyard was made to correspond to the sea ( Rabbi Pinhas ben Ya’ir, as cited in Patai 1967: 108).

Creation as Temple

Israel’s God was the God of all creation, not just some tribal deity. He was not a god of the rivers, or a sun god, or the god of the underworld, or a fertility god. He was the one Almighty God of it all. Nothing was outside of his authority. To that end, having seen that the temple/tabernacle passages reflect creation, we may also expect that creation passages would point to the temple, or use temple terminology. That is exactly what we find.

  • 1 Samuel 2:8 For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world.
  • 2 Samuel 22:8 “Then the earth reeled and rocked; the foundations of the heavens trembled and quaked, because he was angry.
  • Job 9:6 who shakes the earth out of its place, and its pillars tremble;
  • Job 26:11 The pillars of heaven tremble and are astounded at his rebuke.
  • Job 38:4-6, 8-11 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, 8 “Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, 9 when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, 10 and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, 11 and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?
  • Psalm 18:15 Then the channels of the sea were seen, and the foundations of the world were laid bare at your rebuke, O Lord, at the blast of the breath of your nostrils.
  • Psalm 75:3 When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants, it is I who keep steady its pillars. Selah
  • Psalm 104:3, 5 He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters; 5 He set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be moved.
  • Proverbs 8:27 When he established the heavens, I was there; when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
  • Proverbs 8:29 when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
  • Isaiah 40:12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?
  • Amos 9:6 who builds his upper chambers in the heavens and founds his vault upon the earth; who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out upon the surface of the earth— the Lord is his name.
  • Hebrews 1:10 And, “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands;

God is the builder who measures and stretches and sets foundations. He lays the cornerstone and stretches a line across to measure its straightness. In contrast to all the tribal deities who ruled over a certain region, YHWY ruled over it all. In contrast to other deities who sprung from nature, the Lord God made it all. Therefore He can do what no other deity can – make the universe as his own dwelling.

Lightning in a Bottle’s 2014 Lineup & Official Trailer Released

LIB 2014 rush tic flyer

If you’ve read our coverage of last year’s Lightning in a Bottle’s Lucent Temple of Consciousness then you know how much of a magical wonderland of possibility LiB is. Now at a new location and an amazing lineup, this incredible transformational festival is back to continue celebrating life, happiness, and transformation.

The music lineup for the 9th annual Lightning in a Bottle Music and Arts Festival has been announced, featuring Moby, Little Dragon, Phantogram, Gramatik, Beats Antique, Amon Tobin, Baauer, Gold Panda, Simian Mobile Disco, Claude VonStroke and more! 

This internationally renowned transformative experience also includes the sounds of The Polish Ambassador, Damian Lazarus, Cashmere Cat, Chet Faker and Lee Burridge. Lucent Dossier Experience will also take the familiar stage to mystify their devout fans with their visually enriched live-performance. 

Lightning in a Bottle returns with new dates, from May 22-26 2014, and a new location at San Antonio Recreation Area in Bradley, CA  (Google Maps). This new location at Lake San Antonio sits perfectly between Los Angeles and San Francisco in beautiful Monterey County.
LIB 2014 Lineup Poster

For the past nine years, The Do LaB has shattered all conceptions of the modern gathering, producing the most innovative and inspiring events on the international circuit. Lightning in a Bottle is a fusion of electronic music and introspective qualities of installation art, live performance, spiritual workshops, and an overarching embodiment of cultural and environmental consciousness. Through this focus on unique creativity, Lightning in a Bottle is its own class of gathering. 

Much of Lightning in a Bottle’s intimate singularity is expressed through The Lucent Temple of Consciousness, an amazing sanctuary for all participants to enrich the soul and inspire the spirit. The 2014 schedule inside the Lucent Temple, built out of recycled and found objects, will include over 300 different experiences in yoga, workshops, speakers and exotic world music.

LiB Temple Music Lineup
Once again the Temple of Consciousness will have its own musical experience with the world, devotional, and calming live music offering a soundtrack to the journeys within. Over 20 artists will be performing World Temple Music between classes and speakers, encompassing indigenous sounds from cultures around the world.


Much of Lightning in a Bottle’s intimate singularity is expressed through The Lucent Temple of Consciousness, an amazing sanctuary for all participants to enrich the soul and inspire the spirit. The 2014 schedule inside the Lucent Temple, built out of recycled and found objects, will include over 300 different experiences in yoga, workshops, speakers and exotic world music.



LiB Yoga Lineup
Lightning in a Bottle 2014 features yogis Radha & Govind Das, Joan Hyman, Tony Giulano, Kishan Shah, Gigi Snyder, and many more


The yoga lineup for the 9th annual Lightning in a Bottle Music and Arts Festival will feature Radha & Govind Das, Joan Hyman, Tony Giulano, Kishan Shah, Gigi Snyder and The Human Experience, and more.

Yoga continues to be an integral part of the Lightning in a Bottle experience. As the festival has grown, so has the roster of yoga teachers and practitioners. This year looks to provide our most varied and celebrated series of classes yet.

Yoga classes will happening from morning until evening throughout the weekend to enrich your body and calm your soul. All experience levels and Yoga styles will be on offer from high energy Vinyasa to relaxing classes integrating meditation. The west coast’s top Yoga teachers are joining LIB this year, and many will be accompanied by live musicians. Whether you are looking to get your Yoga practice started, try out a new style, or just continue your practice with incredible people in an incredible space, it is strongly suggested you make Yoga a part of your LIB experience.

Schedule coming soon!


LiB Grand Artique
For the 5th year in a row, the Grand Artique Stage will be back at Lightning in a Bottle, and this year they are aiming to go bigger than ever. Bringing back to life their town Frontierville, a fully immersive Trading Post/General Store and a heavy-hitting line-up to rip up their own Live Music Stage.

Headliners include Diegos Umbrella, El Radio Fantastique and Herbert Bail Orchestra, whose foot-stomping anthems rocked LiB’s main stage last year, and many more awesome acts.The Grand Artique is one interactive area of LIB you don’t want to miss out on! Don’t forget to dig through your closet and bring something to trade! See you at the Grand Artique!

Tickets are on sale now and moving fast, so grab yours and stay tuned for more info!




Temples as Microcosms


I have been posting a number of thoughts that I find relevant to the debate on the right understanding of Genesis 1. So by way of review, in my first post I affirmed 1) my love and admiration for my young earth creationism (henceforth YEC) brothers, 2) my commitment to the grammatico-historical method of interpretation, 3) my commitment to inerrancy. I also listed many brothers I respect who hold views different from the YEC. Finally I posted a quick definition of the view that I prefer, namely the Analogical Day View.

My second post was on analogies in general. I then did a series of posts that highlighted some parts of the text that could be read in a straight forward manner and yield times greater than 24 hrs. These included the time to drain the water on the third day,  the strange artifact of the land being too dry by the sixth day, the activities that had to fit on the 6th day, and the growth before the 7th day, which normally takes longer than 24 hrs. Also, while it doesn’t lend any interpretive weight, time tensions with good science do serve a a warning flag.

To transition from these negative observations to my more positive ones, I did a post that explored the importance of the intent of a passage. A passage may mention one thing without that thing being the point of the passage. Since exegesis is to discover the meaning of a passage, then pressing these other “things” to answer other questions may get us into interpretive difficulties. We must simply understand the point of the passage. If that doesn’t answer all our questions, then we need to be content with that. To follow the counsel of John Calvin, “When God closes His holy mouth, I will desist from inquiry.” So for my part, if the purpose of Genesis is not to set a date for creation, then I don’t want to force it to answer that question.

More positively now, I understand Genesis 1-2 to picture God as the great King who is building his temple. There is obviously a lot more than just this, but that is the part relevant to my understanding of the days. Genesis is heavy with connections to the tabernacle/temple. But to understand the significance of this, we should first spend some time understanding temples in general. From a cultural perspective it is useful to understand how temples were seen in the ancient Near East (henceforth ANE). What significance did the ancients understand their temples to carry? How does that fit with Israel?

ANE Temples as Microcosms

Temples in the ANE were seen as microcosms – miniature representations of the cosmos as a whole.

The heart of the ancient Near Eastern temple’s role in society was the special cosmological status it possessed. . . .No matter what cosmology a culture recognized, the temple was the meeting place of the different realms on the map. . . . We begin in Egypt, where every major temple claimed the status of having been erected contemporaneously with creation of earth. Each temple proclaimed to commemorate the ben-stone or the primordial mound. They portrayed their status as a link between realms. The temple at Heliopolis was called “Heaven of Egypt,” and Karnack was called “Heaven on Earth.” (Lori McCullough, “Dimensions of the Temple: The Temple Account in 1 Kings 5-9 Compared with Ancient Near East Temple Paradigms” p 15.)

Often they believed that their temple was on the plot of ground that was the first hill to protrude from earth’s watery beginning. Having such a privileged primordial status, it almost functioned as the gateway to the heavens. It is where the realms joined. As such, they were often decorated to signify the universe in small form.

There was usually three parts to the temples of the ANE. They were constructed in concentric circles of holiness. The outer court represented earth. So there was often a hillock present in the form of an elevated alter. There were images of beasts. There were representations of oceans. Moving into an inner court the scenery would change to represent more of the sky. Sun, moon, stars, clouds. There was a close connection with the visible heavens (the sky) and the invisible heavens beyond. The third and innermost room represented the invisible heavens. This was the abode of the gods. I won’t spend any more exploring ANE temples. This is only to say that this connection was part of the cultural environment of which Israel was a part.

Israel’s Temple as Microcosm

Israel, however was separate from the rest of the nations. God told her not to practice the customs of the other nations. So even though this was part of the culture, was it reasonable to expect Israel to follow? Usually, God would spell out how Israel was to be different. But being different did not mean they held nothing in common with their neighbors. After all, other peoples had temples, and so did Israel. Other people had sacrifices, and so did Israel. Other people had priests, so did Israel. The primary thing that made Israel different was that they worshiped the one true God. So much of Israel’s cultic system was to be understood as the pure worship of the true God. All others, no matter how similar, were perversions of Israel and her God.

So the question remains whether Israel also had a temple that served as a reflection of the cosmic temple. The only way to answer that is to look to scripture. If the relationship holds, then, in passages that detail the temple or tabernacle, we may expect to find hints of heaven and earth in the decoration or structure. We may expect to find other passages that allude to this relationship. And this is exactly what we do see.

Psalm 78:69 He built his sanctuary like the high heavens,
like the earth, which he has founded forever.

The tripartite structure is also seen in Israel’s temple. The outer court is earth, the dwelling of man. Here there were bulls, the altar (which had to be made of earth) called “the bosom of the earth,” and even a massive basin that was called the “sea.” (1 Kings 7:23-26). Much of the decoration was like nature:

1 Kings 7:18-36 Likewise he made pomegranates in two rows around the one latticework to cover the capital that was on the top of the pillar, and he did the same with the other capital. 19 Now the capitals that were on the tops of the pillars in the vestibule were of lily-work, four cubits. 20 The capitals were on the two pillars and also above the rounded projection which was beside the latticework. There were two hundred pomegranates in two rows all around, and so with the other capital. . . . 22 And on the tops of the pillars was lily-work. Thus the work of the pillars was finished.

23 Then he made the sea of cast metal. It was round, ten cubits from brim to brim, and five cubits high, and a line of thirty cubits measured its circumference. 24 Under its brim were gourds, for ten cubits, compassing the sea all around. The gourds were in two rows, cast with it when it was cast. . . . 29 On the frames, both above and below the lions and oxen, there were wreaths of beveled work. . . . The supports were cast with wreaths at the side of each. . . . 36 And on the surfaces of its stays and on its panels, he carved cherubim, lions, and palm trees, according to the space of each, with wreaths all around.

1 Kings 6:18 The cedar within the house was carved in the form of gourds and open flowers. All was cedar; no stone was seen.

The second section had the lamp stand  which had seven lights. That may have been indicative of the complete heavens, or it may have represented the 7 unique lights, the sun, the moon, and the five visible planets.

The very inner court, the holy of holies represented the invisible heavens – the dwelling place of God. There was the throne of God at the center. Guarding the throne were cherubim (1 Kings 6:23-28; cf. Rev 4:7-9). Angels were also woven into the fabric of the curtain. The ark was seen as God’s footstool. There is much more to explore, and we will touch on further aspects in coming posts, but this is sufficient to show the temple/creation connection.

Not the Intended Use

I am committed to the inerrancy of Scripture. The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy states that, “Holy Scripture, being God’s own Word, written by men prepared and superintended by His Spirit, is of infallible divine authority in all matters upon which it touches.” In the affirmation and denial section, article 12, it further states:

WE AFFIRM that Scripture in its entirety is inerrant, being free from all falsehood, fraud, or deceit.

WE DENY that Biblical infallibility and inerrancy are limited to spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes, exclusive of assertions in the fields of history and science. We further deny that scientific hypotheses about earth history may properly be used to overturn the teaching of Scripture on creation and the flood.

The question is whether the Bible touches upon a certain subject. Does scripture touch upon chemistry? Does it touch upon processed foods? There are many questions that we want answered and so we go to the Bible in search of answers. It is commendable to look for answers in scripture, but that can also be a dangerous approach. We need to take steps that we not read into a passage what was never its intent.

Every generation has battles that it needs to fight. Every generation has its own characteristic biases and predispositions that it needs to guard against. Each generation stands on the shoulders of those who have gone before them. But each generation also has the responsibility to examine afresh the teachings of scripture on their own terms to see where the previous generation may have mistakenly read their culture back into the text. Let’s consider a few examples.

Rabbits “Chew their Cud”

In Leviticus 11:6 we read, “And the hare, because it chews the cud but does not part the hoof, is unclean to you.” But critics of the Bible have tried to find an error here since rabbits do not chew their cud. An animal that chews its cud usually has four stomachs. They will eat their food and swallow it into one of their stomachs where it will be partially digested. They will then regurgitate that food, chew it again and swallow it again into a different stomach for further digestion.

Simply put, rabbits don’t do this. So is the Bible in error? No. These critics have taken our modern concept of chewing the cud and cast it back into scripture to try to find an error. The rabbit, does partially digest its food and then eat it again to complete the digestion process. The difference is that the rabbit will pass its food completely through and then eat it again instead of regurgitating it. These animals that redigested their food were considered unclean. These critics err by reading our modern definition back into a 14th century BC Semitic text.

Snakes “Eating Dust”

Another area that critics have attacked in the past is Genesis 3:14 which says:

The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.

They laugh at how little these primitive people understood. Snakes don’t eat dust. They flick out their tongue as a way to “smell” the air. To the critics this is just another example of how you can’t take the Bible seriously because it is full of mistakes.

Snakes do crawl on their bellies, but they do not actually eat dust. However, the image of both of those is one of defeat and subjugation. For instance:

Psalm 72:9 May desert tribes bow down before him, and his enemies lick the dust!

Isaiah 49:23 Kings shall be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers. With their faces to the ground they shall bow down to you, and lick the dust of your feet. Then you will know that I am the LORD; those who wait for me shall not be put to shame.”

These critics are forcing the Bible to answer questions of anatomy and diet which it was not addressing. The point is that God is going to defeat the serpent. He will be subjected before the Lord God almighty!

The Smallest of all Seeds

In Matthew 13:31-32 we read:

[31] He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. [32] It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

Once again, critics attack the Bible’s trustworthiness. They point out that the orchid seed is smaller, so Jesus made a mistake. They desire Jesus to speak on the subject of botany so that if he slips up they can condemn him.

But Jesus was not speaking about botany. They are forcing the passage to answer a question that it was never designed to answer. It was commonplace for Jews to discuss something’s size in comparison to the mustard seed. As such it acted as an idiom of sorts. When we say “older than dirt” we aren’t making a genuine estimate of age. When we say “the sharpest tool in the shed” we are speaking of intelligence, not a blade’s edge. “Slower than molasses in January” draws a comparison without intending a literal measurement of velocity.

For most of these we can easily see that the critics have missed the point of the passage. We can easily see that they are forcing it to answer questions of diet or geography or botany which were never part of the intent of the passage. But at other times, because we are so caught up in a cultural war, we unwittingly follow the critics in their assumptions. The following are a couple of examples.

A Flat Earth

In Matthew 4:8 we read, “Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.” Again the critics point out that it doesn’t matter how high the mountain is, the earth is a globe and you can’t see the other side of it. So the Bible is mistaken because Jesus couldn’t see “all the kingdoms of the earth.”

But once again, they take our 21st century concept of “world” and read it back into the text. We live in the age of space exploration. We are familiar with NASA images of the Earth along with many other celestial bodies. The problem is that this passage is not about geography or astronomy or the shape of the earth in general. “World” (kosmos) had many different definitions in Greek. These critics want the Bible to teach on the shape of the earth so they can discredit it, but that is not what the passage is about.

They add to their critical repertoire by citing passages like Isaiah 11:12 in support of a square earth:

He will raise a signal for the nations and will assemble the banished of Israel, and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.

Yet Isaiah is speaking of the four points of the compass, not of the shape of the planet.

But some Christians have tried to defend a flat earth. They are eager to fight against the attacks of the unbelievers so they commit themselves to defending what they shouldn’t be defending – a bad interpretation. Thankfully not many Christians have done this (although there still exists a flat earth society). While most Christians have not tried to defend a flat earth, many have taken the same approach in trying to defend a spherical earth. They cite passages like Isaiah 40:22 to support the globe interpretation.

[22] It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;

But this is no more about the shape of the earth being a circle than the four corners passage. In our zeal to defend we have unwittingly capitulated to the skeptics approach.


Perhaps most famously, the Bible started being attacked for teaching geocentrism. Faithful believers again took the bait. They accepted the approach of unbelievers (and some believers of course) that the Bible taught about astronomy and then lined up on the opposite side.

At that time Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, “Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.” [13] And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. [14] There has been no day like it before or since, when the LORD heeded the voice of a man, for the LORD fought for Israel. (Joshua 10:12-14 ESV)

Many believers, committed to the inerrancy of the Bible accepted the premise that this passage spoke about the motions of the heavens. Once that is accepted, they have to defend geocentrism.

Dr. Faulkners has admirably addressed this issue saying:

It is also important not to base doctrines upon any passage that at best only remotely addresses an issue. That is, if cosmology is clearly not the point of a passage, then extracting a cosmological meaning can be very dangerous.

It is better to understand what the text is about and then see if it is appropriate to ask secondary questions. Dr. Faulkner’s words are part of his critique of geocentrism, which is one of the best responses I have read.

What Did God Intend?

Leviticus talked about chewing cud, Genesis talked about eating dust, Jesus talked about the smallest seed, Isaiah spoke of the four corners, and Joshua talked about the sun standing still. Even though all of that verbiage was used, each of those passages was not about astronomy, botany, etc. They were pressed into service to answer a question that was not their design. I think we have fallen prey to the same kind of thinking in Genesis 1.

Darwin was highly influential. He help unbelievers to become “intellectually justified atheists.” His work was well employed by critics during the age of modernism and into the present to discredit the Bible. “Time” became a kind of genie in a bottle for them. Answers in Genesis has pointed out that it is absurd to think that a frog can become a prince when kissed, but for some reason it becomes reasonable if you add millions of years. I don’t think the science of evolution works.

However, many Christians, with a desire to defend the Bible, saw “time” as the answer. They pressed the genealogies and the days of creation into service to arrive at a date of creation. With that in hand, evolution’s genie in a bottle was gone. But I don’t think that this was the intent of either the genealogies or the days of Genesis. They were never intended to give us an age of the universe.

Joshua is not about cosmology. Genesis is not about the date of creation. Yes, Genesis does use the words evening morning, day and night. But Joshua also uses the terms for sun and moon and it says that they stopped and then later set. Since Joshua was not intending to give a cosmology, then forcing it to answer that question is misguided. Since Genesis was not intending to give a date or duration, then forcing it to answer that question is misguided.

I’m sure some will disagree with me on that mark and insist that it did intend to give us a duration. Why did Moses tell us it was day one and then day two all the way to day seven if he didn’t intend to tell us how long it took? I would turn the question around and ask, “Why does Joshua say that the sun stopped and that later it hurried to set if he didn’t want to tell us about the motions of the heavens?” But my answer is not merely negative, I just want people to realize that even though the text uses actual words like day and night, sun and moon, these texts may have a different aim than whatever question we want answered.

“Speak!” Say the astronomers to Joshua 10. “Tell me whether heliocentrism or geocentrism is true.” But the text is silent. It refuses to answer. God demands we pay attention to what he wants to say in the text. But we keep insisting that God talk about the things we want to know. But it doesn’t work that way. “Speak!” says the 21st century clock-oriented westerner to Genesis 1. “Tell me whether the days were long or short.” But the text is silent, it refuses to speak.

Utmost in our minds needs to be understanding what God wanted to say in a passage.

Time Tensions Part 5

There are Time Tensions with Science

This is the last “time tensions” post I will do before moving on to discuss more positively the Analogical Day View. I saved this for last because I consider it almost irrelevant to my position. The Analogical Day View does not hing on science, it is based on the text of scripture. However, we shouldn’t ignore what God has revealed in nature either.

This is a vast subject. Thousands of books have been written on the subject and I have only read a fraction of them (however there can be a lot of overlap from one book to the next). The science will range from that which is intuitive and straightforward to highly technical. Some measurements are highly variable and are therefore unreliable. For instance, measuring the amount of silt deposited in a river delta. In theory if a river deposits X tons per year, then we can measure the total tons of deposits and then get the total number of years. However, the amount of silt the river carries may vary from year to year. Maybe for the first thousand years it was just a tiny creek which carried almost nothing. But then again maybe it was huge and flooded regularly depositing massive amounts. There are other ways that we can discern certain aspects of its history, but the point is that this is so variable that it is not a reliable guide.

Most measurements that are used, however, are not that way. Scientists try to use measuring tools that have little to no discernable variation in them. The speed of light is a good example. As far as we know, the speed of light does not change (yes I have read Barry Setterfield’s work, and yes I am familiar with passing light through highly refractive medium, no I don’t find them convincing or relevant).

Radiomentric dating is another method that yields vast ages. Some elements show striking variations in decay rates (which would severely mess it up as a clock) such as dysprosium and rhenium. But these are not the ones used to date things (I am also aware of the RATE study). Many other elements show very little variation and therefore serve as good measuring devices. Initial amounts of daughter isotopes can sometimes be eliminated as a factor by using isochron dating. On the whole I consider this to be a reliable dating method.

There are many more methods for measuring the age of the earth. Many of these are completely independant of one another. Yet they all correlate to give dates well beyond what most young earth creationists are willing to concede. One may quibble with some of these measurements, but for the most part I consider them to represent good science, and trying to discredit all of them starts to look like desperation.

It is like measuring your table with a wooden ruler. That has some problems, because how do you know you placed the start of the ruler exactly at the same spot as the end of the ruler from your previous measurement? Then you measure the table with a tape measure. This also has problems because metal can expand and contract with temperature. Then you measure it by rolling a 2” diameter cylinder with a paint stripe across the table and counting how many times the stripe comes up. And so on. Each of these may have some problems, but they all seem to give an answer that more or less agrees with the others at around 8’ or 96 inches. Suppose further that someone says they think the table is only .00005” long (that is about the size of a virus). That is the level of error that has to be in each of these measurements to yield a date similar to what YEC proponents would accept.

I was not one who was ready to accept the vast ages. I read through a lot of material trying to debunk the ages. But there was no way I could credibly deny the validity of all of the measurements, and I certainly could not prove that they were off by a factor of a million. There are a number of unresolved problems with the standard paradigm. However, most of these problems still represent ages far beyond the 6-10,000 year timeframe.

The maturity view takes the position that God created the universe mature which means that it has the appearance of age.  Adam was created as an adult, so he looks old even though he was just created. I find no objections to this view as far as it goes. But problems arise when we consider things that are not necessary to maturity. Adam was created mature, that is fine. But if Adam’s skins had scars which indicated a healed cut, or knits in his tibia which indicated a healed fracture, then we have a problem. These things indicate a history that never happened. The same is true in the universe. Just to take one example, supernova are stars that have exploded (click the above image for reference). If we see a supernova of a star too far for its light to reach us in 10,000 years, then we have just seen a video of something that never happened.

Since the Analogical Day view does not take an official position on the date of creation, then it has no fight either with those who say it is old, or those who say it is young. Although personally I think an old earth is easier to defend.

But science can never determine your interpretation. The Bible is a written text. The law of gravity has no effect on the meaning of a passage. Genre, grammar, lexical analysis, historical and cultural context, comparative literary analysis, structure of the text, mood, all of these determine meaning – not science.

So why bring it up? Because people err. Maybe we missed that our text is arranged in a chiastic structure. Maybe we missed that our passage is in an abecedarian structure (easy to miss if we are not reading it in the original languages). Maybe we are unaware the the semantic domain of a certain word. All these and more can lead to a wrong interpretation. If our interpretation is incorrect, then it may conflict with other parts of the Bible, or with our experience in nature. These conflicts are red flags. Red flags to not solve the problems, they only highlight that there are problems. It gives us pause to consider if we may have missed something in our interpretation.

Time Tensions – Part 4

Tsamach – “grow” (Gen 2:5, 9)

Chapter 2 is describing the 6th day of creation. One of the textual indicators that this day is longer than 24 hrs is the kind of things that are here described. Verse 5 is in the perfect which, at the beginning of a pericope, typically indicates background material. In that verse we are told that the circumstance before the creation of man were that there were no plants for the Lord had not cause it to rain.

When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, (Genesis 2:5, ESV)

The conditions were described by way of negation, nothing had grown for there was not yet rain. Later, in verse 8-9, we read that God planted a garden.

And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. 8And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:8-9, ESV)

For a tree or other plant to grow would be more than a day. There are terms like `alah and Gadal and Hayah which are broad in their uses and were used to describe the growth of the plant for Jonah in a day. However, even those when used of plants normally describe a normal growth. Yet, the word for “spring up” in both verse 5 and 9 is the Hebrew word tsamach which simply means “grow.” When we look at other places that we see this verse, it is clear that this is a normal growing process.
Gen 3:18 “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you will eat the plants of the field ;
Ex 10:15 They shall cover the surface of the land, so that no one will be able to see the land. They will also eat the rest of what has escaped -what is left to you from the hail -and they will eat every tree which sprouts for you out of the field.
Lev 13:37 “If in his sight the scale has remained, however, and black hair has grown in it, the scale has healed, he is clean ; and the priest shall pronounce him clean.
Deut 29:23 ‘All its land is brimstone and salt, a burning waste, unsown and unproductive , and no grass grows in it, like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, which the LORD overthrew in His anger and in His wrath.’
Jud 16:22 However, the hair of his head began to grow again after it was shaved off.
2 samuel 10:5 When it was told David, he sent to meet them, for the men were greatly ashamed. And the king said, “Remain at Jericho until your beards have grown and then return.”
Job 38:27 To satisfy the waste and desolate land And to make the seeds of grass to sprout ?
Ps 104:14 He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, And vegetation for the labor of man, So that he may bring forth food from the earth,
Ps 147:8 Who covers the heavens with clouds, Who provides rain for the earth, Who makes grass to grow on the mountains.
Ecc 2:6 I made ponds of water for myself from which to irrigate a forest of growing trees.
Isa 44:4 And they will spring up among the grass Like poplars by streams of water.’
Isa 55:10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater
Isa 61:11 For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, And as a garden causes the things sown in it to spring up, So the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise To spring up before all the nations.
Eze 16:7 “I made you numerous like plants of the field. Then you grew up, became tall and reached the age for fine ornaments ; your breasts were formed and your hair had grown. Yet you were naked and bare.
Eze 17:6 Then it sprouted and became a low, spreading vine with its branches turned toward him, but its roots remained under it. So it became a vine and yielded shoots and sent out branches.

Whether it is used of the growth of grass, or trees, or hair, or even of humans (as a metaphor for national growth) it always has a normal growing process in mind. For God to plant, water, and grow these plants and trees would take far longer than 24 hrs. This is the normal, straightforward reading of the text. In order to make this work for a 24 hr period, one has to posit a superfast growth like one can see in time-lapse videos that cover weeks, months, or years. In order to make the 24 hr day view work, one has to ditch the standard definition of tsamach.

This is just how we harmonize a passage. We assume that God wrote in a coherent way. The normal definition of day would be 12-24 hrs. The normal definition of grow (especially for trees) takes much longer than 24 hrs.