Wednesday, July 25, 2012

When Genesis 1:8 and Culture Collide

Now the “dome” gets named:

Genesis 1:8: “Naming the Dome”

וַיִּקְרָ֧א אֱלֹהִ֛ים לָֽרָקִ֖יעַ שָׁמָ֑יִם וַֽיְהִי־עֶ֥רֶב וַֽיְהִי־בֹ֖קֶר יֹ֥ום שֵׁנִֽי׃

“And God named the dome ‘sky.’ So there was evening, and there was morning. Day two.”

The dome receives the name “sky” in this verse. The word translated “sky” (שָׁמָיִם, shamayim) is also translated “heavens”—as in the traditional translation of Genesis 1:1 (“God created the heavens [שָׁמָיִם] and the earth”). This is only the second time that the word שָׁמָיִם has occurred in the Genesis 1 text. So far, Genesis 1:1 is the only other place we’ve seen it.

I still remember conceiving of the sky as a “dome” myself when I looked up at night in my backyard as a small child—and this was even when I was well aware that the earth is spherical.

Obviously, because the earth is spherical, we now know why the sky appears to be dome. But the ancients only observed what little God had revealed to them. Perhaps there was some ancient people who realized that the earth was actually spherical, but that isn’t the point of this passage anyway.

This is a poetic account of God creating and naming all that exists, culminating in his creation of us (verses 26–30) to enjoy and care for what he has created.

That this account is poetry should already be evident by now, especially with the refrain “and there was evening, and there was morning,” which we’ve also seen in verse 5.

So to recap:

Day one: God creates light and separates the light form the darkness, calling the light “day” and the darkness “night.”

Day two: God creates a dome separating the waters above from the waters below, calling it “sky.”
Stay tuned for more!

Lend Me Your Thoughts

Do you think this is a poetic account or a scientific account? If you think it’s a scientific account, please point out why you think so. If you agree that it’s a poetic account, please point out any areas you might think I missed.

Do you think it matters whether we see this account as poetic or scientific? If so, why? 

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