The Firmament -- By: Charles B. Warring
BSac 36:143 (July 1879) p. 459
At the present day, when scientific literature is so permeated with the belief that, whatever else may be good and true in our Bible, its account of the creation of the world is of necessity to be rejected, it becomes those who love truth to see whether the apparent difficulties in the Mosaic narrative really belong there, or whether they have been interpolated in the translations by the mistaken zeal of its friends. This duty becomes the more important when we see that the opponents of revelation base their arguments largely upon certain statements in this story which they claim to be errors of fact.
It would be interesting to examine all these “errors”; but I shall for the present confine myself to one which is constantly harped upon by those who reject the Mosaic account, and in reference to which, unfortunately, their assertions are sustained by lexicons and Bible dictionaries, as far as I have examined.
“Whoever,” these persons say, “wrote the first chapter of Genesis left upon record the assertion that ‘God made a firmament,’ by which was necessarily conveyed to the Hebrews then living the idea of something solid, a strong crystalline arch, rising as a dome above the earth, and separating the waters in the seas below it from certain other
BSac 36:143 (July 1879) p. 460
waters above it. As no such arch exists, the writer who said so could not have written under the guidance of One infinitely wise.” The mind refuses to attribute error to God, and hence it is difficult to see how the conclusion is to be avoided if we admit the premises. There is a class of writers who may be justly styled apologists (in the modern sense of that word), and they declare that this story was intended to be “poetic, symbolical, and unchronological.” “What it retains of the character of a divine revelation, if this be a true description, I am at a loss to see. Religion is safe from all attacks based upon the errors of such a narrative.
By those, however, who, with the present writer, believe this account to be the most intensely real and chronological document ever penned, such an apology can be accepted only when shown to be sustained by a careful and unbiased examination of the words of Moses himself.
It becomes, therefore, important to discover whether rakia, rendered firmament in our version, was employed by the early Hebrews to convey the idea of firmness and solidity, or whether it has been improperly translated to accord with the erroneous science of a much later day.
The word occurs nine times in the first chapter of Genesis; but a careful scrutiny fails to reveal to one without a theory to suppor...
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