Between Mesopotamia and Egypt

From Reconciling understandings of Scripture and Science
Jump to navigationJump to search

The Bible reflects the culture of the ancient Hebrews, living in the "Ancient Near East" (ANE) between Mesopotamia and Egypt. Its world view is that of ancient Israel, with the concepts, legends and elements of language that they borrowed from their neighbours. In particular, we encounter concepts and phrases appropriated from the myths and legends of the area — for example Behemoth and the Tannim. Sometimes it is hard to know if the original meaning has been lost, as in the modern English "dead metaphor" hold your horses! We look at these in the context of Bible passages that have become important in discussions about Science.

The Language of the Bible

The Hebrew Bible is ancient, written in a Semitic language very different from our English, and compiled over many centuries of linguistic change. It reflects the beliefs of its times. Since we have access to it primarily through translations, we must read carefully and keep our conclusions tentative. We are fortunate to have a long Christadelphian tradition of Bible scholarship to call on.

The New Testament is also an ancient compilation, but its language and culture are a little more familiar to us. Nevertheless it is not scientific, and we must remember that if we are to read it correctly.

How the Bible speaks about natural things

See The Language of the Bible with Reference to Natural Things for notes and extracts from Bernard Ramm, The Christian View of Science and Scripture, 1954.

The World View(s) of Bible Times

The Firmament and the waters above the firmament

While Greek philosophers believed (and later demonstrated) that the earth was spherical,[1] Jewish culture, including early Christianity, followed the Mesopotamian understanding of a flat earth, in some cases right up to the 12th Century AD. This is the assumption behind their debate about The Sun's Path at Night.

See Geocentrism and the chain of Bible references relevant to Geocentrism and Heliocentrism beginning at Joshua 10:10-15.

Meteorology and Embryology

Our main purpose in this wiki is to solve (and celebrate the solutions of) problems in reconciling our various understandings of Scripture with the discoveries of science, so we call these two disciplines "theistic", to test the analogy with "theistic" evolution.

Nevertheless the are both interesting studies in themselves, revealing the world views of people like us who lived in Bible times.

  1. Though not Anaximander (c.610-c.545 BC) as commonly believed — see here. Anaximander believed that the inhabited world is the flat top of a cylinder with a diameter three times its height, floating on infinite waters. The earliest surviving Greek texts describing the earth as spherical are from the 5th Century BC, but the Greeks believed that it was taught earlier by Pythagoras in the 6th Century.