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Firm Convictions
In Defense of the Faith
Wednesday, July 19, 2017
Wendy Wippel

Am I the only one who has wrestled with Genesis 6?  Particularly what the heck the “firmament” actually was?  Over the centuries there have been various translations. But I think our generation has a leg up on finally getting it right. 

Apparently early Christians conceived the firmament as a vast solid dome in the sky. According to Wikipedia, “The firmament IS  the sky."

Other opinions:

  • An extended surface.
  • A supporting substance.
  • The visible arch of the sky.
  • Heaven.

A blogger at BioLogos, in a not-all-that helpful commentary, says this: “Yes, the firmament is solid –But that’s not the point!.”     

His point, apparently being, regardless of what the Bible itself might say: “Why would anyone assume that the ancient cosmology in Genesis could be expected to be in harmony with modern science in the first place?”

One man’s opinion.  

Maybe we should skip the opinions and actually look closely at the passage.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.

Then God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so.  And God called the firmament Heaven. Genesis 1:1-8 NKJV

That’s what we’ve got. At least from the text itself.

So let’s go deeper. The Hebrew word translated in Scripture as firmament is the word raqiya. And it is typically translated as, “a solid expanse, a flat surface, a support“.

Which to me never really made any sense. And still doesn’t until you dig into the root word of raqiyqa, which is raqa

Interestingly enough, the word raqa means to beat out, to expand, to spread, to make broad.

To be stretched out. And God said—nearly two dozen times—that He stretched the heavens out.

So…to anyone in 2017 who is  paying the least bit of attention, it’s one more sign that science and Scripture are rapidly reaching a complete agreement on our cosmic origins.

The Scriptures have predicted every discovery the physicists and comologists make, thousands of years before they made them.

Not that the scientists realize it. They aren’t paying attention to Scripture, but-- blissfully ignorant—(intentionally I think),  insist on leaving any room for a creator out of the equation. Despite the fact that a lot of honest scientists admit that He has to be there.

The word firmament, in English-language Bibles, was anglicized from the Latin word firmamentum, which appeared in the Vulgate version of the Bible. The Vulgate version was a translation made by St. Jerome in 382 A.D. So it’s a translation of a Latin Bible that was a translation of earlier Bibles that were based on, at least for Genesis, very ancient Hebrew texts. The Hebrew, it would seem would confirm that the firmament was not the sky or a solid dome, but the expansion of the four-dimensional space that we would come to know as our universe.  A raquiya that was beat out, as described by raquiya’s root word, raqa.

The firmament was the expanding space that exploded at the Big Bang. The actual fabric of space expanding. AS if God was beating it out.  Just like the word raqa tells us, and in complete harmony with the current scientific models.

Daniel said that knowledge would increase as we approach the end times. And if raqiya has been awkwardly translated since Jerome, which would seemingly be the case in this era, then knowledge is definitely increasing –at least in terms of a scientific nature of our origins—in this era in which the mysteries of the cosmos are habitually front page news.

So maybe our generation finally has the tools—all of them—needed to really understand what God meant in Genesis 6.

That’s my theory, anyway. Until God shows me otherwise.  And in my book, science and Scripture arriving at Big Bang inflation by chance as well as independently, and in the same place in the same  sequence of cosmic events, would have odds way, way less than me winning the Powerball.

And I have never bought a ticket.

“He has made the earth by his power, he has established the world by his wisdom, and has stretched out the heaven by his understanding.”  Jeremiah 51:15

About Wendy Wippel

Last week: The Great Divide

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