Dinosaurs in Genesis 1?

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by Barry and Helen Setterfield, Jan 2, 2004.

  1. Barry and Helen Setterfield

    Barry and Helen Setterfield
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    This year we (Barry and Helen) decided to go back to the oldest possible material available to us and compare it, bit by bit, with current (KJV to the present) translations. The oldest we are aware of is the Alexandrian Septuagint, translated by Hebrew scholars from ancient, or paleo- Hebrew to classical Greek about 200 years before Christ was born. We have found some fascinating things. Because Barry was sick yesterday, we did not do chapter 1 then, so only the second day of January and we are already a chapter behind!

    But here is some of what we found in chapter 1 of Genesis -- material not brought forward in ANY of the currently used translations, but there in the ancient Greek, in words chosen by the ancient Hebrew scholars themselves.

    Verse by verse:

    1. no major differences

    2. BUT is the word this verse starts with, effectively negating any ancient understanding of any 'gap' idea. Verse 2 reads, "But the earth was unsightly and unfurnished..." Following this, the phrase 'the face of' or 'the surface of' is missing. The Alexandrian LXX simply reads that "darkness was over the deep." The last part of this verse reads that the Holy Spirit was moving over the waters, not 'hovering' or 'brooding'. Considering the enormous battles that have been fought over some of these words, it will be interesting to some to see what the ancient Hebrew scholars themselves chose as the correct words.

    3. No major differences.

    4. "divided between" is the phrase used which is usually shortened to 'divided' or 'separated' regarding light and darkness.

    5. No significant differences.

    6. 'firmament' -- with the understanding that this does NOT indicate something solid!

    7. no major differences, 'firmament' used.

    8. 'heaven' used, although 'sky' is used in many major translations. "And God saw that it was good" is in this verse in the LXX and not in the English translations.

    9. "collected" in terms of the waters being put into one place. "Gathered" is used in most modern translations. Not a big deal, but a slightly different meaning that is interesting.

    10. No significant differences.

    11. The land would 'bring forth' "the herb of grass bearing seed (or sowing seed) according to its kind and according to its likeness, and the fruit tree bearing fruit whose seed is in it according to its kind on the earth. And it was so".
    This is a major difference from what we have in any of our modern versions (consider KJV modern, please, as it is nowhere near the age of the Alexandrian LXX). It is much more definitive about the separation between 'kinds' or types of vegetation..

    12. Similar to 11 in wording, but no other differences.

    13. No difference.

    14. And God said, "Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven to give light upon the earth (literally, 'for light and shining upon the earth'), to divide between day and night and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and for years."
    Again enough of a difference from any modern version to have quoted it directly here.

    15. No significant difference.

    16. The stars also is the only mention of the stars. Not even "He made." Simply, "the stars also." In addition, the sun and moon are given to 'regulate' the day and night, whereas the common translations use 'rule' or 'govern.' Again, perhaps not a significant difference, but interesting.

    17. "to shine" is used rather than to 'give light.'

    18. "regulate" instead of 'govern.' "Divide between" light and darkness instead of just 'divide' or 'separate'.

    19. No difference.

    20. And God said, "Let the waters bring forth reptiles of living souls, and winged creatures flying above the earth in the firmament of heaven." And it was so.

    "Reptiles" is not used in any current translation. And "winged creatures" need not be confined to fowl (KJV) or birds (NIV) -- bats, pteradactyls and such may easily be included here. It is also interesting to note that the translators all avoided not only 'reptile' but the fact that these were said to have 'nephesh' or soul. And yet that is how the ancients translated those words.

    21. After the mention of God making the great creatures (whales, etc.) of the sea, the words go on, "and every soul of living reptiles which the waters brought forth accoring to their kinds, and every creature that flies with wings according to its kind. And God saw that they were good."

    It is very possible here that we not only have some unidentified flying creatures, but some of the large, probably extinct, reptiles which were known as the monsters of the water and one of which may very well be what is described in Job 41.

    22. "creatures that fly" rather than 'birds' or 'fowl.'

    23. No difference.

    24. And God said, "Let the earth bring forth the living souls according to their kind; quadrupeds and reptiles and wild beasts of the earth, according to their kind." And it was so.

    Here the designation of 'nephesh' or 'soul' is given to animals living on the earth.

    25. And God made the wild beasts of the earth according to their kind and cattle according to their kind and all the reptiles of the earth according to their kind. And God saw that they were good.

    This choice of the word meaning, in English, 'reptile' is very interesting. Could Genesis 1 be referring to a class of animals that included the dinosaurs?

    26. And God said "Let us make man according to our image and likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the flying creatures of heaven, and over the cattle and all the earth and over all the reptiles that creep on the earth."

    If there is any referral to dinosaurs here, then it appears they were not only contemporaneous with men, but that men were given dominion over them as well.

    27. No significant differences.

    28. And God blessed them, saying, "Increase and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the seas and the flying creatures of heaven and all the cattle and all the earth and all the reptiles that creep on the earth."

    The term used for 'cattle' here and above has often been translated as simply 'livestock', which also makes sense.

    29. No significant differences with the understanding that there is emphasis upon the fact that people were to be vegetarian at the time of creation.

    30. "And to all the wild beasts of the earth and to all the flying creatures of heaven and to every reptile creeping on the earth which has in itself soul (breath of life), even every green plant for food." And it was so.

    This is rather specific about the green plants being the only food for those animals on the ground and in the air created with nephesh, translated as 'the breath of life' as well as 'soul.'

    31. No significant difference.

    NOTE: there is NO paragraph break at this point, even though someone, at some time, decided this was to be the end of the first chapter. The end of the first narration actually comes at 2:4a, which will be part of the next series of comments.

    At any rate, it may or may not be significant that the word for 'reptiles' is mentioned so frequently in Genesis 1, both in connection with land and sea dwelling creatures. It is also significant that it is not 'fowl' or 'birds' that are mentioned, but rather creatures that fly in the firmament, or creatures with wings. This is MUCH more inclusive than birds.

    To us, at least, some interesting stuff...

    ==========

    After this has been up for about a week, it will be transferred down to the study under Genesis 1 for quick referencing.
     
  2. ChurchBoy

    ChurchBoy
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    Helen,

    Great post with interesting information. I have a question. What did the word "reptile" mean to ancient Hebrews? We all have an image of what a "reptile" is today. Are we to infer that "reptile" is not a "modern" word?
     
  3. Helen

    Helen
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    I've emailed a friend of ours with that question. He is a Greek and a Hebrew scholar and I will be interested in the answer, too.

    (By the way, we didn't do the second chapter today because I got totally involved -- about six hours' worth -- responding to a Mormon girlfriend who sent me "The Living Christ, The Testimony of the Apostles, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints". I am responding with Bible almost entirely and we spent hours looking up some very interesting things. So we will continue here tomorrow.)
     
  4. Helen

    Helen
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    OK, this is not from our friend, but from some research Barry did tonight. The Greek word used there appears to be "erpeta" from which we get both "serpent" and "herpetologist" -- the study of repitles.

    The word is found in the New Testament and is "herpetom" or "herpo" (same root), meaning "a reptile, a creeping thing, serpent." This is the word used in James 3:7, and is translated 'serpents' in the King James, 'reptiles' in the New King James, and 'reptiles' in the NIV.

    More as we find out more....
     
  5. Helen

    Helen
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    Also found out that in the French Bible (Louis second) the word reptile is used...

    Gen 1:24 Dieu dit: Que la terre produise des animaux vivants selon leur espèce, du bétail, des reptiles et des animaux terrestres, selon leur espèce. Et cela fut ainsi.
     
  6. ChurchBoy

    ChurchBoy
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    More interesting information. I do have another question. To the ancient Hebrews did the word "reptile" include other animals that would not be classified as reptiles today? Did they consider amphibians as "reptiles"?
     
  7. Paul of Eugene

    Paul of Eugene
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    I would appreciate, Helen, more information about the Septuagint usage for "firmament". Can you amplify on your comment that it is certainly not "solid"?
     
  8. Paul of Eugene

    Paul of Eugene
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    I did some research on the web for "firmament" and "septuagint". I found this site, which is a site devoted to upholding the idea that the ancient Hebrews wrote in a manner consistent with current cosmology, downgrading the idea that the firmament is solid:

    http://www.apologeticspress.org/rr/rr2000/r&r0004a.htm

    But concerning the Septuagint translation, they wrote the following:

    It would appear that it would be a mistake to dismiss the Septuagint translation for "firmament" as "certainly not a solid".
     
  9. Helen

    Helen
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    Paul, 'stereoma', #4733 in Strongs, means 'something established, that is confirmation, stability, or steadfastness.'

    This is not necessarily a solid! It is from #4372, the root word 'stereoo', meaning 'to confirm, establish, receive strength, make strong.' Because it can also mean 'to solidify', some have felt that the Hebrews felt the firmament was solid because of their choosing of the word 'stereoma', as your author has indicated. However this is wrong, for if we go into Psalm 19:1, we find the same word in both the Hebrew and Greek as used in Genesis 1:6 etc. It is most usually translated 'expanse', 'firmament', or 'skies'. It is the visible arch of the atmosphere, and was said in Psalm 19 as well as other places to be not only where the handiwork of God was displayed, but also where birds flew. Birds don't fly well in solids. I think they knew that.


    ChurchBoy, The word used in the Hebrew is Strongs #7431, 'remes', meaning "a reptile, or any other rapidly moving animal that creeps or creeping or moving thing." It is from the ancient root 'ramas', meaning "to glide swiftly, to crawl, or move with short steps, to creep or move."

    It is important to understand that the classification system used by the ancient Hebrews, and probably a lot more people than that, was by locomotion. So bats were grouped with birds, whales and dolphins with fish, etc. In line with this, there was probably not the recognition we have today in our taxonomic system regarding cold-blooded and warm-blooded, etc. However, in line with the above definitions, I would be willing now to say that since dinosaurs -- at least the large ones -- didn't move swiftly or have short, rapid steps, that the word may not have been in reference to them. HOWEVER, were they initially created large or as young adults which would grow with time and become a little more clumsy and slower? I don't know that we have any way of knowing right now. What is interesting is the choice of words used by the Hebrew scholars who translated into the Greek.

    So evidently yes, it can mean more than simply reptile, but that was/is evidently its primary meaning, and thus the word used by the translators of the Septuagint was in accord with that.
     
  10. Paul of Eugene

    Paul of Eugene
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    - first of all, Psalm 19 doesn't have birds in it.

    - Birds don't fly in solids, but the only passage that refers to birds flying in the "expanse" or "firmament" is in Genesis 1:20.

    - If a bowl is placed upside down on a table, over a fly, and the fly flies around, trapped thusly, it is not improper to say the fly is flying in the bowl.

    - It is in this way that the ancients viewed the birds to be flying in the firmament, and the expression "in" occurred naturally to them at the time they were recording the creation of the firmament and the placing of the stars, sun and moon in the firmament.

    - The view of the sky as a solid expanse, under which hang the sun, stars and moon is the most natural way to understand the meaning of Genesis 1:7, which speaks of seperating the waters that were below the expanse from waters that were above the expanse.

    - Ezekiel also spoke of the expanse - see Ezekiel 1:22 - and likened it to crystal. This was in his vision of the "chariot" of God, not creation, but the same word is used and implies similar characteristics; many feel this "divine chariot" is a model of the whole creation as understood at the time of Ezekiel, partly because of the use of the word for "expanse" or "firmament".

    - We have the voice of Elihu, reproving Job, in Job 37:18 "Can you, with Him, spread out the skies, Strong as a molten mirror?" (NASB) It is a different Hebrew word for "sky" but it shows that Elihu thought the sky was a hard thing spread out above us all.

    All these references are consistent with the belief in a solid expanse of the sky above the heads. This is the natural way to interpret the language used and is consistent with the beliefs of the other nations at the time Genesis was composed.

    We do not conclude that God didn't know about outer space. Instead, we conclude that God graciously translated that fact that He is creator of all into terms understood by the men of the time. It was His choice this was the wisest thing to do, and I for one do not intend to tell Him He shouldn't have done that.
     
  11. Helen

    Helen
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    Paul, if that is the conclusion you have come to, and I know it is, then that's fine. We don't feel it is what the evidence supports. We have presented our evidence, but this is not a forum for arguments.

    God bless.
     

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