Genesis, dust, soil, and dirt

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by Greektim, Nov 5, 2012.

  1. Greektim

    Greektim
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member
    Supporter

    Joined:
    May 22, 2010
    Messages:
    3,143
    Likes Received:
    118
    Why do modern translations continue to translated Gen. 2:7 as "dust" when the same word is translated in other places as "soil" (9:20)???

    I can't figure how the concept of "dust" does anything to help us make the theological connections w/ Adam as being formed from adamah (thus the image of God gives him dignity yet he is still a dirt man) as well as being linked to Noah, also described as a man of adamah, in order to link Noah to Adam and make Noah a 2nd Adam.

    Are translations missing a great opportunity to teach readers intratextual connections b/c we are so engrossed in the tradition of "dust"???
     
  2. Van

    Van
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2011
    Messages:
    9,515
    Likes Received:
    49
    Wonderful topics.

    1) What is the meaning of "dust?"

    2) How can translations be improved to strengthen intratextual connections, by consistently translating words and phrases of the same construction.

    Let me create a dust-up.

    There is no doubt "dust" refers to physical materials found upon the physical earth. Less clear as to whether this is limited to inorganic materials or whether "dust" might include organic materials. In Genesis 3:14 we see the serpent must eat "dust." Most think this simply pictures a snake getting dust in his face and mouth from traveling very close to the ground. However, if we are thinking out of the box, perhaps "dust" refers to what snakes actually eat?

    Genesis 3:19 suggests that we in our existing physical form are dust. Again most say this means inorganic atoms, not that an animal can be thought of as dust.

    Exodus 8:16 indicates that the ground, i.e. inorganic material, can be converted by God's creative power, to gnats. Thus, this supports dust being inorganic material.

    Numbers 23:10 seems to refer to descendants of Jacob as dust. Thus yet other verse pointing to the possibility that dust can be in the form of organic creations.
     
  3. Greektim

    Greektim
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member
    Supporter

    Joined:
    May 22, 2010
    Messages:
    3,143
    Likes Received:
    118
    I like your intertextuality, however I'm wondering if the ancients thought in terms of organic and inorganic.

    Nevertheless, I still feel that "dust" conveys something that is a bit foreign to many of us. Connotation for a house wife verses (who dusts the furniture) or someone living in the desert is still going to convey something of a warped sense of the meaning of the text.
     
  4. Crabtownboy

    Crabtownboy
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2008
    Messages:
    16,609
    Likes Received:
    157
    Dust is finely ground soil. I grew up on a dirt road and it was dusty. When plowing dust rises, dust is soil.
     
  5. Greektim

    Greektim
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member
    Supporter

    Joined:
    May 22, 2010
    Messages:
    3,143
    Likes Received:
    118
    I live in Central America on a dirt road. During "dry season", the road is quite dusty. So I get the idea. But I am still not sure that "dust" is conveying the concept so clearly as simply the word "dirt" would do.

    I believe that the concept of being formed out of dirt (along w/ a play on words w/ adam/adamah) that it is coupled w/ the inherent dignity of image bearers w/ the still humble concept of being people of dirt. This is carried over to Noah who is a man of dirt just like Adam. There is dignity yet humility in both. Dust certainly conveys that, but could another world be more clear???
     
  6. Deacon

    Deacon
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2002
    Messages:
    6,969
    Likes Received:
    128
    They continue to translate 'apar as dust because that's what it is!

    The Hebrew word used for 'dust' in 2:7 is not used in Ge 9:20.

    3:19 "you are dust and to dust you shall return"

    13:16 "I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth"

    18:27 "who am I but dust and ashes"


    Dust ['apar] is a form of ground/soil/earth/dirt [adamah]

    It's defined in context in the following verses:

    I beat them fine as the dust ['apar] of the earth [adamah]; I crushed them and stamped them down like the mire of the streets. 2 Samuel 22:43 (ESV)

    ...destroyed them and made them like the dust at threshing. 2 Kings 13:7b (ESV)

    Moreover, the altar at Bethel, the high place erected by Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, that altar with the high place he pulled down and burned, reducing it to dust. He also burned the Asherah. 2 Kings 23:15 (ESV)

    “‘Can mortal man be in the right before God? Can a man be pure before his Maker? Even in his servants he puts no trust, and his angels he charges with error; how much more those who dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, who are crushed like the moth. Between morning and evening they are beaten to pieces; they perish forever without anyone regarding it.” Job 4:17–20, ESV

    Rob
     
    #6 Deacon, Nov 5, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 5, 2012
  7. franklinmonroe

    franklinmonroe
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2006
    Messages:
    2,872
    Likes Received:
    3
    The word 'adamah (Strong's #127-- ground, land, earth) is "ground" not "dust" in Genesis 2:7 --
    And the LORD God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
    Soil is alive with microbes; dust is dry and lifeless. The word 'adamah is neither "soil" nor "dirt" in Genesis 9:20 but rather is represented by "husband-" in the compound word --
    And Noah began [to be] an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:
     
    #7 franklinmonroe, Nov 5, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 5, 2012
  8. Greektim

    Greektim
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member
    Supporter

    Joined:
    May 22, 2010
    Messages:
    3,143
    Likes Received:
    118
    Maybe I didn't make that clear enough... that dust and adamah are not the same word. But "dust" is in construct to adamah (syntactically at the least; although I'm looking at a hebrew text w/ no vowel pointings so it may be grammatically as well), and dust conveys something away from the concept of dirt or earth or soil.

    As for the "husbandman" translation... put the KJV down and step away. I bet, although this is an assumption, that husbandman was a way to refer to someone who tills soil or works in the dirt 450 years ago. Either way, the word is not a compound word. It is the same word you cited in 2:7. And if it were a compound, the text has been using the adam- root repeatedly to refer to man or Adam. So husband would be unlikely.

    Lastly, I don't think the ancients thought in terms of "alive with microbes" or "dry and lifeless" when it came to dirt. Not only does that fail to reach the intratextual point in the text, it fails to reach any point.
     
    #8 Greektim, Nov 6, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 6, 2012
  9. Van

    Van
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2011
    Messages:
    9,515
    Likes Received:
    49
    Dust is used to convey more than finely ground ground. It is used to convey low or lower significance. Like dirt literally means ground, yet also is used to convey a low thing, i.e. a dirty low-down Yankee. So the possiblity remains, to be made out of the dust might mean to be made out of smaller, lower, and less significant stuff, rather than the common belief.
     
    #9 Van, Nov 6, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 6, 2012
  10. Greektim

    Greektim
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member
    Supporter

    Joined:
    May 22, 2010
    Messages:
    3,143
    Likes Received:
    118
    I can get on board with that.
     
  11. Deacon

    Deacon
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2002
    Messages:
    6,969
    Likes Received:
    128
    In what way did translators of the past do a better job?

    The LXX used χοῦν – earth/dust.

    Rob
     
  12. Mexdeaf

    Mexdeaf
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2005
    Messages:
    7,051
    Likes Received:
    0
    Please don't mock me, but I tend to think of dust as "dirt that floats". Could it be possible that what is trying to be expressed here is the work of God accumulating the materials from which we are made- not literally picking up a handful of dirt, as it were, but rather gathering together the materials of which we are composed.

    From Wiki:

    The average 70 kg adult human body contains approximately 6.7 x 1027 atoms and is "composed of" 60 chemical elements. In this sense, "composed of" means that a trace of the element has been identified in the body. However, at the finest resolution, most objects on Earth (including the human body) contain measureable contaminating amounts of all of the 88 chemical elements which are detectable in nearly any soil on Earth.
     
  13. thomas15

    thomas15
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2007
    Messages:
    1,456
    Likes Received:
    0
    But I did want to mention that brother Van with his observation that dust might be inorganic and dirt organic makes no real point. Organic compounds are those that have a carbon backbone with Hydrogen which are generally bonded with one or more of the 7 functional groups. Methane (CH4) is an organic compound commonly refered to as a Hydrocarbon (hydrogen and carbon). Most of us can think of examples of hydrocarbons that are not life friendly. Carbon is an essential building block of life and hydrogen is basically everywhere but life only happens as an act of God.

    So if we take a protein molecule from a living animal cell and denature it by excessive heat and the removal of two hydrogen and one oxygen atoms do we have dirt or dust?

    I'm sure that most pre-modern readers of Genesis didn't spend a whole lot of time worrying about the difference between dirt and dust.
     
  14. Van

    Van
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2011
    Messages:
    9,515
    Likes Received:
    49
    I did not assert that dust was inorganic and dirt was organic. I did suggest that our current thinking is that the word translated dust refers to inorganic material rather than a dirty low down chimpanzee. Perhaps dust of the ground refers to building materials of the earth including animals? Is this view precluded?
     
  15. thomas15

    thomas15
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2007
    Messages:
    1,456
    Likes Received:
    0
    OK, fair enough. Can you then tell me what you intended to achieve by making a distinction between organic and inorganic materials with respect to the OT words in question?
     
  16. Van

    Van
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2011
    Messages:
    9,515
    Likes Received:
    49
    Most folks view "made from the dust of the ground" as being made from inorganic and lifeless material. However, if the idea is simply building blocks from the earth, God could have formed man out of an existing primate. But since dust is viewed as inorganic material, that sort of thinking is considered out of the box. For sure, it appears the material was not alive, as after it was formed, God breathed life into it and it became a living beings. So the idea not only seems out of the box, it seems far fetched.
     
    #16 Van, Nov 7, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 7, 2012

Share This Page

Loading...