Report on the Firmament

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The Creation Concept

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Introduction

The Traditional Explanation

The Rigid Sky in Greek Philosophy

Temples of Zeus

The Letter of Aristeas

Antiochus and the Jews

Ezekiel's Firmament

Varro on Pagan Religion

The Firmament in New Testament Times

A Quotation from On the Sublime

The Christian Era: Domed Cathedrals

The Demise of the Firmament

Daniel's 2,300 Days

The Search for the Firmament

Waters Above the Heavens?

Canopy Theories

Conclusion

Bibliography

Introduction

This report examines the question of the identity of the firmament in the Bible, made on the second day of Creation Week, as described in the first chapter of Genesis. This is one of the greatest mysteries of all time. Various explanations have been supported; the problem has vexed theologians and philosophers for centuries.

Most Creationists and conservative Christians interpret the scriptures which refer to the firmament literally; it represents some real part of the universe. The firmament, or expanse has been identified with the atmosphere, or distant space, or with both the atmosphere and space beyond. In some theories, the creation of the firmament is associated with a structure of some sort, called a canopy, perhaps consisting of water vapor, or a shell of ice, or rings which once surrounded the earth, which no longer exists. This report considers the thesis that the firmament of the Bible does not refer to something in the sky at all, but is found within the earth. This concept is explained in this report.

On the other hand, most secular scholars, liberal Christians, and skeptics suppose that the firmament of scripture is simply a relic of a pre-scientific culture. Critical scholars have translated the Hebrew "raqia", which is rendered "firmament" in the KJV of Genesis 1:6, as "dome" or "vault" in the modern Bibles. This concept has been prominently featured in the New American Bible, the New English Bible, the Jerusalem Bible, and others. These scholars apparently consider this to be the most accurate rendering of the original, and it is probably the most widely held view about the firmament today. But as this report explains, this theory is exploded by a remarkable prophecy in the book of Daniel, found in chapter 8.