Introduction to Bible Cosmology

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The Creation Concept


Contents

Specific changes to the Bible's cosmology

Scripture shows the Bible's cosmology was corrupted

Was the meaning of 'raqia' changed in the 2nd century BC?

What really happened on the 2nd day?

The Babylonian account of creation

For more information

Links to sites which identify 'raqia' with the earth

The geocentric cosmology of the hellenistic age was introduced into the scriptures in the 2nd century BC because of hellenistic influence. Events during the period of hellenization under Antiochus IV are described in Daniel's prophecies. In Daniel 8:10-12, the horn of the goat grows up to heaven and casts stars, the host of heaven, the place of God's sanctuary, and the truth to the ground, and raises the 'continual' on high. The prophecy pictures the corruption of the cosmology of the Old Testament that was initiated by Antiochus IV. Part of his hellenization policy involved the systematic redefinition of the 'raqia' as heaven in Genesis 1:8 and other scriptures. Before, the 'raqia' referred to the earth's crust that was formed in the midst of the waters. The earth's subterranean waters are referred to in Exodus 20:4, Psalm 24:2, Psalm 136:6 etc. The phrase 'and God called the firmament Heaven' was added in Genesis 1:8 along with numerous other corruptions. The revision of the cosmology of the Old Testament was intended to support the hellenistic view of a rigid sky (identified with Zeus) that revolved around the earth. The diurnal rotation or 'continual' was assigned to heaven rather than the earth, and Antiochus stamped out the knowledge of the earth's rotation. This explains why the development of heliocentric theory in ancient astronomy ended with the reign of Antiochus IV.

Specific changes to the Bible's cosmology

Did God call the firmament Heaven?

Heaven has windows?

Genesis 7:11 and 8:2 make reference to 'windows of heaven', but such 'windows' were unknown in the days of Elisha (2 Kings 7:2).

Did the Israelites see God?

The Exodus 24:10 story is contradicted by John's statement in John 1:18 & 4:12, 'No man hath seen God at any time'.

Did the sun and moon stand still?

The story in Joshua 12:10-12 is contradicted by Genesis 8:22, and by Jeremiah 33:20, & 33:25-26. Joshua addresses the sun, but the sun is not a god. If this story were genuine, why would Joshua not be included among the list of heroes of faith in Hebrews 11?

Immobile earth

1 Chronicles 16:30 says 'Fear before him, all the earth: the world also shall be stable, that it be not moved.'
Psalm 93:1 says, 'the world also is stablished, that it cannot be moved.'
Psalm 96:10 says, 'the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved.'
The idea that the earth is immobile and the heavens revolve around it was introduced by means of corruptions in the 2nd century BC.

The strong sky

Job 37:18 says 'Hast thou with him spread out the sky, which is strong, and as a molten looking glass?'
This is the only verse in which the word 'raqa' (spread) is used in reference to the sky. The verse was probably corrupted to support Homer's idea of strong sky (Iliad 8:5-27).

Does the sun go around the earth?

Many scriptures contrast heaven and earth, and that is the case also in Psalm 19:1. Psalm 19:5 compares sun to a bridegroom, and alludes to Apollo. The LXX has: "In the sun he set his tabernacle", suggesting God lives in the sun. The sun does not revolve around the earth; this is a corruption.

Waters above the heavens

Psalm 148:4, 'Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens.' The reference to 'waters that be above the heavens' is a corruption.

God's power, 'raqa' and 'raqia'

Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun

Daniel 12:3 has "brightness of the firmament". It is a corruption. Jesus quoted from this verse, but changed it to "shine as the sun", Matt 13:43. Or rather, the text has been changed.

Ezekiel 1

In Ezekiel's vision in chapter 1, the "wheels within wheels" are probably meant to portray the rigid heavenly firmament and revolving planetary heavenly spheres of the geocentric hellenistic cosmology, and the account is corrupted. A similar account is given in chapter 10.

Heaven and Earth

Many scriptures contrast heaven with earth, and summarize the creation account in Genesis. They include: Genesis 1:1, 2:4, Deuteronomy 10:14, 32:1, 1 Chronicles 16:31, 2 Chronicles 6:18, 6:33, Nehemiah 9:6, Psalm 8:1, 19:1, 57:5, 102:25, 115:16, 150:1, Proverbs 3:19, Isaiah 42:5, 44:24, 66:1, Jeremiah 51:15, Zechariah 12:1, Hebrews 1:10.

Scripture shows the Bible's cosmology was corrupted

Was the meaning of 'raqia' changed in the 2nd century BC?

Eusebius: Praeparatio Evangelica Tr. E.H. Gifford (1903) -- Book 8:3

To THE GREAT KING FROM DEMETRIUS.

IN accordance with thy command, O king, that the books which were wanting to the completion of the library might be collected, and that the parts which had been damaged might be properly restored, I have very carefully given my attention to these matters, and now present my report to thee.

There are wanting the books of the Law of the Jews, together with some few others. For they are expressed in Hebrew characters and language, and are rather carelessly written, and not as they are in the original, according to the report of those who know best, since they have not had the benefit of the king's providence.

But it is right that thou shouldest possess these also thoroughly corrected, because this legislation, being divine, is very full of wisdom and sincerity. For which reason both prose-writers and poets and the multitude of historians have avoided the mention of the aforesaid books, and of the men who ordered their life according to them, because, as Hecataeus of Abdera says, the mode of thought therein is of a pure and venerable character.

If therefore it seems good, O king, there shall be a letter written to the High Priest in Jerusalem, to send elderly men who have lived the most honourable lives, and are experienced in matters of their own Law, six from each tribe, in order that we may test the agreement by a large number, and after receiving the exact interpretation, may give it a distinguished place, in a manner worthy both of the circumstances and of thy purpose. Good fortune be ever thine.

1 Maccabees 3:46-48
Wherefore the Israelites assembled themselves together, and came to Maspha, over against Jerusalem; for in Maspha was the place where they prayed aforetime in Israel.
Then they fasted that day, and put on sackcloth, and cast ashes upon their heads, and rent their clothes,
And laid open the book of the law, wherein the heathen had sought to paint the likeness of their images.

After the reign of Antiochus IV, Jewish scholars were influenced by, and imitated Hellenistic scholars of Alexandria, only instead of studying Homer, they studied the Biblical text. 

Elias J. Bickerman wrote:

Around 150 B.C.E. the first use of the word grammatikos ('a scholar who studies books') appears in Jewish sources. This means that at that date there were already sopherim busy correcting the biblical text." [Elias J. Bickerman, The Jews in the Greek Age, Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1988, p. 171.]

Cited in: John Van Seters, The edited Bible: the curious history of the "editor" in biblical criticism. Eisenbrauns, 2006. p. 78.
http://books.google.ca/books?id=NN5-AKqBzsQC

Van Seters says:

This observation is important beacuse it means that we can expect to see the beginnings of the kind of "editorial" activity that is reflected in the Alexandrian scholars, who were also called grammatikoi, in their studies of Homer, imitated by the sopherim's study of the scriptures. This is a kind of study of the Law quite different from what one would expect from the priests and rabbis; it represents the beginnings of biblical scholarship as it relates to the text of the Hebrew Bible. Of course, whether or not the sopherim were "busy correcting the biblical text," as Bickerman suggests, may be based on a misunderstanding of the activity of the Alexandrian scholars and exactly what is meant by "correcting" texts.

What really happened on the 2nd day?

The 'raqia' that was made on day 2 was the earth's crust formed in the midst of the primeval waters of the earth. Many scriptures describe it, preserving the information in the creation account before its corruption in the hellenistic age. The biblical references showing this are presented below.

Genesis 7:11 says the flood was caused by "the fountains of the great deep" being broken up. The reference to "fountains" was understood from the original creation account in which subterranean waters could give rise to fountains. Possible examples of these 'fountains' are the hydrothermal vents on the ocean floors.

One of the 10 commandments includes a reference to subterranean waters:

Exodus 20:4
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

The crust of the earth or 'raqia' encloses or 'compasses' the waters of the earth's interior.

Job 26:10
He hath compassed the waters with bounds, until the day and night come to an end.

The following scripture indicates pressurized subterranean waters were the source of the flood waters.

Job 38:8
Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb?

This one may refer to the earth's rocky crust which hides the waters of the earth's interior.

Job 38:30
The waters are hid as with a stone, and the face of the deep is frozen.

The Psalmist says that the earth was 'founded upon the seas'.

Psalm 24:1-2
The earth is the LORD's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.
For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.

The waters of the earth's interior are held in 'treasure houses'.

Psalm 33:7
He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses.

The phrase 'set a compass' below may refer to the crust of the earth enclosing the interior waters.

Proverbs 8:27
When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth:

The Babylonian account of creation

In the Babylonian creation myths there are two bodies of water, called Tiamat and Apsu. These are the saltwater ocean and the subterranean abyss. The "deep" (Hebrew tehom) of Genesis 1:2 derives from 'Tiamat'Encyclopedia Mythica says:

In Babylonian myths, Tiamat is a huge, bloated female dragon that personifies the saltwater ocean, the water of Chaos. She is also the primordial mother of all that exists, including the gods themselves. Her consort is Apsu, the personification of the freshwater abyss that lies beneath the Earth. From their union, saltwater with freshwater, the first pair of gods were born. They are Lachmu and Lachamu, parents of Ansar and Kisar, grandparents of Anu and Ea.

The ancient Babylonian Creation-Series tablet corresponding to the creation account in the first chapter of Genesis defines two water bodies from which the earth (Ki) and its creatures were formed. The following translation is by W. Muss-Arnolt.

Time was when what is above was not yet called heaven, the below, earth was not yet named -- the ocean, the primeval, their progenitor [and] mumu Tiamat, the bearer of them all, their waters [still] were gathered together [i.e, there was one mass of water]; field was not yet harvested, yea not even dry-land was to be seen. Time was when none of the gods shone forth, nor yet was any name called on [in worship], nor yet did any one determine the destiny. [At last] were created the gods... Lahmu and Lahamu then shone forth [were recognized and worshiped]. And they brought forth (generated)... AN-SAR (and) AN-KISAR were created... A long time elapsed... [ere] god Anu [Bel and Ea were made].

Reference:

Muss-Arnolt, W. 1893. A Comparative Study on the Translations of the Babylonian Creation Tablets with Special Reference to Jensen's Kosmologie and Barton's Tiamat. Hebraica, Vol. 9, No. 1/2. (Oct., 1892 - Jan., 1893), pp. 6-23. (See especially p. 15)

For another translation go here.

For more information:

Bible Cosmology Revisited 
Report on the Firmament

Links to sites which identify 'raqia' with the earth

Copyright © 1998 by Douglas E. Cox
All Rights Reserved.