Bad translation upon worse translations manipulated for political ends. Here’s another example that makes the God-was-an-alien-experimental-biogenetisist seem more plausible. Assuming you ignore the staggering amount of physical evidence for evolution, that is.

Professor Ellen van Wolde, a respected Old Testament scholar and author, claims the first sentence of Genesis “in the beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth” is not a true translation of the Hebrew.

She claims she has carried out fresh textual analysis that suggests the writers of the great book never intended to suggest that God created the world — and in fact the Earth was already there when he created humans and animals.
[…]
She said she eventually concluded the Hebrew verb “bara”, which is used in the first sentence of the book of Genesis, does not mean “to create” but to “spatially separate”. The first sentence should now read “in the beginning God separated the Heaven and the Earth.”
[…]
She writes in her thesis that the new translation fits in with ancient texts.

[…]”There was already water,” she said.

“There were sea monsters. God did create some things, but not the Heaven and Earth. The usual idea of creating-out-of-nothing, creatio ex nihilo, is a big misunderstanding.”




  1. Turion says:

    You are all squabbling over issues not pertaining to the article. This thread seems to have been hijacked. The point of the article was that the verb “bara” does not mean “create.” According to several scholars, most notably John Walton (Wheaton College) this partly true.
    Bara does, in fact, mean create. this is the only definition that fits with the various contexts. this leads to the question of what does “create” mean? This is a contingent definition: it means to bring something into existence. This in turn leads us to ask what existence means, in an ancient Hebrew context in particular, and an ancient near eastern (ANE) context in general?
    As it turns out, analyzing various ANE texts leads to the conclusion that existence was not defined materially in ancient Israel (or anywhere else in the ANE) as it is defined in our culture, (I.e. the book exists because I have a sensory perception of it)but rather it was defined functionally. this idea is similar to our idea of a business existing: while it may “exist” legally on paper, it does not actually exist until it starts servicing customers.
    So then, bara, “to create,” means to make something functional. When the Bible says that God created light and darkness, the relevant bit is that he called the light “day” and the darkness “night.” It is not saying that God created light independently from the sun and moon, but rather he created the concept of time. The question of whether God materially created the world never would have occurred to the Israelites, and is thus not addressed.
    Therefore, the Bible does not make any scientific claims. I don’t know whether God used evolution to create all life on earth, and, frankly, I don’t care.
    This research is relatively new, having only been published this year, but I suspect that it will quickly become the predominant view in several denominations.
    just wanted to throw that out there.

  2. Dr Dodd says:

    #74-qb-Do you notice how every topic to do with religion always ends with Dodd’s obsession with male gay sex?

    Actually that would be Alfed’s Mom at #64 who swerved into that topic, but you keep trying.

    If discussing the degenerate homosexual lifestyle opens fresh wounds for you then maybe you should not participate. We know how sensitive your kind is.

  3. bobbo, the devout evangelical anti-theist says:

    #76–Turion==aren’t you and all other bibble scholars really kinda falling into the same trap? Thinking that x means y without embracing ambiguity? I thought my reference at post #4 was about the word bara having several different meanings?

    One thing about “English”–it has more words than any other language==ever. It can be much more precise but in that precision, it may be impossible to give any precision at all to ancient languages that had fewer words? Or maybe that is generally true, but not true in religious words? ((I highly doubt that, but since I don’t know, how can I be dogmatic??))

    So, if bara can have 3-4 different shades of meaning, we can never know what the original author meant to say. He “knew” what he meant, wrote it down, and was happy to explain it. Never thought it was going to be the bibble or that god was on the brink of self imposed exile.

    When it comes to how to plow a field using animals in a yoke, I might consult the bible. When I want to know how the world/universe started, I have to go with science. Thats how I roll.

    Now Dr Doodiepants–Alfie may have dropped the deuce, but you ran over and scooped it up. We all saw you do it.

  4. Dr Dodd says:

    #77-Alfred1-they call you names, and twist your statement into something absurd, that they can then respond to…

    Exactly right and well spotted. This tactic does make for a difficult discussion about… anything. If it wasn’t for the comedic value this would fall into the time wasted category.

  5. Wretched Gnu says:

    Alfred, I wonder if I can impose upon your time (I’ll bet I can) to give me your inimitable spin on some of God’s other Laws.

    And remember these are Laws as articulated by the Lord, not “cultural customs” of the day:

    Deuteronomy 13:13-15

    “If you hear that in one of the towns, there are men who are telling people to go and worship other gods, it is your duty to look into the matter and examine it. If it is proved and confirmed, you must put the inhabitants of that town to the sword. […] That town is to be a ruin for all time, and never rebuilt.”

    … or how about this gem:

    Deuteronomy 22:20

    [If a man accuses his wife of not showing signs of virginity on their wedding night, the bride’s parents must produce such evidence.]

    “If the accusation is true and no evidence of the woman’s virginity is shown, the woman must be taken to the door of her fathers house and stoned to death by the men of the town.”

    What a fine, utterly moral religion.

  6. Turion says:

    Bobbo, my point is that the Israelites would never have thought to use the word “bara” in a material sense. Throughout the ANE, deity was viewed as being intimately involved with nature. In the ancient view, the world couldn’t have come from anywhere else. It may have been intended to mean “to separate” in some contexts; I don’t know, as I have never studied Hebrew. What I do know is that whenever it occurs in a context from which the meaning is easily discernible (which is how ancient Hebrew is studied), it means “to create”. Two more points: wouldn’t, in this context, “separate” mean the same thing as make functional?” Also, how does one separate sea-creatures? Were they all stuck together?
    Alfred, I was referring mostly to Babylonian, Egyptian, Sumerian, and Hittite creation myths. If you want particulars, look at the Egyptian “Papyrus Insinger,” the Babylonian “Enuma Elish,” or the Sumerian text “the Debate between Winter and Summer.” I am not attaching the same truth-value to these as to the Bible; I am saying that they are indicative of the way that ANE cultures thought. a modern parallel would be to look at modern western cultures, such as Canada, England, France, etc. and say that, since their writings seem to imply a material definition of existence, we can infer that America, being a similar culture, holds that same definition.

  7. qb says:

    Turion, do the natural Gods of the ANE lose something when they are stuffed into monotheistic God of the Israelis? For example, does the notion of God become unnatural (i.e. materialistic)?

  8. qb says:

    #78 Dodd

    Sorry you missed again. I said you always associate religion with gay sex. If you want to interpret that as me (or you) being gay, go right ahead but I certainly wonder about the source of your obvious hateful obsession.

    faith != religion

    Basically you have religion, but you obviously have little faith.

  9. Wretched Gnu says:

    Alfred sez,

    “In ancient society, to defraud one’s bride this way was to kill her, and possibly shame her family into becoming outcasts…
    It was truly an evil that required death as the penalty…”

    … clumsily eliding the fact that the Law decrees a woman should be *murdered* for her non-virginity, or for her inability to produce a hymen blood-sample.

    … just as he ignores the fact that God’s Law is to murder those who *happen to live in a town* where some people have a religion other than your own.

    This “morality” is almost as wise and sublime as that of a rabid wolf!

  10. Angry Black says:

    Man, some of these muthafuckas are nuts!

  11. All I can say are we needed to be careful in translating every word in the bible. Coz’ once we get wrong, we will be criticize… It is true that Nobody’s perfect, but still we need to take care about translating God’s words.

  12. Bill says:

    Wow, we’ve misunderstood this text for 3500 years! All it took was this simple observation and now all is cleared up! Sheesh!

    The Tanach (Hebrew Bible) also says, “There’s nothing new under the sun,” i.e. there’s a new idiot every day.

    If you don’t want to believe the Bible, well, fine. But trying to make it say what it doesn’t say is an exercise in futility. And repeating the repeated errors of yesteryear is more so. Snore. Zzzz…

  13. Grandpa says:

    Please join my church. The Church of RA. We believe in energy. God created energy and so energy was transformed into mass and space, and so here we are. Looketh upon the master of the universe RA, the Sun of God, creator of energy.

  14. right says:

    Hey Alfred – do you really think we follow your tortured mis-logic?
    Look, we as a group of normal people, want you to have as normal a life as possible. Please look for help. HEY, I have a great idea, seeing as you are one of the first in line for stuff…..

  15. qb says:

    Insinger Papyrus is a retranslation of an older text. Both it and books on the old testament (especially the Book of Proverbs) share the same common Greek influence, prevalent in BCE Eurasia. Read the Insinger then read Proverbs – it’s an eye opener.

    The monotheism of Genesis probably comes from a political and social reaction to Babylonian rule by the Jews. They adopted much of Babylonian culture and religion but took monotheism from Aten worship from Egypt and Zoroastrianism (that’s tough to spell). Egyptians, Hittites and Hurrians are featured heavily in Genesis.

    Polytheism has been difficult to shake though. Even monotheistic Christians prefer a Trinitarian God.

  16. Thomas says:

    The Alfred1 hit list:

    #53
    > There aren’t
    > versions of truth…2+2=4
    > regardless how ancient
    > the equation is.”

    And yet you deny evolution. Christians are the very definition of hypocrisy.

    #54
    > You are applying
    > 21 century societal
    > norms on an ancient
    > agrarian agricultural
    > society…

    Yet, you find comfort in applying first century norms onto a modern society.

    #60
    > I believe society
    > has learned the principle
    > we shouldn’t be cruel
    > to animals…

    Remember kids: animal sacrifice doesn’t count as cruelty.

    #85
    > In Dt 13:13ff, the
    > Israeli’s were in covenant
    > with God, to have no
    > other gods before
    > him, or the penalty
    > was death”

    So, if you disagree with more logical minds, we can have you put to death right? That’s following “impeccable” “moral” “standards” right? What rubbish.

    > It was truly an
    > evil that required
    > death as the
    > penalty…

    Apparently, not.

    #95
    > Marriages were
    > arranged, economic
    > units designed to
    > benefit both families
    > and the tribe…

    Which, obviously, you still consider moral, right?

    You do realize that it is to the point that your lose your own arguments merely by posting don’t you? You talk yourself into ridiculous logic circles until you sound like a Flat Earther and everyone simply pities you. Personally, I find you to be high entertainment value akin to midgets at the circus and John finds you to be an advertisement Midas.

  17. Thomas says:

    #76
    Actually, the fundamental point is that arguing about the meaning of “bara” is akin to arguing whether Superman or Batman is the better superhero.

  18. Turion says:

    #94,
    well, even ruling out England and Canada, we still have France. We could add to the list Germany, Spain, and Portugal, and probably Italy and Mexico. My point is that cultures from the same geographic and temporal location will usually be rather similar, and that the cultures surrounding Israel at the time are necessarily more like Israelite culture than ours is. Also, while it is true that America and Canada are transplants from England (or, at least, they were) Israel could, in the same way, be considered a transplant from Canaan or Egypt. Abraham was a Canaanite, and the Hebrews were Egyptian slaves.

    Basically, you are (groundlessly) assuming that Israelite culture was more similar to our culture now.

    The list of texts I provided is not exhaustive. My point regarding the Insinger is that,though it is not from the same culture, the 1st century Egyptian culture is still more similar to the Hebrew culture than ours is. While not exhaustive proof in and of itself, it does add strength to the argument. I did not argue that there were parallels between the Sumerian text and Genesis, or between the Enuma Elish and Genesis, or the Insinger. What I am looking at is their concept of existence and creation, which you seem to have ignored.

    #86- no. God is a spirit, not material. I don’t see how having only one God instead of many gods would somehow change how Moses understood the word “bara.”

    #98- You seem to misunderstand the concept of the Trinity: it is, in fact, monotheism due to God’s trancendent nature, we cannot understand how this is so, but that does not make it untrue; it is a mystery, not a contradiction. One way to put it may be that the three persons in the godhead are, perhaps, different faces of the same entity. However, there really is no good analogy. I would also claim that Israel’s monotheism was a result of revealed truth, rather than a political reaction, but would not expect you to believe this, as it is more of a claim of faith.

  19. Glass Half Full says:

    The Hindu gods are the only real Gods. Jesus and Yahweh are made up fictional local tribal gods. Nothing serious. I mean the Norse gods are the REAL gods, the Hindu gods are silly myths. No, the Egyptian creation story is REAL, the native Americans don’t know what they’re talking about!

    An atheist someone who thinks there are 39 fictional magical superstitions in the world pretending to be religions. A “true believer” is someone who thinks there are 38 fictional magical superstitions in the world pretending to be religions, and one real non-fiction one.

    Look you crazy religious freaks, until YOUR god ACTUALLY shows up (I mean Norse, Egyptian, Greek, Native American, Jewish, Hindu, etc) you’re just silly people running around believing in invisible super powered people. Grow up. OR have YOUR god come down on camera on earth and do something about it. I dare you. Go on…make your magical invisible being show up and doing something. Any of you…come on. Waiting? Jesus coming back? Yeah, we’ve been waiting 2000 years. Maybe in another 5000 the faith will start to wane, but until then we have to put up with stupid shit like this.

  20. qb says:

    Turion, if you feel it’s a matter of faith I won’t argue against it. BTW, I do understand the whole ideas around the Trinity and spent time reading Irenaeus and the Neoplatonists. But even as a kid being raised Catholic I never thought the whole notion carried any logical coherency. I’ve always felt it was a unnecessary and distracting from the central themes of Christianity.

  21. bobbo, the devout evangelical anti-theist says:

    #102–Glass==you look fully full to me. It is funny. Present the one true religion with the other equally assured 38 true religions and they say with no sense of inquiry at all: “They are wrong, and we are right!” — All 39 of them. Heh, heh. Nothing sticks at all.

    I also like the sociology of it all: 98% of believers believe what religion they were brought up in. Just as if religion is a social phenomenon instead of a revealed truth. Again highly amusing and nothing sticks.

    My favorite has to be when faced with a direct contradiction on any of very many issues, the issue becomes “a mystery.” Hah, hah. Yes, mystery indeed.

    Silly Hoomans.

  22. furrypotato says:

    I’ve met god, and she told me she doesn’t exist.

  23. Glenn E. says:

    The atheist academics are getting desperate to keep their Darwin belief system alive. And well funded! So now they’re attacking the language of the Bible itself. In order to undermine it enough, to allow for evolution to have some coexistence with it. Yeah, I’ve heard all this crap decades ago. Teachers claiming, “Well maybe a Day was really millions of years”. So it tool six million years for life to appear (which is still too brief a time) on earth. Oh come on. How could anyone know what happened millions or billions of years ago, in order to write about it as if it happened yesterday? They’d either have to be God, or receive some message from God. And if that’s true, I think God could get the grammar right. And make sure the human got it right too. Or else, why the hell bother?!

    If anyone’s guilty of screwing up, it’s Darwin. He couldn’t even explain how the eyeball evolved. How could something remain a useless organ for so many generations, until all the parts accidentally mutated into perfection? And it finally was of any use or benefit to the lifeforms that were burdened with it until then? So we’re supposed to “believe” that evolution had these magical leaps, and natural selection made maddening exceptions for so long? Sorry, it just doesn’t wash. Apply Occam’s Razor to how the eyeball developed. And Evolution isn’t going to be the simplest answer.

    I think things like Eyeball, and the Bees and Flowers relationship. Are a few of many damning “Inconvenient Truths” that confound the atheists’ evolutionary origins of life. What the Bible is saying about those first six days. Is that a whole mess of interdependent living systems were set into existence. Which couldn’t have occurred separately. Nor exist apart from each other. The odds of life evolving accidentally is astronomical enough, in isolation. The odds of living systems spontaneously occurring accidentally, in thoroughly integrated relationships, is so far beyond being “astronomically” against it. That it calls into question the sanity of all those who still hold it’s a scientifically proven fact.

    And NO… there ISN’T a “staggering amount of physical evidence for evolution”. Just a staggering amount of fools who believe in it. And are willing to reinterpret everything they come across to prove it. Like finding bones in the wrong geological order. Or messing with Biblical text, to muddle its message, and confuse its believers. Maybe we should start taking the sacred text of Darwin to pieces. All fair, ain’t it?

  24. Colin says:

    Interesting that NatGeo once again shows NO photos of this new find. Every picture of
    “Ardi” is a drawing. Where’s that proof again?

  25. Glenn E. says:

    This is the “divide and conquer” strategy of the atheist camp. Claim “God” merely “divided” what already existed. And if you swallow that, the atheists have conquered (or soon will). Cause then they can just write “God” off as being some Superman or very powerful alien race. That showed up one day and altered earth into discreet forms. From its previous muddy mess of pre-planetary stew. Thus making it ready for their next trick. Seeding life there (here). After which, everything evolved, so to keep all the Darwinists happy. But I just don’t buy that some Superman race, terraformed the earth. And then just walked away from it, and allowed it to go to hell on its own. Not very good farmers, these aliens. They don’t weed, they don’t fertilize, and they don’t harvest and replant. Some gods they are!

  26. Sister Mary Hand Grenade of Quiet Reflection says:

    The caption should be, “pull my finger.”

    Those of you that think alf is an asshole, can I get an AMEN?

  27. Dallas says:

    KILL HER !!!

  28. tristan says:

    I’m not religious, but was always impress by how adaptive the Christian was over the ages. This is just another conspiracy by the Christian religion to update their standing based on modern facts in our current understanding of this universe. God, like infinity and time-travel never make sense. Who made God or Dog, he made himself? Kids have their imaginary friends, God(s) are also adult’s imaginary friend(s). God bless “everybody”.

  29. Don Quixote says:

    Where is god now? She – He – It was on top of the mountain until someone climbed it. In the sky until some one took a close look. Now it is no longer an existence, just an idea used to control the terminally stupid.


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