Science in Christian Perspective



The Concept of "Kinds" In Scyipture*
Professor of Old Testament
Trinity Theological Seminary, Chicago

From JASA 10 (December 1958): 17-20.

There is a need today for clarification of evangelical thought about the Scriptural statement that God created various forms of life "after their kinds." Russell Mixter has said, "Creationists of today are not in agreement concerning what was created according to Genesis;"1 and it is not difficult to add to the clear examples he cites. On the one hand, Byron Nelson, in his apologetic work, "After Its Kind" The First and Last Word on Evolution, has said, "While the Bible allows that new varieties may have arisen since the creative days, it denies that any new species have arisen."2 On the other hand, Mixter himself has said:

Neither writer, however, presents exhaustive evidence on the matter, though the latter's stand has been accepted, apparently without further investigation, by creationists such as Bernard Ramiri4 and Wilbur Bullock.5

The purpose of the present study is to define the concept of the word min in Scripture, using an inductive and, it is hoped, an objective a method as possible: that is, avoiding the explanations of lexicons and other ready-made definitions, except to illustrate conclusions otherwise reached, to examine the etymology, form, and contexts of min in the Hebrew Bible. This is, however, done with two basic principles of approach in mind. (1) Scripture must not be forced to say more that raises questions with secular science than the text actually requires. To establish as close a harmony as possible between science and Scripture is the desire of us all. (2) Scripture must be treated as important, and indeed determinative, for evangelical scientific thought, once its irreducible contribution has been determined. We cannot dismiss as uninspired or irrelevant such conclusions as we may be able to reach from its study. Nelson seen-is correct, in his approach at least, when he says,

*Paper presented at the Joint A.S.A.-E.T.:S. meeting at Wheaton, Illinois, June, 1957.

namely, the created kinds. It is the feeling of the writer that Ramin, in his recent revision of Protestant Biblical Herineneutics, has sacrificed the essential authority of Scripture when he allows that "The Bible is errant in historical, factual, and numerical matters, which do not affect its faith and morals," and limits its infallibility to matters of these latter categories.7

Two etymologies have been proposed for the word ini n, "kinds." Some suggest a root meaning to "think out, invent,"8 with which is connected the noun, tentuna, meaning "form". Derivation from this root. however is generally rej ected;9 and there is preferred the root iound in the Arabic meaning to "split (the earth in plowing)."10 This is favored, first, by the meaning assumed by inin in the post-Old Testament Hebrew: in the inter-testamental Hebrew Apocrypha and in the post-Christian Mishna it means sub-division or species of animal ..11 and in the Talmud it describes a schismatic, a (Christian) heretic. Second, in the related Syriac, min refers to "family." or "tribe"; compare in this regard how inin in Gen. 7:14 has at its parallell in 8:19, inishpaha, "family." The etyrnological meaning of inin appears to be that of a split, a division.

The word inin occurs 31 times in the Old Testament, as noted in Col. 1 of the accompanying chart, stifficient to provide a fair sampling of forms. Furthermore, assuming the --Nlosaic unity of the Pentateuch, one finds 30 of these instances to be the product of one author, -\loses, while the last is by Ezekiel, a Biblical writer whose style and spirit closely parallels that of the Pentateuchal codes.12 An investigator is here in a position to draw valid overall conclusions.

Three observations immediately appear. (1) Min is always used with the preposition le, "to" or "m respect to, according to." It's purpose is to provide specification, as Driver notes, in "technical enumeration.' 113 (2) Min always occurs in the singular in respect to the type of life it describes. This is significant because in some cases the life described is plural, for example, Ezek. 47:10, "Their fish shall be after their kinds, as the fish of the great sea, exceeding many." Since the fish of the sea are varied, inin must be translated in the plural, "according to their kinds," even though the form of the noun is singular. It must, in other words, be a collective noun,14 cf. Eccles. 43:25, "all kinds of living things." It is because of this collective nature of inin that lexicons may insist upon the generic character of the life in each case described;15 and Keil, in commenting on Lev. 11 :14, states, "The use of the word [leminah, 'after its kind'] shows that the [da'a, 'kite'] is intended to denote the whole genus."16 (3) Min is always followed by a suffixed pronoun, five kinds of which appear: (a,) the regular. 4iort masculine form, "his (its) kinds,- marked -('-'\Is)- in Col. 2 of the chart, for example, reference 1 ; (b) the longer masculine form, unusual in most nouns, its appearance with win being classed as an -isolated case,"17 but with no distinctive significance as to meaning; it is marked "(Ml)" in Col 2, for example, references 2 and 3; (c) the regular feminine, "her (its) kinds," marked "(F)", for example, reference 6; (d) the feminine with the letter he, with raphe instead of mappiq, but with no distinctive significance, reference 31 ; and (e) with the masculine plural, "their kinds," reference 4, a difficult form because of the s6r6 connecting vowel, leminehem. Kautzsch-Cowley hesitates between two explanations: "orthographic omission of the [yodh] before suffixes"; which would make min a true plural but then he refers to an earlier paragraph, "The kethiv perhaps intends the singular, but the Masora require the plural with defective e. which would keep the original text, as elsewhere, singular."19 But even if the former be the explanation, the fact that the word describes a series of two generic groups, Gen. 1:21, still allows min in the singular to be considered as a collective. The consistent appearance of these pronoun suffixes further substantiates Driver's conclusion that the purpose of milt is to provide specification, in a formal "document-style."

From the study of the etymology and the forms of inin the following conclusion appears: min must refer to subdivisions within the types of life described and not to the general quality of the types themselves. This latter is the error of H. W. Clark, who paraphrased "the things after their kind" into, the things "as He had created them,"20 "the idea in God's mind of what each type of animal should he."21 But as indicated above, "fruit trees after their kind," Gen. 1 :11, for example, cannot mean "fruit trees in their general class of Dicotyledones," but, from the nature of the term min, must mean "fruit trees in their various subdivisions that make up the class Dicotyledones." Min in this paper is therefore translated "kinds" (plural), and the chart is entitled, "Forms of life, the subdivisions of which are called 'kinds.' "

The forms of life in Scripture that have inin subdivisions are listed in Col. 3 of the chart, with their translation according to Koehler, the latest Hebrew lexicon,22 in Col. 4. The assignment of species in re ferences 18-27 are also those given by Koehler, though in no case does more than genus seem to be intended by the Hebrew word. Reference 27 is unknown; and some of the others are not certain. Also, scientific classification is not whollv settled. It is hoped, however, that the chart approximates modern thought and may clarify the usage of iiiin. At certain points the translation in Col. 4 has been supplemented from Driver's standard coninientary on Genesis,23 because the same Hebrew word may have different meanings in different contexts: behema, for example, in references 6a, 9, and 15 means cattle; but in reference 12 the same word must include the larger wild animals as well.

References 1-10 concern God's creative activity and are therefore of primary importance. The scientific classification of each form, as best this can be determined,24 is given in Col. 5 and following. Both biological kingdoms are defined by the term min, but mostly animals, zoology. Min defines the distinct divisions of phyla and also classes. Mixter has observed, "The herbs [reference 21 are set off from the grasses which are also members of the same class . . . Angiosperms"25; but with the distinction between Monocotyledones and Dicotyledones, it appears that "herbs" may refer to the sub~livision of the latter class. This accords with Mixter's tentative conclusion: "It is conceivable then that the 'orders' of the paleontologist correspond to the 'kinds' of Genesis."26 But it should also be noted that nihi appears to refer to the subdivisions within orders too. Reference 4a, the large serpetits, tempts one to suggest the extinct order, Dinosauria; but in any event they can hardly be the whole class of Reptilia. Likewise the cattle, 6a, and the wild beasts, 6c, whether their exact orders be as noted, are still divisions within the class Mammalia, and each in turn has its subdivisions, the 7iiin. The conclusion to this study of the use of min in Genesis I is therefore as follows: while min does not here require the separate creation by God of each species, it does require at least the separate creation of families within orders. But it would seem to allow for evolution within a family, such as Equidae, "horses" and thus agree with part of Mixter's conclusion: "Within the orders and families, there appears to have been descent with modification, as in the series of horses."28

But there remains to be considered Moses's use of min in the rest of the Pentateuch. References 18 and 20 refer to divisions within the one order of Falconiformes, yet both of these families have subdivisions called min. Similarly, the forms of life in references 22-25 all belong to the order Orthoptera; and three of these, 22, 23, and 25, to the family, Acridiidae, each of the three genera having subdivisions called min. No two references, however, concern the same genus, as though species had subdivisions called min. Driver has therefore come to this conclusion to explain the use of min in the Bible:" The addition calls attention to the number and variety of the different spocies included under each head."29 Thus to say that min means .,species" creates no problem for a liberal like Driver, who is not committed to the truth of Scripture in any event. But neither does it seem. necessary, to create insuperable difficulties for Bible believers who would yet be respectable scientists, and for two reasons. (1) Creations by God do not have to be unique. Camel has stated, "God may have elected to create man and the higher animals with similar fortns",30 and Ramm' position, as he has stated it, is: "We accept progres sive creationism, which teaches that over the million of years of geologic history God has been fiatly creat ing higher and higher forms of life."31 (2) From the separate creation of species there does not have to follow Linnaeus's fixity of the species. Clark has developed this thought at some length:

Naturally, it should be taken for granted that God intended all kinds to propagate as he had created them, but there is no fiat forbidding, biologically, a perversion of His plan . . . Evidence supports the conclusion that a perversion of the original plan did take place.32 

One final question remains, namely, granting that Moses intended ntin to represent something corresponding to species in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, did he have the same thought in mind in Genesis? Moses did not use terms with modern scientific precision; and Edwin Brewster has postulated that, " 'after its kind,' is only the way of saying 'all kinds of.' 32 So then "birds after their kind" would mean simply "all kinds of birds" and signify little if anything about the creative unit. But Moses does not seem to be using this "shotgun" technique: he specifies "every winged bird after its kind," Gen. 1:21; and, although he probably could not have given a water-tight definition of "species," 
he seems to be intending every different type of bird ordinarily distinguished. References 18-21 show that Moses' thought about the min of reference 5 extended at least to genera. Furthermore, min has been shown to be a term for technical enumeration; and it is used in no other, more conversational, way in Scripture. Hebrew lexicons unite in stating that min in Scripture has one, and only one meaning, namely "species."35

If the Bible is indeed God's words it would appear that serious, consistent thinking is needed in respect to the extent of His creative activity.


I Creation and Evolution
(Monograph 2; Wheaton, Ill.: (London: J. Clarke, 1931), pp. 92-93. American Scientific Affiliation, 1948), p. 1.

2 (2nd ed.; Minneapolis: Augsburg, c. 1927) p. 21.

3 Op. cit., pp. 3, S.

4 The Christian View of Science and Scripture (Grand Rapid,s: Eerdmans, 1955), p. 288.

5 The 'Kinds of Genesis and the Species' of Geology," Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation, 4, 6 (June 1952),

6 Op. cit., p. 19.

7. (Boston: Wilde, c. 1956), p. 182.

8 Ludwig Koehler, Lexicon in Veteris Tcstanienti Libras (,Leiden: Brill, 1953), P. 519.

9 John Skinner, A Critical and Exegetical Convinentary of Genesis (New York: Scribners, 1910), p. 24.

10 Brown, Driver, and Briggs, A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament (Oxford: Clarendon, 1952), p. 569.

11 Eccles. 43:25.

12 "The parallels with the Holiness Code are particularly striking . . . Ezekiel obviously assumes that these rules of conduct are familiar to the exiles." Robert H. Pfeiffer, Intro separate creation of species there does not have to fol- Iuction to the Old Testament (New York: Harper and Bros., c. 1941), p. 550. ed 

13 The Book of Genesis (Westminster Commentaries; Lou!on: Methuen, 1909), p. 9.

14 "After its kind, rather, after its leinds, the word being collective," loc. cit.

15. Brown, Driver, and Briggs, op. cit., p. 9, relative to ayyo

16 Biblical Coinnientary on the Old Trstanient (Trans lated by James Martin; Edinburgh, T. and T. Clark, 1873), 11:61-362.

17 E. Krautzsch, Gesenins' Hebrew Grantinar (2nd Englisl ed. &: translated hv A. E. Cowley, Oxford: Clarendon, 1910). p. 2:15, sec. 91d.

18 Ibid., p. 257, sec. 91k.

19 lbid. P. 255, sec. 91c.

20 Genes and Genesis (,Mountain View. Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1940), p. 97.

21 Mixter. op. cit., p. 3.

22 Op. cit.

23 Op. cit.

24 Moses was not aware of modern taxonomy! The Hebrew words may have less precise meanings than the classification of the chart suggests. cf. Mixter's discussion, "Genesis and Geology," Christian Opinion 3, 4 (July 1946), p. 119.

25 Loc. cit.

26 Ibid., p. 120.

27 Also listed as reference 7, for while they appear to be one of the three divisions of the 6th appearance of inin., they also have the 7th min of Scripture listed with them particularly.

28 Genesis and Geology," p. 120.

29 Op. cit., p. 9.

30 An Introduction to Christian Apoloyetics (4th edition; Grand Rapids: 1952), p. 238.

31 Christian View of Science. p. 256.

32. Op. cit., p. 98.

33 Creation (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1927), p. 65.

34 F. E. Hamilton's conclusion seems equally invalid, to the extent of His creative activity. "These original creations were in some cases species (as man, for example), in other cases, genera. in others families, and possibly even orders of life," The Basis of Evolutionary Faith

35 Brown, Driver, and Briggs. op. cit., p. 569; Koehler, op. cit.. p. 519.