Science in Christian Perspective
Letter to the Editor
The "Days" of Genesis
David F. Siemens, Jr.
2703 E. Kenwood Street
Mesa, Arizona 85203-2340
From: PSCF 39 (September 1987): 188
Hummel's "Interpreting Genesis One" in the Journal, September 1986, and The Genesis Connection from which it is taken, are so good that I hate to write anything that may appear to be negative. But one matter should be corrected, and we need to talk about some others. First, Genesis 4:3 and Joshua 24:7 cannot be used to show that yom (day) can mean either "time" or "season," for yomin (days) appears in the text. I found it in my interlinear. The literal "many days" of Joshua (so ASV) certainly matches "a long season" (KJ) or "a long time" (RSV). I believe the claim that the meaning of yom is not restricted to the daylight period or a 24-hour period is correct, though the wrong evidences are cited. I trust that an expert in Hebrew will supply the correct references for the second edition/printing.
I wish we could sit together and talk about the rest, for then I could learn something more. But perhaps this brief statement will draw some more people into the conversation. I think Wiseman's view is dismissed too quickly. It is compatible with everything Hummel says about literary form and polish, about antipagan polemic, about the interpretation and application of the text. But it adds to these a rationale for the evening- morning-day structure. It adds to these a rationale for the evening- morning-day structure. It adds to these a rationale for the evening- morning-day structure. It also allows a plausible explanation for what seems to me rather abrupt. This brevity has apparently also puzzled others, for Hummel semi-asks, "If God created light instantaneously, was the first day then mostly one of rest like the seventh?" On day one we find the production of light, its separation from darkness, and day and night named. So we ask, "Is that all?" But if this was a vision given by God of the phenomena of light to some ancient saint, I can understand that this is about all that could be uttered. The experience of the glory of light would render the individual speechless. It would be plenty for one night.
Wiseman, by arguing that the colophons in Genesis 2:4 and 5:1 indicate that 'Adam was the original owner of the documents, reminds me that the revelations may be much earlier than Moses. I understand that tehom (deep; Genesis 1:2) is cognate to Tiamat, the primordial source of heaven and earth in the Babylonian myth. This suggests that the story was known to Abraham or Jacob, the last patriarchs to live in Mesopotamia, as much as the reference to the tanninim, noted by Hummel, suggests contact with the Canaanites. Would the Babylonian myth be well enough known in Egypt or Sinai for inclusion by Moses, unless he was working from a much more ancient source? Granted, God could have given him the very language, but this dictation theory of inspiration does not stand up well. I note that the message comes through whether one knows of - the mythological references or not, but I doubt that the references would be there without the knowledge. So it seems to me that the message was included by Moses, but I doubt that it originated with him. I think this fits also the inclusion of the history of the patriarchs. It must have been handed down from generation to generation unless it came to Moses by direct revelation.