I have written an e-book, Does the Bible Really Say That?, which is free to anyone. To download that book, in several formats, go here.
Creative Commons License
The posts in this blog are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. In other words, you can copy and use this material, as long as you aren't making money from it, and as long as you give me credit.

Friday, September 02, 2011

The Bible uses the science of the time: Job 37:18

Job 37:18 Can you, with him, spread out the sky,
which is strong as a cast metal mirror? (World English Bible)

18 Can you, like him, spread out the skies,
hard as a cast metal mirror? (English Standard Version)

18 Hast thou with him spread out the sky, which is strong, and as a molten looking glass? (KJV)

18 With Him, have you spread out the skies, Strong as a cast metal mirror? (NKJV)

18 he makes the skies reflect the heat like a bronze mirror. Can you do that? (NLT)

All the versions I checked use similar language. (See here for several of them, from the Blueletter Bible.) What's going on here? Is the Bible in error? No, but there's a lesson here. For one thing, this illustrates that the Bible can't always be taken literally. Much of Job is poetic in nature, and, besides, note the "as" or "like" in some of these renditions -- the sky is somehow like a looking glass, not literally a looking glass, in the mind of the speaker and the listeners. (This was Elihu speaking to Job, and, apparently, Job's three friends were listening.)

And that's the main point I'm trying to make. God, who knows exactly what the sky is like, allowed, and, presumably, directed, that the ideas of the time of writing were used in Job. To describe the sky in the terms we use today would have made this incomprehensible to Elihu's contemporaries, and to people for several centuries after he spoke this. I believe that the same applies to several other biblical passages -- the Bible used the world-view of the people of the time in describing nature.

Thanks for reading!

No comments: