Considering the Possibility of a Creation Involving “Deep Time” (Part 3) – Rich Cloud, PPCF Chairman
(Part 3: Utilizing Lexical Concepts Plus an Exhaustive Concordance Examination of Hebrew “TIME” Words to Develop Phrasal Constructs Which Express a Deep Time (DT) Creation)
Does the Hebrew language, both its words and grammatical structure, allow for
both the expression and concept of longs ages of time in the Genesis 1 Creation
If so, does the idea of long ages describe God’s intent for the Creation Account?
Introduction to Part 3
In Section 4 a thought exercise will be done to further examine these previously investigated Hebrew TIME words. This exercise will construct phrases using these available words with the intent to express the concept of extended time and long ages while also utilizing other related words within these constructed phrases. The purpose of this exercise is to directly determine if the idea of deep time (hereafter DT) would be a viable outcome to describe a creation having long ages of DT when using these TIME words. I will then conclude this study by addressing and answering the three previous challenges: the two questions and one statement presented in Part 1 of this paper. These questions and the statement will be listed below before the responses are made to each one.
By taking the available TIME words described in Sections #1 and #2, plus utilizing the contextual passages from the Old Testament as described in Section #3, the intent for this current Section #4 will be to examine the phrasing and word combinations of these selected Hebrew TIME words. The goal will then be to combine these word meanings into various phrasal constructs so as to examine the how by which this phrasing could then describe DT within the Hebrew language of the Old Testament.
Concept for Stating the “Fact of a DT Creation” – How?
When seeking to develop a message which could convey the meaning of DT for the Creation account, a good starting point would be to examine the recorded text of Genesis 1. The targeted point of attention would be to study any one of the six concluding statements which summarize each of the six days in Genesis 1 and then apply this same stated pattern to develop an account of DT for the Creation. A suitable choice would be found within the concluding phrase of day 1 as recorded in Genesis 1:5b. This concluding statement for Day 1 reads: “And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.”
On close examination of this verse, there is a pattern observed which provides an emphasized construct for the time aspect intended. This construct contains two parts – an initial, time encompassing statement and then a shorter concluding summary with a matching timeline. The initial statement provides a window or time frame for what occurred while the summary portion makes an immediate restatement of the same time frame. The concept here is one of repetition to provide emphasis by use of two distinct but essentially matching concepts. When these two parts are taken together, they incorporate a common Hebrew linguistic pattern of repetition which is purposed to provide both an objective emphasis plus added clarity for the meaning of the intended message.
Within the Hebrew language of the Old Testament, there are a few distinct ways by which repetition is used. One way, which is quite common for narrative texts, is by the repetition of a single word to convey the importance of a message. The first example of this in the Old Testament is in Genesis 2:17. This statement by God contains the following text: “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” The emphasis occurs when the word for die (mut) is directly repeated twice. Thus, the meaning could be stated literally as: “you shall die, die” or by applying a dual sense of meaning “dying you shall die”. The idea is that death in this instance will occur ultimately because of sin but also progressively because of the ongoing physical degradation of the body from aging, i.e., genetic entropy.
A second form of repetition is commonly found in Hebrew poetry through a concept called Synonymous Parallelism. This occurs by repeating the same conceptual meaning in two adjacent lines of text. This approach does appear more similar to the Creation account in Genesis 1. While the message conveyed in the final description of each day within the Genesis 1 passage does follow a pattern similar to this, the idea expressed in Genesis 1 has a pattern more like the form of an equation. The general form of this equation could be stated as: evening + morning = day. The main difference here is that the stated outcome is within the genre of historical narrative with the conclusion for this phrase (i.e., day 1) being emphasized. Thus, as we seek to convey the idea of an extended and indefinite time frame for a DT creation account, the concept of utilizing a set of parallel phrases would directly help to provide clarity to this emphasis.
The Use of Supplementary Words to Provide a Phrasal Thought Construct of DT
Within the Hebrew language there are a number of words which can be employed to produce a flow of thought in order to convey an intended meaning. Just as in the English language, these words would fit into the general categories of conjunctions, prepositions, adverbs, adjectives and verbs. Some of these words are listed below and grouped within the above stated categories. While many more of these words by category are available from the Hebrew language, those selected were used in this exercise to facilitate and build the needed phrases to convey an intended meaning of DT. These are provided with the transliterate Hebrew spelling5 (brackets) along with the most common translation or translations into the English word equivalent (ESV).
[az] – then
[ahar] – after
[w”] – and
[ad2] – to, till, until
[b’] – in, with, when
[k’] – like, as, when, according to
[le] – to, for
[min] – from, out of
[ehad] – (numbers) – first, one
[kol] – all, every
[rab1] – great, many, numerous
[resiyt] – beginning, first
[hayah] – was, be
[tamid] – always, continually
[yada-lo] – unknown
How to Start and Proceed?
Putting a phrase or phrases together could be done in a number of ways. But if the intent is to follow the pattern of the existing phrasal construct of Genesis 1:5b, then the pattern would fit the following dual phrase outline for this verse:
1) “And there was evening and there was morning...”
2) “The first day.”
These combined phrasal constructs will be developed with the literal English phrase first, then the specific transliterated5 Hebrew word combination of the same to follow. The Genesis 1:5b example of this is shown below:
“and was evening and was morning – first day” (w’-hayah-ereb-w’-hayah-boger---ehad yom) (in Hebrew would actually read right to left)
This general pattern of a two-part or dual phrase statement will be employed below to provide a DT phrasal construct in each of the examples provided. A direct means to implement this idea would be to start by utilizing an existing passage of Scripture which already contains a few to some of the Hebrew TIME words. This would then be followed by modifying this initial verse into the defining pattern of the two-part or dual phase construct of Genesis 1:5b. Some of the verses previously examined in this paper do seem to fit this overall pattern for selection. Thus, the final outcome is not to use the exact wording of the selected verse, nor to be restricted by it, but to use the structure of the selected verse solely as a starting point. Examples #1 and #2 originate this way from two selected Scripture texts. Example #3 originates as a freehand attempt to convey the intended message of DT.
A next step in this process would be to select what I will term as the primary word or words for this phrasal construction. These selected words would become the foundation or anchor point for the developed dual phrase constructs in each example which could provide the basis to convey an understanding for DT. The starting point for this would be based on the expanded word meanings located in Section #2.
The available choices for primary word selection seem to be focused on as many as four key TIME words: 1) dor; 2) olam; 3) qedem; 4) rahoq. These four words choices, when placed within an appropriate context, can provide the best means to accomplish the idea of “extended periods of time or ages with an indefinite length of time into the past” or DT. While some additional words from prior mentioned TIME words could also be utilized as words to help enhance this meaning of DT, these four selected words will most often be used to best formulate the meaning of DT.
The first verse that is to be used as an outline for this approach is from Isaiah 37:26. It reads:
“Have you not heard that I determined it long ago? I planned from days of old what now I bring to pass.”
This single verse is part of a larger passage whose genre is Hebrew poetry, which contains Synonymous Parallelism. The intent of this repetition was to emphasize the plans of God, which had been determined by God in the distant past. Notice that the construction of these phrases is found to use simple one-word and two-word (in Hebrew) DT language to convey this truth of distant past time within the full context the verse. From this starting point, I used the original Genesis 1:5b passage as an outline to employ similar thoughts to that present within this Isaiah verse. I started with English phrasing first, which expresses distant time in the past. The appropriate Hebrew TIME wording was then selected and added to fit the English content within a “literal text” basis. For each phrase, the English portion is listed first and then followed by the Hebrew wording.
1) “There was a time of old beginning and to a time of old ending...” (w’-hayah-et-min-qedem’-resiyt-w’-le-et-min-qedem-qes)
2) “The first long-ago age of many unknown years and days.” (ehad-le-min-rahoq-dor-y’-rob1-yada-w’-sanah2-y’-yamin)
The idea behind this phrasal pattern is to directly follow the outline of Genesis 1:5b in the initial phrase and then to state a “long age” for the second phrase with additional text to identify this age as being of indefinite length. Thus this “first age” has an expressed timeline of UNKNOWN length, which incorporates the idea of DT.
The second verse used as an outline to express DT is from Deut. 32:7. It reads:
“Remember the days of old; consider the years of many generations; ask your father, and he will show you – your elders, and they will tell you.”
This single verse is part of a larger passage whose genre is again Hebrew poetry and where the intent of repetition was used by Moses to further emphasize the importance of remembrance. Moses wanted the nation of Israel to especially remember their past and to note all that God had done for the nation in the prior 40 years. Notice that the construction of these phrases again uses simple, but slightly longer, phrasing of two-word and four-word constructs (in Hebrew) to convey this past activity by God towards the nation. The key point, mentioned for these past acts by God, is His continuing faithfulness. As was done previously, I matched primary words by placing them into a common pattern within the original Genesis 1:5b passage. The process was to start with English phrasing first, which expresses distant time. The appropriate Hebrew TIME wording was then selected and added to fit the English content within a “literal text” basis. For each phrase, the English portion is listed first and then followed by the Hebrew wording.
1) “There was from the years of many generations of old, to the ending of this distant time past...” (w’-hayah-min-dor-dor-w’-sanah2-olam---le-qes-min-rahoq-et-orek)
2) “The first age was from long ago” (ehad-olam-hayah-min-rahoq)
The idea behind this second patterned phrase is to again directly follow the outline of Genesis 1:5b in the initial phrase and then to state an idea of “long age” for the second phrase plus additional text to identify this age as being of long-ago time. Thus this “first age” has an expressed timeline of INDEFINITE length, which incorporates the idea of DT.
The third structured pattern to express DT is not based on any specific verse structure or wording. This phrasal construct is simply a free hand attempt to provide a word structure which could directly convey the idea of DT while using available Hebrew TIME words. Again, the structure will still be expressed within the pattern of Genesis 1:5b. The English phrases are written first and utilize a “literal text” basis. The Hebrew text is then added to match each English phrase.
1) “There was from continual years of many generations and after numerous days and times long past...” (w’-hayah- min-tamid-dor-dor-y’-sanah2-min- w’-ahar-rab1- yamin-w’-et-et-min-le-olam)
2) “The first period of time from long ago” (ehad-dor-dor-b’-min-qedem)
The idea behind this third phrasal construct is somewhat different in form than the previous two phrasal constructs but with the same intended outcome. This current construct contains a less defined meaning and statement for DT and yet the final message is still one that clearly expresses this same concept as seen before, i.e., an extended time in the distant past. Even with this, it still follows the pattern of Genesis 1:5b. In this instance, the timeline provided includes a VAGUE, UNKNOWN and INDEFINITE outcome for the period of time expressed.
Each of these three phrasal constructs was written to follow the overall pattern of the Genesis 1:5b account for Day 1 of the creation week. The available and selected TIME word choices did vary somewhat in their relative ability to build each phrasal portion. When the final results of this exercise are examined, each of these completed phrasal constructs was able to easily express the principal idea for a DT creation of indefinite length or age (DT) for the “1st Creation Period of Time”. Thus, it seems quite evident that the concept of DT could have been both easily and clearly expressed, if that had been the intent of the author.
Conclusion to Part 3
In the video series titled “The Truth Project”10, the series host Del Tackett spoke to the idea of truth as applied to a number of areas within our human experience. In lesson 6, which is based on the concept of “truth in History”, Del spoke about the importance of knowing factual history, not only for its actual truth content but also for the need of mankind to properly hand down factual history to subsequent generations. The importance of relaying the truth of history, with intent, is to provide the correct “remembrance” of this history to the generations which follow.
When we examine the expressed concept of truth today, we find many failed examples regarding the expression of factual truth when examined against what truly has happened in the past. We find that historical facts and reality have often been “updated” to convey a new set of facts and a new meaning. In the process of changing these true facts of history, we almost always change or remove the truth message with this updated change to something which is now factually untrue. By telling a new story, we are choosing to convey, with intent, a new message with a false understanding about the past. Thus, when we exchange the truth for a lie, we no longer express what is factual nor what is reality.
In this video lesson 6, Del labeled this approach to changing history as “Historical Revisionism”. The idea behind historical revisionism is simply to express a lie and nothing more. This revisionism may not change many of the facts as to what has actually occurred, but it always is an attempt to change the intent and purpose for what has happened. This unfortunately has been observed to sometimes occur with God’s Word. In these instances, the underlying action of this updated revision of history will result in the effectual loss of Biblical truth contained in the recorded historical reality of the Biblical account. Thus, Biblical Truth is now lost as a consequence of the lie because the intent is to replace the Truth with a lie.
This brings us to the basic question and concept before us. This question can simply be understood by the idea as to whether or not we can trust the God’s Word to speak truthfully to us. Can we believe what it has recorded about the historical truth of the past? This would include whether God’s Word can provide both the true facts about the past and the intended message about the past. Can we trust God’s Word to provide accurate and correct information of the past, especially the specific content expressed within the Creation account? Ultimately, we must ask: does the account of Genesis 1 use words, which taken at face value, clearly express a recent and weeklong creation or not?
It seems very apparent from this current examination of available Hebrew TIME words and phrases that by incorporating these TIME words from the Hebrew language, God could have easily conveyed a contextual message of DT for the creation, if He had so desired to do so and if that were His intention. It is also quite clear from the language which God used in Genesis 1, that God did not express this idea of DT in Genesis 1. Instead, God chose to clearly speak a message which directly conveyed a recent creation composed of six 24-hours days to begin (1:1) and to complete His Creation (1:31). Thus, the creation account recorded in Genesis 1 provides a clear summary of the entire Creation along with key details of significant and fundamental actions completed by God. These actions and activities by God clearly demonstrate the miraculous nature of what God did as Creator of the universe and all it contains. It is clear that a DT creation was NOT God’s intent in the Genesis 1 account.
Comments – Two Questions and One Statement from Part 1
I have already answered these questions in multiple ways throughout Parts 1, 2 and 3 of this paper. Thus, my approach below will be to provide simple two or three sentence responses to each question or statement. If you would like further detailed content related to one or more of these responses, I would suggest reading the Conclusions at the end of these same Parts of this paper. The reasoning for each response can be found there.
#1 – If God had DT words available to convey DT and if DT was His intended message, then what reason did God have for not specifically using these available words to convey a clear message of DT in Genesis 1 of Creation (through Moses)?
It seems obvious that God’s intended message in the Genesis 1 account was to convey the truth of a literal, six-day creation account with each day encompassing 24-hours and NOT a creation of DT. This outcome is apparent by His word selection and contextual phrasing as used within the Hebrew text for each day. Thus, God used the proper, accurate and correct contextual language to convey this factual truth of a recent creation.
#2 – If God had DT words available to convey DT and if DT was His intended message, then was God being untruthful, or in fact dishonest, or at least misleading to the readers of His Word when choosing to express DT while not actually using these available words in the Genesis 1 account?
Continuing with the response given under #1 above, God spoke with complete clarity as to his intended message of a literal six-day, recent creation (see also Genesis chapters 2-11). His innate character and personal integrity would not permit God to either lie or mislead by expressing even a partial truth or to engage in any falsehood or deceit whatsoever in His recorded Word for the Creation account. Thus, any attempt to change the truth content intended for a Creation account from that of clearly stated, as fact, of six 24-hours days for the completed creation is to the detriment of those choosing to do so.
#3 – If God had DT words available to convey this fact, but DT was NOT His intended message, then it would seem reasonable to conclude that God intended a clearly different message other than the understanding of DT for Creation. It would then seem clear that God intended Genesis 1 to describe six 24-hour days for the creation of all things.
I have a personal saying which I follow when considering any issues related to God’s Word: “God says what He means and He means what He says.” God’s expressed truth as recorded in Genesis 1 is to convey the fact of six 24-hour days for Creation, which He both said and clearly meant. We must choose to believe it.
A Final Thought
It seems that much of modern-day scholarship is based upon the idea that the reader has the right to determine the meaning of a written message without regard to the intentions of the author of the message. This type of thinking has its roots in the viewpoint that much of one’s life experience is relative and thus their subsequent understanding can be based upon what is simply right and true for them as an individual. This worldview is called New-Age Postmodernism and is common even within Christian thought today. However, it really is not new but actually hearkens back to Genesis 3 in the Garden and is a part of our inherited sin nature. Unfortunately, we can each find ourselves, even as believers, seeking to find a way to excuse our rejection of God’s Word.
I would argue that this type of thinking about Genesis 1 and the desire to accept a viewpoint that conveys the false view of DT is simply another way of expressing this same idea. But what is a stake here is much more. God’s personal integrity and character is on the line. A favorite verse of mine encompasses this same awareness and caution as it addresses this same thought about both God and His Word. This is recorded in Psalm 138:2b: “for You (God) have exalted above all things Your Name (Your character) and Your Word (Scripture).” This verse expresses the idea that God, Himself, has placed His personal integrity and His Word “above all things”. May you and I always choose to accept this same view about God and His Word within our heart. To fail to honor God in this way is to choose to lessen God within our entire life experience.
1 Recommended websites for more Biblical Creation information:
1. Institute for Creation Research
2. Answers in Genesis
3. Creation Ministries International
Doing a simple word (yom or day) or phrase search (meaning of day) in these recommended websites will provide numerous paper choices to examine. Doing a simple phrase search (genre of Genesis, long age, deep time, compromise old earth) in these recommended websites will also provide numerous paper choices to examine about the general meaning of time within the creation account.
2 Statistical breakdown for the genre of Genesis: http://www.icr.org/i/pdf/technical/Statistical-Determination-of-Genre-in-Biblical-Hebrew.pdf and https://www.icr.org/article/biblical-hebrew-creation-account-new-numbers-tell-
3 Article by James Stambaugh: https://creation.com/the-days-of-creation-a-semantic-approach
4 Article by Russell Grigg: https://creation.com/how-long-were-the-days-of-genesis-1
5 The spelling used for referenced Hebrew words in the paper will include the transliterated English spelling.
6 Hebrew Greek Key Word Study Bible – English Standard Version (ESV); Copyright © 2013; Dr. Spiros Zodhiates and Dr. Warren Patrick Baker D.R.E; AMG International, Inc.; Nashville, TN.
7 Hebrew Greek Key Word Study Bible – New International Version (NIV); Copyright © 1996; Dr. Spiros Zodhiates; AMG International, Inc.; Nashville, TN. This Bible provides a complete list of Hebrew (Old Testament Lexical Aids) and Greek (New Testament Lexical Aids) words with key words for each further highlighted by including more in-depth usage and information content about the word and its meaning. Word number designations are Kohlenberger number based.
8 The NIV Exhaustive Concordance; authors Edward W. Goodrick and John R. Kohlenberger III; Copyright © 1990 by The Zondervan Corporation; Grand Rapids, MI.
9 A number of online sources for Scripture exist for use. The source I used is Bible Gateway Classic, English Standard Version (ESV), Copyright © 2008, Crossway, Good News Publishers.
10 “The Truth Project” video series, Lesson 6 – “History”; Focus on the Family; Copyright © 2005.
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