Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Firmer than air


“Walton's disclaimers and purely functional approach is not endorsed by all OT scholars, nor even by all Evangelical OT scholars.”

i) You somehow forgot to include that key concession in your TCD chapter, where you quote Walton and then cite five of his publications–as if whatever he says on the subject is indubitable.

ii) Your belated concession is also at odds with your previous argument from authority. Remember when you said “how do you put all of that information together from my chapter and conclude that so many Bible scholars who are experts on ANE cosmology, along with several respectable Evangelical Christian OT scholars who are likewise learned in ANE cosmology, are all missing out by not adopting your lame excuses?”

So you previously took the position that we should instantly submit to “expert” opinion. But now that you find out Walton is a double-edged sword, you suddenly switching to the view that instead of meekly accepting whatever the “experts” say on their own authority, we need to sift their arguments.

“Walton also admits in that paper that the Hebrew firmament was firmer than what we'd think of the sky today.”

i) Not “firm,” just firmer. Firmer than air. Well, that’s a rather flexible concept of solidity.

So did they think the firmament was spongy, like those Styrofoam boulders dotting the alien landscape in old Star Trek episodes? That would be "firmer" than air.

ii) When folks in the ANE took a hike up the local hills and mountains, which hold up the sky, did they find the sky was “firmer” on the summit? When they touched the sky up there, did the atmosphere feel hard–like a brassy ceiling? Could they poke their finger through the firmament? Did tall mountain-climbers bump their head against the ceiling of the firmament? Did they wear helmets whenever they went mountain-climbing?

1 comment:

  1. Steve, I'm not going to argue Walton's views for him. Those are his views. I cited him because as I said in my article, a number of books had been published pretty recently, some by Catholics and Evangelicals, who agreed that Genesis 1 fits into its ancient literary environment in ways that make attempts at accommodating Genesis 1 with "modern science" problematical to say the least.

    N.T. Wright has followed Walton's view and agrees that Genesis 1 was temple imagery, as Wright admits in a video on the BIOLOGOS website. The question is whether or not it's _purely_ temple imagery or whether or not the ancient Hebrews held an idea of the general shape and structure of the cosmos as did their ancient Near Eastern neighbors? It appears they did. They weren't living in a purely metaphorical daze in which they held no conceptions at all concerning the cosmos' geography and structure, as I point out in my chapter on "Biblical Cosmology."

    On the topic of what you claim is my "argument from authority," I cited multiple works not only by Walton but by others in an endnote. You ought to have viewed the list as suggested reading, including classic works on the topic, and an invitation to read further, and learn more about the ancient Near Eastern milieu of the Bible. As I said in my chapter, Catholic and Evangelical OT scholars were coming to agree with one another based on studying the ways Genesis 1 fit its ANE milieu.

    Lastly, Ben at War on Error, reviewed my chapter and replied to a number of points raised by Christians who still wish to rationalize their way to some sort of "creation science" in Genesis 1, or at least to a view that the chapter "lacks erroneous ideas/conceptions." The first four parts of Ben's review of my chapter are already up at his blog, here.