Saturday, 8 June 2013

Why Biblical Literalism is Untenable - 4

The firmament in Genesis is solid

For Biblical literalists, the Bible is a science textbook. More to the point, in the opinion of the young earth creationists, it is the only credible one. Henry Morris has written:
The biblical record, accepted in its natural and literal sense, gives the only scientific and satisfying account of the origins of all things. The creation account is clear, definite, sequential and matter-of-fact, giving every appearance of straightforward historical narrative. [1]
Morris' view remains a fundamental tenet of young earth creationist belief to this day [2]. The implication of this is that the Bible is the “supreme authority” in areas such as astronomy and astrophysics. Therefore, in areas of conflict between a literal interpretation of Genesis and modern astronomy, such as the fact that the universe is much older than 6000 years, the findings of modern astronomy and astrophysics are deemed a priori to be incorrect. Not only is this not scientific, it is dangerously close to fideism, the belief that faith remains independent of reason, or that both are opposed to each other.

There are many problems with this approach. The most important one is that he Bible is not a science textbook [3]. Any exegetical approach that employs this principle will run into the same problems as would a literal interpretation of the NT book Revelation. Special creationism is hopelessly insensitive to genre in Genesis. Another problem is that a literal approach proves too much, since there are passages which if interpreted literally require the exegete to believe aspects about the universe which even YECs regard as wrong.

One of the more common attacks made on the Bible is that it is unscientific. For example, verses such as Joshua 10v12-13, Isaiah 38v8 and Ecclesiastes 1v5 are cited as proof the authors believed the sun revolved around the earth, while Psa 24v2 and Dan 4v7-8 are likewise used as proof that the writers believed the earth was flat. A common rebuttal to these arguments is that when not clearly poetry [4], these verses are employing phenomenal language. In other words, they are describing things from an observer's point of view.
This may be true. Not a few of the verses cited as proof the authors of the Bible adhered to a decidedly pre-Copernican cosmology occur in poetic books. However, this ignores the fact that it is simply assumed that the Bible either teaches modern cosmology, or at the very least does not teach the cosmological views espoused by surrounding ancient near eastern cultures. I have pointed out earlier that prior to the 6th century BC, the spherical earth and heliocentrism simply did not exist as concepts in the ANE. We simply have no reason to assume the Israelites did not share the accepted cosmological world view of the surrounding nations, other than baldly asserting that God would always correct scientific misunderstanding.

Both the Sumerians and the Babylonians did not view the earth as a sphere. Rather, there is strong evidence they conceived of it as a flat disc [5]. From the creation story in Enuma Elish, one can surmise the Babylonians – like almost all pre-scientific cultures – regarded the sky as solid. The fifth tablet describes how Marduk created holes in the sky to permit the passage of the sun [6]. Seely notes that the idea of a solid firmament persisted well into the common era, and relates the tale of a 16th century Jesuit missionary who “ wrote home saying the idea that the sky is not solid is "one of the absurdities of the Chinese." [7] It is hardly unreasonable to argue that if pre-Copernican Christianity could still speak of the sky is solid, the Hebrew culture out of which Christianity arose would also hold a similar idea as true.

The Hebrew word translated as firmament, raqia' occurs 19 times in the OT. Many of these occur in the Genesis narrative. The remainder occur either in the Psalms or Ezekiel and Daniel [8]:

Gen 1v6 Then God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.”
Gen 1v7 God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so.
Gen 1v8 God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.
Gen 1v14 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years;
Gen 1v15 and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so.
Gen 1v17 God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth,
Gen 1v20 Then God said, “Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens.”
Psa 19v1 The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands
Psa 150v1 Praise the Lord! Praise God in His sanctuary; Praise Him in His mighty expanse.
Ezek 1v22 Now over the heads of the living beings there was something like an expanse, like the awesome gleam of crystal, spread out over their heads.
Ezek 1v23 Under the expanse their wings were stretched out straight, one toward the other; each one also had two wings covering its body on the one side and on the other.
Ezek 1v25 And there came a voice from above the expanse that was over their heads; whenever they stood still, they dropped their wings.
Ezek 1v26 Now above the expanse that was over their heads there was something resembling a throne, like lapis lazuli in appearance; and on that which resembled a throne, high up, was a figure with the appearance of a man.
Ezek 10v1 Then I looked, and behold, in the expanse that was over the heads of the cherubim something like a sapphire stone, in appearance resembling a throne, appeared above them.
Dan 12v3 “Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. 

Many theologically conservative exegetes have traditionally argued that raqia' means expanse or space. For example, the New Strong's Dictionary defines it as “an expanse, ie the firmament or (appar) visible arch of the sky :— firmament.” [9] The Bible Knowledge Commentary's observation on Gen 1v6-8 argues strongly in favour of raqia' as an expanse:

On the second day God separated the atmospheric waters from the terrestrial waters by an arching expanse, the sky. This suggests that previously there had been a dense moisture enshrouding the earth. God’s work involves making divisions and distinctions. [10]

Walter Kaiser in “The Old Testament Documents”, argues strongly for reading firmament in the Genesis account as an expanse. He writes:

Few results of scholarly thinking have found more unanimity than on the point of linking the Bible's view of the world with ancient cosmology...They talked, it is claimed, about a flat earth...capped allegedly with a solid firmament...The whole flat earth and solid firmament were supported by pillars which stretched up past the underworld of sheol and the 'deep.'
R. Laird Harris has shown that each step in this allegedly biblical diagram depends more on the ingenuity of the modern scholars than it does on the assertions of the original writers of Scripture. To begin with, nowhere does the Hebrew text state or imply that the raqia (often translated "firmament" but better translated as "expanse") is solid or firm. It is simply an "extended surface" or an "expanse." The idea of "firmness" or "solidity" came more from the Latin Vulgate translation of "firmamentum" and the Greek Septuagint translation of steroma than it did from any Hebrew conceptualizations. The "expanse of the heavens did not imply or call for a sort of astrodomelike structure. [11]

However, apart from representing a minority scholarly view (a point he admits obliquely at the start) Kaiser's argument however is unconvincing, and owes more to do with an apologetic agenda than an attempt at serious scholarly exegesis. This interpretation of firmament as expanse barely fits the Genesis narrative, but it falls apart in Ezekiel, where it is obvious that raqia' refers to something solid, and in context is analogous to the firmament in Genesis 1. [12]

In fact, it has been well established that raqia' means in fact a solid expanse (which would be expected from its use in Ezekiel). For example, Brown-Driver-Briggs define raqia as:

†רָקִיעַ S7549 TWOT2217a GK8385 n.m. Gn 1:6 extended surface, (solid) expanse(as if beaten out;cf. Jb 37:18);—abs. ר׳ Ez 1:22 +, cstr. רְ׳ Gn 1:14 +;—G στερέωμα, B firmamentum, cf. Syriac sub √ supr.;— 1. (flat) expanse (as if of ice, cf. כְּעֵין הַקֶרַח), as base, support (WklAltor. Forsch. iv. 347) Ez 1:22, 23, 25 (gloss? cf. Co Toy), v 26 (supporting י׳’s throne) 10:1. Hence (Co Ez 1:22) 2. the vault of heaven, or ‘firmament,’ regarded by Hebrews as solid, and supporting ‘waters’ above it, Gn 1:6, 7(), 8 (called שָׁמַיִם; all P), ψ 19:2 (|| הַשָּׁמַיִם), זֹהַר הָר׳ Dn 12:3; also הַשָּׁמַיִם ר׳ Gn 1:14, 15, 17, עַל־פְּנֵי ר׳ הַשּׁ׳ v 20 (all P). 012ר֫֒קִיעַ עֻזּוֹ ψ 150:1 (sf. ref. to ).. [13]

Harper's Bible Dictionary defines it as a:

“division between cosmic waters on the second day of creation (Gen. 1:6-8), forming the sky. One must here imagine a flat earth and a domed expanse of heavens holding back celestial waters from terrestrial. The Hebrew term raqia‘ suggests a thin sheet of beaten metal (cf. Exod. 39:3; Num. 17:3; Jer. 10:9; also Job 37:18). Similar metaphors for sky are found in Homer and Pindar. Job 26:13 depicts God’s breath as the force that calmed (or ‘spread,’ ‘smoothed’ or ‘carpeted’) the heavens. Luminaries were set in the firmament on the fourth day of creation (Gen. 1:14-19). Rains were believed to fall through sluices or windows in its surface (cf. Gen. 7:11). [14]

The Dictionary of Bibical Languages with Semantic Domains (OT) defines it accordingly:

8385 רָקִיעַ (rā∙qîa’): n.masc.; ≡ Str 7549;TWOT 2217a—LN 1.5-1.16 expanse, firmament, i.e., an area of atmospheric space, either relatively close to the ground or in the upper limit of the sky and heavens (Ge 1:6, 7(3x),8, 14, 15, 17, 20; Ps 19:2[EB 1]; 150:1; Eze 1:22, 23, 25, 26; 10:1; Da 12:3), note: though to the modern mind the expanse of the sky is a void of empty space, it is perceived as a “solid” space (hence firmament) and is so a kind of base to hold up highly heavenly objects such as water or a throne, see also domain LN 7.26–7.53 [15]

The standard Hebrew and Aramaic lexicon HALOT notes:

רָקִיעַ: רקע, Bauer-L. Heb. 470n; SamP. arqi; MHeb. DSS (Kuhn Konkordanz 208), Sam., JArm., Syr., Mnd. rqiha sky, firmament (Drower-M. Dictionary 437b): cs. רְקִיעַ: the beaten metal plate, or bow; firmament, the firm vault of heaven: Sept. στερέωμα, Vulg. firmamentum; by רָקִיעַ was understood the gigantic heavenly dome which was the source of the light that brooded over the heavenly ocean and of which the dome arched above the earthly globe (see von Rad TWNT 5:501); for bibliography see further Eichrodt Theol. 2/3:57, 130; Westermann BK 1/1:162f; Zimmerli Ezechiel 55; O. Keel Jahwe-Visionen und Siegelkunst 250-255; Reicke-R. Hw. 719. [16]

Lexically, the case for raqia' meaning something solid and beaten out is robust. The evangelical scholar Paul Seely has made a substantive case for raqia' in Gen 1v6-8 to be interpreted as a solid dome. He writes: 

The historical evidence, however, which we will set forth in concrete detail, shows that the raqia' was originally conceived of as being solid and not a merely atmospheric expanse. The grammatical evidence from the OT, which we shall examine later, reflects and confirms this conception of solidity. The basic historical fact that defines the meaning of raqia' in Genesis 1 is simply this: all peoples in the ancient world thought of the sky as solid. This concept did not begin with the Greeks. [17]

Seely surveys the cosmological views of many ancient cultures, and finds a near-unanimity in the belief that the sky was solid. In the absence of any clear statement in the Bible that the ancient Hebrew view of the structure of the universe was substantially different to that of their neighbours, the burden of proof lies on the literalist to prove that raqia' in Genesis means expanse or empty space, as opposed to what was universally accepted among the surrounding nations. He continues:

It is true that Genesis 1 is free of the mythological and polytheistic religious concepts of the ancient Near East. Indeed it may well be anti mythological. But, as Bruce Waltke noted when commenting on the higher theology of Israel as it is found in Genesis 1, the religious knowledge of Israel stands in contrast to Israel's scientific knowledge. In addition, the religious knowledge of Israel, though clearly superior to that of its neighbors, was expressed through the religious cultural forms of the time. Temple, priesthood, and sacrifices, for example, were common to all ancient Near Eastern religions. It should not surprise us then to find the religious knowledge of Israel also being expressed through the merely scientific forms of the time. [18]

Needless to say, our knowledge of the universe has progressed considerably since the time before the current era. The pre-scientific view of the Earth as being a flat disc covered by a solid dome has long since been shown to be incorrect. [19] Therefore, we run the real risk of reading the creation account through 21st century eyes, and projecting our (relative) scientific sophistication onto an ancient audience that did not share our world view. Once we do that, we re no longer performing exegesis, but eisegesis, that is, reading a predetermined belief into the text.

However, our sophistication has been something of a moving target [20]. The Big Bang model is no longer seriously challenged, but it was only in 1964 when Penzias and Wilson discovered the cosmic microwave background radiation that the Big Bang finally gained ascendancy. [21] Even the fact that the known universe consists of billions of galaxies is less than 100 years old. As recently as 1921, two influential astronomers debated whether the Milky Way was in fact the entire universe, with what we now know are distant galaxies merely small nebulae contained within, or whether those nebulae were in fact distant galaxies, with the Milky Way being but one galaxy in the universe. [22] The Copernican model of the universe gained ascendancy during the 16th and 17th centuries. Prior to that, geocentrism was the consensus view. Furthermore, the concept of a solid firmament was accepted as fact well into the common era. [23]  For example, as Seely has summarised in his paper:

  • The Jews speculated about its composition [24], differentiated between it and empty space [25], and tried to determine its thickness both by scriptural and scientific methods.[26].
  • Origen regarded the firmament as “without doubt firm and solid” [27]
  • Ambrose argued that “the specific solidity of this exterior firmament is meant” [28]
  • Augustine wrote that “it is solid and that it constitutes an impassable boundary between the waters above and the waters below” [29]

Given this evidence – as well as the fact that the burden of proof is on the literalist who insists that the creation narrative provides scientific data – it is hardly unreasonable to argue that in describing the creation of the universe, God framed the narrative in a context entirely familiar to the ancient Israelites, namely that of a flat earth covered with a solid firmament.

Seely further points out how there is internal evidence in the creation narrative that makes interpreting raqia' as atmosphere rather than solid expanse difficult. Gen 1v17 notes how “God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth,” while Gen 1v20 reads, “Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens.” What many Bible readers overlook is that (as the NASB notes) Genesis 1:20 literally reads “let birds fly on the face of the firmament” which is hard to reconcile with any belief that raqia’ in this context means atmosphere. Seely again:

This phrase upon the face (surface) or in front of the raqia' is important in that it implies the raqia' was neither space nor atmosphere. For birds do not fly upon the surface or in front of space or air, but rather in space or air. This distinction is illustrated in the case of fish, which no one would say swim upon the surface or in front of the water (Gen 7: 18) but rather in the water (cf. Exod 7: 18, 21). 
Gen 1:17 also testifies that the raqia' is not air or atmosphere for it says that God placed the stars (and probably the sun and moon) "in the raqia' or the heavens." But the stars are not located in the air or atmosphere. So we know the raqia' (in which 1:17 locates them) cannot be air or atmosphere. Even if 1:17 is construed as phenomenal language, the raqia' still cannot be air or atmosphere. For the stars do not look like they are located in the air or atmosphere. Rather (as anyone can tell on a clear night away from city lights) they look like they are embedded in a solid vault which is exactly why scientifically naive peoples believe in a solid vault, and why 1:17, in accordance with that belief, says God placed the stars in the raqia'. Gen 1:14-17 is such a clear proof that the raqia' is not air or atmosphere that some conservatives have tried to dissociate the raqia' in vv. 14-17 from the raqia' in vv. 6-8. But the statement in v. 14, "Let there be lights in the firmament or heaven," immediately raises the question, What "firmament of heaven"? To which the context immediately replies, the firmament of vv. 6-8 which was called heaven. The contextual identity of the two firmaments is really beyond question. Taken in context it is impossible to say the raqia' of vv. 6-8 was just air or atmosphere. [30]

None of this is remotely controversial in serious OT scholarly circles. For example, the respected OT evangelical scholar Peter Enns summarises the case for a solid raqia’ in a recent BioLogos post:

Let me summarize some of the general arguments for why raqia is understood by contemporary biblical scholars as a solid structure:
  1. The other cosmologies from the ancient world depict some solid structure in the sky. The most natural explanation of the raqia is that it also reflects this understanding. There is no indication that Genesis is a novel description of the sky;
  2. Virtually every description of raqia from antiquity to the Renaissance depicts it as solid. The non-solid interpretation of raqia is a novelty;
  3. According to the flood story in Gen 7:11 and 8:2, the waters above were held back only to be released through the “floodgates of the heavens” (literally, “lattice windows”);
  4. Other Old Testament passages are consistent with the raqia being solid (Ezekiel1:22; Job 37:18; Psalm 148:4);
  5. According to Gen 1:20, the birds fly in front of the raqia (in the air), not in the raqia;
  6. The noun raqia is derived form the verb that means to beat out or stamp out, as in hammering metal into thin plates (Exodus 39:3). This suggests that the noun form is likewise related to something solid;
  7. Speaking of the sky as being stretched out like a canopy/tent (Isaiah 40:22) or that it will roll uplike a scroll (34:4) are clearly similes and do not support the view that raqia in Genesis 1 is non-solid. 

The solid nature of the raqia is well established. It is not the result of an anti-Christian conspiracy to find errors in the Bible, but the “solid” result of scholars doing their job. This does not mean that there can be no discussion or debate. But, to introduce a novel interpretation of raqia would require new evidence or at least a reconsideration of the evidence we have that would be compelling to those who do not have a vested religious interest in maintaining one view or another. [31]

To summarise, there is a significant amount of evidence that the word raqia' translated firmament in the Bible refers to a solid expanse. This is consistent with the widespread belief in pre-scientific cultures that the earth was flat and the sky was solid. The evidence from Ezekiel is conclusive – raqia' refers to a solid barrier, and given this usage, it is not unreasonable to assume that the Genesis usage of raqia' likewise implies something solid. This interpretation gains more strength when one reads how the role of the firmament was to separate waters above from waters below, which would make a solid entity more probable. The fact that the stellar objects are set in the firmament, while bird fly in front of it further provide support for the idea that the Genesis narrative if taken literally teaches that the firmament was not an expanse or outer space, but a solid object.

Evidence from Jewish and Christian sources also point towards a belief in the solidity of the firmament. While some Jewish writings describe a differentiated firmament, including realms in which angels dwell, others clearly describe a belief in a solid firmament. Early Christian writings contain enough evidence (Ambrose in particular) that a belief in a solid firmament was not uncommon. This belief in a solid firmament owes its existence to a literal reading of Genesis, and any reading which forces a modern scientific reading is anachronistic.

Likewise, there is little evidence to support the claim that interpreting raqia' as solid comes from the Vulgate (firmamentum) and Septuagint (stereoma), reflecting simply the cosmological views extant at the time of translation. Seely again:

It is to the credit of E. J. Young that, although believing in biblical inerrancy as much as any other conservative, he alone did not alter or rationalize the historical-grammatical meaning of raqia'. In his Studies in Genesis One he defined raqia' as "that which is hammered, beaten out" and noted that "the LXX stereoma and Vulgate firmamentum are satisfactory. [32]

Before the Copernican revolution, both Jews and Christians interpreted references to the firmament as being a solid dome. “Only by pulling it out of its biblical and historical context could it be defined as atmosphere.” [33] The same applies to geocentrism, where prior to Copernicus, Christians defended the belief that the earth was fixed from the Bible. Young earth creationists may claim that they accept the Bible “in its natural and literal sense”, but the fact they do not accept geocentrism and a solid firmament shows the inconsistency of this claim. The fact that literalism when taken consistently requires one to make truth claims that are demonstrable false (even to young earth creationists who accept positions that have been refuted for well over a century) should be telling us something about how to interpret Genesis credibly.

This article first appeared on my Facebook page here. 


1. Henry Morris, The Remarkable Birth of Planet Earth (San Diego: CreationPublishers, 1972), pp. iv. 84 Cited by Conrad Hyers in “Dinosaur Religion: On Interpreting and Misinterpreting the Creation Texts” Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation (1984) 36:142-148

2. See the Answers In Genesis Statement of Faith at  Accessed January 2nd 2010 It should be noted in passing that genuinely scientific organisations do not have statements of faith, or automatically dismiss evidence which contradicts their presuppositions.

3. An excellent overview of this problem is found in Hyers, op cit.

4.This argument is a double edged sword, since it makes it difficult to explain away verses which appear to teach pre-Copernican cosmology while at the same time claiming the Bible was ahead of its time in teaching concepts only recently discovered by science. Job 26v7 is often cited as proof the Bible taught the earth was suspended in space ages before science established that fact. The fact that 26v11 would teach (if the same literalist approach is employed) the heavens are supported on solid pillars is never stressed by these writers. (I am of course indebted to Alan Hayward for pointing this out in God Is. Likewise, the same people who argue Ecclesiastes 1v7 is a thumbnail sketch of the water cycle ignore 1v5 which if interpreted literally teach geocentrism.

5. Seely PH “The Geographical Meaning of 'Earth' and 'Seas' in Genesis 1:10” Westminster Theological Journal (1997) 59:231-55

6. Seely PH “The Firmament and the Water Above – Part 1: The meaning of raqia' in Gen 1:6-8” Westminster Theological Journal (1991) 53:227-240

7. ibid, p232

8. All quotations from the NASB unless otherwise stated.

9. Strong, J.  “The New Strong's dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words” (1997, Nashville: Thomas Nelson)

10. Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B.  The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (1:29). (1985 Wheaton, IL: Victor Books)

11. Kaiser WC Jr “The Old Testament Documents – Are They Reliable” (IVP 2001) p 75-76. Kaiser does his cause no good however with the decidedly polemic nature of his writing. For example, in footnote 13 on page 75, he describes Bailey's Genesis, Creation as “among the most recent restatements of this scholarly shibboleth."

12. There is evidence of a more nuanced concept of the firmament in Jewish writings. In “Traditions of the Bible: a guide to the bible as it was at the start of the common era”, (Harvard 1998) James Kugel comments on 4 Ezra 6:41 which described the creation of the 'spirit of the firmament' and the command issued to him to separate the waters. He writes, “Perhaps this angel owes his existence to the understanding, mentioned earlier, of 'firmament; as the name of one part of the heavens, a part in which, arguably, angels dwelt.” p 74. Elsewhere though, there is unambiguous evidence that a belief in the solidity of the firmament existed in ancient Jewish thought. For example, 3 Baruk 3v6-8 states “And the Lord appeared to them and confused their speech, when they had built the tower to the height of four hundred and sixty-three cubits. And they took a gimlet, and sought to pierce the heaven, saying, Let us see (whether) the heaven is made of clay, or of  brass, or of iron. When God saw this He did not permit them, but smote them with blindness and confusion of speech, and rendered them as thou seest.”

13. Brown, F., Driver, S. R., & Briggs, C. A. 2000. Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (electronic ed.) (956). Logos Research Systems: Oak Harbor, WA

14. Achtemeier, P. J., Harper & Row, P., & Society of Biblical Literature. (1985). Harper's Bible Dictionary (1st ed.) (309). San Francisco: Harper & Row.

15. Swanson, J. (1997) Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.) (DBLH 8385). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

16. Koehler, L., Baumgartner, W., Richardson, M., & Stamm, J. J. 1999. The Hebrew and Aramaic lexicon of the Old Testament (electronic ed.) (1290). E.J. Brill: Leiden; New York

17. Seely (1991) op cit p 227-228

18. ibid  p 235

19. There is an irony here in that young earth creationists are happy to accept the findings of modern astronomy with respect to the fact that the earth is a globe revolving around the sun, and in so doing abandon their biblical literalism. The sceptic Robert Schadewald acutely observed that “In fact, scientific creationism, geocentrism and flat-earthism are respectively the liberal, moderate, and conservative branches of the Bible-Science tree. The intense hostility expressed by the scientific creationists towards the flat-earthers does not extend to modern geocentrists, who hover on the edge of respectability among creationists. Indeed, though the Bible is, from Genesis to Revelation, a flat-earth book, the geocentrists have combined forces with liberal creationists to cast the flat-earthers into outer darkness.” Robert J. Schadewald (1983): “The Evolution of Bible-science”, in Laurie R. Godfrey (ed.): Scientists confront Creationism, p 293.

20. The following account does simplify the history of astronomy somewhat.

21. The Big Bang model of course was formulated by the Belgian astronomer and cleric Georges Lemaitre in 1934, who applied Einstein's theory of General Relativity to cosmology.

22. I am of course referring to the Shapley-Curtis debate.

23. The following argument is heavily styled after Seely.

24. 3 Apoc. Bar. 3.7

25. Gen. Rab. 4.3.a; 2 Apoc. Bar. 21.4

26 Gen. Rab. 4.5.2;  Pesab. 49a

27. Origen, First Homily on Genesis, FC 71

28. Ambrose, Hexameron, FC 42.60

29. Augustine, The Literal Meaning of Genesis, ACW 41.1.61

30. Seely (1991) op cit p 237

31. Enns P “The Firmament of Genesis 1 is Solid but That’s Not the Point” Science and the Sacred Jan 14th 2010  Accessed 2nd January 2012

32. Seely (1991) op cit,  p 240

33. Seely PH “The First Four Days of Genesis in Concordist Theory and in Biblical Context” Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith (1997) 97:85-95