QUESTIONS IN GENESIS: WHAT’S IN A DAY

The next post in this so far consecutive, yet intermittent series, will consider “and there was evening and there was morning, the first day.” This is my thesis/question: how can we possibly know, with certainty, that this is actually referring to a 24 hour day? The very fact that the sun does not come about until the fourth day, should be an indication that we need a bit of humility before we proclaim that this has to mean a literal day.
Now, I want to be clear before proceeding that I do not hold to the “day-age theory.” This theory goes to far trying to make scripture fit modern science, and I am most certainly not trying to push that agenda. As I stated in my previous post, my purpose is to highlight the ambiguity in the text, and maybe erode some of our dogmatism about the passage, especially coming from those of the Ken Ham variety. But anyway, I digress…

A day is simply one full rotation of the earth, or for the ancients from their phenomenological perspective, one revolution of the sun around the earth. There is no way we can be so absolutely positive that the writer of Genesis meant that this was a literal day, when there was no sun by which to know that a day has passed, much less an evening and a morning. We can debate and dissect the Hebrew word “yom” all we want, but the thing about words is that, though they have their independent dictionary meanings, they also derive meaning from context, and within this context, it is not clear what the a day is. This is especially so since yom has been used for both a single 24 hour day, and an epoch of time. Simply put, until we get to day four, we do not know what day truly is referring to.

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