Originally posted by amannion
Just reading some other posts in other threads and it got me thinking.
An old-Earth creationist suggestion is:
The six days of creation were not actually six lots of 24 hour long days - that is, the days were much longer.
But, the Jewish and later Christian traditions, use the genesis story as a basis for the construction of their week.
Six days of ...[text shortened]... standard days as the length, the idea of longer days in Genesis is nonsensical.
I apologize in advance for a shameless cut ‘n’ paste from my own previous posts (and likely a slapdash one at that), but I have debated this kind of thing till I’m blue in the face, and just don’t want to anymore—so I’ll just shamelessly expose/impose my thinking, and have done at that (those people, such as Freaky, with whom I have been through this before in detail, know where I come from, and I know where they come from; we recognize some validity in each other’s arguments, and we have by and large reached a friendly impasse).
yom does not mean “day.” Yom can mean day, a number of days, year, a period of time. The reason ithis is a pet peeve with me is that people keep taking a word in another language, translating it into a single-word “equivalent” in English—and the saying that’s what it “means.” yom means yom. When the rabbis read yom, they do not translate it as “day,” but see all the possible meanings (okay, including but not limited to
Note that yom in Genesis 1:5 is used twice: Once just to mean a period of daylight—or, more precisely, light itself : “And called elohim to-light (l’or), yom.” That is surely a figurative statement. The second time, it says: “And there was evening and there was morning, one yom.” This is highly and beautifully poetic
, and can refer to the first cycle of existence being one in which the very cycle of time begins. (Again, I do not take this as a refutation of scientific theories—simply a poetic rendering.) It is fundamentally about rhythms and cycles in time. It isn’t science or history or a logical proposition—it’s poetry
I don’t take the Genesis “record” as a—well, as a record. I think that is an error. I take it as a very rich story attempting to point to existential realities beyond itself (and our everyday perceptions), and which has a “moral” point.
Unless you want to do some latter-day Protestant biblical literalism here, then yes, it is either metaphorical (or perhaps more properly allegorical), or represents the worldview of the writers at the time. I think the notion of trying to apply the Genesis account as “natural science” or natural history was entirely foreign to the writers. And I think it is a mistake today to treat the text that way. I don’t know when literalistic/historicistic—as opposed to poetic and mythological—reading came to be assumed to be somehow “normative” (that is, in the sense of being the one against which all other readings must be defended), but I am convinced it was not the viewpoint of the ancients, nor is it the viewpoint of rabbinical Judaism today.
I can’t resist reposting this, again just to give some flavor:
One Shabbos afternoon, Reb Reuven called me into is study. He was sitting behind his desk and motioned me to take the chair across from him. A volume of the Zohar was lying open in front of him.
“Do you know what the Zohar is?” he asked.
“Of course,” I said. “It is a mystical commentary on Torah written by Moshe deLeon, a thirteenth century Spanish kabbalist who....”
“Nonsense!” he yelled at me, half rising out of his chair. “The Zohar isn’t just a commentary; it’s a Torah all by itself. It is a new Torah, a new telling of the last Torah. You do know what Torah is, don’t you?”
Suspecting that I didn’t, and afraid to invoke his wrath a second time, I waited silently, certain that he would answer his own question. I was not disappointed.
“Torah is story. God is story. Israel is story. You, my university-educated soon-to-be a liberal pain in the ass rabbi, are a story. We are all stories! We are all Torahs!...Listen, Rami,” Reuven said in a softer voice. “Torah starts with the word b’reisheet,* ‘Once upon a time!’”
—Rabbi Rami Shapiro, Hasidic Tales
* Conventionally translated “in the beginning” or “with beginning.”
I think we do well to remember that “once upon a time” when we read the stories in the Hebrew scriptures.