Hermeneutics 101: Genesis Flood is Global or Not?

Given that even the rest of “global” dispersed “imago Dei” humanity, prior to coming into contact with Adam’s descendants, and interbreeding, at that time, were already apex predators, the changeover to a more focused, calloused, and aggressive behavior set which was beginning to take shape “in Adam,” as Adam’s lineage spread --and the entire future of the earth’s human moral makeup and concomitant ecosystem effects hung in the balance.
God had to act decisively, making sedentary irrigation agricultural farming (“gardening”) a new priestly virtue for Adam, rather than the previous migratory hunter-gathering pattern, which He’d counseled in the original Genesis 1:27ff mandate.
God had begun to change humanity’s future proliferation strategy, and had to do so even more drastically, again, after the fall ramped up the moral dangers associated with it.
Adam and Eve screwed up things big time.
All of these are recurring themes in early Genesis.
@swamidass @jongarvey @kkeathley @deuteroKJ @AJRoberts @Agauger @jack.collins @Michael_Callen @readers ?

Diversion. I have read every translation and God says exactly the same thing. I trust the educated, professional interpreters to have correctly rendered the Hebrew.

Actually, your statement is very enlightening because as a professional you want to be revered and respected, yet you are not willing to give numerous Hebrew scholars their rightful due.

Ok, please tell us what God is truly saying. Again, I don’t want a retelling of Genesis 6. Focus only on the words and decision of God in the text. What did he say and please inform my stunted understanding.

A God that regrets? Wow.

What a story !

You will not drag me into a “global” argument. Tell me what God said and what he meant.

How do you know this? Did you read the original language in the original context? And why were all English translations done by incompetents who don’t know what you know?

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@AllenWitmerMiller help me out here?

The reality is opposite this. It is Hebrew scholars that oppened my eyes to this. What scholars have you been talking too?

I will return soon (within the hour) to read this thread and address whatever question has arisen.

Why weren’t any of the bible’s translators Hebrew scholars, then? Apparently.

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Then the scholars you consulted went beyond translation and ventured into interpretation. I do not doubt that you will find ample Hebrew scholars to agree with your view of things.

So please be clear here. Very clear. When you say they “opened your eyes” are you meaning via a translation or interpretation?

I mean to translators impact on interpretation, not interpretation alone.

Okay, now you’re just being childish. Read Genesis chapter 1 though 2:4, where you’ll run into the first major literary break, called a “toledoth.” Then give the story a chance to sink in, and stand on its own. Then begin to read on. The question is, have you just moved forward into the beginning of a new account? The Hebrew chiasm in 2:4 would seem to indicate thus. We end chapter 1 with a humanity graced by being created in God’s image, given the mandate to reproduce and disperse, and every indication is that things are “good.”
Then, 2:5 shifts the narrative into a particular area, to a single garden, to a man placed by God there, who is “formed from dust.”
We are not obligated thereby to picture God as “swooshing” this man, who will come to be named “Adam” in 2:20, into a sudden and miraculous existence.
The Hebrew verb does not convey any information as to the duration of God’s action. We are free to understand “formed from dust” as Job does in Job 10:9-12, who does not claim that being made of dust is a counterclaim to normal embryological development and human childbirth.
Adam was born to an “imago Dei” human mother, one of those described from chapter 1, then placed by God in the garden for a special purpose, and the narrative continues on. That’s enough for now.
Just let that much sink in, and don’t try to artificially conflate the events of chapter two and forward back into “day six” of chapter 1.

As I suspected, all of this is based on interpretation. More like embellishment of the literal Hebrew so that a liberal meaning can be overlaid onto the original text.

Fine. Just let this serve as a prime example of why literal creationists like myself cannot - not can we ever - come over to your “side”. The next time you ask out loud “Why can’t all these ignorant YECs and other varieties of creationists just see things clearly like we do”?, just remember that what you deem as so brilliant and cleverly devised and so “clear” may be just a tangled pile of yarn - a long embellished story line to sell your liberal theology.

Translation and interpretation are inextricably linked. When translating from one language into another, it is NOT a process necessarily akin to a mathematical equivalence. It can involve approximation and even a maddening choice between multiple nuances in the original text which are very difficult to convey in the target language without producing a long and wordy description which can sound more like a paraphrase than succinctly smooth translation.

Yes, that is because scholars of ancient Hebrew tend to have solid insights into what the original text is saying—and @swamidass has familiarized himself with those insights.

Virtually every translation that is more than a few words involves interpretation as an inevitable part of the translation process.

@noUCA, have you ever noticed that many English Bible translations have alternative translation notes at the bottom of the page. For example, in the NIV the word earth is often footnoted to the alternate rendering of land. Do you understand why this is the case? And do you know why many English Bible versions chose to use the word earth in the main text while usually (but not always) land appears as the alternative—even though some of the Hebrew scholar translators on those committees argued strongly that land is actually the better rendering of ERETZ? (If you do not, I can explain it—as I have done on these PS threads many times in the past. HINT: It’s called tradition and helping consumers feel comfortable with the Bible translation, which, after all, must survive and produce a profit in a commercial marketplace of competition.)

How and where is anyone saying that the translators of the major English Bible translations were not Hebrew scholars?

@noUCA, on the Peaceful Science forum we generally try to avoid attributing motive to someone’s viewpoint. After all, nobody can read the mind of another and absolutely reliably determine their motives unless they have clearly described them in their posts. In this case, I have no idea why you think @swamidass is merely craving respect—and what specific evidence do you have that he is ignoring the scholarship of “numerous Hebrew scholars”? Please name those particular scholars. I may know them professionally from my years in American seminary academia.

I would agree. Globality cannot be found in the Hebrew text. It is a flood of the ERETZ, the land. For many English Bible readers, the semantic domain of the word “earth” in 1611 when the King James Bible was published has forever skewed perceptions. Indeed, in 1611 few English speakers though primarily of “planet earth” when hearing the word earth. In fact, the English word earth at that time could be described as much closer to the Hebrew word ERETZ than today’s usual use of the word earth. To the ancient Hebrews and most English speakers of 1611, earth was the opposite of sky, farmer’s tilled the earth, and if one’s arrow hit a bird flying overhead, it fell to earth. Today, speakers of English have been heavily influenced by modern astronomy and the space age, such that the word earth is loaded with planet earth connotations and global perceptions of international geopolitics and trade. All of this would have been totally foreign to the ancient Hebrews.

As to the Hebrew word ERETZ, even today the word does not at all require a global sense. Consider that the name of the nation and land of Israel is the same as in ancient Hebrew: ERETZ YISRAEL. Nobody translates that as “Planet Israel” or “Global Israel.” ERETZ YISRAEL is a particular region, a particular land, a particular nation. Then and now.

Somewhere in this thread I believe it was also @swamidass who drew attention to the fact (without explicitly saying so) that Genesis 1 uses ERETZ as part of an idiom: “the heavens and the earth/ERETZ.” There again we see the ERETZ as the “below” paired with the sky which is the “above”. This also fits very well with the ancient Hebrew perception that the ERETZ was that disk of land (as in the Old Testament phrase “the circle of the earth”) which one sees around oneself when looking all the way to the horizon. Indeed, the ERETZ is not only a particular region, such as Israel or Mesoptamia. It is all that one sees under the sky, “everything under heaven.” (Modern English speakers try to equate “everything under heaven” to a global interpretation. That’s just not consistent with the ancient Semitic worldview and it doesn’t accurately translate the phrase. That was not their primary thought—especially when they had no concept of a spherical planet earth and the “global-ness” which goes with it!)

I am still catching up on this thread so please do draw my attention to specific issues if I haven’t already addressed the main ideas within this post.


Just as your view is based on interpretation also. Reading a translation inevitably leads to interpretations. Your playing the old lame game of “Unlike you, I’m not interpreting the Biblical text. I’m simply telling you what it clearly means!”

More of same. There is nothing wrong with claiming “My view is the correct one and your view is not.” But to accuse a fellow Christ-follower of a “liberal meaning”, you need to define what you mean by the word liberal (even though we probably can make a pretty good guess) and specifically how @Guy_Coe’s position is a"liberal" one.

I could just as easily accuse you of “overlaying the original text” with your favorite Young Earth Creationist man-made traditions. Would it be fair of me to accuse you of “More like embellishment of the literal Hebrew so that a rigid and inaccurate Pharisaical meaning can be overlaid onto the original text.”?

I can certainly agree with that statement—to a degree. I say “to a degree” because I am one of a great many ex-YECs and once hyper-literal creationists (of the “creation science” era of the 1960’s and 1970’s) who eventually studied Hebrew and “came over to the other side.” So it actually can be done!

This illustrates the long cherished tradition of “Your position is nothing but hermeneutical gymnastics!” followed by a final kick in the shins (“You liberal you!”) on the way out the door. It is rarely convincing to anyone but the choir one is preaching to.


So in your very long post, here is the real takeaway: Strong arguments in your favor do not validate your interpretation any more than mine.

I am delighted to hear that you acknowledge that the arguments from Hebrew scholars which I described in my post weigh strongly in my favor.


A rendering of “land” does not in any way negate God’s decision to exterminate man whom he created.

Question: is it your view that Man inhabited the “land” and only beasts - hominids? - inhabited the “earth” therefore they were not killed off? OMG, I hope your answer is No, because if it is any way in the affirmative, it is no wonder you people cannot be taken seriously.

It follows directly from this:

If the bible has been mistranslated, and Hebrew scholars know what it really ought to mean, then the translators can’t have been Hebrew scholars.

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No need to suspect myself or anyone else as “theologically liberal” who hold to the views I’m describing.
As far as I’m concerned, all of “imago Dei” humanity needs Jesus as Savior, even those who preceded Adam.
Paul makes this clear, that though there were those who did not sin in Adam’s likeness, they were not thereby morally righteous, simply not accorded specific guilt due to sin.
Since the very first human to be given a “thou shalt not” command was Adam, who nevertherless sinfully disobeyed, so moral guilt was made evident in him, and death was colored with the prospect of eternal enmity with God, rather than with reconciliation, and God got promptly to work changing that.
Consider His merciful ministrations to Adam and Eve, while simultaneously spelling out their sin’s consequences.
And thus, the stage is set for the beginning of the gospel message, right from the first two stories in Genesis.

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