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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on December 3, 2003
I find it sad that most people, including most Christians, seem to believe that the Bible was written in King James English. Too much time is spent arguing over the nuances of words in the English text when so many nuances have been lost or changed in the not so simple process of translating the text from the original Hebrew or Greek. We too often coerce the text to say more than it says and in particular to say what we want it to say.
In this book Mr. Whitefield goes to great lengths to be clear what the scriptures "don't" say and to let us hear them in their native tongue. The 150 pages Whitefield uses to translate the first chapter of Genesis demonstrate the effort required to read the Bible in such a way to argue nuances of words. It is impressive to see a layman's ability to reach scholarship in a topic as difficult as ancient Hebrew through pure devotion, diligence and patience. His original motivation for this work is to help pacify the heat of battle spawned by the "young earth" debate, but I feel that something much larger has been accomplished.
First, he has demonstrated that by using readily available reference and study materials we are all potentially capable of scholarly work. If nothing else, this eliminates the excuse we all so often use to broadly "interpret" the scriptures based on our personal assumptions about the subject because it is "too difficult" to discover the facts. We are more likely just too lazy to discover the facts.
Second, for the Christian reader, Mr. Whitefield has very clearly pointed out that the Christian battle against Darwinism is not a battle against science. No reputable scientist would back long-term interspecies evolution given the volumes of evidence against it and almost total lack of evidence for it. The Darwin church of believers (boy, won't they hate that description!) is as bad about reading "into" science as the Christian church has been about reading "into" the scriptures. Mr. Whitefield should write a companion book on properly reading the first chapter of the scientific method!
Finally, for the scientist reader, Mr. Whitefield shows that the scientist's battle is not with the Bible. Although they may find themselves at many times in debates with Christians, that debate is man-to-man not man-to-God. It is not sound logic to argue about a point the Bible doesn't make.
On a more practical note, this book is a work of scholarship, and it is not a novel on creation and evolution. Expect to study and learn not just to sit back and be entertained with someone else's opinion on creation. I think Mr. Whitefield's true purpose in writing this book would be most fulfilled if upon study you felt more qualified and comfortable in forming your own educated opinion. If you are willing to learn then buy this book!
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2006
The approach that Rodney Whitefield, Ph.D. in physics, used to interpret Genesis 1 should have been used long ago by prominent voices heard today in the all too often heated debate on the age of the Earth, age of the Universe & Biblical Creation. I have always felt that if one simply went back to the original inspired text, many of these difficult issues would eventually be resolved.

I was fascinated to learn of the verb forms in ancient Hebrew and the information content that they can and cannot transmit. I was very interested in learning that ancient written Hebrew omitted the vowels and that the vowel marks were added to the Hebrew text after 100 A.D. Therefore one cannot even trust the Strong's numbers (Hebrew words keyed to the King James Version) in trying to interpret Genesis 1, because these keyed Hebrew words have had the vowel marks added to them, and therefore could be wrong... man-made Hebrew interpretative "add-ons" not found in the original inspired ancient Hebrew texts. Thus, there are not 8,674 Hebrew words in the Bible (the number of Hebrew words having Strong's numbers), but the equivalent of only 2,552 ancient Hebrew root words. Each ancient Hebrew written word could have multiple possible combinations of vowels sounds added to it when spoken resulting in multiple possible different spoken words. Also, even the same spoken word could have more than one possible meaning.

The proper interpretation of any ancient Hebrew written word is driven by the context it is found in and how that same written word is used any place else in the Bible. With over 160,000 words in a typical modern English dictionary, it is not easy to pick the right English words to translate an ancient Hebrew text. Unforunately, poor translations in the past may have lead many theologians into interpretative pitfalls. The proper verb forms and the other possible Hebrew spoken word forms may not have been properly taken into account. At least Dr. Whitefield has given us his best shot in trying to interpret Genesis 1 from the original ancient Hebrew and those who disagree with him should go back to the original ancient Hebrew and point out where he may have gone wrong (if indeed he is wrong).

Using what we now know about ancient Hebrew verb forms and ancient Hebrew written words, we can better interpret Genesis 1.

Theology is man's attempt to study God's Word. Science is man's attempt to study nature. If God inspired the Bible and if that same God created everything we can detect in nature today and if that same God is not a liar or deceiver, then what we discover about the Bible should not contradict what we discover in nature (if we have good theology and good science). Dr. Whitefield took one step back from his studies in physics and took one step forward in his studies in Genesis 1. Are we surprised with the result?
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2011
Definitely a must-read for understanding the Old Testament, especially Genesis One as originally written.

This book is self-published, which avoids the high costs that a large publishing house has to recover for their own editing and design work, etc., in the marketing of a book. The evident scholarship and "just the facts" approach of Whitefield's book effectively invites the reader to not only think for themselves, but to explore further the nuances of Old Hebrew writings and grammar. A self-published author has to do their own design and editing (review) work or pay others to do these tasks. For a highly technical work, a self-published author has limited options.

The strongest points made in this book are:

1) As originally written using the rules of Old Hebrew grammar, Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 describe actions/events that have already been fully completed at some time in the indefinite past. They are a definitive prologue to, but are not part of, the actions and events of the subsequent narrative starting with Genesis 1:3.

2) The first several "days" in the subsequent narrative are grammatically indefinite in the Hebrew. Whitefield does not mention that many great theologians in the past have also found these "days" to be confusing, but does emphasize and inform regarding the unique Hebrew phrasing of these verses. They are not the ordinary "forty days and forty nights" description used for Noah's Flood, and are not explicitly a 12 or 24 hour period as implied by common readings of most current English translations.

The book concludes that rather than chronology, grammatically Genesis One emphasizes God's pre-meditated and structured step by step forming of Earth to become a suitable residence for Man, exalting Man as he is carefully and thoughtfully made in the image of God.

Whitefield does not address any other related issues. The following four comments are therefore my own, anticipating compatible views:

1) Six literal 24-hour days of creation, but starting with Genesis 1:3.

2) Historical View:
Knowing that Man would sin from the beginning, God had the freedom to create an initial universe, the Earth, and perhaps even initial life already having 'corruption' due to Man's future sin. The model for this is the way those who died before the coming of Christ were saved through faith in the Savior who was still yet to come. The Garden of Eden therefore was a separate special creation, a sinless environment specifically for the testing of Adam and Eve.

3) Ross View:
An opaque cloud covered the Earth (ref. Psalm 147:8), that in "day 4" God made transparent for the purpose of signs and seasons (Sun, moon and stars/heavens were already created as stated in the prologue of Genesis 1:1-2). Unlike animals, man was created in God's likeness, and potentially immortal (Tree of Life). Ref. Psalm 104:21, Romans 5:12

4) Framework View:
Day 4 recapitulates day 1. Days 4-6 are parallel to days 1-3 but describe the subsequent "fullness" after days 1-3. Each "day" is a time of God's special activity, between which there is a "working out" (alternate translation of evening) of the previous "day". Ref. John 9:4, John 11:9
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on February 7, 2014
The layout isn't superb but the work is very thorough and I have gained the background to understand why some people hold the old earth creation position that they do. Caveat: I'm not done reading it yet.
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on November 7, 2015
Precision. If you think you know Gen 1 Hebrew---you don't. But you will.
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on September 28, 2015
Interesting. Good material.
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6 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on June 19, 2010
Based upon the author's review of his own work (Author Rodney Whitefield; reviewer R Whitefield publisher) I have no intention of reading this book. But for those who are considering reading it, I ask you to first consider the following:

Normally when one offers a preview of an argument that they intend to use, they offer up examples of their strongest points, but what Whitefield offers up are trivial straw men; easily blown away by the slightest breeze of reasoned thought. For example:

1. Genesis One does not say that the Earth is "young," i.e., about 10,000 years old.

Of course it doesn't, but no one claims that it does. The methodology used to determine the Biblical age of the earth is to tally up the ages given at various points in the Old Testament until they overlap other known dates; such as Nebuchadnezzar's Babylon. The first of those genealogies does not occur until Genesis chapter 5, where we get approximately 1600 years from Adam to the son's of Noah.

2. The translation chosen for the Hebrew word "yom" is shown to not determine the age of the Earth, or the age of the universe. It is also shown that the time between the first "And God said" of Genesis 1:3 and the completion stated in Genesis 2:1 is not limited to 144 hours. An interval of 144 hours (six 24-hour days) is not a required consequence of interpreting the creative "yom" as six 24-hour days. When this fact is understood, many of the often encountered arguments are found to be pointless exercises.

Actually, the word 'yom' behaves about the same way as the English word 'day.' Yes, yom can mean a broad period of time or a calendar day or when the sun is in the sky, just as the word day. But when you attach numbers or times of you eliminate the broad and indefinite period of time definition. 'Back in my day we didn't have a machine to do that,' suggests a time of years. 'Since we didn't have a machine, it took us five days to do it,' can only mean 120 hours or significant samples thereof. In like regard, the use of evening and morning as well as a numerical count limits the meaning of 'yom' to 24 hours or a portion thereof.
And as for his arguments about the size of the Biblical Hebrew vocabulary, it is spurious. Sure, the average collegiate dictionary defines about 160,000 words, but how many of them do you use? On average; 25,000. How many words does it take to have a comfortable fluency in English? About 10,000. Mister Whitefield's review consists of a mere 633 words and about 200 unique words, so do we disregard it because it uses such an infinitesimally small sample of a dictionary? Of course not! He uses sufficient words to say what he wants to say. In like regard, Genesis chapter 1 manages to convey what it needs to through the use of fewer than 100 words.
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