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Reading Genesis One Paperback – May 20, 2003

4.1 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

READING GENESIS ONE : Comparing Biblical Hebrew with English Translation

READING GENESIS ONE differs from the usual book on Genesis. This book is an exposition of the biblical Hebrew which both explains the grammar and determines the meaning of important Hebrew words by reference to other uses of the same word in the Bible itself.

Why this approach? Because many arguments about the Bible and its agreement or disagreement with the historical physical record are flawed. They are flawed because the Bible does not say that which the disputing parties claim. This may be either the Bible critic or the Bible advocate. In some cases both are arguing positions which are not in agreement with the biblical text.

In READING GENESIS ONE the reader is informed about important patterns of biblical Hebrew word and verb usage. This is done by presenting examples which show the biblical Hebrew of other well-understood verses. These verses illustrate and verify the patterns of word and verb use.

Biblical Hebrew is limited in what it may express because of its small vocabulary. An ordinary American collegiate dictionary will typically define about 160,000 words. Biblical Hebrew, as defined by Strong's numbers, possesses only 8,674 words. This small vocabulary places important limitations on the possible meanings of the verses of Genesis One. Meaning is also limited by the nature of the biblical Hebrew verb. Biblical Hebrew grammars often describe the Hebrew verb as not having tense.

The limitations imposed by the small number of Hebrew words, the Hebrew verb, and other limitations are discussed and consequences explained. This is done before the verses of Genesis One are considered. Subsequently, the first verses of the Bible are studied on a word-by-word basis. Directly comparable examples illustrate word meaning, word construction, and verb usage. This allows the reader to come to an understanding of the meaning which the Hebrew may express.

The meaning which the Hebrew may express often differs from that offered by supposed "experts" who interpret English translation. The meaning also often differs from the meaning ascribed by "agnostic" critics. Resolution of Genesis creation issues is found by direct reference to the biblical Hebrew.

The first 35 verses of the Bible describe the history of planet Earth from its beginning through the appearance of Adam (mankind). These 35 verses employ less than 100 different Hebrew words augmented by the prepositional prefixes and the suffixes representing pronouns. As a consequence, the description must omit much detail.

Based on the substantiated verb and word use, this book establishes and explains that:

1. Genesis One does not say that the Earth is "young," i.e., about 10,000 years old. This fact is established independent of any interpretation about the length of the six "days" of creation.

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.

3. Genesis One and the established physical history of planet Earth are not in conflict. There remains a conflict with the interpretations of Darwinism.

4. READING GENESIS ONE explains and critiques the typical arguments by which advocates of the "Young Earth" position arrive at their conclusion.

This is a book about God's creation. This book is a powerful tool for resolving creation issues in Christian witness. Why? Because its readers can study and understand the first 35 Hebrew verses of the Bible directly, for themselves. They can free themselves from dependence on asserted "expert" opinion.

R. Whitefield Publisher


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 169 pages
  • Publisher: R. Whitefield Publisher (May 20, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0972878203
  • ISBN-13: 978-0972878203
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 8.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,134,922 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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.
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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.
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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.
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