Biblical Cosmology: The Implications for Bible Translation

Roberts, John R
We show that the creation account in Genesis 1.1–2.3 refers to a worldview of the cosmos as the ancient Mesopotamians and ancient Egyptians understood it to be. These civilisations left behind documents, maps and iconography which describe the cosmological beliefs they had. The differences between the biblical cosmology and ancient Near East cosmologies are observed to be mainly theological in nature rather than cosmological. However, the biblical cosmology is conceptually different to a modern view of the cosmos in significant ways. We examine how a range of terms are translated in English Bible translations, including ḥōšeḵ, təhôm, rāqîᵃʿ, hammayim ʾăšer mēʿal lārāqîᵃʿ, and mayim mittaḥaṯ lā’āreṣ, and show that if the denotation of these terms is in accordance with a modern worldview then this results in a text that has incongruities and is incoherent in the nature of the cosmos it depicts. We therefore recommend that the translation should denote a biblical cosmology.
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Nature of Work:
pages 1-53
Entry Number:
55 623