Alexander McCaul D.D. (1799–1863) was Professor of Hebrew and Old Testament Exegesis at King’s College, London, and Prebendary of St. Paul’s. He was the author of The Mosaic record of Creation, published in: AIDS TO FAITH; edited by William Thomson. [JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET, LONDON. 1870. pp. 89-234.]
Dr. R. Laird Harris (1911-2008) was Professor of Old Testament at Covenant Theological
Seminary. He served as chairman of the Committee on Bible Translation which produced
the New International Version. He was co-author of Theological Wordbook of the Old
Testament. In the article below, he takes issue with some aspects of an article on biblical
cosmology in The Hastings Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics.
Denis O. Lamoureux is the author of “Lessons from the Heavens: On Scripture, Science and Inerrancy.” [Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, Volume 59, Number 1, March 2007.]
The article focuses upon concordism as an interpretive approach to biblical cosmology in contrast to what he calls a modern phenomenological perspective. Lamoureux included the following discussion of the firmament:
In 1727 John Hutchinson (1674–1737) published ‘Moses’s Principia,’ in which he attempted to defend his interpretation of the cosmology of the Bible, against that of Sir Isaac Newton, and Dr. Samuel Clarke, who publicized Newton’s ideas in the Boyle lectures, and of Dr. John Woodward, (1665–1728) physician to the duke of Somerset. Hutchinson ridiculed Woodward’s treatise, The Natural History of the Earth. Hutchinson also attacked Clark for his heterodox views on the Trinity as well as for his Newtonian natural philosophy.
The following is a brief account of the history of the notion of “waters above the heavens” that followed from the identification of the ‘raqia’ or ‘firmament’ made on the second day with heaven, by the insertion of “And God called the firmament Heaven,” [Gen. 1:8] one of the key changes implemented by Antiochus IV and his agents in the second century BC. Since the ‘raqia’ was a solid layer formed in the midst of the primeval waters, that separated the upper from the lower waters, identifying it with heaven implies waters above the heavens. For centuries, theologians and astronomers struggled to understand these mysterious upper waters.
The scientific revolution in astronomy that occurred about 1750 AD fulfilled the prophecy of Daniel 8:13-14, when an angelic messenger or saint answered the question, “How long shall be the vision concerning the tamiyd [continual] and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?” The answer came: “And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” Read more…
Ezekiel’s description of the firmament in Ezekiel 1 is similar in some respects to Exodus 24:9-11. In both the Ex. 24 account and in Ezekiel, the firmament is likened to a sapphire stone, with God above, like Zeus seated above the rigid heaven.