Was the Cosmos Formed out of Water? Response to Rev. Juan Valdes

Rev. Juan Valdes

On February 16, 2014, I engaged in a formal debate in Indianola, Iowa with Rev. Juan Valdes, the pastor of the Iglesia Centro Evangélico Pentecostal in Miami, Florida. He is part of Reasons for Hope, an apologetics organization headquartered in Kentucky.
The topic question was: “Is Genesis 1-3 a Scientifically Reasonable Account of the Origin of our World?”
Rev. Valdes argued for the affirmative, and I argued for the negative.                                                       
You can see the debate here, and I will be referencing any precise time references (Hour:Minute:Second) in this version of the debate. Rev. Valdes has responded to some questions he did not answer at the debate here.

In general, the debate showed the impoverished state of Christian apologetics today. Rev. Valdes, who says he is nearly completing his doctorate in apologetics, did not:
A. Read biblical Hebrew sufficiently to establish any biblical translation he was trying to defend. How can an apologist defend the Bible if he or she does not have the tools necessary to establish what the Bible says?
B. Have enough scientific training to understand or represent accurately the scientific literature he claimed supported his creationist position. 
At one point (2:32:35-51), for example, Rev. Valdes attempts to support his contention that dinosaurs co-existed with human beings with this statement: 
“In addition to that, paleontologists are finding all types of mammal and vertebrate fossils on the same levels as dinosaur fossils, and so why could man not co-exist?"
Apparently, Rev. Valdes does not realize that dinosaurs ARE vertebrates, and so why would it be surprising to find vertebrates where vertebrates are found?  I will comment further on the mammals and dinosaurs in the near future.
C. Know his own evangelical biblical scholarship sufficiently to understand the diversity of positions within that tradition, and so he repeatedly pitted atheism against theism when disagreeing on translations or other matters of scholarship.
The fact is that some prominent evangelical scholars hold similar views to mine when it comes to translating Genesis 1.
Indeed, one wonders what they are learning in such graduate programs in apologetics, some of which are apparently on-line and don’t demand much actual work with the original languages or even wide reading in evangelical biblical scholarship.
I will give more specific examples of these problems with evangelical apologetics during my planned series of responses to him in the next few weeks or months.
For now, let me focus on responses that he has given to my questions on biblical cosmology and cosmogony.

Note stars embedded in a domelike structure
Briefly, the Achilles' Heel of creationism is not only the lack of scientific grounding, but the deplorable lack of understanding of the Bible’s cosmology.

If more modern readers of the Bible knew what biblical authors really believed about the structure of the universe, they would clearly see how unscientific Genesis 1 is.
Rev. Valdes tried to overturn two key points in my argument about biblical cosmology:
1. Genesis 1:1-3 indicates that water preexisted almost every other material mentioned, including light.
2. The sky is regarded as a solid structure, like a vault or a dome in which the sun, moon and stars are embedded.

Both of these notions are sufficient to show that Genesis does not accord with modern science, and so one can understand the eagerness of Rev. Valdes to refute those understandings of Genesis.
In this post I will discuss the first argument, and leave the second for a subsequent post. His response on the world formed out of water is here.
Historically, there have been three main understandings of Genesis 1:1-3, and the first verse reads as follows in Hebrew:
בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית בָּרָ֣א אֱלֹהִ֑ים אֵ֥ת הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם וְאֵ֥ת הָאָֽרֶץ׃
A. The first verse is a complete sentence, and so may give the impression that the heavens and the earth were created out of nothing or instantaneously. This understanding is found in the King James Version: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”
B. The first verse is a temporal dependent clause, and verse two a parenthetical remark about the state of the world when God began to shape it.
This view is championed by, among other ancient interpreters, Rashi (d. 1105), the famous Hebrew scholar. It is probably the most widely accepted position among modern Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and secular biblical scholars, including Harry M. Orlinsky, a main translator of the New Jewish Publication Society version.
During the debate and in his responses, Rev. Valdes asserts that my understanding of the Hebrew is somehow out of step with most Hebrew scholars, when even other evangelicals acknowledge the opposite is true. For example, Bruce Waltke (1975, p. 221), the noted Hebrew grammarian and evangelical states:
"The view that verse 1 is a dependent clause is widely held in scholarly circles today, and has been accepted into the last three versions of the Jewish, Roman Catholic, and Protestant communities."
C. The first verse is merely the title of the work, and bears no syntactical relationship to verse 2. Relatively few champion this position.
I argued, on the basis of Hebrew syntax and grammar, that Genesis 1:1 should not be translated as a complete sentence. Instead,and as a variant of Option B, I would render Genesis 1:1-3 as follows, with Elohim, the actual word used for the deity (instead of “God”):
When Elohim began to shape the Heavens and the Earth—the earth was then without form and void, and darkness over the watery abyss, and Elohim’s wind sweeping over the water—Elohim said: “Let there be light.”
One also has to understand that the Hebrew word BARA’ (ברא), which is often rendered as “create” is used for the action of forming something new out of pre-existing materials or separating out what used to be united (see also Garr; van der Wolde). Thus, in Genesis 5:1 (KJV):
W. Blake's rendition of Adam's creation
“This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created [BARA’] man, in the likeness of God made he him.”
However, Genesis 2:7 (RSV) says that man was formed from a pre-existing material (dust):“the LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.”
There is nothing about using BARA’ that necessitates the belief in creation out of nothing, a doctrine for which there is no indisputable evidence before the late Second Temple Period in Jewish biblical interpretation (see May; Goldstein).
Therefore, the proper understanding of the Hebrew Bible shows that there was something already there (a dark watery mass stirred by Elohim’s wind or breath) when Elohim began to shape it into an orderly world.

Genesis never says where that water originated, and so there is really no creation out of nothing ever explicitly taught in Genesis for the earliest materials mentioned (water; wind).
If so, then Genesis 1 definitely does not accord with modern scientific findings because water is not the earliest substance in the universe and did not preexist light. Many modern translations have a similar understanding, as can be seen in the following examples [my underlined emphasis].

Common English Bible
“When God began to create the heavens and the earth— the earth was without shape or form, it was dark over the deep sea, and God’s wind swept over the waters—  God said, ‘Let there be light.’”

New Revised Standard Version (alternate footnote)
“When God began to create the heavens and the earth— the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters—Then God said, ‘Let there be light.’”

New Jewish Publication Society
“When God began to create the heaven and the earth— the earth being unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep and a wind from God sweeping over the water — God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.”

Anchor Bible: Genesis (E. Speiser, 1964)
“When God set about to create heaven and earth—the world being then a formless waste, with darkness over the seas  and only an awesome wind sweeping over the water— God said, ‘Let there be light.’ And there was light.”
The main reasons that I believe that these translations are more faithful to the Hebrew text are that:

A. They reflect the fact that the Hebrew BERESHITH, the first word in v. 1, is what is called a construct (“genitive”) phrase that should be translated schematically as “When X began [to do Y]...” or “In the beginning of...”For example, in Jeremiah 26:1, even the King James Version, translates the clause containing BERESHITH as: “In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah came this word from the Lord, saying...”
The objection that one cannot have a construct expression with a finite verb can be refuted by pointing to Hosea 1:2 (RSV): “When the LORD first spoke through Hose'a, the LORD said to Hosea...”, which has a similar syntax to Genesis 1:1. See also Waltke and O’Connor...An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax , p. 156 and n. 38).
B. Since BERESHITH is a construct phrase in v. 1, then it cannot be understood as a complete sentence but rather as a temporal dependent clause (a "when" clause) that is completed by one or more following clauses.
C. The syntax of the second verse is more akin to a parenthetical clause explaining the condition of the world at the time that Elohim began to form it. That is because v. 2 begins with a noun + a Hebrew verb in the perfective aspect, instead of a standard sequential construction of “Verb in the imperfective aspect/jussive + noun.”
Those are linguistic reasons, and not atheistic reasons. These are reasons followed by Christian, Jewish, and Secular translators of the Bible, and so have little to do with atheism and theism.
To support his preferred translation, Rev. Valdes offers only a very simplistic view of translations as follows in his website response:
“Remember the English translations we use are done by entire teams of translators, experts in the biblical languages and trustworthy in their rendering of the original text.”
But why does he believe that "trustworthy" only applies to the translation he favors?
I can also say that the translations that agree with me are done “by entire teams of translators, experts in the biblical languages and trustworthy in their rendering of the original text.”
But I don’t see Rev. Valdes affirming the accuracy of the Revised Standard Version on 2 Peter 3:5 or the New Jewish Publication Society’s understanding of Genesis 1:1-3.
Rev. Valdes has no real response to my arguments, as shown by his following remarks: "What does Genesis 1:1 say regarding the creation of the universe? “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” It clearly DOES NOT say that God created either the heavens or the earth from water."
But note that he completely evades my claim that this is not a proper translation of the Hebrew of v. 1. He simply asserts that the New King James Version is correct, and pretends he has solved the problem. It is circular reasoning, at best.
The issue was precisely whether the KJV or NKJV has a correct translation in the first place, and so he should provide linguistic reasons for why he thinks this translation is correct.
He did not do that!
Otherwise, it is as if I pointed to the New Jewish Publication Society Version and just declared it to be correct. End of argument.
His next argument is irrelevant because it assumes that the (New) King James Version is correct about its understanding of verse 1:
"In Genesis 1:2 God reveals to us what the initial creation looked like—it was not suitable for life. It had not been prepared yet for life to inhabit it.  So what does Genesis 1:2 say about water?  It says that the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. Does this mean God created the Earth from water? Of course not! It doesn’t even say that the whole planet was covered with water. We have to read on to what God did on day three of creation to realize that water did indeed cover the entire surface of the Earth, Gen 1:9-10, “Then God said, 'Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear'; and it was so. 10 And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good.'”
If we understand, v. 2 to be describing the state of the earth before Elohim begin to shape it into the proper order, then nothing in Genesis 1:9-10 contradicts that understanding, even if we read the King James Version. 
Because the earth was a watery chaos, God had to extract dry land out of water in verses 9-10. It still means water was there in v. 2 before dry land was there and before the sky was there.
PSALMS 24:1-2, 104:5-9, 136:6
I am not sure why Rev. Valdes believes these texts help his case. None of them state that God formed the water or the earth out of nothing. In fact, all of those Psalms have been linked in their vocabulary and ideology to Near Eastern mythology, especially in regard to water.
See, for example, David Toshio Tsumura, The Earth and the Waters in Genesis 1 and 2:A Linguistic Investigation (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1989), p. 78 for comments on Psalm 104:9. 
Similarly, Luis J. Stadelmann, The Hebrew Conception of the World (Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1970), p. 21, where Psalm 104 is compared directly to the Hymn to Aten in Egypt.
Moreover, even if we understand the creation of land out of water as a reference to simply revealing land that was already there, it will not help Genesis be more scientific.
In Genesis 1:6 it states that: “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters and let it separate the waters from the waters" (RSV).
So, does Rev.Valdes also believe that the firmament was already there in the ocean, and then was revealed and taken up to its current location?
2 PETER 3:5
Given that Rev. Valdes could not defend his understanding of Genesis 1:1-3 on the basis of Hebrew linguistics and scholarship, he attempted to refute my appeal to 2 Peter 3:5, which says (RSV):“They deliberately ignore this fact, that by the word of God heavens existed long ago, and an earth formed out of water and by means of water...”
Greek Text (UBS, third edition)
λανθάνει γὰρ αὐτοὺς τοῦτο θέλοντας ὅτι οὐρανοὶ ἦσαν ἔκπαλαι καὶ γῆ ἐξ ὕδατος καὶ δι' ὕδατος συνεστῶσα τῷ τοῦ θεοῦ λόγῳ
But instead of examining carefully the Greek text of 2 Peter 3:5, Rev. Valdes simply offers us these reasons: 
We need to consider another key word in the main clause—‘this’ in order to understand the passage. What is Peter referring to with the word ‘this’?  The answer lies in the rest of the verse which appears as a subordinate clause—‘that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water,’ and which continues into verse 6 with yet another subordinate clause, ‘by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water.’"
In other words, instead of telling us how he knows this translation is correct, Rev. Valdes is simply content to repeat this translation of 2 Peter 3:5 from the New King James Version: "For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water."
Even if we were to accept this now archaic and awkward translation, it does not change the fact that 2 Peter 3:5 suggests that water pre-existed the earth. Otherwise, what would it mean to say that the earth was standing “out of water” if there were no water there before the earth stood out of water?
The RSV translation of v. 5 makes better sense with v. 6: “...through which the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished.”
In other words, just as God created the world out of water and by means of water, he also destroyed it by means of water in Noah’s Flood. Literarily, the RSV translation yields a better juxtaposition between creation and destruction by water.
The question Rev. Valdes should have addressed is why he thinks that the Greek word sunistemi (συνίστημι) should be translated as “standing [out of],” instead of “formed [out of].
Otherwise, I could just point to the rendition in the RSV, “earth formed out of water and by means of water,” and declare him to be wrong.
The Greek word sunistemi (συνίστημι) literally can mean to “stand together” or “to put together.” See Theological Dictionary of the New Testament 7:896-897.
This word is found a number of times when speaking of the origin of the world, and so “formed” or “put together” is much better than “standing [out of]”.'
For example, note the rendition of Jerome Neyrey in The Anchor Bible (Jude, 2 Peter (1993): p. 232): “For in holding this, they forget  that from of old by the word of God the heavens were created and earth was put together out of water and through water.”
Concerning 2 Peter 3:5, The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (7:897) states: “The cosmology underlying the v[erse] obviously regards water as a means of creation and a primal element; it thus teaches that the earth is composed of water.”

A Greek–English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Bauer et al., p. 973) has a more unclear view of the word, and prefers to place 2 Peter 3:5 under “to come to be in a condition of coherence, continue, endure, exist, hold together.” But it certainly can refer to God’s creative activity, as I will show below.
The word sunistemi is used by other ancient authors when speaking of the formation of the world, and so we are pretty certain that in such contexts it speaks of “formation” or “creation,” and not “standing out of” if that means the denial of a pre-existing material or status.
Indeed, when used with Greek prepositions meaning “out of” or “through” or “by,” then it can be demonstrated that sunistemi means “formed out of” or “formed by means of” (put together out of X...) in contexts about cosmogony or the construction of structures. 
Here are some examples:
Philo, Allegorical Interpretation 3.10 (Loeb Classical Library).
“How must it not be impossible to recompense or to praise as He deserves Him who brought the universe out of non-existence.”
Here, the phrase “who brought the universe out of non-existence” is in Greek: τὸν τὰ ὃλα συστησάμενον ἐκ μὴ ὄντων. 
As May (Creatio Ex Nihilo, pp. 16-17) demonstrates, Philo did not believe in creation out of nothing by using this type of phraseology. Rather he was speaking of creation of something from what it was not, like Adam was formed from something that was not Adam even though Adam came from dust.
The main point is that Philo reflects “sunistemi + ek” with a meaning “create from X” or “form from X,” not “standing out of X.”
This word sunistemi is even attributed to Thales, when describing how he believed the earth was formed out of water.  That Thales used this word is even acknowledged by a Christian website’s copy of the Pulpit Commentary: “Thales had taught that water was the beginning of things, the original element άντα ξ δατος συνεστάναι)...”
If so, Thales is using precisely a variant form (συνεστάναι) of the same word, sunistemi, used in 2 Peter 3:5 to express the belief that water is the most primeval substance. 
We have supplementary evidence in the Pseudo-Clementine Homilies (11:23-24) that some early Christians believed water was the first substance, and linked it to the reason why Baptism with water is important for Christians (e.g., a symbol of a new personal creation out of water):
“For on thy account , O man God commanded the water to retire upon the face of the earth...And now from the inferior things learn the cause of all, reasoning that water makes all things [τὰ πάντα τὸ ὕδωρ ποιεῖ] and water receives the production of its movement from the spirit, and the spirit has its beginning from the God of all” (Ante-Nicene Fathers, 8:289; Greek text from Patrologia Graeca 2:293).
Finally, even the New International Version, which is an evangelical translation, not part of some atheist plot, agrees with my rendition: "But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water" [my underlined emphasis].
So, yes, we have plenty of evidence that biblical authors, ancient Jews, and many ancient Christians believed that water was the earliest or one of the earliest elements of the universe that pre-existed the stars, the solid earth, and the sky.
Once one understands that Genesis has water as the primeval substance of the world, then one can see that it is perfectly aligned with other creation stories that have the same role for water:
“The gods were created from Ptah...Ptah (is) the primeval waters (Nnw), the father of Atum...who gave birth to the gods” (Shabaka Stone inscription as quoted in John D. Currid, Ancient Egypt and the Old Testament, p. 61).
Book of the Dead
“Let it be granted to me to pass on to the holy princes, for indeed, I have done away all the evil which I committed, from the time when this earth came into being from Nu, when it sprang from the watery abyss even as it was in the days of old” (Book of the Dead; see accessible, even if not best, edition here).
“All lands were sea.” (CT 13, 35:10; Wayne Horowitz, Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography [1998]  p. 130).
Concerning Thales, the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher (ca. 624 BCE-546 BCE), Diogenes Laertius said: “His doctrine was that water is the universal primary substance” (Diogenes Laertius 1:27).
I expected Rev. Valdes not to agree with modern academic biblical scholarship, but I certainly expected that he knew more about evangelical biblical scholarship.
As I already pointed out, his unsupported claim that my understanding of Genesis 1:1-3 was out of step with Hebrew scholarship is rejected even by other evangelicals who acknowledge my position as a standard one.
The fact is that a number of prominent evangelical scholars agree with me. That does not make me right, but it does show that Rev. Valdes cannot use his standard dichotomy of “atheist versus theist” interpretations to explain away his lack of understanding of the Hebrew or Greek texts.
And the fact that some evangelical scholars agree with my interpretation shows that there are real linguistic and philological arguments behind my position, and not merely some atheist ideology. 
Historically, my view of Genesis 1 is attested among many ancient Christians and Jews before they became adopted by any modern atheists. Today, I can still find a few examples among evangelicals.
E. J. Young, a prominent creationist does state the following this despite inconsistency elsewhere in his book: “In this detailed account, however, there is no explicit statement of the creation of the primeval material from which the universe we know was formed” (E. J. Young, Studies in Genesis 1, p. 11).
Bruce Waltke, an evangelical scholar and prominent Hebrew expert does not believe that verse 1 is a dependent clause as I do. But notice how he describes verse 2 when outlining the structure of Genesis 1:1-3 (Bibliotheca Sacra 132 [1975] p. 228):

“I. Introductory summary statement, 1:1.
Dr. Bruce Waltke

lII. Situation prior to the creation, 1:2.

III. Narrative of creation, 1:3-31...”
Waltke sees v. 2 as a circumstantial clause that, while having no syntactic relationship to v. 1, still describes the state of the earth “PRIOR to the creation.”
So, it is clear that Rev. Valdes is not only poorly read in academic biblical scholarship, but he does not even seem to know his own evangelical biblical scholarship.
It raises the question of how one reaches a near doctorate in apologetics and not know about these evangelical positions?
As an aside, Rev. Valdes’  blatantly misrepresents my view of “context” when explaining my position on 2 Peter 3:5 and other passages. According to him:
“In order to understand the passage, we must consider the context, much to the chagrin of Dr. Avalos, who of his own admission, doesn’t seem to think context is important.”
Rev. Valdes is actually taking  out of context my remarks at 2:51:44-2:52:15 of the debate.
There, the issue was how creationists resolve biblical contradictions. Rev. Valdes argued that there are no real contradictions in the Bible, and that any apparent ones are the result of not heeding “the context” of the Bible. See Valdes’ remarks on 2:50:02-2:51:36 and especially at 2:50:32-35.
My response addressed the specific way in which “context” is used to resolve contradictions BY CREATIONISTS and not a statement about the general utility of context in interpretation.  This is what I actually say in response (at 2:51:44-2:52:15):
“I think that context is one of those words that creationists use to evade clear contradictions, and so context is a theological construct. And I can use that same kind of procedure to erase contradictions in almost any other scripture. That’s one of the reasons I became an atheist. When I started reading Gleason Archer, among others, pointing out contradictions in the Quran. I said, well, I can resolve those the same way I can resolve those in the Bible.”
I certainly do believe that context is important for interpretation, but one must realize that that word is used in two senses:

A. The words before or after the passage in question.

B. The larger cultural and theological practices and ideas in the mind of the author.
The first is relatively easy to determine. The second is much more difficult, and it does depend on the viewpoint of the interpreter to some extent.
For example, Creationists often see the doctrines in the New Testament as part of the “context” for interpreting the Old Testament, while Jews do not see the New Testament’s theology as determinative at all because they don’t recognize the New Testament as God’s word.
From a scholarly perspective, we can try to determine the world and mindset of authors on the basis of how words are used at the time they were writing, and how others interpreted those words.
This broader cultural and theological world of the author is where the main debates are centered because any writer can live in a world with multiple influences, and so it is difficult to determine sometimes what the “context” is in that sense.

My evidence is the vocabulary and supplementary archaeological materials by which we reconstruct ancient cosmologies. It is empirical historical evidence. 
Thus, I hold that the context of the author of Genesis is a world that believed in pre-scientific ideas because the way the world is described by biblical authors does not differ in many crucial respects from the way other Near Eastern authors speak of how the world was formed.
On the other hand, Rev. Valdes believes that the mythology of the Near East is not the proper context for understanding Genesis, and he specifically cites his religion to justify at least part of that belief, and not any actual examination of the vocabulary and thought in other Near Eastern writings of which he shows little knowledge in the first place. Note his concluding statement on his website response:
In conclusion, when we let the entire counsel of God’s Word be the primary interpreter of itself, we see a complete harmony of content thereof.”
If anything, his conclusion proves that “context” is a theological viewpoint and construct for creationists. He is already assuming without any prior empirical evidence that the Bible is God’s word and that the “the canon” he accepts interprets itself. This is nothing more than theological speculation, religious chauvinism (my religious claims are historical; the claims of other religions are mythical), and dogma.

Genesis 1 follows other Near Eastern creation stories insofar as many of them believe that water was THE primeval substance or a primeval substance whose origin is either unstated or assumed to be irrelevant. 
The earth is either miraculously extracted from the water or appears after the water withdraws to create the dry land. Even if this seems plausible, the fact that the sky is also extracted from the water makes it implausible to argue for anything other than a pre-scientific view of the earth’s origins.
The fact that the water pre-exists the light is lethal. Therefore, one cannot hold Genesis 1 to be in accord with modern science.
Rev. Valdes clearly does not understand Hebrew well enough to defend his reading of Genesis 1:1-3. Since it is a fundamental task of apologetics to defend what the Bible actually says, then he cannot possibly be performing a fundamental task of apologetics. Instead, he contradicts the biblical text, as I allege creationists often do.
Nor does Rev. Valdes seem well-read in evangelical scholarship as evidenced by his repeated assertion that my understanding of Genesis 1:1-3 is a minority position or the result of some atheistic world view.
The fact is my that position concerning Genesis 1:1-3 is shared by ancient and modern Christians and Jews.  That by itself does not make my position right. It does mean that Rev. Valdes cannot simply dismiss my position as some marginal atheistic view.
I believe that my position is right because it best accords with Hebrew and Semitic linguistics, culture, and literature.
Rev. Valdes openly admits that he does not have the linguistic equipment to evaluate whether his translation is right or not, and so I am not even sure what he is defending as an apologist if he cannot even establish what the Bible is saying.

1. Did you read Bruce Waltke’s entire series of studies on Genesis 1 in Bibliotheca Sacra (1975) prior to our debate? Please give us a direct YES or NO?
2. Given Waltke’s statement on the wide acceptance of my interpretation of Genesis 1:1-3, what is your empirical evidence that my position is a minority or not well accepted among scholars?
3. Since the CEB, NJPS and other versions that agree with me were also made by teams of scholars well versed in Hebrew, then do you find them trustworthy, as well?
4. What Hebrew or Semitic philological evidence can you provide to show that v. 1 of Genesis cannot be a dependent clause?
5. Why did you not offer us your own evaluation of the Greek word sunistemi in 2 Peter 3:5?
6.Since the NIV translation agrees with me in 2 Peter 3:5, then is that translation also part of the atheistic worldview?
7. Can you give us an example of any contradiction in the Enuma elish that I cannot resolve using Christian apologetic techniques?
8. If you believe that both the Old and New Testament are to be interpreted as a unit, then how is “context” not a theological construct?
9. Can one be a biblical apologist without being able to determine independently what the Bible actually says in the original languages?
REFERENCES (cited and as supplementary reading)
The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Roberts, Alexander, et al., (eds.), Series 1. Edited by Philip Schaff. 1886-1887. Repr. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Press, 1994.
Bauer, W., F.W. Danker, W.F. Arndt, and F.W. Gingrich, A Greek–English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2000).
Blacker, Carmen and Michael Loewe, eds., Ancient Cosmologies (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1975).
Currid, John D., Ancient Egypt and the Old Testament (Downers Grove, IL: Baker Books, 1997).
Garr, W. Randall, “God’s Creation: ברא in the Priestly Source,” Harvard Theological Review 97 (2004): 83-91.
Goldstein, Jonathan, “The Origin of the Doctrine of Creation Ex Nihilo,” Journal of Jewish Studies 35 (1984):128-135.
Goldstein, Jonathan, “Creation Ex Nihilo: Recantations and Restatements,” Journal of Jewish Studies 39 (1987): 187-194.
Horowitz, Wayne, Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1998).
Kittel, Gerhard and Gerhard Friedrich (eds.), Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (trans. Geoffrey W. Bromiley; 10 vols.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964–76).
Laertius, Diogenes, Lives of Eminent Philosophers (trans. R.D. Hicks; LCL; Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1925).
May, Gerhard, Creatio Ex Nihilo: The Doctrine of “Creation out of Nothing” in Early Christian Thought (trans. A. S. Worrall; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1994).
Neyrey, Jerome, Jude, 2 Peter (Anchor Bible 37C; New Haven: Yale University Pres, 1993).
Orlinsky, Harry M., "The Plain Meaning of Genesis 1:1-3,” Biblical Archaeologist 46 (1983):207-209.
Philo, Allegorical Interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2 in Philo (volume 1) (trans. F. H. Colson and G. H. Whitaker; Loeb Classical Library; Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991 [1929]).
Speiser, Ephraim, Genesis (Anchor Bible 1; New York:Doubleday, 1964).
Stadelmann, Luis J., The Hebrew Conception of the World (Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1970).
Tsumura, David Toshio, The Earth and the Waters in Genesis 1 and 2:A Linguistic Investigation (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1989).
Van Kooten, George H.  (ed.), The Creation of Heaven and Earth: Re-interpretation of Genesis 1 in the Context of Judaism, Ancient Philosophy, Christianity, and Modern Physics (Jewish and Christian Traditions 8; Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2005).
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