The majority of the Hebrew verbs in Genesis 1:1 – 2:2 show continuing and repeated actions.
- 52% of the verbs show actions that continue or repeat.
- 14% of the verbs show actions that continue in unbroken continuity.
- Only 11 verbs (13%) show completed actions.
- The remaining verbs are imperatives (10%) or infinitives (7%).
- Of the 82 verbs and infinitives in the creation account, more than 50 show continuing actions or commands. The text does not state when or if those actions ended.
Why do our translators follow the ex nihilo, sudden “creation out of nothing” traditions, based on the Latin text? Why do creationists fight to preserve the Latin grammar instead of the Hebrew grammar?
Biblical Hebrew builds its narrative around verbs that encode:
- Person – e.g. I, we, they
- Number – singular or plural
- Gender – masculine, feminine or common
- Voice – active – subject acts; passive – subject is acted upon; middle – subject is both acted on and also acts
- Mode (simple actions, intensive actions, causal actions).
- Perfect verbs have a suffix that shows completed actions without reference to when.
- Imperfect verbs have a prefix that shows continuing or repeating actions without tense.
Biblical Hebrew has no verb tenses. When something happens is alluded to by the context. This is unlike western languages that reference events to the notion of an external time. The ancients did not have a concept of an actual time, so their languages did not use verb tenses.
Let’s examine the 11 verbs (out of 82) in the seven-day account that refer to completed actions.
Verse 1. Elohim created (completed action) the heavens and the earth. The fourth (traditionally untranslated) word is the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet (et). Like alpha omega – it shows totality. First God completed the creation of everything in the universe.
Verse 2. And the earth was (completed) unformed and void. It did not become a waste, since the verb shows a state of completion – the state of being unformed. Evidently matter did not receive form until God continued to command light to continue to be. (Repeatedly God speaks to his creation during the first week and the verbs show repetitions. He continues to command a spreading atmosphere to continue to separate waters, he continues to command waters to be gathered into one place and continues to command the land to sprout plants etc.) We should not tailor the text to fit Latin traditions.
Verse 5. God called (completed action) the darkness night. The naming of night is unlike naming the day, which involved repeated naming. Why the difference? Light is the most active thing known, the fastest thing in the universe. Dark has no physical reality. The repeated naming of light as day suggests he was continually involved in the light and its effects in producing days.
Verse 10. God completed calling the gathering together of waters – plural seas. Yet He continued to name the dry – land. The multiple seas evidently had percolated underground on day three – so naming the seas is complete. The land continues to change as he continues to call to the ground to produce plants, which is perhaps why he continues to name the land.
Verse 21. This verse uses a completed verb to describe the waters that were swarming with teeming, reproducing sea life. The animals had reproduced so much that the underground seas were completely teeming with life. Again we see a contrast. The creating of the sea monsters and everything that moves uses continuing action verbs. It was not an ex nihilo creation as in Catholic traditions but a continuing making of the animals at God’s continuing commands.
Verse 27. The creation of the man in God’s image and the creation of both male and female use perfect (completed action) verbs. Note the contrast! When God plans to create man and when he creates the male, uses verbs that show continuing or repeated actions. It is only when the woman is finally present, that God completes the creation of man and woman in his image.
Verse 31. God continued to see all the work he made (completed action) was good.
Chapter 2:2-2 On the seventh day God finished the work he had done (completed) action in creating the heavens and the earth. Both finishing verbs in verse one and two are imperfect but also show intensity. Isn’t it contradictory to say I am continuing to do what is done? This is not a contradiction in a language that has no verb tenses. The intensity of creating the heavens and the Earth finished, yet the finishing continues, evidently at a less intensive level because God rested.
Breaking free from Latin traditions and accepting the text literally gives simple answers to the age of the universe conundrum that creationists wrestle with.
We observe the sequence of a literal, biblical creation in the only continuum that is visible at many ranges, the history of how billions of galaxies formed. The early galaxies were often tiny and naked. The light from some of those ancient galaxies shines at less than 10% of the frequencies emitted by modern atoms. At many ranges and in billions of examples, we observe how star globs continued to emerge and spread out from “things not seen” in the heart of each galaxy. We even observe periodic, great bursts of gamma light arriving from the creation era. Evidently this is God continuing to command light, thus continuing to give form to the stars that he continued to make into spreading things (raqiya).
The image of the Hubble Ultra Deep field was released by NASA in May 2014. The colors represent different observed frequencies of light from infrared to ultraviolet. The picture shows galaxies with tadpole tails or strings of blue star globs emerging from a red core.
A scientifically minded creationists might insist that galaxies cannot form in only 6,000 years. Old man Jacob parroted the world view of the earliest people when he said the days and years of the son are shorter and worse than the days and years of the fathers. (Genesis 47:9). Indeed, we find the skulls of our early ancestors with huge thick brows. Our skull is the only part of our skeleton that keeps growing with age. Job 14 describes the geological phenomena that passed during the few days of their lives until their faces doubled and they died.
What causes days and years to accelerate? The visible history of the galaxies gives us clues.
- All matter is observed to change relationally throughout cosmic history
- Evidently gravity is not a perpetual motion effect as in Newton and Einstein’s theories. With telescopes we observe that the atomic clocks and the star streams both accelerate as billions of galaxies grew from the formless things God created first.
- Evidently gravity is what emerges from matter as it changes relationally. Relational change is parallel change – as the space matter takes up, its atomic frequencies and its inertial properties all change together. When NASA compared the transponded reflections from their hydrogen maser atomic clocks from hours ago with the current speeds, they were also observed to accelerate (the Pioneer Anomaly) in the same manner as the clocks in hundreds of billions of galaxies.
- Gravity has an aberration because it propagates at light speed. Gravity’s aberration pulls more on Earth’s leading hemisphere than the trailing side. This accelerates our rotation and orbit together so that the ratio between days and years stays the same as both are shortening. All old people remember how life speeds up as they age. Indeed, the optical parallax to the Sun has continued to decrease for more than 2,000 years, even since scientists established the canonical AU with clocks and radar.
The notion that time exists, God created it and it is linear is a powerful tradition. Tailoring the Bible to fit western traditions is a vain effort. Only the literal creation account is confirmed in the only continuum that is visible, cosmic history to the creation era.