Welcome once again to Feedback Friday! Dennis was one of my first return commenters, and here he is replying to a theory I have about the Flood proving the earth to be round. Asking if the Bible teaches a flat earth is a valid question, and so Dennis asks and almost answers several such questions here:
Ha. Funny. Here are a couple of fun scriptures:
>Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them. – Matthew 4:8
If you are on a mountain, and the earth is spherical, wouldn’t you see less? You could only see all if the world was flat.
>And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. – Revelation 7:1
Four corners? Like a sheet? Like a flat sheet?
>Daniel 4:7-8, “I saw a tree of great height at the center of the world. It was large and strong, with its top touching the heavens, and it could be seen from the ends of the earth.”
A tree can only be seen from everywhere if the earth was flat.
But the early xtians clearly adopted Aristotle’s ideas of a spherical earth. At least most of them. I truly doubt that between starving and being tossed in the forum that the shape of the earth was of much import. Of course, all of these scripture can be argued as poetry and not as fact, which is a very excellent point.
And I replied thusly: Greetings again, Dennis-
It sounds like you have answered your own question here: Of course, all of these scripture can be argued as poetry and not as fact, which is a very excellent point.
If you look into the kind of literature that Daniel and Revelation are, they are not intended to be taken merely literally. Some parts are, but some are not- Just as when Jesus is telling a parable, we are expected to understand that Jesus literally and historically told a parable, not necessarily that the parable he is telling is a literal, historical account of real events. Have you read Revelation? NO ONE has ever thought it was just a literal telling of events- not even John, and he wrote it.
I like to think of it as a combination of Goth art and a burrito induced dream.
Similarly with Daniel (Very much like Revelation in a lot of ways) it contains dream like visions of images that REPRESENT something, not a literal depiction of it. The tree from Daniel 4 is a vision King Nebuchadnezzar had in a dream– so the Bible is not saying that there is a tree that can be seen from everywhere on earth, but that this King dreamed of such a big tree that he felt the whole world could see it. In his dream.
The four corners of the earth from revelation 7 are the four corners of a map, and we still use that language, just as we refer to the sun rising, even though we all know we mean something less literal. Similarly, the Bible calls Jesus the Lamb of God but we still assume him to be walking on two legs and not always wearing wool.
The Bible is a collection of different books of a variety of styles and of course the only way to interpret any piece of literature is within the context of its own genre.
Now Matthew 4:8 is, of course, historical narrative, but what does it mean by “showed him all of the kingdoms of the earth?” Does that HAVE to be interpreted to mean they could see the whole thing at once from a standing spot? Or even that they were seeing it by the transmission of light from the source to the eyes by way of a strait line? The text doesn’t actually fill in those details, so it becomes speculation.
I like to think that Satan set up a power point presentation. It makes the most sense when you think about it like a time share sales pitch.
Lots of parallels there…
I agree of course that the science of astronomy or the 3 dimensional reality of the geology beneath their feet wasn’t a live issue for many in the old days, but I find the same is true today. While subbing in public schools some years back I took a few impromptu surveys and found that NONE of the classes of middle or high school students ever agreed unanimously that the earth is round. Apparently allowing prayer in schools wasn’t the cause of faith in the flat earth after all.
In short, you come up with some good points, and I thank you for sharing them. Of course my position is built on the need to understand literature according to it’s genre and the belief that Satan is at heart a scam-marketing salesman. In a tacky suit. But that’s not so much doctrine as my interpretation of scripture.
Thanks for your comments.