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Poythress on Rain Clouds vs. a Heavenly Sea in Gen 1:6–8

Since we cannot go back and interview ancient Israelites, modern interpreters can always postulate that the Israelites had strange beliefs about a heavenly sea. . . . The postulates have become embedded in the tradition of OT scholarship, and they are propped up by the modern myths that make us complaisant about our superiority to the ancients and patronizing towards their alleged primitive naiveté. . . . Whether or not the Israelites had strange beliefs, God does not address such beliefs directly, and neither does he presuppose them. He teaches that there is water above, separated from water beneath by an expanse. The language is sparse. If any ancient Israelites or modern interpreters do not realize that rain comes from water above, that is their problem.

—Vern Poythress, “Correlations with Providence in Genesis 1” WTJ 77.1 (Spring 2015): 71–100


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