Ted Kalvitis - Far Muse

Our Bible study group operates by its members reading an assigned number of chapters at their leisure, then meeting once a week to discuss them using a pre-set format.

It takes a few years to get through the entire Bible this way, but the method is very thorough, touching on many details that would likely be missed otherwise. On Jan. 1, I began my 3rd time through this process; The rest of the group will be using a modern translation of the Scriptures.

Since I’m not the least bit challeged by arhaic English, I’ll be following along in the 1611 King James Version for the 2nd time. (The remaining of the 3 times was with the more modern translation alone.)

Whatever our preference may be, it’s a fact of life that the King James Bible is so pervasive that one can only benefit from a study in this version. Besides as the reader is probably well aware, I like antiques. This applies to literature as well as anything else.

Like many writers, I host a laundry list of neuro-divergencies, mostly undiagnosed. They simply weren’t allowed in the ’5Os. In other words, my thoughts are a little “out there’’ as indicated by the name given to this column.

Consequently, my verbal comments — though usually humorous — tend to be rambling, only marginally relevant and often misunderstood. Therefore, recognizing that my fellow participants’ time is precious, I’ve agreed to refrain from commenting at the study proper.

Instead, I’ll occasionally leave my thoughts and observations here for all parties to consider or ignore as they choose. I promise that the canary whose cage they eventually line won’t care.

We’ve just read the first 2 chapters of Genesis — about 1-3/4 pages into the KJV. The only olde English word not now in common use that I’ve found in these chapters is “firmament.” We all know what that means, don’t we? Well, maybe. I’ve only heard this word actually spoken twice; Once was while I was peddling apples at a livestock sale about 75 miles toward the middle of West Virginia.

A very proper church lady somehow caught sight of a sign or brochure depicting an atom with multiple electrons orbiting its nucleus. “Why, it’s just like the firmament.” she loudly declared. She went on to repeat this several times, apparently quite pleased with herself for having made this scientific discovery.

(The other occasion was Jean Hagen’s character, Lena LaMont in ‘Singin’ in the Rain,’ 1951, reading from a newspaper article.) Notice that the church lady said the firmament. In the western Italian district of Latium, an ancient Roman may have said in the regional dialect which happens to be Latin; “Nice firmamentum, neighbor, ad hoc, et tu spittle lout hydricula clonk,” regarding a newly laid foundation. (I left the later part of the quote untranslated.)

In its original form, it would be possible to have a firmament, a general term for things solid and immovable. Likely through the King James Bible’s influance “the firmament” has come to mean “the vault or arch of the sky” (Oxford, 1923). To look up at the night sky these days may not necessarily inspire thoughts of something solid and immovable.

We have the air traffic from Dulles International, private single engine planes going who-knows-where, several thousand satellites, helicopters coming and going from the hospital and space launches from Wallop’s Island.

It’s a wonder that the occasional UFO even gets noticed; the sky’s a happenin’ place.

However, I can remember (barely) when scheduled passenger flights were so few that farm and orchard workers would use these low-flying propeller planes passing overhead to determine the time of day. The only satellite in orbit was Sputnik. The night sky then was quiet and so very still.

A more recent example; Remember how quiet the skies became just before midnight of Jan. 1, 2000. It was feared that all jetliner computers would reset to 1900 and take modern aviation back to Kitty Hawk.

A brief mass-grounding was ordered as a precaution. Imagine how much more quiet and still the night sky of 1611 must have appeared. And so, from 1611, the firmament remained virtually motionless, solidly fixed, immovable.

Until 1929. That’s when American astronomer Edwin Hubble (1889- 1953) introduced us to the expanding universe. The firmament wasn’t so firm after all.

Hubble and Einstein batted this idea around until an expanding universe became a law of physics that even Scotty from “Star Trek” canna change.

In view of this new discovery, the word “firmament,” when used to describe the night sky, would be inaccurate and misleading. It would stand to reason that this is why it’s no longer used in most modern translations of the Bible.

Was Hubble’s discovery the beginning of the Big Bang Theory? Can the Big Bang Theory be used to refute the Bible’s Creation account? American astronomer Carl Sagan seemed to think so. ‘‘Bill-yuns and bill-yuns of years ago …”  begins Sagan’s famous soliloquy describing the origins of the universe.

It’s interesting to note that atheistic episodes are always staged long enough ago that they couldn’t accidentally be witnessed by the mailman. Meanwhile, Bible prophecy unfolds continuously in our time.

The Big Bang Theory is often recited with such authority and at such a fast pace that any dissent is silenced.

But save it, Sagan. The band Bare Naked Ladies does about as good a job of it as anyone.

By the time you read this, the group will have also read Genesis chapters 3, 4 and 5. There’s not a lot of interesting Olde English in these chapters, just several “thee’s” and “thou’s” — not much material for me to write about.

Here we see planet earth voting to cast its lot with the Devil. Remember that, at the time, Adam represented Congress, the Politboro, Knesset (only if he was Jewish), Parliament and any other facet of earthly human government.

As a perfect son of God, he should have been up to the task. There was no opposition candidate yet, so we know where it went from there.

If not for Adam’s decision to rebel, the Bible would be unnecessary, and we could all go home. Moreover, one should never hope to accomplish much by conversing with a snake. They don’t have ears. 

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