Stupid question? To anyone thinking clearly it is. There are, naturally, exceptions. It’s just unfortunate that you can find them in Christian ministries.
Readers may recall that I have posted several items about the grammar and syntax of Genesis 1:1-3. One such post discussed the problem of the clauses in those first three verses – how the grammar and syntax really don’t allow for a linear, chronological reading and why that’s important for translation and interpretation. That post introduced my readers to the work of Rob Holmstedt, an established Hebrew grammarian who happens to be a friend, as we went to graduate school together at the UW-Madison. Alas, Answers in Genesis doesn’t like our take on Genesis 1:1-3 (they discovered it through Ben Stanhope’s post). It seems all that Hebrew talk about the Hebrew Scriptures muddles the clarity of their view of those verses – the one that keeps their ministry ship afloat. Bummer.
Rob Holmstedt (together with another friend and grad school colleague, John Cook) blogs online about – you guessed it – Hebrew grammar. Rob recently had this to say about the Answers in Genesis invective against him. While I get shot at in their post as well, it’s mostly directed at Rob. He’s an easy target. As a professor at the University of Toronto, they can readily portray to their loyalists as a secularist Hebrew professor who writes un-Christian stuff about Genesis. Rob’s a Christian (Wheaton grad before our days at the UW-Madison).
Frankly, what Rob’s faith happens to be is a non-issue here. You either take the text for what it says within the constructs of the rules of language or you don’t. Hebrew grammar really does matter for understanding the Hebrew Bible. Kind of like English grammar matters for understanding stuff written in English. You’d think that would be self-evident. Answers in Genesis shows us that, sadly, it isn’t.