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Does the Bible Ever Describe the Earth as Being Round?

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Question:  Sirs:  I have been told there is a reference in the Bible (probably Old Testament) to the earth being round. Can you help me locate the specific Scripture? Thanks & God Bless

Response:  As the Ryrie Study Bible edition of the NASB notes on Isaiah 40:22, the phrase "He [the Lord] sits enthroned above the circle of the earth" ... "allows for the concept that the earth is a sphere". The NASB actually translates the Hebrew word chugh as "vault" rather than circle, but circle is more the idea (cf. Job 22:14; Prov. 8:27 - same word). This quote from Ryrie is, to my thinking, really well put. Commentators and critics are probably right in seeing this "circular vault" above us as phenomenological, that is, the dome-like appearance of the night sky, for example, really does look like an enclosing "circular vault" on a brilliantly clear night (as anyone who has ever seen a cloudless west Texas night sky can testify). In this, the Lord's use of inspired writers of the Bible seems to me to be about as perfect as anyone could imagine. For while speaking of the earth as "flat" would clearly be wrong (even if it agreed with contemporary secular ideas), on the other hand to actually describe the earth as a ball, globe or sphere would probably have strained the credulity of the audience of that time (and unnecessarily so - there was no spiritual advantage to be gained by imparting this particular piece of "scientific" information).

After all, God could also have included in the Bible much information about the natural order of the universe of which we today are still unaware (He made it, after all). Every day science finds out something new (to science), and slightly revises the previous theories. Had God put more scientific info in the Bible, we would no doubt see skeptics continuing to scoff at these revelations - until the very moment when they were at last "proved" correct. This has certainly been the case with archaeological information (details that had to be included in the OT in order to have any historical content): every single point, it seems, of the OT historical record has been, at one time or another, called into question, often on the basis of "scientific methodology" (at least, until the methodology was proved to be flawed and the Bible proved to be correct: see the link on Science and the Bible in SR #5). Therefore this description, most clearly seen in Isaiah 40:22, of the earth as being "domed" with a circular vault, which, if projected completely, would indeed lead to the image of a circular earth, seems to me a brilliant way to handle the situation, imparting off-hand absolutely correct information without giving any undue basis for upsetting the faithful - just what we would expect from the wisdom of our gracious Lord.

You might also have a look at these links:

The Shape of the Universe, Hominids, and the Genesis Gap.

Dinosaurs, the Nephilim, Noah, et al.

Science and the Bible

Hope this is helpful,

Yours in Jesus Christ,

Bob Luginbill


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