Statistical Determination of Genre in Biblical Hebrew: Evidence for an Historical Reading of Genesis 1:1-2:3 | The Institute for Creation Research
 
Statistical Determination of Genre in Biblical Hebrew: Evidence for an Historical Reading of Genesis 1:1-2:3

Download PDFDownload Statistical Determination of Genre in Biblical Hebrew: Evidence for an Historical Reading of Genesis 1:1-2:3 PDF

RATE II: Radioisotopes and the Age of The Earth: Results of a Young-Earth Creationist Research Initiative, (Volume II), L. Vardiman et al., eds. (San Diego, CA: Institute for Creation Research and the Creation Research Society, 2005)

Abstract

It is axiomatic that a Biblical text cannot be properly interpreted unless its genre is known. This is particularly true for poetry vis-à-vis prose. The goal of this study was to determine the genre of Genesis 1:1–2:3 and to explore the hermeneutical implications of this finding. To accomplish this task it was necessary to develop a method to rigorously distinguish Biblical Hebrew poetry from narrative, in general. But the task was formidable, because Biblical authors left us no hermeneutical treatises, labeled their texts inconsistently (and these refer to content rather than form) and did not even have a word for poetry. Moreover, our best manuscripts attest a unique “brick-upon-brick” stichography only for old poetry. Perforce, Hebraists have turned to study the texts themselves to discover an objective and accurate method for distinguishing these genres. Subjective descriptions of each abound, but the nature of these genres is that the characteristics of each blur into the characteristics of the other: major features of one are not absent from the other. An alternative approach therefore was undertaken to address this problem: a statistical analysis of countable linguistic features. Two populations were identified using the descriptive methods well documented in the literature. A stratified random sample from each population was generated and the finite verb distribution for each was determined. Side-by-side scatter plots of the ratio of preterites to total finite verbs for each text in the narrative sample vis-à-vis those in the poetry sample revealed that this ratio varies with genre to the extent that it could have the inferential capacity to classify texts. To determine if this was the case, the null hypothesis H0, that a logistic regression model derived from the relative frequency of preterites observed in the joint-sample classifies texts according to genre no better than chance classification, was tested against the alternative hypothesis H1, that the model classifies texts better. This null hypothesis was rejected with p <.0001. In addition, the model was found to reduce the number of classification errors in the sample by more than 96% when compared to random classification. When extended to the population level, it was found that our logistic regression model based on relative frequency of preterites yields a superb protocol (between 85.5 and 95.5% reduction in the number of classification errors) for categorizing texts as narrative or poetry at a 95% confidence level. The logistic regression model calculates the probability that a text is a narrative. For Genesis 1:1–2:3, this probability is between 0.999942 and 0.999987 at a 99.5% confidence level. Thus, we conclude with statistical certainty that this text is narrative, not poetry. It is therefore statistically indefensible to argue that this text is poetry. The hermeneutical implication of this finding is that this text should be read as other historical narratives, whose authors evinced supererogatory concern with the past and staunchly upheld the historicity of their accounts even to the point of challenging their contemporaries to prove or disprove their documented historical references.

Keywords

biblical interpretation, statistics, Hebrew, RATE II

For Full Text

Please see the Download PDF link above for the entire article.

The Latest
NEWS
Venus May Be Geologically Active
Using computer simulations, a team of researchers has concluded the planet Venus could still be geologically active.1,2 The scientists used...

NEWS
Nose-Horned Lizard: Extinct, or Hiding for 129 Years?
Did Modigliani’s striking lizard—a variety of Agamidae “dragon lizard”—go extinct, or has it just been hiding in Indonesia...

NEWS
Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks Next Week
Both amateur and professional stargazers have an opportunity to see a little more of God’s glory revealed in the heavens1 next week. The...

NEWS
Great American Outdoors Act, Signed into Law by President
In a bipartisan legislative achievement to promote better stewardship of American public lands, U.S. Senators and Representatives finalized their bill...

NEWS
Grandmothers, Eat Fish to Protect Your Brains!
This month the American Academy of Neurology published a medical science study showing that senior women can fight air pollution hazards, including brain...

NEWS
Embarrassment Continues over Evolutionary Blunder about “Junk...
Recent research from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) continues to highlight how evolutionary theory influenced...

NEWS
God’s Plan Is Best: Salmon Need Saltwater Acclimation
Once again, results are better when aquaculture imitates the natural life cycle of Atlantic salmon.1,2 In other words, the closer fish farmers...

NEWS
Inside August 2020 Acts & Facts
Have you heard about ICR’s new President and Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Randy Guliuzza? What can we learn from an old prayer? Is creation evidence...

NEWS
After 30 Years, Red Kites Soar in British Skies
Good news is always welcome. So, it’s good to learn of another conservation comeback. This time it’s the red kite happily soaring in Great...

CREATION PODCAST
Meet Dr. G
Hear the history and heart of ICR’s newly appointed President and Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Randy Guliuzza. He has served as ICR’s National...