This illustration depicts the commonly held worldview in the Ancient Near East. I first saw it, or something like it, in Peter Enns’ great book Inspiration and Incarnation. This one I took from a fascinating post about Dennis Lameroux’s new book Evolutionary Creation. (Read it HERE).
I am convinced that in order to best appreciate the Bible, the worldview of its human authors must be kept in mind. We ought not impose our own 21st Century worldviews onto the text, trying to make it conform to them. Almost certainly, when the authors of the Bible wrote about the foundations of the earth, or the firmament of the heavens, for example, they weren’t trying to be poetic. They weren’t inventing some metaphorical way to describe geography and cosmology as we now know it. They used those words because they really did believe that the earth sat upon foundations, and that there was a firmament above the earth through which the sun and planets moved. Their use of language was a product of their worldview, just as our language is of ours.
Understanding the fact that perspective and worldview affects the language used to describe reality will eliminate a lot of the discomfort that comes from trying to make an ancient description of reality conform to a modern understanding of it. Unless filtered through the lens of perspective, it won’t make any sense.
Keeping worldview in mind will also help avoid silly exercises in trying to conform contemporary scientific knowledge to the language of ancient myths, and vice versa. And this will in turn assist in discerning the timeless truths of Scripture.