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KenGilmore

The Meaning of mîn in the Hebrew Old Testament

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The OT scholar Richard Hess has recently completed a two-part series at BioLogos on the meaning of mîn in the Hebrew Old Testament. Special creationists have often argued that the word mîn (translated 'kind' in the English translations) is a specific biological description referring to a fixed kind, thus precluding large-scale evolutionary change. The evidence for large-scale evolutionary change is needless to say overwhelming, but as Hess shows, the textual support is not what special creationists assert. From the conclusion to part two:

Returning to Genesis 1, we may translate the phrase as elsewhere. Genesis 1:12 emphasizes how the plants bearing seed and the trees bearing fruit are created in all their kinds; that is, all kinds of plants and trees are created. Again, in Genesis 1:21, 24, and 25, God creates the sea creatures, the birds, the wild land animals, the domestic animals, and those animals that move along the ground in all their kinds. He creates all kinds of such animals.

Thus the phrase in which mîn appears in Genesis 1 emphasizes the great variety of kinds of plants and animals. It does not assert that each plant and animal reproduced exactly as what preceded it. It says nothing about that point. Instead, the biblical text emphasizes the diversity of life – plants and animals – with which God filled the sky, the sea, and the dry land he had created. Consistent with the basic message of Genesis 1, the emphasis rests upon God’s creation of life in all its abundance and diversity.5 In this context, the Hebrew term mîn carries a sense of all types of divisions between plants and animals, not necessarily in the taxonomies of modern scientific divisions but certainly in those distinctions that were meaningful to ancient Israel, movement within their domain of sky, sea, and land, and clean and unclean.

Part 1

Part 2

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