Does The Bible Say That The Earth Is Flat


The Bible is a compilation of religious narratives, histories, and laws which were written by various authors over centuries. It is an ancient text, and one of its more contentious topics is the debate about whether the Bible says that the Earth is flat. For centuries, this particular biblical phrase has been interpreted differently by various theologians and intellectuals, and views on this subject differ wildly. The purpose of this article is to discuss the biblical representation of the shape of the Earth, and to explore what evidence the Bible provides to suggest that the Earth is flat.

Biblical Verses

In the Hebrew Bible, it is suggested that the Earth is level, as opposed to round. This can be seen in Proverbs 8:27 which reads “When he established the heavens, I was there; when he drew a circle on the face of the deep”. The phrase “drew a circle” implies levels, rather than spheres. Similarly, Job 26:7 states “He stretches out the north over empty space; he hangs the earth on nothing”. In this verse, the Earth is referred to as a disc and not a sphere. Finally, Isaiah 40:22 reads “He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth”. This phrase may suggest a flat Earth, as it reinforces the idea of a circle, or flat disc, rather than a sphere.

Recent Interpretations

The literal interpretation of these verses can be debated, and many scientists and theologians have argued against a flat Earth in the Bible. Although some biblical passages may suggest that the Earth is flat, these can be interpreted in the context of wider religious themes. Biblical phrases are often written in an ancient form of poetic language, and the authors may have used a flat metaphor to represent a round Earth.
Other interpretations of biblical verses have held that whilst the Earth is round, Heaven is flat and lies above the Earth, and that the phrases in the Bible are referring to the assumed view of the world in the text’s historical context. For example, in the fourth century, one early church father, Lactantius, argued that although the Earth is round, it sits beneath a sky that is a flat disc, with Heaven above it.

Scientific Theories

The scientific evidence for a round Earth has been accumulating for centuries, with scholars such as Aristotle and Ptolemy recognizing the planet’s sphericity in Ancient Greek times. In more recent centuries, the scientific consensus on a round Earth has been supported by explorers’ accounts and by the need to adjust timekeeping methods when travelling East or West.


The idea of a flat Earth may be especially popular in modern Western culture. Whether this is due to misinterpretations of religious beliefs or the idea’s romanticism may be debatable, however this misconception still abounds in some circles. To this day, there is a Flat Earth Society which argues against the established scientific knowledge that the Earth is round, instead advocating for a flat, disc-shaped view.


In conclusion, the debate over the shape of the Earth in the Bible is ongoing and highly controversial. Although some biblical verses and religious traditions suggest that the Earth is flat, this can be interpreted through a poetic lens or the theological discussions of the time. In contrast, scientific evidence and the experiences of contemporary travelers have long testified to the round shape of the Earth. The legacy of this debate, however, can still be seen in the modern-day Flat Earth Society, which continues to argue for a disc view of the world.

Biblical Language

The Bible does not explicitly state that the Earth is flat or round, but rather uses language that can be interpreted in different ways. The use of poetic language is pervasive in biblical accounts in the Old and New Testaments, and is distinct from literal, scientific language. For example, Psalm 104:2 states “He stretches out the heavens like a tent”. This phrase does not imply a literal tent, rather the imagery evokes the idea of a great expanse and accuracy is not paramount.
The same can be seen in Job 26:7, which speaks of the Earth being on nothing and hangs in the void. Although some have taken this phrase literally and argued that it refers to a flat disc, others have interpreted it to mean that the Earth hangs in space and rotates, as suggested by modern science. Consequently, whilst the language in the Bible may suggest a flat Earth, it can also be interpreted to indicate that the authors ultimately viewed the World as round, or that they did not have an opinion on the matter.

Historical Context

The Earth’s shape in the Bible must also be looked at through the lens of its historical context. At the time that much of the Bible was written, many held a geocentric view of the Universe, with the Earth at the centre and other planets and stars revolving around it. This worldview was challenged by scientists including Copernicus and Galileo, who proposed heliocentrism, a perspective where the Sun is the centre of our universe. This new perspective was particularly revolutionary in its rejection of the idea that the Earth is fixed in place, and suggested that it instead forms part of a solar system.
Many theologians have examined the Biblical phraseology in light of this new understanding. For example, Augustine of Hippo argued in the 4th century that whilst the Bible may suggest a flat Earth, the authors of the Bible were not attempting to assert the literal shape of the World. Instead, the passages might be interpreted as a symbol for the divine purpose of the Earth, which Galilean science had not yet tackled.

Modern Day Viewpoint

Today, the consensus around the shape of the Earth is clear cut. Alongside accepted science such as the principles of astrophysics and evidence from empirical observation, most theologians and pastors now have accepted that the literal interpretation of the Bible’s phraseology is not to be taken seriously. This includes the Anglican Church which, in the 19th century, issued its Lambeth Quadrilateral, which states that Scripture is the baseline of the Anglican Church’s doctrine, but that scientific evidence must still be taken into account.
The overwhelming view thus promotes a scientific take on Earth’s shape, and allows the Bible to be studied within a literary and theological context. An exception may be the small group of Flat Earthers, present amongst fundamentalist believers and conspiracy theorists, who continue to argue for the literal interpretation.

Religious Doctrine

The doctrinal implications of a flat Earth in the Bible differ from denomination to denomination. The general understanding of this debate amongst the major faiths is that the Earth is round and that the Bible uses a poetic depiction of the World, rather than a literal interpretation. Consequently, religious doctrine does not usually centre itself around the Earth’s shape, although some churches may view heliocentrism as roughly consistent with traditional teachings.
Other religious beliefs, such as those in Buddhism and Hinduism, may be less interested in the literal interpretation of the bible, and instead adopt the copernican principle to explain the Earth’s sphericity in their writings.

Religious Implications

The idea of a flat or round Earth may influence religious belief, depending on the faith and its interpretation of scripture. For example, if the Bible is taken as literal wisdom, a belief in a flat Earth could be seen as incompatible with modern-day heliocentrism. Consequently, many religious teachers have adopted a more flexible approach and instead interpret the scriptural phraseology in a poetic, metaphorical sense in order to reconcile modern science with the verses.
In contrast, some fringe religious beliefs, such as those of the Flat Earth Society, may reject modern scientific evidence and instead pursue conspiracy theories which continue to maintain the biblical interpretation that the Earth is flat. These theories may draw from scripture to suggest that the world is a plane enclosed by a firmament and held together by a system of pillars.

Religious Symbolism

Whilst some may consider the debate surrounding the shape of the Earth as a secondary issue, it is still highly relevant to religious and theological study. For example, the flat Earth citation in the Bible may represent metaphorically the concept of a level playing field and divine fairness, in which the principle of equity is imposed on the world. This can be supported by the writing in Isaiah 40:22, which positions God as sitting above the “circle of the Earth”.
The phrase “level seas” used in Job 26:10 may also provide insight into what the biblical authors intended to convey. This phrase is commonly interpreted to mean a sea that requires no navigational readjustment or replacement of cargo, thereby evoking the idea of an even landscape. Taken in this context, these phrases do not point to a literal representation of the World, rather they symbolise a divine outlook from above in which justice is delivered.

Influence of Poetry

Like much of the Bible, the shape of the Earth debate draws much of its force from the poetic language used in the scriptures. Poetry was a powerful tool for expressing theological concepts in the Ancient World, and the writers of the Bible often employed verse-like imagery to convey ideas about the world.
The phrase “he hangs the Earth on nothing” is one example of this poetic language in action, as it is not supposed to be taken literally, rather provides an image of the Earth suspended in darkness. As such, the phrase has been interpreted to mean that the World is free-floating, a concept which was not fully comprehended until Galileo wrote of heliocentrism in 1610.


In conclusion, the debate about the shape of the Earth in the Bible continues to be a strongly contested subject. Whilst some passages may suggest a flat disc, others hint at a more spherical shape. Moreover, the use of poetic language and the historical context in which the Bible was written must be considered, as this is likely to influence what the writers were attempting to communicate in the scriptures. Today, it is generally accepted that the Bible’s phraseology may be metaphorical in parts, and that scientific evidence should be taken into account when considering the debate.

Marcos Reyna is a Christian author and speaker. He is dedicated to helping create disciples of Christ through spreading the power of the gospel to others. He has written several books and articles on a variety of theological topics, including matters of faith, worship, biblical studies, practical ethics, and social justice. A trained theologian and devotee of spiritual writing, Marcos has a mission to spread Christian love everywhere. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN where he spends his days encouraging others to seek Christ's grace in all things.

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