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Author Topic:   The Great Debate
Mr. Ex Nihilo
Member (Idle past 5055 days)
Posts: 708
Joined: 04-12-2005


Message 1 of 102 (222891)
07-09-2005 10:17 PM


The scope: the nature of evil and its ultimate origin according to the Scriptures -- and how God employs evil to bring about good.

This is based on the discussions held here...

www.evcforum.net/cgi-bin/dm.cgi?action=msg&f=25&t=995&m=1 -->www.evcforum.net/cgi-bin/dm.cgi?action=msg&f=25&t=995&m=1">http://www.evcforum.net/cgi-bin/dm.cgi?action=msg&f=25&t=995&m=1

and here...

www.evcforum.net/cgi-bin/dm.cgi?action=msg&f=14&t=887&m=1 -->www.evcforum.net/cgi-bin/dm.cgi?action=msg&f=14&t=887&m=1">http://www.evcforum.net/cgi-bin/dm.cgi?action=msg&f=14&t=887&m=1

If there is any further clafirication necessary, let me know in the Coffee House thread again linked here...

www.evcforum.net/cgi-bin/dm.cgi?action=msg&f=14&t=887&m=1 -->www.evcforum.net/cgi-bin/dm.cgi?action=msg&f=14&t=887&m=1">http://www.evcforum.net/cgi-bin/dm.cgi?action=msg&f=14&t=887&m=1

I pray that the Spirit guide us in this discussion -- and that the Lord allow both of us to be illuminated if either one of us are in error regarding these positions we individually hold.

Edit: 1 corrected spelling of "Coffee" in Coffee House above, 2 corrected spelling of "discussion" and "be" in the prayer above, 3 corrected spelling of "Debate" in Title.

This message has been edited by Mr. Ex Nihilo, 07-09-2005 10:18 PM

This message has been edited by Mr. Ex Nihilo, 07-09-2005 10:48 PM

This message has been edited by Mr. Ex Nihilo, 07-10-2005 10:20 AM


Replies to this message:
 Message 3 by arachnophilia, posted 07-10-2005 3:06 AM Mr. Ex Nihilo has responded

Mr. Ex Nihilo
Member (Idle past 5055 days)
Posts: 708
Joined: 04-12-2005


Message 4 of 102 (222968)
07-10-2005 2:52 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by arachnophilia
07-10-2005 3:06 AM


arachnophilia writes:

(pst, you might wanna correct the typo in the topic title too. or perhaps find a better name altogether)

Thank you. It's been corrected.

arachnophilia writes:

ok, i'll start. with something we've seen in the previous discussion.

Isaiah 45:7 KJV writes:


I form the light, and create darkness:
I make peace, and create evil:
I the LORD do all these things.

arachnophilia writes:

what other way do you propose we read this, that plainly says the lord created evil?

Well, let's take a look at the NIV for an example of how others have interpretted it.

Isaiah 45:7 NIV writes:


I form the light and create darkness,
I bring prosperity and create disaster;
I, the LORD, do all these things.

In the phrase, "I form the light...", the word form comes from the Hebrew yasar*. This has been used to mean to "form", "devise", "produce", and "create". It has also been employed in the Scriptures to mean more specifically "to be formed" or "to be fashioned". Yet in other areas it simply seem to imply "to exist".

In the phrase, "...and create darkness.", the word create comes from the Hebrew word bara*. This likewise has been used to mean to "create", "bring about" or simply "do". However, unlike the word "yasar" above, "bara" is employed within the sense of being akin "to cut", "cut down", "engrave", or "carve". In other words, unlike the "yasar" above, the word "bara" seems to be employed in contrast to being cut apart or even divided from something else.

If we look back to the very beginning in Genesis 1:3-4 we read...

Genesis 1:3-4 NIV writes:


And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness.

Similar to how the Hebrew word "bara" seems to be employed, we also see that the Hebrew word for "separated" is badal*. This literally means to "separate", "divide", or "to distinguish between diverse things". It can also be used in the sense of being "selected out of a group", "excluding oneself", "to discern", or even "to make a difference".

In short, based on the Isaiah passage you have quoted, and the Genesis passage I have quoted, we are apparently seeing a picture of God creating (bara) darkness by separating it (badal) from the light he first formed (yasar). More specifically, one could say that God has brought forth darkness by contrasting it against the light.

I would like to discuss the first chapter of Genesis in more detail latter. But let me get back to the remainder your quotation of Isaiah 45:7.

In the KJV we read...

KJV writes:

I make peace, and create evil:

In the NIV we read...

NIV writes:

I bring prosperity and create disaster;

In the KJV we read peace whereas the NIV says prosperity. In the KJV we read evil whereas the NIV says disaster.

The Hebrew word employed for peace/prosperity in the Isaiah passage is salom* (derived from "salem" which means "to repay" or to "make resitution" in other areas of the Scripture). Salom means something to the effect of "to be safe" or to "be complete". It has also bee used in the Scriptrues to imply "health", "security", and "tranquility". In addition to this, it has also been used to imply "success", "comfort", and "peace" (as in the opposite of war -- or even "accepting terms of peace", "making peace with someone" or even "salvation" or "salutation" (in departing).

The Hebrew word employed for evil/disaster in the Isaiah passage is ra*, which is akin "to do evil" or to "be wicked". In its most basic sense, it means something akin to "bad", being of "interior quality", or even "evil". In other areas it means something akin being "severe", "injurious", "harmful" or even "unpleasant" (as in giving pain or causing unhappiness). It is also employed in the sense of something being "fierce", "wild", "calamity", or "that which is deadly".

It seems to me that the meaning of the word "ra" is very much dependent on how it is being employed within the Scriptures themselves -- and it doesn't always imply "evil" in the sense of someone maliciously and willfully determined to cause or inflict harm on another. More specifically, since the word "ra" is being used in context with the word "bara", it seems more appropriate to conclude that the evil that is being "brought about" is more the result of the effects of one's action cutting themselves off from God's will -- this seems even more so considering that "bara" is employed within the sense of being akin "to cut", "cut down", "engrave", or "carve".

In other words, like I said above, unlike the "yasar" used to describe God bringing forth light, the word "bara" seems to be employed in contrast to being cut apart or even divided from something else. Even the darkness in Genesis is "caused" by being "separated" or "divided" from the light which God originally formed.

*rough English pronunciation -- unfortunatrly I don't know how to make the appropriate accent marks. Any advice on how to do this would be appreciated.

Special: Please note in stating these things, I am by no means in any way claiming to have rebutted any of your points. I am simply presenting my side of the debate with as much clarity (solely from the Scriptures as possible) so as to resolve the starting point of our debate. There are actually several key points which, in my opinion, will clarify my points more clearly as the discussion proceeds.

In other words, this post is simply stating the inital premises of my side of the discourse. I fully expect much more material to be presented from both sides of the debate before any formal conclusions can be clearly made in regards to any moderated decisions made by those who might judge how well we have presented our cases..

Edit: 1 bolded the words "evil" and "disaster" in the Isaiah text quoted in both the KJV and the NIV, 2 italicized "evil" and "disaster" in explanation given, changed "be" to "me", bolded "darkness" in explanation given in contrast to "light". 3 made special note that this was only the inital starting point of the discussion -- and that much more material is expected before any formal conclusions can be made regarding the skill within which either one of us have presented our points of view.

This message has been edited by Mr. Ex Nihilo, 07-10-2005 02:57 PM

This message has been edited by Mr. Ex Nihilo, 07-10-2005 06:15 PM

This message has been edited by Mr. Ex Nihilo, 07-10-2005 06:28 PM


This message is a reply to:
 Message 3 by arachnophilia, posted 07-10-2005 3:06 AM arachnophilia has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 5 by arachnophilia, posted 07-10-2005 6:53 PM Mr. Ex Nihilo has responded
 Message 70 by love4oneanother, posted 10-30-2005 12:58 AM Mr. Ex Nihilo has not yet responded

Mr. Ex Nihilo
Member (Idle past 5055 days)
Posts: 708
Joined: 04-12-2005


Message 6 of 102 (223049)
07-10-2005 11:49 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by arachnophilia
07-10-2005 6:53 PM


Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

In the phrase, "...and create darkness.", the word create comes from the Hebrew word bara*. This likewise has been used to mean to "create", "bring about" or simply "do". However, unlike the word "yasar" above, "bara" is employed within the sense of being akin "to cut", "cut down", "engrave", or "carve". In other words, unlike the "yasar" above, the word "bara" seems to be employed in contrast to being cut apart or even divided from something else.

arachnophilia writes:

bara is also the word used to describe the creation of man. it's used five times in genesis 1, and twice in genesis 2.

Yes. And all of them can be seen within the context of God creating by dividing its aspects from a former state of existence -- even in contrast to a state of non-existence.

Gen 1:1 writes:


In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

Here we see God apparently making everything out of nothing. This is to say, the creation of the heaven and the earth are actually contrasted against a state of non-existence.

Gen 1:21 writes:

And God created great [serpents], and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

Yes. And how exactly did God create life on earth?

If you are a creationist, then you probably believe that God in some way created life out of the dust of the earth -- which seems to be leaning in a more traditional understanding of God's creative process in the Scriptures. If you are a theistic evolutionist, then you probably believe that God first created life out of non-life -- and then proceeded to create life from previous forms of life. Either way you look at it, God is creating in contrast to a previous state of existence.

Gen 1:27 writes:

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

Again, here we see God creating man in contrast to God's very own image.

Gen 2:3 writes:

And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

Yes. And God actually "divides" the seventh day from the previous six. In other words, it is literally "set apart" from the other days in order to contrast this day from the previous six days of creation.

Gen 2:4 writes:

These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,

Well...we discussed this passage before -- that it should actually be divided into two different sentences...

NIV writes:

This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created.

When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens -- and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground, but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground -- the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

Since this passage seems to be shifting from the previous chapter, it seems as if a difference context should be read here -- especially since parts of these passages do not seem to easily mesh into the very first chapter of Genesis. However, even so, based on the previous passage which also referenced God's creative act, we still see that the former contrast is still apparent -- that, whether you are a creationist or a theistic evolutionist, God has still created in contrast to a previous state of existence.

NIV writes:

some of these make sense when you substitute divided.

Actually, they all seem to make sense when you see that the division is potentially referencing the creative act in contrast to a previous state of existence -- every one of them I might note. But there's potentially more to it than that. It may be more appropriate to say that all these verses seem to clearly indicate a new creative act which stands in stark contrast to the original state in which the object was created.

arachnophilia writes:

but some do not.

Well, I've explained how they do make sense above. However, I'll go through your points below and comment appropriately as I feel the Spirit leads me.

arachnophilia writes:

for instance, you could say the bit about dividing the serpents is a reference to that lothan mythology. but the rest of the verse is about the origins of life.

Well, as I said above, if you are a creationist, then you probably believe that God in some way created life out of the dust of the earth -- which seems to be leaning in a more traditional understanding of God's creative process in the Scriptures. If you are a theistic evolutionist, then you probably believe that God first created life out of non-life -- and then proceeded to create life from previous forms of life. Either way you look at it, God is creating in contrast to a previous state of existence.

To further illustrate this, it is interesting to notice that from Genesis 1:1 where God created the heavens and the earth; the word "created" (bara) does not appear again until the fifth day in verse 20. I've already mentioned usages of the Hebrew word "bara" above. The Hebrew word for made for "made", however, is Hebrew word "asah" -- which means to "to form" or "assemble". Some have noted that it seems to refer to the act of "arranging from its previous state of usefulness to that form of beautification, so as to be used by God for His purpose." Everything from verse 2 to verse 19 seems to have to do with assembling the earth from pre-existing material -- whereas "bara" seems to imply a rather dramatic change from a previous state of existence.

arachnophilia writes:

and you could say that "created" is in contrast to "made" in 2:3. but you'd probably be wrong here too: typical hebrew structure relies on repitition and similarity, not contrasts.

Actually, Hebrew poetry can employ both similarity and contrasts -- and the Hebrew Scriptures do employ both these literary devices quite liberally.

"Parallelism" is a technical term for the form of Hebrew poetry that repeats a thought in slightly different ways. For example, "synonymous parallelism" is found in Proverbs 15:30, "A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones." On the other hand, and example of "antithetical parallelism", in which a thought is followed by its opposite, can be found in Proverbs 14:30, "A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones." In studying Hebrew parallelism the key seems to be to compare each part with its pair in the other half of the sentence. For instance, in Proverbs 14:30 "a heart at peace" pairs with its opposite, "envy", and "rots the bones" is the opposite of "gives life to the body."

Sometimes these comparisons bare subtle shades of meaning. It becomes more difficult, however, when opposite ideas are expressed in different sentences -- or even different books of the Scriptures. However, as I've noted above, all the above examples of God creating (bara) can be seen within the context of being contrasted with a previous state of existence.

arachnophilia writes:

the accepted translation of bara' is "to create." the sense of the word is actually sculptural. it describes a physical fashioning or shaping of an object. i think you find this word rendered "create" in every translation.

First of all, this raises an interesting question: why did God not use the same word "bara" for both his creating of the light and the darkness in the Isaiah passage in question?

Isaiah 45:7 KJV writes:


I form (yasar) the light, and create (bara) darkness:
I make peace, and create evil:
I the LORD do all these things.

It seems to me that this is an example of subtle antithetical parallelism, with yasar being contrasted to bara in reference to the light and darkness.

Second of all, even if the word is translated "create" in every single translation of the Scriptures, the meaning of the word create (bara) can still nonetheless have very different subjects which it focusses on -- it depends on the context it is used.

Here, let's go through some examples:

Psalm 51:10 NIV writes:


Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

or here...

Isaiah 4:5 NIV writes:


Then the LORD will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over all the glory will be a canopy.

or here...

Isaiah 41:9-10 NIV writes:


I will put in the desert
the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive.
I will set pines in the wasteland,
the fir and the cypress together,

so that people may see and know,
may consider and understand,
that the hand of the LORD has done this,
that the Holy One of Israel has created it.

or here...

Isaiah 48:6-7 NIV writes:


You have heard these things; look at them all.
Will you not admit them?
"From now on I will tell you of new things,
of hidden things unknown to you.

They are created now, and not long ago;
you have not heard of them before today.
So you cannot say,
'Yes, I knew of them.'

I could go on with this. However, I think these quotes (when added to the quotes you've noted where "bara" is used above) demonstrates a clear pattern. In all these cases the thing that is created is used in contrast to the previous state that it was created in.

In the case of Psalm 51:10 the new thing "created" is a pure heart, which is in contrast to the sinful heart barren of God.

In the case of Isaiah 4:5 the new thing "created" is an extremely visible presence of God, which is in contrast to the lack of God's presence that previously existed before the people gathered together to worship him.

In the case of Isaiah 49:9-10 God says he will "create" these trees in the dessert so that people will know that God put them there, which is again contrasted against the barren desert that previously existed.

In the case of Isaiah 48:6-7 we see God specifically stating that he will create new knowledge which was heretofore unknown to the people, which is again contrasted against the lack of knowledge that previously prevailed.

In summary, all these verses seem to clearly indicate a new creative act which stands in stark contrast to the original state in which the object was created. Rather than refashioning an object after its original creation, it seems more appropriate to me to conclude that God is creating something which is in sharp contrast to its previous state of existence.

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

Similar to how the Hebrew word "bara" seems to be employed, we also see that the Hebrew word for "separated" is badal*. This literally means to "separate", "divide", or "to distinguish between diverse things". It can also be used in the sense of being "selected out of a group", "excluding oneself", "to discern", or even "to make a difference".

In short, based on the Isaiah passage you have quoted, and the Genesis passage I have quoted, we are apparently seeing a picture of God creating (bara) darkness by separating it (badal) from the light he first formed (yasar). More specifically, one could say that God has brought forth darkness by contrasting it against the light.

arachnophilia writes:

that's all well and dandy, but that's not what isaiah says, is it? it says god creates darkness.

present tense.

one part of the line is reflecting the other. each part has to have the same meaning with the opposite object. the passage is reflecting on god's nature and range.

Yes. That's exactly what I've said above. If one part of the line is reflecting the other, then we are seeing a contrast between two states of being -- which is expressed within the gamut of what God controls.

I'll repeat this part for you to consider.

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:


Actually, Hebrew poetry can employ both similarity and contrasts -- and the Hebrew Scriptures do employ both these literary devices quite liberally.

"Parallelism" is a technical term for the form of Hebrew poetry that repeats a thought in slightly different ways. For example, "synonymous parallelism" is found in Proverbs 15:30, "A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones." On the other hand, and example of "antithetical parallelism", in which a thought is followed by its opposite, can be found in Proverbs 14:30, "A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones." In studying Hebrew parallelism the key seems to be to compare each part with its pair in the other half of the sentence. For instance, in Proverbs 14:30 "a heart at peace" pairs with its opposite, "envy", and "rots the bones" is the opposite of "gives life to the body."

Sometimes these comparisons bare subtle shades of meaning. It becomes more difficult, however, when opposite ideas are expressed in different sentences -- or even different books of the Scriptures. However, as I've noted above, all the above examples of God creating (bara) can be seen within the context of being contrasted with a previous state of existence.

Now having said this I will note that above you said above...

arachnophilia writes:

and you could say that "created" is in contrast to "made" in 2:3. but you'd probably be wrong here too: typical hebrew structure relies on repitition and similarity, not contrasts.

But now you're saying...

arachnophilia writes:

one part of the line is reflecting the other. each part has to have the same meaning with the opposite object. the passage is reflecting on god's nature and range.

It seems to me that these two statements at are least partially contradictory.

Could you explain this further because I'm not exactly sure which stance are you taking.

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

The Hebrew word employed for evil/disaster in the Isaiah passage is ra*, which is akin "to do evil" or to "be wicked". In its most basic sense, it means something akin to "bad", being of "interior quality", or even "evil". In other areas it means something akin being "severe", "injurious", "harmful" or even
"unpleasant" (as in giving pain or causing unhappiness). It is also employed in the sense of something being "fierce", "wild", "calamity", or "that which is deadly". It seems to me that the meaning of the word "ra" is very much dependent on how it is being employed within the Scriptures themselves -- and it doesn't always imply "evil" in the sense of someone maliciously and willfully determined to cause or inflict harm on another.

arachnophilia writes:

no, but it is the same word in tree of knowledge of good and evil, isn't it? it's also used to desribe why god has to flood the planet in genesis 6. it's used to describe sodom. what else is it used for? well, general badness. things that the hebrews thought were wrong. wars. wild animals. anything that general badly affects innocent people.

so if i'm walking down the road today and get hit by a car for no apparent reason, that could be called evil in ancient hebrew philosophy. if i get cancer, that could be called evil. what i'm saying is that we use the word differently. we use to me some quantifiable break of morality, or maybe even something spiritually influenced. that's not how they're using the word at all.

Yes, in other words, bad things happen -- and the Israelites often attributed "bad things" toward the quality of being evil. Actually, many people still think this way today. However, in the Hebrew mind anyway, all things were basically attributable to God -- or at least his sovereign control of the universe.

But does this mean that they believed that God was forcing people to do evil?

I know that you've presented passages that some translate as God appearing to do evil. However, some passages of Scripture seem to indicate that God was incapable of doing so -- and that other things were going on.

For example, Habakuk 1:13 seems to indicate that God cannot tolerate evil -- that his eyes are too pure to look upon evil

Habakuk 1:13 NIV writes:


Your eyes are too pure to look on evil;
you cannot tolerate wrong.
Why then do you tolerate the treacherous?
Why are you silent while the wicked
swallow up those more righteous than themselves?

Job 34:10-12 seems to indicate a similar theme as follows:

Psalm 34:10-12 NIV writes:


"So listen to me, you men of understanding.
Far be it from God to do evil,
from the Almighty to do wrong.

He repays a man for what he has done;
he brings upon him what his conduct deserves.

It is unthinkable that God would do wrong,
that the Almighty would pervert justice.

It is interesting to note that Elihu did not defend Job as being innocent. However, his arguments certainly shifted the focus of suffering from one of punishment to one of warning. He even suggested that God allows a man to suffer in order "to turn back his soul from the pit". Evidently Elihu had sat in silence throughout the discussion -- in deference to the other speakers' age he explains. However, this fact alone seems to indicate that he had a calmer nature -- he seems to have refused to jump into every heated argument.

Nonetheless, if these above passages of Scripture are accurate, then it forces me to consider that something else is being said -- something that is not expressly explained outright or immediately apparent in the Hebrew Scriptures but that one needs spiritual discernment to see.

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

More specifically, since the word "ra" is being used in context with the word "bara", it seems more appropriate to conclude that the evil that is being "brought about" is more the result of the effects of one's action cutting themselves off from God's will -- this seems even more so considering that "bara" is
employed within the sense of being akin "to cut", "cut down", "engrave", or "carve".

arachnophilia writes:

no, not acceptable.

Well, I'll leave that up to the moderators who might judge the validity of each of our cases.

Let's try to stay on topic, shall we?

arachnophilia writes:

ever seen my debates with eddy pengelly?

What does this have to do with the following?

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:


The scope: the nature of evil and its ultimate origin according to the Scriptures -- and how God employs evil to bring about good.

arachnophilia writes:

look them up, they were fun. he would take his concordance out, and completely redefine the meaning of biblical passages in this manner to mean something far from the original intent. in his case, it was about moses's cd-rom collection.

since i couldn't convince him this was a logically unsound practice, i started replying to him by "translating" some verses myself. of course, they call out about how he was wrong, and i should cut off his head. since that didn't work, i pulled out a thesaurus, and started translating his own messages back at him. it was generally pretty funny, but it'll illustrate my point.

This is off topic arachnophilia.

To any moderators who may be reading this, is this considered valid debating material?

I'd like to keep this thread very focussed if possible.

arachnophilia writes:

by changing the meaning of words for their root words or other usages, we can make the bible mean just about anything we want to.

Such as saying that God is both good and evil?

You seem to be jumping the gun here a bit. Let's just continue with the debate to see where the Spirit leads us.

arachnophilia writes:

in this case, bara is not used as "divide." in fact, i don't think it's EVER used as "divide." it means "to create" "to shape" or "to fashion." there is nothing in there about evil coming about because man divides himself from god. it says "I (the Lord) create evil."

I've explained how it is very much used above to contrast God's creation with the created thing's previous state of existence.

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

In other words, like I said above, unlike the "yasar" used to describe God bringing forth light, the word "bara" seems to be employed in contrast to being cut
apart or even divided from something else.

arachnophilia writes:

double negative aren't contrasts. this verse is contrasting something -- light and dark. what divides darkness? light. if we change the verb to mean the opposite of what it means, the verse just becomes blind repitition. god creates light, and god creates light.

I've explained this in detail above using the concept of Hebrew parallelism.

arachnophilia writes:

now, i know you're attacking this from the standpoint that god can do only good. but that's fundamentally not the point of this verse. in any translation you read it in, it's about god doing two very opposite things, not the same thing twice. you have to do some pretty interesting mental gymnastics to get this
to mean that god doesn't use what would have been evil to ancient hebrews.

Actually, this is the conclusion that I arrived at after reading the Scriptures. In other words, based on my understanding of the Scriptures (especially the Christian Scriptures) I've concluded that God is wholly good.

For example, 1 John 1:5 says:

NIV writes:

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.

However, for the sake of this discussion, I'm trying to limit the scope of the inquiry to the Hebrew Scriptures alone.

Is that alright?

You seem to be getting a bit presumptuous in this debate arachnophilia -- even to the point of invoking some kind of personal conclusions about my reading of the Scriptures. I would advise you to stick to the main focus of this thread, which has been clearly defined as follows:

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:


The scope: the nature of evil and its ultimate origin according to the Scriptures -- and how God employs evil to bring about good.

Edit: 1 corrected typographical error.

This message has been edited by Mr. Ex Nihilo, 07-11-2005 12:02 AM


This message is a reply to:
 Message 5 by arachnophilia, posted 07-10-2005 6:53 PM arachnophilia has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 7 by arachnophilia, posted 07-11-2005 2:42 AM Mr. Ex Nihilo has responded

Mr. Ex Nihilo
Member (Idle past 5055 days)
Posts: 708
Joined: 04-12-2005


Message 8 of 102 (223293)
07-12-2005 1:17 AM
Reply to: Message 7 by arachnophilia
07-11-2005 2:42 AM


Before I proceed further I would like to note that so far your side of the debate appears to be more of a lecture.

When I point out my point of view, I usually try to use terms such as "I think...", or "It seems to me...", or "It appears as if..." Since it is a debate, I try really hard to avoid absolute statements in order to be open to the other person's point of view. I realize that I don't always succeed at avoiding this, but i do make an effort to do so.

However, when you point out your own point of view, you seem to be very much speaking in absolutes, such as statemetns like "No", or "Absolutely not," or "You'd probably be wrong", or similar things such as "I want to make this very clear", etc.

When one engages in a formal debate (which is what I've invited you to partake in), the participants are genrally not permitted to declare with absolute authority that the other sides idea is wrong. They are only allowed to present the data which attempts to rebut their opponent's view -- and the moderators (or others who read the thread) make the decision as to who has won the debate or not. So far, it appears to me anyway, you are actually messing this part up quite miserably -- but I'll leave this for others to decide.

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

Here we see God apparently making everything out of nothing. This is to say, the creation of the heaven and the earth are actually contrasted against a state of non-existence.

arachnophilia writes:

sorry, but that's just bull.

Getting a little touchy there arachnophilia?

Comments like this do not win debates.

arachnophilia writes:

somewhat against your username, genesis never describes creation ex nihilo.

In your opinion maybe -- just as in my opinion Genesis does describe a creation ex nihilo. Obviously the doctrine of creation ex nihilo is a sticking point which has caused much debate in itself.

Bickmore actually writes of the "seemingly contradictory language" found in Jewish intertestamental literature and in the New Testament, some of which points towards creation from preexistent matter, some of which point towards ex nihilo creation. He concludes, in attempting to reconcile such passages, that, "To these ancient writers 'existence' meant organized existence, and 'non-existence' meant chaos."

Having said this, clearly there is much still left to be debated. Somewhat against your opinion, however, there are many who have concluded that the initial chapters of Genesis do describe a creation ex nihilo -- and it's not only Christians that have concluded this.

For example, while the Jewish theologian, Philo of Alexandria, makes statements that at times reflect the belief that God's creating was actually a shaping of pre-existing matter:

Philo of Alexandria writes:

Just as nothing comes into being out of that which has no existence, so nothing is destroyed into that which has no existence.

But even in the Philonic view of creation, some ambiguity exists since at times Philo expresses himself along the lines of creatio ex nihilo. For instance, he writes that...

Philo of Alexandria writes:

God, the begetter of all things, not only brought them into sight, but even made things which previously had no existence, being not merely an artificer but the Creator Himself."

Consequently, a similar thought is expressed in the The Wisdom of Solomon 11:17a, where it says that creation is "out of formless matter [ex amorphou hyles]" A date in the first century B.C. seems most likely for the authorship of this book, though any time from the second century B.C. to the first century A.D. is possible.

The King James version of the Wisdom of Solomon expresses it as "For thy Almighty hand, that made the world of matter without form..." whereas the Revised Standard Version of the Wisdom of Solomon expresses it as "For thy all-powerful hand, which created the world out of formless matter.."

It must be remembered that Jewish thought was preoccupied with the God of the cosmos rather than with the cosmos itself, with the creatio rather than the ex nihilo. The Hebrew Scriptures seems to have viewed natural phenomena primarily as pointers to God, who created them and whose glory was revealed through them.

Nothwithstanding this observation, we still nonetheless see Jewish writers expressing these thoughts as they began to delve more deeply into the nature of what may have existed before the creation event.

For example, deutero-canonical Catholic book (the intertestamental book) of 2 Maccabees clearly states the traditional doctrine of creatio ex nihilo. Here we see a mother pleads with her son willingly to accept torture rather than recant his beliefs:

II Maccabees writes:

I beg you, child, look at the sky and the earth; see all that is in them and realize that God made them out of nothing.

We find another reference to creation out of nothing in the Dead Sea Scrolls:

1QS 3:15 writes:

From the God of Knowledge comes all that is and shall be. Before ever they existed He established their whole design, and when, as ordained for them, they come into being, it is in accord with His glorious design that they accomplish their task without change.

The noted first-century rabbi, Gamaliel, seems to have reflected this concept of creation in his thinking. Apparently a philosopher challenged him, "Your God was indeed a great artist, but he had good materials [unformed space/void, darkness, water, wind, and the deep] to help him." Gamaliel, responded, "All of them are explicitly described as having been created by him [and not as preexistent]."

Similarly the Jewish pseudepigraphical book Joseph and Aseneth, whose date of composition is estimated to be between the second century BC and the second century AD, contains a passage which also seems to imply creatio ex nihilo. Aseneth, having thrown her idols out of the window and put on sackcloth for a week, addresses the God of Joseph:

Joseph and Asentath writes:

Lord God of the ages,
who created all (things) and gave life (to them),
who gave breath of life to your whole creation,
who brought the invisible (things) out into the light,
who made the (things that) are and the (ones that) have an
appearance from the non-appearing and non-being,
who lifted up the heaven
and founded it on a firmament upon the back of the winds ...
For you, Lord, spoke and they were brought to life,
because your word, Lord, is life for all your creatures. (12:1–3)

In addition, the notion of creatio ex nihilo appears to be reinforced when Scripture declares the eternality and self-sufficiency of God in contrast to the finite created order:

Psalm 102:25-27 writes:


In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.

They will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
Like clothing you will change them
and they will be discarded.

The God "who called forth creation out of nothing has power also to reduce it to nothing again." Likewise, implicit throughout Isaiah 40–48 is the supreme sovereignty and utter uniqueness of God in creation, besides whom there was no other god - or anything else - when he created:

Isaiah writes:

"I am the first and the last"

or here...

Isaiah writes:

"I, the LORD, am the maker of all things"

or here...

Isaiah writes:

"I am the LORD, and there is none else"

Moreover, the Scriptures declare that God's word alone is what brings the universe about -- not simply God's word acting upon previously existing matter. Psalm 33 declares that it was by "the word of the Lord" and "the breath of his mouth" that "the heavens were made":

Psalm 33:6 writes:


By the word of the LORD were the heavens made,
their starry host by the breath of his mouth.

Psalm 33:9 writes:


For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm.

http://www.earlychurch.org.uk/article_exnihilo_copan.html

Finally, since science now seems to be leaning in the direction of Big Bang cosmology, if this is correct then it seems highly unlikely that the universe always existed anyway -- which is another reason to abandon this line of primitive thought which assumes that the universe always existed.

arachnophilia writes:

read it very carefully.

I did.

arachnophilia writes:

the water is never created.

According to Psalm 114:7-9 we read...

NIV writes:

Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord,
at the presence of the God of Jacob,
who turned the rock into a pool,
the hard rock into springs of water.

Seems to me, based on this passage found in the psalms, that God transmuted various substances into other subtances.

Besides this, the very beginning of Genesis says, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." The heavens include stars, planets, moons, comets, asteroids, etc.

Exactly how literally are you going to read these passages arachnophilia?

They've found water all throughout the universe, in Saturn's rings for example, on the sun itself for another example, and there are enourmous amounts of water in space. In fact, nearly all of the oxygen in space is in the form of water or carbon monoxide.

Furthermore, as I've read elsewhere here at EvC...

Nature writes:


Early Universe was a liquid
The Universe consisted of a perfect liquid in its first moments, according to results from an atom-smashing experiment.

Scientists at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island, New York, have spent five years searching for the quark-gluon plasma that is thought to have filled our Universe in the first microseconds of its existence.

Most of them are now convinced they have found it. But, strangely, it seems to be a liquid rather than the expected hot gas.

The resulting liquid is almost 'perfect': it has a very low viscosity and is so uniform that it looks the same from any angle.

“It’s as much a fluid as the water in this glass” --- Dmitri Kharzeev Brookhaven National Laboratory

arachnophilia writes:

the (original) darkness is never created. they're just there.

So you're saying that all these things were not created by God even though the Hebrew Scriptures clearly state over and over again that all things were made by God?

I find it strange that you claim that God "made" evil, but that he didn't "make" the darkness. If darkness was just there (and God didn't make it), then why do you stress so much that God had to make evil? Couldn't the evil have already been "just there" as you claim the (original) darkness was?

And this brings up another interesting point: what are you talking about when you talk about the (original) darkness?

You seem to be putting the parenthesis around (original) as if to exclude this darkness from other kinds of darkness. However, the word employed here in the (original) darkness is the Hebrew word hosek -- which is the exact same word used for many other kinds of darkness throughout the Scriptures. It is often synonamously used for darkness, obscurity, night, dusk, misery, falsehood, and ignorance.

Are you saying that the (original) darkness -- which is expressed with the Hebrew word hosek -- which has has been used eslewhere in the Scritpruees for darkness, obscurity, night, dusk, misery, falsehood, and ignorance -- was not created by God but was in fact just there?

Could you explain this further please?

arachnophilia writes:

now, creation itself *IS* expressed in terms of divisions: light from dark, night from day, water from land, and heaven from earth. but that's not what this bit is saying. and it's not what the word bara' means. bara' means "to create" "to form" "to shape" or "to fashion." not "to divide."

Actually, bara seems to a special word for "create" which is only employed in relation to when God himself is involved in a new creative act. I've already noted the contrasts pointed out by the Scriptures themselves.

Furthermore, the verb "bara" does occur in the basic verbal stem (qal) and its passive stem (niphal). There are a few cases where the word seems to occur in a different stem (piel) with the meaning “to cut down”.

For example, Joshua 17:15 employs the verb "bara" when cutting down a forest as follows:

NIV writes:

"If you are so numerous," Joshua answered, "and if the hill country of Ephraim is too small for you, go up into the forest and clear land for yourselves there in the land of the Perizzites and Rephaites."

Similarly, Ezekial 21:24 employs the verb "bara" to express the phrase to cut out as follows (it is translated as "taken captive" below in the NIV):

NIV writes:

24 "Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: 'Because you people have brought to mind your guilt by your open rebellion, revealing your sins in all that you do—because you have done this, you will be taken captive.

While some argue that there is insufficient data to determine how this idea could be related to the verb “to create,” it is quite possible that “cutting” was a way of “creating.”

Christian Leadership Center writes:

The evidence from the Semitic languages provides some helpful information for the general understanding of bara’ and its related synonyms.

Akkadian, according to BDB, has the word baru (a III weak verb like Hebrew bara’) with the meaning “to make, create.” However, the more up-to-date Chicago Assyrian Dictionary does not give this as a meaning; rather, it defines baru A as ‘to look upon, to watch over,” and baru B as “to be hungry.”

BDB also suggests that Hebrew bara’ be compared with Assyrian banu (also a III weak verb) which in the G (= qal) stem means: 1) to build, construct, form,” 2) “to engender, produce,” 3) “to create” (the subject being the deity), and 4) “to devise a plan.” The correspondence of banu with bara’ would involve an interchange between the n and the r. Since both consonants are liquids they could interchange (note Hebrew “son” is ben but Aramaic is bar). The connection may be strengthened in view of the fact that banu is the verb used in the Mesopotamian creation story Enuma Elish: “[Ea] created (ibna ) mankind out of [Kingu’s] blood” (VI. 33).

If banu is a cognate word then more information would be available for the background of Hebrew bara’. But Hebrew also has a verb banah (III He’ verb), which means “to build.” Akkadian banu is most likely cognate to this word, and not bara’. In fact, in Genesis banah is used in addition to bara’: “and he [Yahweh] fashioned/built (wayyiben) the rib into the woman” (Gen. 2:22).

As for Ugaritic, there is no cognate for our verb as far as we know. In Ugaritic Textbook Gordon lists bnw/y, “to build,” as cognate to banah.

As a Phoenician cognate BDB lists a word meaning “incisor, a trade involving cutting.” This would be cognate to the second root bara’ and therefore not relevant to this word study (unless one argued that “cut” was a category of meaning under the verb, and then this would harmonize with that category).

In Arabic we have the cognate word bara’i (bary), which means “to form, fashion,” and BDB includes the meanings “to fashion by cutting, shaping out, to pare a reed for writing, a stick for an arrow.” These may be related to the second root. BDB also list bara’a as a loan word, “to create.” Old South Arabic has a root br’ that means “to build.” And Soqotri has a meaning “bring forth, give birth to.”

Aramaic and Syriac are closer to Hebrew with the verb br’ meaning “to create.” The word is not used in the Aramaic portions of the Old Testament. In later Aramaic and Hebrew the Rabbinical usage carries the biblical meanings forward. Jastrow’s dictionary joins together under bara’ (Heb.) and bera’ (Aram.) The meanings “create, cut, shape, perforate,” and “strengthen, make well, make grow.” This simply represents the way that the literature used the word and expanded its range, and does not attempt to explain the connections of meanings and the roots.

arachnophilia writes:

when we say "divided" we say that one thing was divided from another. isaiah just says one thing: darkness. so god divided darkness from what? sure it makes sense if you start adding words, but they're not there in the verse, are they?

arachnophilia writes:

bara' means "to create."

Actually, I've pointed to two examples in the Scriptures already where the word bara is used in the sense of "cutting out".

However, in addition to this, there is another verb bara’ which the dictionaries list as a separate root, “to be fat.” It occurs in the causative stem (hiphil) with the meaning “to fatten” in 1 Samual 2:29.

This would mean, contrary to your statement above, that there were apaprently three separate words spelled "bara" employed in the Hebrew Scriptures.

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

Yes. And how exactly did God create life on earth?

arachnophilia writes:

he doesn't. god tells the earth to bring forth life, and it obeys his command. creation, "bara" seems to be defined for special things: heaven and earth themselves, man, and these (supernatural) serpents.

I don't think you're not really answering the question here arachnophilia -- and it appears as if you're being quite evasive about it too. The Scriptures testify over and over again that God created the heavens and the earth.

Here's a few more examples.

Take a look here...

Isaiah 40:26 NIV writes:


Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.

or here...

Isaiah 42:5 NIV writes:


This is what God the LORD says— he who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it:

or here...

Isaiah 43:6-8 writes:

I will say to the north, 'Give them up!'
and to the south, 'Do not hold them back.'
Bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the ends of the earth-
everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made."
Lead out those who have eyes but are blind,
who have ears but are deaf.

or here...

Isiah 44:24-28 writes:


"This is what the LORD says—
your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb:
I am the LORD,
who has made all things,
who alone stretched out the heavens,
who spread out the earth by myself,
who foils the signs of false prophets
and makes fools of diviners,
who overthrows the learning of the wise
and turns it into nonsense,
who carries out the words of his servants
and fulfills the predictions of his messengers,
who says of Jerusalem, 'It shall be inhabited,'
of the towns of Judah, 'They shall be built,'
and of their ruins, 'I will restore them,'
who says to the watery deep, 'Be dry,
and I will dry up your streams,'
who says of Cyrus, 'He is my shepherd
and will accomplish all that I please;
he will say of Jerusalem, "Let it be rebuilt,"
and of the temple, "Let its foundations be laid." '

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

If you are a creationist, then you probably believe that God in some way created life out of the dust of the earth.

arachnophilia writes:

no, just man.

Really?

Actually many creationists seem point to this passage here in Genesis 3:19:

NIV writes:

By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return."

They look at this and note that both animals and man share the same fate when they die -- in other words, whether man or animal, to dust they will return. This, in their mind anyay, seems to indicate that both man and animals shared a common origin from dust, especially since they both share the same physical properties at death.

Similarly, some creationists point to passages like this...

Exodus 8:16-17 NIV writes:

Then the LORD said to Moses, "Tell Aaron, 'Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the ground,' and throughout the land of Egypt the dust will become gnats." They did this, and when Aaron stretched out his hand with the staff and struck the dust of the ground, gnats came upon men and animals. All the dust throughout the land of Egypt became gnats.

To them, passages like these confirm that other creatures can be created from the dust just like man was.

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

And God actually "divides" the seventh day from the previous six. In other words, it is literally "set apart" from the other days in order to contrast this day from the previous six days of creation.

arachnophilia writes:

read it again.

For the sake of this debate let's take a look at the passage again.

And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

arachnophilia writes:

the sanctification is the division. the "bara" goes on in the other six days. the bit that divides the seventh is the lack of "bara"

And you don't see a contrast here from one day when compard to the previous 6 days?

As I said before, they all seem to make sense when you see that the division is potentially referencing the creative act in contrast to a previous state of existence -- all of them.

arachnophilia writes:

no, absolutely not.

More absolutes eh?

arachnophilia writes:

this is something you're imposing on the text.

Really, so you're saying there is absolutely no contrast being presented at all?

Let's take a look at what you say below.

arachnophilia writes:

it is not contrasting them to anything. it might contrast light and dark, male and female, good and evil, but it never contrasts existance from nonexistance, because the ancient hebrews did not believe in creation ex-nihilo.

This seems to be an odd opinion to hold, especially since every other time the word is used it does quite clearly display a contrast from a previous state of existence.

I discuss your rebuttal in more detail below.

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

Well, as I said above, if you are a creationist, then you probably believe that God in some way created life out of the dust of the earth -- which seems to be leaning in a more traditional understanding of God's creative process in the Scriptures. If you are a theistic evolutionist, then you probably believe that God first created life out of non-life -- and then proceeded to create life from previous forms of life. Either way you look at it, God is creating in contrast to a previous state of existence.

arachnophilia writes:

i want to make this very clear. i'm not debating what i believe in. i'm debating what the text leads me to think the ancient hebrews believed in. personally, i believe that god may have even directed evolution through a process similar to artificial selection. but we're talking about a story that has god making men out dust, and breathing life into them.

And you're saying that you're not personally influenced by what the ancient Hebrews believed -- or what you believe the ancient Hebrews believed?

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

Everything from verse 2 to verse 19 seems to have to do with assembling the earth from pre-existing material -- whereas "bara" seems to imply a rather dramatic change from a previous state of existence.

arachnophilia writes:

verse 1 describes the initial state of the story. "when god created the heavens and the earth," this is how he did it. everything is from pre-existing material: water.

Ah...so you're saying that the water always existed then?

Then why do the Scriptures say in Ecclesiastes 11:5:

NIV writes:

As you do not know the path of the wind, or know how the spirit enters the body being formed in a mother's womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.

How many times do I have to point out that the Scriptures state over again that God is the maker of all things?

Of course, if you reply that God is the maker of all things "made" -- but that God didn't make things that "already" existed, then I think you're the one who is actually adding words to the Scriptures. The Hebrew Scriptures say over and over again that God made all things. However, nowhere in the Hebrew Scriptures does it say that God made all things that were made.

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

Actually, Hebrew poetry can employ both similarity and contrasts -- and the Hebrew Scriptures do employ both these literary devices quite liberally.

arachnophilia writes:

yes, they do. but not at the same time.

hmmmm.

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

"Parallelism" is a technical term for the form of Hebrew poetry that repeats a thought in slightly different ways. For example, "synonymous parallelism"

arachnophilia writes:

synonymous parallelism is what's going on isaiah 45:7.

"i make ___ and create ____
i make ____ and create ____"

it follows the exact same structure. that's not what i'm talking about. i'm talking about the second half of the line reflecting the first.

it does not say "i divide light from darkness." it says "i make light, and i make darkness." this is not about creation, although it's meant to connotate it.

This seems to be a moot point since the original account in creation does describe God seprating the light he brings forth from the darkness, darkness which you yourself claim God never made in the first place.

Just as a reminder, I'll requote what you said above...

arachnophilia writes:

the (original) darkness is never created. they're just there.

Here, let's take a look at it again.

NIV writes:


In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

Please note that God did not "name" the darkness "night" until the light was separated from it and named "day". In other words, the darkness has no name until it is contrasted with the light.

arachnophilia writes:

what i'm trying to say is that they're not being tricky about it. all four verbs in both lines, including both bara's, are qal, present tense verbs. they express simple, but ongoing actions. it doesn't really get any simpler. it's using the simplest form of the verb, meaning to create.

Yes, and I think you're overlooking something very important.

arachnophilia writes:

you can't just change the words to mean whatever you want them to mean.

I don't think I'm doing that. I'm looking at previous examples within the Scriptures to make an informed opinion about what the passage in Isaiah means -- as I feel the Spirit leads me.

I am still curiuos to know what you mean by putting the parenthesis around (original) as if to exclude this darkness from other kinds of darkness. As I said above, the word employed here in the (original) darkness is the Hebrew word hosek -- which is the exact same word used for many other kinds of darkness throughout the Scriptures. It is often synonamously used for darkness, obscurity, night, dusk, misery, falsehood, and ignorance.

Are you saying that the (original) darkness -- which is expressed with the Hebrew word hosek -- which has has been used eslewhere in the Scritpruees for darkness, obscurity, night, dusk, misery, falsehood, and ignorance -- was not created by God but was in fact just there?

Could you explain this further please?

I'm going to discuss the parallelism aspect later this week when I have a chance.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 7 by arachnophilia, posted 07-11-2005 2:42 AM arachnophilia has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 9 by arachnophilia, posted 07-12-2005 3:41 AM Mr. Ex Nihilo has responded

Mr. Ex Nihilo
Member (Idle past 5055 days)
Posts: 708
Joined: 04-12-2005


Message 10 of 102 (224029)
07-16-2005 2:54 AM
Reply to: Message 9 by arachnophilia
07-12-2005 3:41 AM


Please note: I've typed this message out in a word processor program, cut it, and pasted it. There will probably be some typographical and layout problems. I am fixing them as I see them.

Edit follow-up: I've corrected the typographical and layout problems. Everything should be clear to go now.

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

When I point out my point of view, I usually try to use terms such as "I think...", or "It seems to me...", or "It appears as if..." Since it is a debate, I try really hard to avoid absolute statements in order to be open to the other person's point of view. I realize that I don't always succeed at avoiding this, but i do make an effort to do so.

arachnophilia writes:

to do so is redundant.

Whether it is redundant or not doesn't matter. It's what's been asked of you when invited to participate.

When you asked me to restrict this discussion to the Hebrew Scriptures, I honored your request. However, you seem to be nonetheless indulging in a kind of lecturing. In response to this, I found it prudent to invoke science (something which you disagreed with) in order to counter your absolute claims. If you persist in continuing to engage in this kind of debate where certain rules are ignored in favor of your own position -- even to the point of invoking other debates with Eddy Pengelly, which bears no relevance to this debate at all -- then it seems to me that there is basically no reason to honor your request to restrict the debate solely to the Hebrew Scriptures or to exclude scientific findings.

How would you like me to proceed with this?

arachnophilia writes:

i'm writing it; of course it's what i think. to say "i think that ..." makes the phrasing sound like a personal opinion on the matter. to some degree, some of it is. but i'm not just making stuff up.

Well neither am I just making stuff up. Neither one of us are "making stuff up". We're presenting what we believe the Scriptures are stating. That's the whole point of this discussion -- what we believe the Scriptures are saying in regards to the creation of good and evil, and how God uses these things within the Scriptural context.

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

When one engages in a formal debate (which is what I've invited you to partake in), the participants are generally not permitted to declare with absolute authority that the other sides idea is wrong. They are only allowed to present the data which attempts to rebut their opponent's view -- and the moderators
(or others who read the thread) make the decision as to who has won the debate or not. So far, it appears to me anyway, you are actually messing this part up quite miserably -- but I'll leave this for others to decide.

arachnophilia writes:

so basically, i'm not allowed to say "you're wrong" even though essentially the entire point of my post is generally supposed to be saying "you're wrong" in a more round-about and evidenced way? i'm sorry, if something's wrong, i call it wrong. if we're debating arithmetic, and you came up with 2+2=5, would i be allowed to say "you're wrong" or would i have to prove the rules of arithmetic to you?

You can say "you're wrong" if you feel like doing so. I'm just noting that the decision of whether we are either right or wrong in a formal debate is generally not for us to decide. Of course we each feel that our individual cases are correct, because we wouldn't be debating in the first place if we felt we were in agreement. I'm also fairly sure that after this debate is over we will probably continue to hold our individual views.

However, when you place your thoughts out on a public forum, you're inviting others to critique your thoughts, and how well you've expressed them. To make the claim that you are correct, or that your opponent is incorrect, is actually the redundant part. It's redundant because we already believe that we are correct and that the other side is incorrect -- and it overlooks the fact that we've invited others to judge our thoughts and examine how logically we've expressed them here.

arachnophilia writes:

either way, i apologize if i'm coming off as a bit rash here, but a lot of it's just common sense stuff and common sense is hard to justify to someone.

Again, let's leave what is considered common sense for others to decide. We already believe that our individual points of view are "common sense" in our own mind. It's the other participants who are reading this that I'm interested in hearing after the debate is over.

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

In your opinion maybe -- just as in my opinion Genesis does describe a creation ex nihilo. Obviously the doctrine of creation ex nihilo is a sticking point which has caused much debate in itself.

arachnophilia writes:

right, but "genesis does not describe creation ex nihilo" is a statement we can check. this is not an opinion: it either describes it, or it does not. if it describes it, feel free to cite the chapter and verse, but it'd have to come before genesis 1:2.

Actually, unfortunately it does not appear to be a statement that can be checked. Rather it seems to be a statement that can be examined within the context of what other portions of Scripture have to say. In other words, it needs to be interpreted -- not checked. That's how I see it anyway.

arachnophilia writes:

genesis describes god creating heaven and earth, but not the things they are formed in and from. maybe god created those, and maybe he did not -- but genesis doesn't describe that aspect of creation. so, jumping down a bit, "creator of all things" might include the deep and the blank earth, and might not. we'll come back to that.

Well, this is one of my main points: The LORD apparently does not change according to the Scriptures. So, for example, if it states somewhere that God creates by a certain method, if I see a reference to God creating the same thing elsewhere in the Scriptures, then it seems to me that the Lord has most likely employed that same method for creating that same substance.

arachnophilia writes:

but genesis never describes it. this is because, consistent with the people of the time and area, the people who wrote genesis 1 did not believe in creation ex nihilo.

Or maybe it's because they never thought about it. As I pointed out elsewhere, Jewish thought was apparently preoccupied with the God of the cosmos rather than with the cosmos itself, with the creatio rather than the ex nihilo. The Hebrew Scriptures seems to have viewed natural phenomena primarily as pointers to God, who created them and whose glory was revealed through them.

Furthermore, it is fairly well believed that the Genesis texts were heavily borrowed from the Babylonians. More specifically, the Hebrews seem to have been strongly influenced by them to the point of adopting their beliefs all the while whittling away all the "false gods" within the Babylonian literature. In this sense, things such as "the sun, the moon and the stars" were no longer seen as "gods" but rather physical objects of nature itself which were ordered and organized by one Supreme God -- ie., created by God and not gods in their own right.

To say that the people who wrote Genesis 1 did not believe in creation ex nihilo seems to be seriously overlooking the most likely central reason for writing the Genesis text in the first place -- to testify to the monotheistic deity that they worshipped above all other things, to testify to the Creator over the creation.

arachnophilia writes:

later hebrews might have. people who contributed other portions of genesis might have. but the authors of genesis 1 did not.

There was also a time when people didn't believe in gravity either. But it wasn't because they couldn't see the effects of gravity. It seems more likely that it was because it never occurred to them that a force called gravity even existed in the first place.

arachnophilia writes:

this might explain why isaiah describes god creating darkness, and genesis does not. but there are other explanations too, and we'll get to that too.

Or it might not explain it. Or it might be something else entirely that neither one of us have even considered. Let's continue with the debate to find out more from both our points of view.

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

Bickmore actually writes of the "seemingly contradictory language" found in Jewish intertestamental literature and in the New Testament, some of which points towards creation from preexistent matter, some of which point towards ex nihilo creation. He concludes, in attempting to reconcile such passages, that, "To these ancient writers 'existence' meant organized existence, and 'non-existence' meant chaos."

arachnophilia writes:

sounds reasonable to me. we've already talked about the themes of chaos serpents and the deep being chaos. in this respect, god did not create the chaos or the darkness. matter is simply ordered chaos, and light is ordered darkness. this would fit fine with genesis 1. but not isaiah, which describes god creating darkness. could it be referring to something else?

Well. I've already discussed some ideas related to this. However, if one is looking for an alternative, then it could very well be an idiom of some sort -- an idiom that if it is translated literally could nonetheless potentially lead to some confusing conclusions.

For example, if I were to translate English-based idioms like "hit the ceiling," or "kill time," or "eat your heart out," into another language, the reader from the other language could be very likely left scratching their head thinking things like, "Why is he hitting the ceiling?" or "Is it really time for someone to be killed?" or "Ew, that's really disgusting...why is he telling me to eat my heart out of my chest cavity?" Some rather perplexing and/or ghastly images can be left by translating an idiom from one language literally into the words of another language.

It's virtually impossible to translate the meaning of words and their "nuances" with complete accuracy. However, the Scriptures appear to be most accurately interpreted within its Jewish cultural context. The word "context" comes from the Latin verb, "contextuere" which means "to weave". A book or any other writing consists of words and thoughts woven together. One of the primary rules of Scriptural hermeneutics is to understand what the original readers would have understood. This necessarily implies an awareness of the culture that would have affected that understanding. In order to understand the meaning of words from a different culture, we must understand the culture of the people using that language.

Actually, probably the largest obstacle when translating one language into another is how to deal with idioms. If you translate idiomatic expressions literally there is a very real chance they will be misunderstood. We understand the common phrase, "It's raining cats and dogs," but if you put that literally into another language it probably won't make much sense at all.

If we look to the Christian Scriptures, we see that the text of Matthew 6:22-23 literally reads: "The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is good, your whole body is full of light; but if your eye is evil your whole body is full of darkness..."

"If your eye is good" is a Hebrew saying that means, "if you are generous."

Unfortunately, many English translators have not recognized this Hebrew idiom. Almost all translations preserve the singular, "eye," even though "eyes" would make more sense in English. Only three translations (Good News For Modern Man, New English Bible, New International Version) have recognized the absurdity of "eye." These translations have translated "eyes" in spite of the fact that the original Greek text has "eye."

More variety apparently exists in the translation of the word "good." Weymouth and the New International Version translate literally. But "good" in relation to an eye doesn't make much sense in this particular context. Weymouth tries to solve this problem by translating eye as "eyesight" - "If your eyesight is good". Other translators simply guess at the meaning of "good." "Single" is the traditional translation of "good" (King James, American Standard). Most modem versions prefer "sound" (Amplified, Goodspeed, Jerusalem Bible, New Berkeley, New English Bible, Phillips, Revised Standard, Williams). Other suggestions are "clear" (Good News For Modern Man, New American Standard), and "pure" (The Living Bible). Only James Moffatt translates "good eye" as "generous," but even he uses "sound" in the parallel to Matthew 6:22 found in Luke, even though the same Greek word for "good" appears in both places.

Now some would ask, "What is an evil eye?"

Someone not knowing the Jewish background might suppose he was talking about casting spells. But in Hebrew, having an "evil eye," means being stingy - just like having a "good eye," means being generous.

Bearing this in mind, Christ is apparently warning against lack of generosity and nothing else. This fits the context perfectly: "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.... You cannot serve both God and money."

http://www.psalmsinger.org/study2.htm

Hebrew Idioms in the New Testament writes:


However, there are many other expressions in the Greek texts of the synoptic Gospels that seem to derive from Hebrew idioms. Here are several examples:

Mt. 5:3 - Poor in spirit

This is an abbreviated idiom that refers to the "poor and crippled in spirit" from Isaiah 66:2. It means those that have come to the end of their strength and cry out in desperation to God, acknowledging they have no righteousness of their own.

Luke 23:31 - The "green tree" and the "dry tree"

Based on a prophecy from Ezekial 20. The "green tree" symbolizes righteousness - the "dry tree" symbolizes wickedness.

Mt. 16:19 - "binding and loosing"

There are many examples in ancient Jewish writings of the rabbinical use of "binding" and "loosing". That which is said to be "bound" is something that is forbidden. That which is "loosed" is permitted, nothing more, nothing less.

Mt. 5:17-18 - "destroy" and "fulfill" (I have not come to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it.)

The terms are part of rabbinical argumentation. When it was felt that a sage had misinterpreted a passage, it was said he had "destroyed" the Torah. When it was felt he had interpreted correctly, it was said he had "fulfilled" it. So what was Yeshua saying here?

"I have not come to abolish the Torah, but to complete it - to make the meaning full" Yeshua did not come to abolish, but to make full (plerosai) the meaning of what Torah and the ethical demands of the Prophets require. He came to complete our understanding of the Torah and the Prophets so that we can more effectively try to be and do what they instruct us to be and do.

Another interesting article presents some interesting food for thought as well...

Something New Under the Sun writes:


The King James Bible, published in the seventeenth century, had an immense impact on Modern English, expanding the breadth and depth of the language. Enter the Hebrew idiom.

by Alister McGrath

Have you ever fallen flat on your face? Can you read the writing on the wall? Do you ever think about escaping, perhaps by the skin of your teeth before it’s too late? When things are going well, do you look for the fly in the ointment? If you answered “Yes” to these questions, you are in good company.

Shakespeare, however, never fell flat on his face. He couldn’t read the writing on the wall, never once escaped by the skin of his teeth, and his ointment was always free of flies. The Bard, that great master of vocabulary and wordplay, could do none of these things, for these metaphors did not enter the English language until close to the time of his death in 1616. Like so much of the English language, these quaint and timeless expressions were borrowed from another tongue—in this case, Hebrew.

The introduction of classical Hebrew phrases into the language—one of the most interesting developments in the shaping of Modern English—dates from the early seventeenth century with the arrival of the King James Bible. King James I, anxious to ensure religious stability in England, agreed to the production of this new English translation of the Bible. It was expected to be the best ever, drawing on a translation team of about fifty leading scholars. Six teams were assembled at Oxford, Cambridge, and Westminster, and each was entrusted with the task of translating part of the work.

The authors of The Story of English, a companion to the PBS television series on the history of the English language, point out that, “The King James Bible was published in the year Shakespeare began work on his last play, The Tempest. Both the play and the Bible are masterpieces of English, but there is one crucial difference between them. Whereas Shakespeare ransacked the lexicon, the King James Bible employs a bare 8,000 words—God’s teaching in homely English for everyman.”

True, the Bible used plain and common words, but as American Rabbi William Rosenau observes, it took those words and “molded new forms and phrases, which, while foreign to the English, became with it flesh and bone.” Here’s what happened: The translators believed the best way of ensuring accuracy was to translate each and every word of the original, one by one. This literal translation of the Old Testament’s Hebrew introduced a large number of new, and somewhat unusual, phrases into the English language.

“The [King James Bible] is an almost literal translation of the Masoretic text, and is thus on every page replete with Hebrew idioms,” writes Rosenau in Hebraisms in the Authorized Version of the Bible, a careful study of the way in which the King James Bible translated Hebrew expressions. “The fact that Bible English has to a
marvelous extent shaped our speech, giving peculiar connotations to many words and sanctioning strange constructions, is not any less patent.”

Because the Bible’s publicly accessible style could be widely imitated, the new phrases were easily absorbed, often unconsciously, within everyday language. Soon, without anyone completely appreciating what was happening, they began to shape written and spoken English.

“The [King James Bible] has been—it can be said without any fear of being charged with exaggeration—the most powerful factor in the history of English literature,” Rosenau claims. “Though the constructions encountered in the [King James Bible] are oftentimes so harsh that they seem almost barbarous, we should certainly have been the poorer without it.”

Initially, the language of the King James Bible might have seemed odd. We know that some people found it unnatural, artificial, and stilted. John Selden, a seventeenth-century Hebrew scholar of considerable distinction, doubted whether the widespread use of Hebrew idioms would make sense to the unlearned English public. He insisted that translation required conversion of Hebrew idioms into real English, not Hebraised English.

“If I translate a French book into English, I turn it into English phrase and not into French English. ‘Il fait froid’: I say ‘it is cold,’ not ‘it makes cold,’” he explained. “But the Bible is translated into English words rather than English phrases. The Hebraisms are kept and the phrase of that language is kept. As for example, ‘he uncovered her shame,’ which is well enough so long as scholars have to do with it, but when it comes among the common people, Lord what gear do they make of it.” It is interesting to note that Selden’s English makes perfect sense to modern readers until he lapses into the slang of his period. (“Gear” is here best translated as “nonsense”!)

Selden’s fears proved unfounded. Continuity of usage, through private and public reading of the King James Bible, soon diminished the apparent strangeness of the translation. Hebraic phrases—initially regarded with some amusement— became standard parts of the English language.

English is remarkable in its willingness to invent new words and borrow existing words. Again and again, linguists find changes that reflect encounters with other cultures, so that studying the history of the language is a bit like looking into a verbal melting pot. Hebrew idioms, for example, were easily absorbed into Modern English, even while their origins lay at the dawn of civilization in the Ancient Near East.

So today, when we remind our colleagues that pride goes before a fall, or from time to time accuse them of sour grapes, or pour out our hearts to them about everything under the sun, let us remember that we are using the vocabulary of ancient Israel, given a new lease on life. Maybe there is nothing new under the sun after all. Now wouldn’t that be a fly in our ointment.

arachnophilia writes:

since isaiah 45:7 is in PRESENT tense, my answer would be "i think so." it connotates original creation, but it can't be about that creation (literally) because of the tense. that creation would be in the past tense.

I understand what you're saying. However, I think I have partially addressed this above when invoking the Scriptures which indicate the changeless nature of God. In other words, if God doesn't change, then it seems reasonable to conclude that the way he made something one time is most likely the same way he made the same thing at another time.

We can discuss this further when you reply.

If, however, you find this unacceptable (and we can talk about that point when the time comes), then I would like to further illustrate my thought regarding the nature of evil (and God creating it) -- that when people miss the mark (sin), they are effectively breaching God's creation and partaking in the formless chaos which (by your own admission) God did not actually create according to the Scriptures.

For example, consider the following lengthy passage of Scripture from Jeremiah...

Jeremiah 4:17-26 NIV writes:


They surround her like men guarding a field,
because she has rebelled against me,' "
declares the LORD.

"Your own conduct and actions
have brought this upon you.
This is your punishment.
How bitter it is!
How it pierces to the heart!"

Oh, my anguish, my anguish!
I writhe in pain.
Oh, the agony of my heart!
My heart pounds within me,
I cannot keep silent.
For I have heard the sound of the trumpet;
I have heard the battle cry.

Disaster follows disaster;
the whole land lies in ruins.
In an instant my tents are destroyed,
my shelter in a moment.

How long must I see the battle standard
and hear the sound of the trumpet?

"My people are fools;
they do not know me.
They are senseless children;
they have no understanding.
They are skilled in doing evil;
they know not how to do good."

I looked at the earth,
and it was formless and empty;
and at the heavens,
and their light was gone.

I looked at the mountains,
and they were quaking;
all the hills were swaying.

I looked, and there were no people;
every bird in the sky had flown away.

I looked, and the fruitful land was a desert;
all its towns lay in ruins
before the LORD, before his fierce anger.

There's a few things to note here...

1: We apparently see that people's own actions bring punishment upon themselves -- not God actually making it happen.
2: Although the context is within the concept of battle within this particular period in Jeremiah's time-frame, we still see a contingent cause and effect whereupon disaster follows disaster -- without God directly causing it per se.
3. The people that God nonetheless has chosen (but yet do not know him) are quite skilled in doing evil -- and yet they severely lack understanding and ultimately do not know how to do good.
4. Jeremiah actually draws a parallel between their failure to do God's will (and their ultimate ruin) with an illustration of the earth returning to the formlessness and darkness that previously existed before creation itself -- things which you apparently admit God did not actually create because they were already
there
.
5: The end result of their failure to do God's will appears to be their fruitful land being reduced to a desert wasteland -- yet this is all described happening in conjunction with "before the LORD, before his fierce anger."

Based on this passage, would it be fair to say that people's sins results in God anger -- and that God's anger is symbolic of people falling out of God's creative order into the formless, lightless emptiness which existed prior to creation -- a formless, lightless emptiness which God apparently did not create?

Or stated more plainly, would it be safe to say that transgressing God's will basically make one's life go into deep chaos so to speak -- effectively tapping a primal chaos that, according to your view of the Scriptures, God did not actually create?.

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

Having said this, clearly there is much still left to be debated. Somewhat against your opinion, however, there are many who have concluded that the initial chapters of Genesis do describe a creation ex nihilo -- and it's not only Christians that have concluded this.

arachnophilia writes:

yes, and they're evidently wrong, considering that genesis describes creation from something else, but never the creation of the original state. this is a quantitative 2+2 kind of thing. genesis either describes it, or it does not.

For the sake of this discussion, let's assume that you are correct that the Hebrews were not talking about a creatio ex nihilo in the very first parts of Genesis. Let's assume that the Hebrews did actually believe some things did indeed exist eternally prior to God making some kind of "divine order" out of some kind of vast eternal chaos.

Even if this is true, we still see an amazing transformation taking place here -- because we are still seeing an amazing contrast in the creation itself which was formerly something radically different from its end result which God made it into. Regardless of whether of the Scriptures are talking about a creation ex nihilo or not, the point still stands, as I said before, in all these cases the thing that is created is used in contrast to the previous state that it was created in. In fact, all these verses still seem to clearly indicate a new creative act which stands in stark contrast to the original state in which the object was created -- even if it is only order from disorder from the very beginning. In this sense, the deep division that is taking place is still displayed by the radical before and after that is conveyed by the usage of the word.

Now, for the sake of emphasizing this part, I felt that I should address some of your previous rebuttals where this stark constrast has already been pointed out...

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

In the case of Psalm 51:10 the new thing "created" is a pure heart, which is in contrast to the sinful heart barren of God.

arachnophilia writes:

does isaiah 45:7 use figurative language?


The passage in Isaiah 45:7 may be using figurative language -- and, then again, maybe not. That's ultimately what this debate is attempting to reconcile.

However, even still, your question isn't answering the question arachnophilia. Does the passage in Psalm 51:10 display a "creation" which lies in stark contrast to previous state of existence or not?

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

In the case of Isaiah 4:5 the new thing "created" is an extremely visible presence of God, which is in contrast to the lack of God's presence that previously existed before the people gathered together to worship him.

arachnophilia writes:

no, the new thing created is a cloud. grammar. etc.

Wait a second here...

Isaiah 4:5 NIV writes:


Then the LORD will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over all the glory
will be a canopy.

The northern nation of Israel was totally apostate from the beginning. It was given over to idolatry and did not have one righteous king in its 200 year history. In sharp contrast, the southern nation of Judah was blessed with many righteous kings. It was also blessed with Jerusalem as its capital. And it was blessed even more by having the Shekinah glory of God residing in its Temple.

Many Orthodox Jews (and a minority of Christians too) do believe that the nation of Israel will also serve once more as the home of God's spectacular Shekinah glory. However, they point out that the glory will not be contained within the Holy of Holies. They actually point toward Isaiah 4:5-6 among other verses and say that the Shekinah will hover over the whole city of Jerusalem as a cloud by day and a fire by night, providing a canopy to protect the city from heat and rain.

Whether they are right or wrong, I have to admit that the description in Isaiah 4:5-6 does seem to be oddly reminiscent of former things in the Scriptures, such as the presence which went before the Israelites in the time of Moses, or the glory which filled the Temple in the time of Solomon.

Even the unorthodox Jews seemed to make this connection. For example, in 2 Maccabees (2:4-12), it describes how the Prophet Jeremiah hid the Ark of the Covenant in a cave. He prophesied that the Ark of the Covenant would remain hidden until the time of the return of the Jews and their receiving of God’s mercy. Then, according to this view, the Ark will be revealed and the Shekinah Presence of God will manifest himself just as he did in the time of Moses and Solomon.

In Moses' time we read this:

Exodus 13:21-23 NIV writes:


By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.

In Solomon's time we read this:

2 Chronicles 7:1-3 NIV writes:


When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. The priests could not enter the temple of the LORD because the glory of the LORD filled it. When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the LORD above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying,

"He is good;
his love endures forever."

Apparently, according to many Orthodox Jews, Isaiah's reference to the future cloud is rather an extended and amplified glory permanently "overshadowing" his Temple -- and this presence is certainly in stark contrast to the "lack of evidence" for God that so many lament over today.

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

In summary, all these verses seem to clearly indicate a new creative act which stands in stark contrast to the original state in which the object was created. Rather than refashioning an object after its original creation, it seems more appropriate to me to conclude that God is creating something which is in sharp contrast to its previous state of existence.

arachnophilia writes:

as night is in contrast to day. that's where your contrast lies. the verb may indeed imply it, but the isaiah verse still says god creates this, (in contrast to the other state).

So what exactly are you saying?

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

For example, while the Jewish theologian, Philo of Alexandria, makes statements that at times reflect the belief that God's creating was actually a shaping of pre-existing matter:

Philo of Alexandria writes:

Just as nothing comes into being out of that which has no existence, so nothing is destroyed into that which has no existence.

arachnophilia writes:

that's the law of conservation of matter, yes.

I personally think so, or at least an early concept of it. However, that's not what Philo was referring to.

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

But even in the Philonic view of creation, some ambiguity exists since at times Philo expresses himself along the lines of creatio ex nihilo. For instance, he writes that...

Philo of Alexandria writes:


God, the begetter of all things, not only brought them into sight, but even made things which previously had no existence, being not merely an artificer but the Creator
Himself."

The first quote is from The Eternity of the World.

arachnophilia writes:

is this a commentary on genesis?

The second quote is from On Dreams 1.76.

(Note: For a helpful discussion on Philo's view of creation, see R. Sorabji, Time Creation and the Continuum (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1983) 20-39. Sorabji concludes on the basis of Philos de Providentia 1 and 2 that Philo implies that the universe - including its matter - had a beginning; he admits, however, that
Philo in a few minor passages is not always consistent (p. 208).)

http://www.earlychurch.org.uk/article_exnihilo_copan.html#30

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

Consequently, a similar thought is expressed in the The Wisdom of Solomon 11:17a, where it says that creation is "out of formless matter [ex amorphou hyles]"

arachnophilia writes:

this is the traditional hebrew thought, yes. we'll get to the exception breifly.

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

It must be remembered that Jewish thought was preoccupied with the God of the cosmos rather than with the cosmos itself, with the creatio rather than the ex nihilo. The Hebrew Scriptures seems to have viewed natural phenomena primarily as pointers to God, who created them and whose glory was revealed through them.

arachnophilia writes:

agreed.

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

For example, deutero-canonical Catholic book (the intertestamental book) of 2 Maccabees

arachnophilia writes:

we must also realize that maccabees (and the wisdom of solomon) are not within the traditionally accepted hebrew scriptures. these are later books, as you mentioned previously. they are subject to different ideas than genesis. right now we're looking at the older traditions -- later ones, and ones of slightly
non-mainstream groups are bound to disagree.

Yes, but I'm not quoting these references in order to give an "official" Jewish perpective. I'm just noting that various Jewish sources did indeed conclude that the Hebrew Scriptures indicated a creation ex nihilo to them. This doesn't mean it's the "official" Jewish view. It just means that some Jews did conclude that the Hebrew Scriptures were teaching a creation from nothing. In other words, its origins can be traced to a period before Christianity emerged, so the doctrine could not be claimed to be an explicitly Christian doctrine -- although the church certainly did promulgate this belief beyond what was heretofore known previously.

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

Psalm 102:25-27

arachnophilia writes:

doesn't reinforce creation ex nihilo. it refers to heaven and earth -- not the things genesis describes them as being created from. heaven and earth are meant usually to represent all things -- but in turn, "all things" seems to represent "everything under heaven," and not the stuff above it.

Really?

Nehemiah 9:6 NIV writes:

You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.

This passage from Nehemiah 9:6 seems to indicate otherwise.

Similarly, let's take a look at Psalm 148:3-5

Psalm 148:3-5 NIV writes:

Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars.

Praise him, you highest heavens
and you waters above the skies.

Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for he commanded and they were created.

This passage from Psalm 148:3-5 also seems to indicate otherwise.

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

Moreover, the Scriptures declare that God's word alone is what brings the universe about -- not simply God's word acting upon previously existing matter. Psalm 33 declares that it was by "the word of the Lord" and "the breath of his mouth" that "the heavens were made":

arachnophilia writes:

yes. the heavens. this is a very specific object in hebrew scripture. heaven is a real place in their worldview. or at least it was, and it came to be ingrained in the language that way. (subject to some debate) either way, we're referring back to genesis, and invoking it's language. and genesis describes heaven as being created to affect something that was already there -- the deep.

I think the passages I quoted above seem to contradict some of your assertions here. However, let's take another look at the Scriptures to see what else the Spirit might reveal.

Proverbs 8:22-31 NIV writes:


"The LORD brought me forth as the first of his works,
before his deeds of old;
I was appointed from eternity,
from the beginning, before the world began.

When there were no oceans, I was given birth,
when there were no springs abounding with water;
before the mountains were settled in place,
before the hills, I was given birth,
before he made the earth or its fields
or any of the dust of the world.

I was there when he set the heavens in place,
when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep,
when he established the clouds above
and fixed securely the fountains of the deep,
when he gave the sea its boundary
so the waters would not overstep his command,
and when he marked out the foundations of the earth.

Then I was the craftsman at his side.
I was filled with delight day after day,
rejoicing always in his presence,
rejoicing in his whole world
and delighting in mankind.

Now some may debate who this person was that was there observing everything. Some say that it was Christ prior to his incarnation whereas others believe it was symbolic of Wisdom itself. I'm not interested in debating this part. However, either way you look at it, this passage seems to be referring to a specific period in time before anything was even created -- including most likely the deep itself.

Now one could get technical and say that the Scriptural passage in the Proverbs doesn't actually outright state that God "created" the deep. However, we do have passages of Scripture which talk about God making water from rock. We also have passages of Scripture which indicate that God "turned the desert into pools of water and the parched ground into flowing springs" -- all the while not mentioning rain. We have passages of Scripture which indicate that God "made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them." We have passages of Scripture which say, "When there were no oceans..." and "when there were no springs abounding with water." -- implying that there was a time when there was most likely no water on the earth -- the earth which was formless and empty at one point I might add. We also have passages of Scriptures which states that God made the "highest heavens" and the waters above the skies.We also have the passage of Scripture which states from the very beginning that God created the heavens and the earth itself.

Based on all this, it doesn't seem so impossible that God most likely either made the earth first and then the water then naturally issued forth -- or he made the earth with water on its surface in the first place. In other words, the mystery really doesn't seem to be that mysterious based on other passages of Scripture -- even if it isn't explicitly stated in the original chapters of Genesis.

But well take a closer look at the passage down below -- just to check to see if it isn't explicitly stated in the original chapters of Genesis.

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

Finally, since science now seems to be leaning in the direction of Big Bang cosmology, if this is correct then it seems highly unlikely that the universe always existed anyway -- which is another reason to abandon this line of primitive thought which assumes that the universe always existed.

arachnophilia writes:

not within the scope of our debate. i'm not assigning right or wrong to scripture here, we're looking at what it says and what the people of the time seemed to have thought. it is entirely invalid to go "we know this now -> the bible has to be right -> therefor the bible says what we know now." it doesn't work that way.

Eddy Pengelly isn't within the scope of our debate either. But you don't seem to mind invoking his name for the sake of this debate, eh?

I will attempt to honor my side of the obligation from here on in -- provided you maintain your end as well. :)

arachnophilia writes:

the water is never created.

In your opinion, correct?.

I just did an extensive search for "everlasting", "forever" and "eternal" throughout the Hebrew Scriptures. I found these words used in conjuntion with God, God's promises, his covenants, many tangible things which can be touched, and many intangible things which cannot be physically touched.

Here's some examples of "everlasting"

NIV writes:


Genesis 9:16
Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth."
Genesis 9:15-17 (in Context) Genesis 9 (Whole Chapter)

Genesis 17:7
I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the
God of your descendants after you.
Genesis 17:6-8 (in Context) Genesis 17 (Whole Chapter)

Genesis 17:8
The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God."
Genesis 17:7-9 (in Context) Genesis 17 (Whole Chapter)

Genesis 17:13
Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant.
Genesis 17:12-14 (in Context) Genesis 17 (Whole Chapter)

Here's some examples of "forever":

NIV writes:


Genesis 3:22
And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever."
Genesis 3:21-23 (in Context) Genesis 3 (Whole Chapter)

Genesis 6:3
Then the LORD said, "My Spirit will not contend with [ Or My spirit will not remain in ] man forever, for he is mortal [ Or corrupt ] ; his days will be a hundred and twenty years."
Genesis 6:2-4 (in Context) Genesis 6 (Whole Chapter)

Genesis 13:15
All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring [ Or seed ; also in verse 16 ] forever.
Genesis 13:14-16 (in Context) Genesis 13 (Whole Chapter)

Exodus 3:15
God also said to Moses, "Say to the Israelites, 'The LORD, [ The Hebrew for LORD sounds like and may be derived from the Hebrew for I am in verse 14. ] the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.' This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.
Exodus 3:14-16 (in Context) Exodus 3 (Whole Chapter)

Here some examples of "eternal"

NIV writes:

Genesis 21:33
Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called upon the name of the LORD, the Eternal God.
Genesis 21:32-34 (in Context) Genesis 21 (Whole Chapter)

Deuteronomy 33:27
The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. He will drive out your enemy before you, saying, 'Destroy him!'
Deuteronomy 33:26-28 (in Context) Deuteronomy 33 (Whole Chapter)

1 Kings 10:9
Praise be to the LORD your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the LORD's eternal love for Israel, he has made you king, to maintain justice and righteousness."
1 Kings 10:8-10 (in Context) 1 Kings 10 (Whole Chapter)

Psalm 16:11
You have made [ Or You will make ] known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Psalm 16:10-12 (in Context) Psalm 16 (Whole Chapter)

Now I admit that I was looking for a very loooong time (my apologies for the delay getting back to you), and I may have missed a reference. However, the odd thing that I noted (if my search was indeed accurate) was that not once is there made mention of everlasting, nor forever, nor eternal in reference to water in the
Hebrew Scriptures -- not once.

If my search was accurate, I wonder why that is so?

You can do your own search if you wish -- because I admit that I may have missed something.

However, if the waters were indeed never created as you insist the Scriptures apparently "infer", certainly the Hebrew Scriptures would testify somewhere to the fact that the waters had somehow always been there, wouldn't they?

If you are aware of a Hebraic Scriptural verse that outright states that the waters existed forever, or were eternal, or were from everlasting (or something similar), I would be interested in reading it. I did find some references to the "everlasting hills" in Deuteronomy 33:15. However, I think Psalm 90:2 effectively renders this reference ineffective because it clearly states, "Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God." This passage in Psalm 90:2 also seems to render ineffective the passage in Micah 6:2 which states, "...listen, you everlasting foundations of the earth." because, again as the Psalm states, "Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God."

Clearly, it appears to me anyway, God was around before anything else was made according to the Hebrew Scriptures themselves.

Oddly, in the Christian Scriptures I have found references to eternal waters -- but that's apparently outside the scope of this debate isn't it?

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

According to Psalm 114:7-9 we read...

NIV writes:


Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord,
at the presence of the God of Jacob,
who turned the rock into a pool,
the hard rock into springs of water.

arachnophilia writes:

uh, you know this story, right?

Yes. I do know that story. It reads as follows:

NIV writes:

The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. So they quarreled with Moses and said, "Give us water to drink."

Moses replied, "Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the LORD to the test?"

But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, "Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?"

Then Moses cried out to the LORD, "What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me."

The LORD answered Moses, "Walk on ahead of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink." So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel. And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the LORD saying, "Is the LORD among us or not?"

There is another reference here...

NIV writes:


In the first month the whole Israelite community arrived at the Desert of Zin, and they stayed at Kadesh. There Miriam died and was buried.

Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron. They quarreled with Moses and said, "If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the LORD! Why did you bring the LORD's community into this desert, that we and our livestock should die here? Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink!"

Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the Tent of Meeting and fell facedown, and the glory of the LORD appeared to them. The LORD said to Moses, "Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink."

So Moses took the staff from the LORD's presence, just as he commanded him. He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, "Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?" Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and
the community and their livestock drank.

But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them."

These were the waters of Meribah, where the Israelites quarreled with the LORD and where he showed himself holy among them.

arachnophilia's reference to Exd 17:6 writes:


Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.

Here's the interesting thing though -- there is no reference to a pool of water in either of these accounts. Of course, one can "infer" that there was a large pool based on the account because the Scriptures say, "...and the community and their livestock drank" This certainly seems to imply that there was a lot of water gushing
forth fom the rock.

However, the other Scriptural passage seems to indicate a transfromation of rock into water when it says, "who turned the rock into a pool, the hard rock into springs of water." It doesn't seem to indicate a gush of water bursting from a rock, but rather rock changing into water. For the sake of this discussion, I'm certainly willing to concede that Psalm 114:7-9 is referencing this event when Moses struck the rock. The earlier pasts of the Psalm seem to indicate this...

Psalm 114 NIV writes:

When Israel came out of Egypt,
the house of Jacob from a people of foreign tongue,

Judah became God's sanctuary,
Israel his dominion.

The sea looked and fled,
the Jordan turned back;

However, and this is my main point here: why are you allowed to cross reference a passage of Hebrew Scripture in the Psalms in order to understand the account of Moses striking the rock more accurately, while I'm apparently being restricted from cross referencing other passages of Hebrew Scriptures in order to understand the creation account in Genesis more accurately? As I said above, if God doesn't change, then it seems reasonable to conclude that the way he made something one time is most likely the same way he made the same thing at another time. At the very least, we have corroborative similarities which can enable one to "infer" that the process whereby the water came is most likely similarly brought forth as well.

arachnophilia writes:

i'm talking about THIS water:

Gen 1:2 writes:


And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

Fine. Let's talk about this water.

NIV writes:


In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

And God said, "Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water." So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. God called the expanse "sky." And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.

And God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear." And it was so. God called the dry ground "land," and the gathered waters he called "seas." And God saw that it was good.

Now, according to the Scriptures, the first thing we see is God creating the heavens and the earth. No problem.

It's the next verse that begins the crux of this debate. When the earth is described as formless and empty, are we agreed that this means that the Lord had not yet formed the land (with mountains, rivers, etc.) and brought forth life on the earth yet? Or is there some other interpretation that you're reading here?

Similarly, what you feel the Scriptures are describing when it then speaks of the "surface of the deep"? Do you feel that the Spirit of God "hovering over the waters" is referencing back the "surface of the deep"?

These are particularly important questions because whenever I read "the deep" in the Scriptures I'm getting a picture of an ocean.

Some examples can be found here...

NIV writes:


Genesis 7:11
In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened.
Genesis 7:10-12 (in Context) Genesis 7 (Whole Chapter)

Genesis 8:2
Now the springs of the deep and the floodgates of the heavens had been closed, and the rain had stopped falling from the sky.
Genesis 8:1-3 (in Context) Genesis 8 (Whole Chapter)

Proverbs 8:27
I was there when he set the heavens in place, when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep,
Proverbs 8:26-28 (in Context) Proverbs 8 (Whole Chapter)

Proverbs 8:28
when he established the clouds above and fixed s


This message is a reply to:
 Message 9 by arachnophilia, posted 07-12-2005 3:41 AM arachnophilia has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 11 by arachnophilia, posted 07-18-2005 3:04 AM Mr. Ex Nihilo has responded

Mr. Ex Nihilo
Member (Idle past 5055 days)
Posts: 708
Joined: 04-12-2005


Message 14 of 102 (224551)
07-19-2005 12:46 AM
Reply to: Message 12 by AdminJar
07-18-2005 10:40 AM


Re: Topic folk
Adminjar, which subject did you feel we were drifting far from?

I thought the creation account was a fair discussion since it uses some the same Hebrew words for create as the Isaiah passage did -- the Isaiah passage that talks about God creating good and evil.

When you read the statement...

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

The scope: the nature of evil and its ultimate origin according to the Scriptures -- and how God employs evil to bring about good."

...what is considered fair game for discussion?

This message has been edited by Mr. Ex Nihilo, 07-19-2005 12:48 AM


This message is a reply to:
 Message 12 by AdminJar, posted 07-18-2005 10:40 AM AdminJar has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 15 by arachnophilia, posted 07-19-2005 1:54 AM Mr. Ex Nihilo has responded

Mr. Ex Nihilo
Member (Idle past 5055 days)
Posts: 708
Joined: 04-12-2005


Message 16 of 102 (224579)
07-19-2005 9:22 AM
Reply to: Message 15 by arachnophilia
07-19-2005 1:54 AM


Re: Topic folk
arachnophilia, I was directing that text to Adminjar. Whether or not he actually agrees with my opinion or not isn't the main focus of this debate. The point is that he has stepped in and moderated our discussion. Therefore, as a moderator, whichever decision he renders -- even if it is not in my favor -- I will abide by.

Stop trying to restict the direction of the debate, let Adminjar make his ruling on the matter, and then we can proceed. Like I noted above, even if Adminjar rules in your favor over mine, then I will abide by it -- because this is what I agreed to from the very beginning.

Adminjar, we're waiting for your input and decision on this matter.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 15 by arachnophilia, posted 07-19-2005 1:54 AM arachnophilia has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 18 by AdminJar, posted 07-19-2005 1:25 PM Mr. Ex Nihilo has responded
 Message 21 by arachnophilia, posted 07-19-2005 10:14 PM Mr. Ex Nihilo has not yet responded

Mr. Ex Nihilo
Member (Idle past 5055 days)
Posts: 708
Joined: 04-12-2005


Message 19 of 102 (224687)
07-19-2005 6:29 PM
Reply to: Message 18 by AdminJar
07-19-2005 1:25 PM


Re: Topic folk
Thank you for the quick response. I'll do my best to keep well within the spirit of your decision.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 18 by AdminJar, posted 07-19-2005 1:25 PM AdminJar has not yet responded

Mr. Ex Nihilo
Member (Idle past 5055 days)
Posts: 708
Joined: 04-12-2005


Message 22 of 102 (224967)
07-20-2005 5:31 PM
Reply to: Message 20 by arachnophilia
07-19-2005 8:19 PM


Re: not a belief issue
arachnophilia writes:

...instead, what is happening hree is that mr ex is starting with his belief system -- that god is not ever responsible for evil -- and then trying to change the meaning of the verses that don't fit.

Hold on a second there. My belief that God is not ever directly responsible for evil is based on my reading of the Scriptures. In other words, it's not an assumption that I started with before I read the Scripture -- because before I read the Scriptures I actually felt that God could be quite cruel and perhaps even evil at times.

I'm trying to explain to you how and why I've come to this conclusion based on my reading of the Scriptures, but you seem to be continuing to restrict any possibility that the Isaiah passage in question should be read in any other way than literally.

It is my belief that the ancient Hebrews did not take these passages literally when they wrote them: ie., that God literally creates evil. In other words, they were writing poetry which they believed was in some way God-breathed and worthy of following in order to know God's will better.

You said before that...

arachnophilia writes:

it is absolutely not a belief issue...

However, the main crux of your side of the debate basically boils down to your belief that the ancient Hebrews either a) didn't believe that God created the pre-exiting chaos -- or b) that they changed their minds somewhere along the way and then refined their later sacred writings so as to reflect a newer grasp on the account of the creation.

You've quite consistently maintained some variation of these beliefs and yet you've shown no real evidence that either of these points were in fact held by the ancient Israelites, aside from the fact that you seem to be insisting that this must have been what happened. So far, as far as I'm reading your text, these views that you hold sound very much like beliefs to me.

The only thing that you've presented to bolster this beleif you hold is a display of the progression of thought from the Genesis text to the later texts, such as Isaiah for example. Oddly, however, you also seem to be attempting to restrict the directional flow of logic so that only a one-way progression from A to B to C can ensue.

Unfortunately, logic doesn't always work in this unidirectional pattern. Many times people will come across later evidence, and then re-examine the earliest texts in order to gain a better understanding of what the original writer may have believed.

As a matter of fact, the whole basis of hermeneutics (and science in general) seems to work in a direction that is quite the opposite of the direction you are striving to force this debate to flow.

Nonetheless, for the sake of this discussion, I will address your points from message 13 as I believe the Spirit enables me to do so. However, as Adminjar has allowed it, I will invoke the usage of the various words for "create" only as they are relavent to the main debate: the source of evil and how God employs evil -- or, more specifically, God "creating" evil and what I believe the Israilites believed (based on the Scriptures) when they used these poetic words.

I'll probably be responding tomorrow night or Friday sometime.

See you then.

Edit:

arachnophilia writes:

alright, simple question then. if you believe god created everything out of nothing (as your name implies) why is evil not one of those things god created, similar to the dimensions like time and space, or the laws of physics/mathematics? see, we're actually arguing each others' points here. you believe god created everything -- darkness, the deep, etc. then invariably you should believe he also created evil. i believe god did not create darkness or the deep. but i believe god created evil.

so basically, we're both hypocrites. :D

I was trying to explain this before with the invocation of the the different kinds of words used for "create" within the Hebrew Scriptures. I'll also be addressing this point in more detail too.

edit: corrected spelling: conclusion, attempting.

This message has been edited by Mr. Ex Nihilo, 07-20-2005 05:38 PM

This message has been edited by Mr. Ex Nihilo, 07-22-2005 03:12 AM


This message is a reply to:
 Message 20 by arachnophilia, posted 07-19-2005 8:19 PM arachnophilia has not yet responded

Mr. Ex Nihilo
Member (Idle past 5055 days)
Posts: 708
Joined: 04-12-2005


Message 23 of 102 (225617)
07-23-2005 12:51 AM
Reply to: Message 13 by arachnophilia
07-18-2005 5:41 PM


Re: Topic folk
Ok. Let's back up a bit here. For a while I thought you might've had a valid point in regards to your thoughts on Hebrew parallelism. It'd been a while since I'd read about it (a couple of years to be honest), so I thought I'd back-track and double check my thoughts on the matter. On closer examination, I'm now left wondering about your knowledge of Hebrew parallelism.

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

Similar to how the Hebrew word "bara" seems to be employed, we also see that the Hebrew word for "separated" is badal*. This literally means to "separate", "divide", or "to distinguish between diverse things". It can also be used in the sense of being "selected out of a group", "excluding oneself", "to discern",
or even "to make a difference".

In short, based on the Isaiah passage you have quoted, and the Genesis passage I have quoted, we are apparently seeing a picture of God creating (bara) darkness by separating it (badal) from the light he first formed (yasar). More specifically, one could say that God has brought forth darkness by contrasting it against the light.

arachnophilia writes:

that's all well and dandy, but that's not what isaiah says, is it? it says god creates darkness.

It's poetry and prose arachnophilia. It's not meant to be taken as literal. It's using figurative, allegorical, and/or symbolic expressions to convey an idea -- albeit complex interelationships between God and man (or his creation) expressed in a simple poetic manner. Furthermore, Hebrew poetry comprises almost 50% of the Hebrew Scriptures and it differs significantly from English poetry in that the emphasis is on parallel thoughts (where in English poetry the emphasis is on rhyme and meter).

As I mentioned before, this correspondence of thought in Hebrew poetry is called parallelism. Although it is not a singular feature of the Israelite culture, it is one of the fore-most distinguishing marks of the Hebrew poet. In this sense, each line -- including historical passages -- has a correspondence with the lines of poetry which surround it. It is up to the reader to make the connections between the lines of parallel thought.

I'm going to talk about this further down below.

arachnophilia writes:

present tense.

So what if it is present tense?

Whether past, present of future, the Hebrew Scriptures quite plainly state over and over again that God made all things.

You can't get around this part arachnophilia:

GOD MADE ALL THINGS.

I don't know how else to explain this.

If the Israelites clearly believed, according to their own Scriptures, that God was the maker of everything -- including, as I've pointed out, the highest heavens and the waters above the skies -- then how can one still argue that the Israelites didn't believe that God created all things?

I've never said that God didn't create evil. I've said that evil is the absence of God -- and that God creating evil effectively means God creating the choice for man to obey his will or not. This is to say, I think the Hebrew Scriptures are effectively pointing to God creating evil being the equivalent of God allowing humanity the free-will to choose between his will and their own will.

As I said at the very beginning of this message...

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

My view is that God is wholly good -- and I pray that the Spirit will enable me to explain my position clearly so that there will be no ambiguity in this matter.

I also specifically clarified this point before in another thread (the thread which lead up to this debate).

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:


I never said he wasn't in control of it. I said that he wasn't directly doing it. I think that that God employs good to corral evil into certain predetermined paths.

In others words, in my opinion, while God is not directly causing it to happen, it seems more appropriate to say that he is restraining it so that it doesn't get out of control -- or, when it does get out of control, he redirects it so as to do the least possible damage possible.

Or, again, elsewhere within that message...

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

As I said to Ifen, making a choice doesn't seem so much about making a choice, but rather about selecting which pre-set facet of life one will experience in the future. Certainly a choice still exists, but the final destination is certainly limited to a finte set of possibilities which were already predetermined by
God.

I've already agreed to not debate about the mystery concerning whether things were made ex nihilo or not. I'll address your thoughts from message 13 that relates to this concept. However, it appears that the only thing that is left for debate is how God creates these things -- and yes this ties in exactly with the Israelite concept of God creating both good and evil according to their own poetry within the Hebrew Scriptures..

I think the Israelites' believed, according to my understanding of the Scriptures, that God created most things by his breath (or spirit) in some way or another. I'll explain below, much later in this message, what I believe the Israelites believed based on this breath/spirit analogy found over and over again within the Hebrew Scriptures. However, as a brief introduction to this concept, I can point the positive effects of God's breath in Genesis 2:7 as follows...

NIV writes:

the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

Here's another example in Job 32:8...

NIV writes:

But it is the spirit in a man, the breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding.

And here's yet another example in Psalm 33:6...

NIV writes:

By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.

However, having said this, apparently according to this same breath, we see God doing the following in Job 4:9...

NIV writes:

At the breath of God they are destroyed; at the blast of his anger they perish.

A similar concept is expressed back further in Exodus 15:10...

NIV writes:

But you blew with your breath, and the sea covered them. They sank like lead in the mighty waters.

And later we see a similar concept in 2 Samuel 22:16 as follows...

NIV writes:

The valleys of the sea were exposed and the foundations of the earth laid bare at the rebuke of the LORD, at the blast of breath from his nostrils.

Clearly both good and bad happen according to the same breath of God.

But let's get back to Hebrew parallelisms before I address how God's breath brings forth things according to the Hebrew ideologies within their Scriptures.

arachnophilia writes:

one part of the line is reflecting the other. each part has to have the same meaning with the opposite object. the passage is reflecting on god's nature and range.

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

Actually, Hebrew poetry can employ both similarity and contrasts -- and the Hebrew Scriptures do employ both these literary devices quite liberally.

arachnophilia writes:

yes, they do. but not at the same time.

Ok. After back-tracking a bit, and re-reading about Hebrew parallelism, I'm honestly now left wondering if you're making stuff up as you go.

Let's continue on with this part about Hebrew parallelisms, and then I can address some of your points that you mentioned in message 13.

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

"Parallelism" is a technical term for the form of Hebrew poetry that repeats a thought in slightly different ways. For example, "synonymous parallelism"

arachnophilia writes:

synonymous parallelism is what's going on isaiah 45:7.

"i make ___ and create ____
i make ____ and create ____"

Really now?

I have to admit that you had me going here. After reading your text here I thought I was in serious error and had misunderstood something I'd read a couple of years ago. Although I was familiar and had read about this a few years ago, I learned some new things about this topic by researching it further over this last week, especially over the last two nights. After reading a bit more, it seems to me that my initial assertions were correct after all.

Let's take a look at what others have to say about Hebrew parallelism, shall we?

Sources:
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11473a.htm
http://www.biblicalheritage.org/ZYP/jfp2km0.htm
http://www.cresourcei.org/parallel.html
http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=67&letter=P

Now let's talk about what these sources have to say.

According to New Advent, parallelism is the balance of verse with verse. It is an essential and characteristic feature in Hebrew poetry. Either by repetition or by antithesis or by some other device, thought is set over against thought, form balances form. In this way, it brings the meaning home to the reader in a rather striking and agreeable fashion.

Even according to JewishEncyclopedia.com, it should be noted that it is now generally conceded that parallelism is the fundamental law, not only of the poetical, but even of the rhetorical and therefore of higher style in general in the Hebrew Scriptures (aka: the "Old Testament"). By parallelism in this connection is understood the regularly recurring juxtaposition of symmetrically constructed sentences. The symmetry is carried out in the substance as well as in the form, and lies chiefly in the relation of the expression to the thought. The same idea is expressed in its full import -- that is, in its various aspects and turns -- not in a continuous, uninterrupted sentence, but in several corresponding clauses or members with different words. Hence the name "parallelismus membrorum" or "sententiarum." It has also been aptly called "sinnrhythmus" (Ewald). For the parallel members are related to each other as rhythmical protasis and
apodosis.

It has been noted by New Advent that in the hymns of the Assyrians and Babylonians parallelism is also identified as being both fundamental and essential. The researcher Schrader takes it for granted that the Hebrews got this poetic principal from them (Jahrbuch für Protestant. Theologie, i, 121). However, a common Semitic source, in days long before the migration of Abraham, is by some considered a likelier hypothesis.

Similarly, according to JewishEncyclopedia.com, parallelism is not an exclusive peculiarity of Hebrew. It is met with not only in Assyrian (A. Jeremias, "Die Babyl.-Assyr. Vorstellung vom Leben nach dem Tode," p. 91, Leipsic, 1878; E. Schrader, in "Jahrbücher für Protestantische Theologie," i. 122) and in Egyptian (Georg Ebers, "Nord und Süd," i. 1; J. H. Breasted, in "The Biblical World," i. 55), but is also characteristic of Finnish song, especially the "Kalevala" (D. Comparetti, "Der Kalevala," Halle, 1892; J. C. Brown, "People of Finland," p. 280, London, 1892).

A. Wuttke ("Der Deutsche Volksaberglaube der Gegenwart," p. 157, Berlin, 1869) and Eduard Norden ("Die Antike Kunstprosa," ii. 813, Leipsic, 1898) consider parallelism as the most ancient and the original form of poetry, as "perhaps the most important formal ethnic thought ["formale Völkergedanke"] in existence."

The Syriac, Vulgate, and other ancient versions, recognized -- and to a certain extent reproduced -- the balance of verse with verse in the Scriptures. However, not until the sixteenth century did Hebraists speak of it as a poetical principle, essential to the Hebrews. It was then that Rabbi Azaria de Rossi, in his work The Light of the Eyes, first divided various poetic portions of the Bible into verses that brought out the fact of parallelism and of a fixed number of recurrent accents. Even so, Ibn Ezra and company had characterized this feature of Hebrew poetry by the expression "kaful" ("doubling") or, more fully, "kefel 'inyan be-millot shonot" ("doubling of the thought with other words"). Unlike Rabbi Azaria de Ross, however, Ibn Ezra regarded it merely as an elegant form of expression (On Abu al-Walid see Bacher, "Aus der Schrifterklärung des Abulwalid," p. 39.).

Schöttgen ("Horæ Hebraicæ et Talmudicæ", Dissertatio vi, Dresden, 1733, vol. I, p. 1252), though erring in that he calls it absurd to speak of iambs and hexameters in Hebrew poetry, perhaps more properly deserves the credit of having first drawn up the canons of parallelism -- which he calls exergasia (exergasia, the working up of a subject, Polybius, X, xlv, 6). Unknown to Lowth, however, Christian Schoettgen also referred to this principle in a general way ("Horæ Hebr." 1733; comp. Diss. vi., "De Exergasia Sacra," pp. 1249-1263: "exergasia quid sit, omnes Rhetorum libelli docent, conjunctio scilicet integrarum sententiarum idem significantium"). According to Schöttgen's canons Scriptural prose actually differs from Scriptural poetry solely in that the poet works up a subject by reiteration of the same idea either in the same or in different words, by omission of either the subject or the predicate, by
antithesis of contrary thoughts etc.

According to JewishEncyclopdia.com, the first to see this law clearly and to distinguish between its basic forms was the Anglican bishop Robert Lowth ("De Sacra Poesi Hebræorum Prælectiones," 1753, Lecture xix.; and "Preliminary Dissertation to Isaiah," 1778, pp. 12-26). Bishop Lowth (De Sarca Poesi Hebræorum, 1753; Isaiah, 1778) based his investigations upon the studies of Schöttgen and coined the term parallelism. He distinguished three kinds of parallelism (although there are other kinds as well): the synonymous, the antithetical, and the synthetic. His conclusions have been generally accepted as follows:

I. Synonymous Parallelism---The very same thought is repeated, at times in the very same words. The following examples, being close translations of the original text, will better illustrate Hebrew parallelism than does the Catholic Douai version which (in regard to the Psalms) has reached us through the medium of a
Latin translation of the Septuagint Greek:

(a) Up have the rivers lifted, Jahweh,
Up have the rivers lifted their voices,
Up the rivers lift their breakers.
--Ps., xcii, 3 (Hebrew, xciii).

(b) Yea, in the night is Ar-Moab put down,
set at naught;
Yea, in the night is Kir-Moab put down,
set at naught.
--Is., xv, 2.

According to JewishEncyclopedia.com, the synonymous is that in which the same sentiment is repeated in different but equivalent words: (Ps. xxv. 5; comp. ib. exiv.; Num. xxiii. 7-10; Isa. lx. 1-3; etc.).

"Shew me thy ways, O Lord; Teach me thy paths"

Frequently the second line not merely repeats but also reenforces or diversifies the idea:(Prov. i. 31);

"They shall eat of the fruit of their own way, And be filled with their own devices"(I Sam. xviii. 7; comp. Isa. xiii. 7, lv. 6 et seq.; Ps. xcv. 2).

"Saul hath slain his thousands, And David his ten thousands"

According to Lowth, synonymous parallels have the appearance of art and concinnity and a studied elegance; they prevail chiefly in shorter poems, in many of the Psalms, in Balaam's prophecies, in many of those of Isaiah, which are most of them distinct poems of no great length. There are, however, exceptions to this.

For a more thorough breakdown of how the second line repeats the first in different words having the same meaning, take a look at Psalm 19:1-2. Dennis Bratcher, in his article Parallelism in Hebrew Writing, breaks it down as follows:

Synonymous writes:


The heavens are telling the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.

Synonymous writes:


Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night declares knowledge.

II. Antithetical Parallelism--The thought of the first line is expressed by an antithesis in the second; or is counterbalanced by a contrast in the second. This parallelism is very common in the Book of Proverbs:

(a) The tongue of the wise adorneth knowledge,
The mouth of the fool blurteth out folly.
Prov., xv, 2.

(b) Soundness of heart is the life of the flesh,
Envy is the rot of the bones.
--Prov., xiv, 30.

Again, according to JewishEncyclopedia.com, the antithetical is that in which the parallel members express the opposite sides of the same thought: (Prov. xi. 3; comp. ib. x. 1 et seq.; Isa. liv. 7 et seq.; Ps. xx. 8, xxx. 6).

"The integrity of the upright shall guide them, But the perversity of the treacherous shall destroy them"

Frequently, hower, there are one or more synonymous elements in both members, thus making the contrast more emphatic:(Prov. xxix. 27; comp. ib. x. 5, xvi. 9, xxvii. 2).

"An unjust man is an abomination to the righteous, And he that is upright in the way is an abomination to the wicked"

Again, according to Lowth, antithetical parallelism gives an acuteness and force to adages and moral sentences, and therefore abounds in Solomon's Proverbs, but elsewhere is not often to be met with. The poem of Job, being on a large plan and in a high tragic style, though very exact in the division of the lines and the
parallelism, and affording many fine examples of the synonymous kind, yet consists chiefly of the constructive (which is a reference to the synthetic parallelism below in section III).

For a more thorough breakdown of how the second line contrasts with the first, take a look at Psalm 73:26. Dennis Bratcher, in his article Parallelism in Hebrew Writing, breaks it down as follows:

Antithetical writes:


My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion for ever.

III. Synthetic Parallelism---The theme is worked up by the building of thought upon similar thought:

(a) Mightier than the voices of many waters,
Mightier than the breakers of the ocean
In the high place is Jahweh.
--Ps., xcii, 4 (Hebrew, xciii).

(b) Know ye that Jahweh he is the Lord,
He hath made us; his we are;
His folk are we, yea, the flock of his pasture.
--Ps., xcix, 1 (Hebrew, c).

Again, according to JewishEncyclopedia.com, the synthetical (called also constructive and epithetical) is that in which the two members contain two disparate ideas, which, however, are connected by a certain affinity between them:(Prov. i. 7; comp. ib. iii. 5, 7; Isa. l. 4; Ps. i. 3, xv. 4).

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: But the foolish despise wisdom and instruction"

For a more thorough breakdown of how the second line adds to the first, take a look at Psalm 23:3-4. Dennis Bratcher, in his article Parallelism in Hebrew Writing, breaks it down as follows:

Synthetic writes:

Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false,
and does not swear deceitfully.

It should be kept in mind that the writers of the Hebrew Scriptures were very creative, and a great number of variations and combinations of these basic types occur in the Scriptural text. The use of parallelism usually means that the message of the text is in the larger passage and its overall point or impact rather than individual words or single lines. Also, specific words that may be ambiguous or used in unusual ways can be clarified or more narrowly defined by seeing them in the context of a parallel structure.

For the record, there are also other kinds of Hebrew parallelism. I'll note what the various sources have to say about these types of Hebrew parallelsim as well.


IV. Introverted Parallelism (named by Jebb, in "Sacred Literature", sec. 4). The thought veers from the main theme and then returns thereto.

Only in God be still, my soul.
From Him is my life;
Only He is my rock, my salvation,
My fortress. I totter not.

How long will ye set upon a man,---
Will ye dash upon him, all of you?
Only to thrust me from my height they plan,
As from a toppling wall.
They love the lie; they bless with the lips;
And in their hearts they curse.
Only in God be still, my soul.
From Him is my life;
Only He is my rock, my salvation,
My fortress. I totter not.
--Ps. lxi, 2-7 (Hebrew, lxii).

According to the JewishEncyclopedia.com, the introverted parallelism (Jebb, "Sacred Literature," 1820, § iv., p. 53) is that in which the hemistichs of the parallel members are chiastically arranged after the scheme ab-ba:(Prov. xxiii. 23 et seq., Hebr.; comp. ib. x. 4, 12; xiii. 24; xxi. 17; Ps. li. 4).

"My son, if thine heart be wise, My heart shall be glad, even mine; Yea, my veins shall rejoice, When thy lips speak right things"

V. Stair-like Parallelism---The thought is repeated, in pretty much the same words, and is developed still further:

Jahweh shall guard thee from all evil,
Jahweh shall guard thy soul;
Jahweh shall guard thy coming and thy going
From now for ever more.
--Ps. cxx, 7-8 (Hebrew, cxxi).

According to JewishEncyclopedia.com, this is also called palillogical parallelism, in which one or more words of the first line are taken up, like an echo or the canon in music, in the second:(Nah. i. 2; comp. Judges v. 3, 6, 7, 11, 12, 15, 16, 23, 27; Isa. ii. 7, xxiv. 5; Hos. vi. 4; Ps. lxxii. 2, 12, 17; cxxi.; cxxiv.; cxxvi.).

"The Lord is a jealous God and avengeth; The Lord avengeth and is full of wrath; The Lord taketh vengeance on his adversaries, And he reserveth wrath for his enemies"

VI. Emblematic Parallelism---The building up of a thought by use of simile:

Jahweh, my God, early I seek Thee;
My soul doth faim for Thee;
My flesh doth faint for Thee;
Like a land of drought it thirsts for Thee.
--Ps. lxii, 2, 3 (Hebrew, lxiii).

There are also other kinds of Hebrew parallelisms mentioned, such as "perfect" and "imperfect" parallelism, which works according to the equality or inequality of the number of words in each line. In this sense, Sometimes a distich does not contain the logical development or repetition of the thought as in the instances quoted above; but the thought goes forward through both lines, either because one line was not sufficient to express it or because the second line supplements the first in the form of a relative, final, causative, or consecutive clause.

There is also that parallelism which is called (e.g., by De Wette and Delitzsch) the "rhythmical": (Ps. cxxxviii. 4);

"All the kings of the earth shall give thee thanks, O Lord, For they have heard the words of thy mouth"(Prov. xv. 3; comp. ib. xvi. 7, 10; xvii. 13, 15; xix. 20; xxi. 23, 25).

"The eyes of the Lord are in every place, Keeping watch over the evil and the good"

Parallelism may be seen in distichs or tristichs. In fact, scholars are now coming round to the theory that the principle of balance and counterbalance is far more comprehensive in Hebrew poetry than are the above-named parallelisms. Each individual line is a unit of sense, and combines with other such units to form larger units of sense.

Recent scholars, like Zenner, have found an almost endless variety of balance and counterbalance of words with words (of lines with lines, either of the same strophe or of an antistrophe; of strophe with antistrophe or with another strophe etc). In fact, this wider application of the principle of parallelism or balance in the
study of Hebrew poetry has enabled modern scholars to go far in their efforts to reconstruct the metres of the sacred writers.

arachnophilia writes:

it follows the exact same structure. that's not what i'm talking about. i'm talking about the second half of the line reflecting the first.

it does not say "i divide light from darkness." it says "i make light, and i make darkness." this is not about creation, although it's meant to connotate it.

What?

So you're willing to admit that this passage in Isaiah "connotates" creation and yet is "not about" creation -- even though the creation event clearly states that God divided the light from the darkness?

The "creation event" is clearly expressed in opposites and contrasts even to the point of saying that God divided the light from the darkness. This same thought, where God's light penetrates, transforms or divides the darkness is expressed in many ways throughout the Scriptures as follows:

NIV writes:


2 Samuel 22:29
You are my lamp, O LORD; the LORD turns my darkness into light.

Job 12:22
He reveals the deep things of darkness and brings deep shadows into the light.

Psalm 18:28
You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.

Isaiah 42:16
I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.

Isaiah 58:10
...and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.

Daniel 2:22
He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him.

Micah 7:8
Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light.

Clearly it is the light from God which divides or changes the darkness and effectively drives it away. For example, many times he is described as a lamp which guides people through the darkness. Daniel 2:22 even goes so far as to say that light dwells in God -- yet never is there a passage of Scripture which plainly states that darkness dwells in God. There plenty of passages that say that God brings darkness -- but I haven't found one passage which explicitly states that God "radiates" darkness so to speak.

arachnophilia writes:

what i'm trying to say is that they're not being tricky about it. all four verbs in both lines, including both bara's, are qal, present tense verbs. they express simple, but ongoing actions. it doesn't really get any simpler. it's using the simplest form of the verb, meaning to create.

These kinds of parallelisms bear an extremely important role when determining the proper exegesis of a Scriptural passage. In fact, the importance of parallelism as an aid in determining text-critical and lexicographical questions evidently affords the key to the correct interpretation of many passages in the Scriptures. From an esthetical point of view the parallelism may actually be termed the rhythm of nature.

arachnophilia writes:

you can't just change the words to mean whatever you want them to mean.

Similarly, you can't just insist on the most literal reading possible so as to change the meaning of the text to that of something radically different from what the authors originally intended.

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

On the other hand, an example of "antithetical parallelism", in which a thought is followed by its opposite, can be found in Proverbs 14:30, "A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones." In studying Hebrew parallelism the key seems to be to compare each part with its pair in the other half
of the sentence. For instance, in Proverbs 14:30 "a heart at peace" pairs with its opposite, "envy", and "rots the bones" is the opposite of "gives life to the body."

arachnophilia writes:

but this is not antithetical parallelism. in poetry, these parallel relationship occur between whole lines. one whole line is the opposite of the other.

Where are you getting your information from?

Could you cite a source please because I would like to investigate it further. The reason why I ask is because what you said above is actually wrong. According to all the sources I've read, you can have parallel relationships even within two different clauses of the exact same sentence -- so your reliance upon parallel relationships needing to occur between "whole lines" appears to be quite an error (or else expressed inadequately) on your part when attempting to define antithetical parallelism.

arachnophilia writes:

this is not what's going on here. both lines say "i make ____ and i create ____." they're synonymous.

Good and evil are synonymous? Light and darkness are synonymous?

arachnophilia writes:

now, the first half of the line *IS* in contrast to the second. light is in contrast to darkness, and good is in contrast to evil.

Thank you for a nearly textbook definition of antithetical parallelism by the way.

arachnophilia writes:

but if you change the verbs, they're not. if god creates one, and cuts down the other, it's just repeating the same idea. that's not what it's doing. it's saying god creates both.

The verbs have nothing specific to do with whether or not the verse is considered antithetical parallelism or not.

In synonymous parallelism the very same thought is repeated, at times in the very same words.

In antithetical parallelism, however, the thought of the first line is expressed by an antithesis in the second -- or is counterbalanced by a contrast in the second. Furthermore, frequently there are one or more synonymous elements in both members of the antithetical parallel, thus making the contrast more emphatic

Parallelism in general may be defined not only as a relationship between two or more sentences that correspond in similarity or are set with each other -- but also with two or more clauses which exhibit similar word formulae. In other words, antithetical parallelism within Hebrew poetry also includes sentences wherein which two or more clauses of a verse contrast each other.

In fact, one of the examples listed as an example of antithetical parallelism is that of Isaiah 45:7 itself, "I form the light, and create darkness".

This verse, which is listed under Professor John Murray's list as a form of antithetical parallelism, was identified from the former works of Rabbi Azaria de Rossi (who first noted this as a kind of parallel), Schöttgen (who catalogued the Hebrew parallelisms), and Bishop Lowth (who titled the former research according to the three main categories we are talking about here): -- so if you have some special insight into the nature of parallelisms within the Hebrew Scriptures, an insight that is better than the people who actually found the nature of parallelisms within the Hebrew Scriptures, I'd like to know your source for this information.

arachnophilia writes:

now if it said, "i create good, but the devil makes evil" we'd talk.

No, I don't think we would even begin to talk -- because then we'd be talking about synthetic parallelism within the Hebrew Scriptures -- not antithetical parallelism. Synthetic parallelism is that in which the two members contain two disparate ideas, which, however, are connected by a certain affinity between them.

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

First of all, this raises an interesting question: why did God not use the same word "bara" for both his creating of the light and the darkness in the Isaiah passage in question?

arachnophilia writes:

variety.

Many who are in the know regarding this subject would tend to ascribe the structure of the poetry to expressed in a multifacted way so as to ensure the durability of the Scriptures themselves. In other words, when one translates the Hebrew text literally into another language, the Hebrew parallelisms are effectively protected by the structure of the parallelism itself so that Hebrew ideas are retained intact over long periods of time.

For example, accoridng to JewishEncyclopedia.com, parallelism is best adapted to the genius of the Hebrew language with its wealth of synonymous expressions which enables the poet or the prophet to dwell upon a theme with an almost inexhaustible variety of expression and coloring. The parallelism is so inwrought in the nature of Hebrew poetry that it can not be lost in translation; and to this fact is perhaps due not in a small measure the fact that the poetry of the Hebrew Scriptures have become the common property of mankind.

arachnophilia writes:

hebrew has words that are synonymous. why not use them? bara is a synonym of yatsar and 'asah. look:

Isaiah 43:7 writes:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Isa 43:7 Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created (bara') him for my glory, I have formed (yatsar) him; yea, I have made ('asah) him.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

same words. synonyms.

*sigh*

What does Isaiah 43:7 have to do with Isaiah 45:7? Yes, creations are mentioned in Isaiah 43:7 for sure -- yet I see absolutely no reference to any contrasts whatsoever -- not one.

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

It seems to me that this is an example of subtle antithetical parallelism, with yasar being contrasted to bara in reference to the light and darkness.

arachnophilia writes:

uh, except that's it's plainly not. is it being contrasts in the verse above? no. they mean the same thing.

Isaiah 45:18 writes:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Isa 45:18
For thus saith the LORD that created (bara') the heavens;
God himself that formed (yatsar) the earth and made it;
he hath established it,
he created (bara') it not in vain,
he formed (yatsar) it to be inhabited:
I [am] the LORD; and [there is] none else.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

please, please, please notice that this is SYNONYMOUS parallelism. they're synonyms.

But why are you talking Isaiah 45:18?

I thought we were discussing Isaiah 45:7?

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

Second of all, even if the word is translated "create" in every single translation of the Scriptures, the meaning of the word create (bara) can still nonetheless have very different subjects which it focusses on -- it depends on the context it is used.

Here, let's go through some examples:

arachnophilia writes:

yes. context is everything. and the context here is, well, CREATION. it's god making things. look at the words it's being used in conjunction with -- make. form. wonder what it's talking about.

Yes. It's talking about creation, and we're specifically discussing what the Israelites believed when they said that God "created" evil.

Now let's get back to message 13...

arachnophilia writes:

yes, i think we are. i was going to suggest we quit this whole creation bit -- it actually has very little to do with debate.

I think it has a lot to do with the debate. I also think that the whole "creation bit" has actually worked against your own arguments, especially with your belief that the Hebrews didn't believe that God created the primal chaos "prior" to the creation.

For example, you said before:

arachnophilia writes:

all i'm saying is that genesis describes this darkness as being a pre-existing condition. or rather, it never describes its creation. it seems to be the null state of the universe, and light needs to be created.

To this point I myself responded:

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

This actually jives very much which the concept of evil as being the absence of God -- or to phrase it using your own words here, evil is the "null state" of the universe.

In other words, by insisting that the Hebrews didn't believe that God created the primal chaos, it seems as though you've basically openned a hole in your argument whereby one can fairly conclude that "evil" is one's participation in the chaos which God didn't actually create -- that evil is not caused by God directly but rather harnessed by his will until people deviate from his will and throw themselves into chaos.

For the record, you've pointed out a good point before...

arachnophilia writes:

alright, simple question then. if you believe god created everything out of nothing (as your name implies) why is evil not one of those things god created, similar to the dimensions like time and space, or the laws of physics/mathematics? see, we're actually arguing each others' points here. you believe god created everything -- darkness, the deep, etc. then invariably you should believe he also created evil. i believe god did not create darkness or the deep. but i believe god created evil.

so basically, we're both hypocrites.

Admittedly, we are doing quite the doe-see-doe as we navigate through this debate.

However, the main difference between your argument and my argument is that you seem to believe that the Israelites thought that when God creates something, it means he literally created something tangible -- including good and evil, even including the adversary.

My view is that the Israelites distinguished between when the Scriptures said that God created something tangible and when God created something intangible. In the case of tangible objects, such as the creation of the physical heavens and earth, I believe that the Israelites really believed that God literlly created it. However, in the case of intangible objects, such as spirtual qualities of good and evil, I believe that the Israelites didn't believe that God literally created it.

In the case of the spiritual, this was more of an emanation from God himself when considered good -- and a lack of God's emanation when considered bad. In this sense, light was a metaphor for God, but darkness (which God's light clearly altered, changed or dispersed) was a metaphor for the lack of God. This can be seen in the Scriptures above where the Lord is described as "lamp to my feet" in darkness. This is even more clarified in Daniel 2:22 where it says, "He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him."

Consequently, you seem to be of the opinion that the deep always existed whereas I think (according to the Scriptures) that light has always existed, being emanated from God himself. In fact, when I read in the first chapter of Genesis....

NIV writes:

And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness.

...I'm reading the text -- based on later passages of Scripture -- that the author is saying that God's light was basically penetrating the chaos and causing it to be separated into light and darkness. In fact, day and night are not even noted until the light is revealed, effectively distinguishing darkness from light.

We could go one step further with this. For example, when using the spirit/breath analogy noted above, we see an even more interesting pattern: the same breath from God results in great blessing or else great cursing. In fact, according to the Hebrew Scriptures themselves, we see that God's breath is responsible for a wide variety of things, both good and bad as follows...

As a started above, I can point the positive effects of God's breath in Genesis 2:7 as follows...

NIV writes:

the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

Here's another example in Job 32:8...

NIV writes:

But it is the spirit in a man, the breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding.

And here's yet another example in Psalm 33:6...

NIV writes:

By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.

However, having said this, apparently according to this same breath, we see God doing the following in Job 4:9...

NIV writes:

At the breath of God they are destroyed; at the blast of his anger they perish.

A similar concept is expressed back further in Exodus 15:10...

NIV writes:

But you blew with your breath, and the sea covered them. They sank like lead in the mighty waters.

And later we see a similar concept in 2 Samuel 22:16 as follows...

NIV writes:

The valleys of the sea were exposed and the foundations of the earth laid bare at the rebuke of the LORD, at the blast of breath from his nostrils.

Clearly both good and bad happen according to the same breath of God.

How can this be?

I think the answer is rather simple...though it might take some time to explain.

Let's say you are on an island surrounded by waters everywhere. On this island is a sailboat. The Lord has apparently directed you to ride this sailboat eastward to your destination far east. In fact, let's say that God has "fore-ordained" that you are to ride the sailboat to this eastward destination.

Now, here you are on this small island. To the far east you can see land -- you can even see your home there. However, in the westward direction, you can see land as well. In fact, the land in far west direction actually looks more promising to you. As far as you can tell, the land in the far west is actually closer than the land in the far east too.

You are clearly given a choice at this point within your own mind: you can follow God's advice or you can reject it. As you're beginning to doubt God's word, a gentle breeze (symbolic of God's will) starts to blow in an eastwardly direction.

Let's say you choose to follow God's will. Upon startting your voyage, you note that the eastwardly wind is picking up rather dramatically. However, as you're guiding the sailboat, you see an important scroll case -- sealed with the Lord's insignia, which is also sealed in a watertight ivory case. You now realize why God wanted you to ride this boat home -- to deliver his message.

After only a short period of time a storm comes upon you without much warning. As you're controlling the rudder and sail, you realize that you were wise to follow God's will. In fact, thanks to the strong winds of the storm, you are actually getting to the eastward lands much faster than you thought you would.

You arrive home safe and sound, if not a bit waterlogged. In hindsight, you now realize that the storm, which you originally feared would kill you, actually turned out to be a very great blessing in disguise. Although you thought it very bad at first, you now realize that God intended this bad thing for your good.

Genesis 50:20 writes:


You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

Furthermore, you now realize that simply trusting God's word, even in disasterous situations, will enable you to ride out any storm that might come your way.

Later, after you've delivered the scroll, as you're sitting home safe and sound and warm, you start to wonder what it would have been like if you had chosen to go in the westward direction. You start to replay the situation in your head, remembering how strongly and quickly the wind picked up. You ask God what would have happened in prayer and God actually steps in through your prayer to reveal "what might have been".

You see a vision of yourself attempting to sail the boat against the heavy winds (which is symbolic of God's will). You see the boat's sail being ripped nearly to shreads by the intense winds. You see the boat capsizing by riding against the wind lifted wave crests -- and you see yourself drowning in the waters.

Upon seeing this, you now realize that the wind (which is symbolic of God's will) could have killed you if you had gone against it. Oddly, however, you see your dead body and fragments of the boat being blown along by the easterly storm winds. You also see the end result of your folly -- your dead body and fragments of the boat laying along the shore of the eastward lands which you were ignoring. You also see your body sadly being found by loved ones -- and you see that they find the sealed scroll as well.

While tragic in its own right, you also realize upon seeing this vision that the Lord's will would have been accomplished no matter what choice you made. In other words, God's will was fulfilled in either a negative way or a postive way. You have the choice which way to fulfill it -- either by moving by his spirit, or else by moving against his spirit.

Now let me ask you a couple of questions: In the above analogy who caused the man in the boat to die? Did God cause it -- or did the man cause it himself?

arachnophilia writes:

of it came up as a side comment in the analysis of why the isaiah verse in question is unusual.

But it does directly apply, especially since we are talking about what the Scriptures may potentially mean when it says that God created good and evil. Nonetheless, so be it -- let's move onto your next points.

arachnophilia writes:

the issues i would like focused on are mostly in quote boxes in my above post:

:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Eze 6:9 And they that escape of you shall remember me among the nations whither they shall be carried captives, because I am broken with their whorish heart, which hath departed from me, and with their eyes, which go a whoring after their idols: and they shall lothe themselves for the evils which they have committed in all
their abominations.

Eze 6:10 And they shall know that I am the LORD, and that I have not said in vain that I would do this evil unto them.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

arachnophilia writes:

i suggest we stick to addressing this point in conjunction with original isaiah verse:


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Isaiah 45:7
I form the light, and create darkness:
I make peace, and create evil:
I the LORD do all these things.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

arachnophilia writes:

as well as the amos verse i mentioned previously in the conversations that lead up to this debate, as was next on my list of things to bring up:

:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Amo 3:6 Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done [it]?
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Again, as I've explained above, I think you're reading the text too literally. However, to express this concept more clearly, I think it's poetry which is, ultimatety, designed to reassure the Israelites even when bad things happen. I think the most basic message being expressed here is that nothing happens by random chance.

As John W. Ritenbaugh notes, in these disasters, God is saying something quite different -- something vitally important. He is warning the people that they have a responsibility, and if they fail to live under their covenant with him, he has the power to correct them so that they will repent. So, in fairness and mercy, God lays a simple choice before them:

"Therefore thus will I do to you, O Israel; and because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel!"

Amos 4:12

Their choice is either to face their sins and repent, or face the wrath of a just God.

To bring about his purpose, God is active in his creation, especially among his people, whether physical or spiritual Israel.

"If there is calamity in a city, will not the Lord have done it?"

Amos 3:6

Is God involved in our lives? Do things happen by chance to the people of God? This world would have you believe that God really is not aware, that he does not care or even exist! But he clearly says,

"I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the Lord, do all these things"

Isaiah 45:7

Is God involved? Do we see God working in our lives? Events do not happen accidentally to God's people, of whom God is very aware. He is very concerned and thus very involved.

arachnophilia writes:

i would also like to address something that came up off-topic, but directly applies, from mr. ex-nihilo's source on ex-nihilo:


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
He [Maimonides] begins with the assumption that God’s created world is thoroughly good. Contrary to the claim of [the biblical book of] Isaiah, then, God cannot
have created evil in any of its forms.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

i think our next route of discussion should be to examine this assumption, since it is being used to directly contradict the verse in isaiah. but if that's too much for now, we can hold off. these posts are getting rather long.

I think I've addressed many of these points above. However, I'm fairly sure that they are not acceptable to you.

What part of Maimonides' assumption would you like to discuss further?

edit: added reference to Genesis 50:20 to further illustrate my point.

This message has been edited by Mr. Ex Nihilo, 07-27-2005 03:51 PM


This message is a reply to:
 Message 13 by arachnophilia, posted 07-18-2005 5:41 PM arachnophilia has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 24 by arachnophilia, posted 07-23-2005 5:02 AM Mr. Ex Nihilo has responded

Mr. Ex Nihilo
Member (Idle past 5055 days)
Posts: 708
Joined: 04-12-2005


Message 26 of 102 (225646)
07-23-2005 10:13 AM
Reply to: Message 25 by arachnophilia
07-23-2005 5:13 AM


Re: (not on topic)
I think we both realize that this topic has a lot of overlap, but I'll try to keep it shorter and to the points you've noted.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 25 by arachnophilia, posted 07-23-2005 5:13 AM arachnophilia has not yet responded

Mr. Ex Nihilo
Member (Idle past 5055 days)
Posts: 708
Joined: 04-12-2005


Message 29 of 102 (225935)
07-24-2005 11:03 AM
Reply to: Message 24 by arachnophilia
07-23-2005 5:02 AM


Re: on topic, i promise.
arachnophilia writes:

in the interest of expediting this topic, i'm going to more or less ignore the bits which aren't on topic.

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

GOD MADE ALL THINGS.

I don't know how else to explain this.

....

I've never said that God didn't create evil. [...] God creating evil effectively means God creating the choice for man to obey his will or not.

arachnophilia writes:

ok, i actually agree with this bit. god created everything, including evil, and darkness. genesis does not depict it, but i will admit that it is not an incompatible later reading. many believe this way, including myself. i think, however, this next point is the error:

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

This is to say, I think the Hebrew Scriptures are effectively pointing to God creating evil being the equivalent of God allowing humanity the free-will to choose between his will and their own will.

arachnophilia writes:

while this is somewhat true, i think, it's not totally true. here's why:

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

I've said that evil is the absence of God

arachnophilia writes:

evil does not appear to be "the abscence of god." this point is totally contrary to what isaiah actuall says, and this is why the "PRESENT TENSE" bit is important. it's not "i creatED good and i creatED evil," it's "i create evil." it's a present participle in hebrew. it's not only a continuing action, but a CONTINUOUS action. it means that god is saying he is the source of evil in the past, in isaiah's day, in our time, and in the future to come, and he creates, present tense, evil continuously.

Yes, but his "creating evil" basically equals man going against his goodness which he has fore-ordained. In other words, his intention is good for people -- until they decide to go against his will. It's not that God is the source of evil. It's that he's controlling the outcome of our actions so that regardless of whether we do his will or not, his will WILL be accomplished.

arachnophilia writes:

this means, point blank, that isaiah is not referring to a distant point of time, nor is he referring to god as absent. god is actively present, creating. but, and i know you'll bring this up, is he active creating by not showing up?

I think so. I think the Israelites believed this too.

arachnophilia writes:

well, isaiah is speaking of the wonders of god's creation, and the duality of it. is one of those wonders the abscence of god, something many would lament? what does isaiah mean? i'll touch on the import (but slight) difference here a little later in the post.

Alright. If you're going to discuss this later, I won't comment at this time then.

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

I think the Israelites' believed, according to my understanding of the Scriptures, that God created most things by his breath (or spirit) in some way or another.

arachnophilia writes:

or word. the two are often interchangeable. the ideas are somewhat similar, and breath is common, yes.

Ok, we're agreed here then.

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

A similar concept is expressed back further in Exodus 15:10...

NIV writes:


But you blew with your breath, and the sea covered them. They sank like lead in the mighty waters.

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

And later we see a similar concept in 2 Samuel 22:16 as follows...

NIV writes:


The valleys of the sea were exposed and the foundations of the earth laid bare at the rebuke of the LORD, at the blast of breath from his nostrils.

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

Clearly both good and bad happen according to the same breath of God.

arachnophilia writes:

yes, i agree. this is what i'm getting at, actually. i think isaiah is discussing this very same concept -- but i'll get to that.

Ok, so we're agreed here too -- I think. I'll wait to see what you propose later.

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

According to New Advent, parallelism is the balance of verse with verse. It is an essential and characteristic feature in Hebrew poetry. Either by repetition or by antithesis or by some other device, thought is set over against thought, form balances form. In this way, it brings the meaning home to the reader in a rather striking and agreeable fashion.

Even according to JewishEncyclopedia.com, it should be noted that it is now generally conceded that parallelism is the fundamental law, not only of the poetical, but even of the rhetorical and therefore of higher style in general in the Hebrew Scriptures (aka: the "Old Testament").

arachnophilia writes:

yes, it is thoroughly ingrained in almost all hebrew texts. even the prose. it's quite evident of the hebrew mode of thinking. i'm not sure what this is evidence of, though, or how it's meant to prove me wrong. even if the parallelism IS antithetic, which it's not, it still says "god creates evil."

I guess the point is that, if it is indeed antithetical (as the sources I've read seem to believe), then there is a distinct contrast being presented in the Isaiah text. Whereas I've pointed to numerous examples of God "creating" throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, it seems relevent to display this antithetical parallelism in order to show that Isaiah is not drawing synonomous parallels.

As I said before, the meaning of the word "ra" seems very much dependent on how it is being employed within the Scriptures themselves -- and it doesn't always imply "evil" in the sense of someone maliciously and willfully determined to cause or inflict harm on another. More specifically, since the word "ra" is being used in
context with the word "bara", it seems more appropriate to conclude that the evil that is being "brought about" is more the result of the effects of one's action cutting themselves off from God's will -- this seems even more so considering that "bara" is employed within the sense of being akin "to cut", "cut down", "engrave", or
"carve".

In other words, like I said above, unlike the "yasar" used to describe God bringing forth light, the word "bara" seems to be employed in contrast to being cut apart or even divided from something else. Even the darkness in Genesis is "caused" by being "separated" or "divided" from the light which God originally formed.

Take a look at the literal translation of when God "makes a covenant" anywhere in the Hebrew Scriptures, and I think you'll my point about "cutting" being synonomous to "making" being emphasized more.

I went and purchased the Smith's Bible Dictionary in order to do some more research on this.

When I look to the definition of "covenant", I'm reading the Hebrew word berith -- which primarilly means "a cutting" with reference to the custom of cutting or dividing animals in two and passing between the parts in ratifying the coventant. The Hebrew word for covenant, berith, is very similar to the special word used for divine creative activity, bara. The root of these words apparently conveys the sense of binding. The literal translation of "make a covenent" is somethng to the effect of "cut the meat".

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

So you're willing to admit that this passage in Isaiah "connotates" creation and yet is "not about" creation -- even though the creation event clearly states that God divided the light from the darkness?

arachnophilia writes:

yes, what's hard about this idea? if it were in past tense, it would probably be about the creation event of genesis 1. rather, it is only using the imagery. the bit that distinguishes it, if it weren't plainly obvious, is the tense. the 7 days of creation have stopped nearly 4000 years before isaiah wrote, according to tradition. they were not going on still. god creating good and evil is not a singular action occuring the past, but a continuing action occuring the in present.

I will note that the seventh day began in Genesis -- but it never actually said that it was finished yet. In other words, from the first to the sixth day, God basically ends it with something like, "And there was evening, and there was morning -- the Xth day."

In fact, here's all the text in question...

NIV writes:


Genesis 1:5
God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
Genesis 1:4-6 (in Context) Genesis 1 (Whole Chapter)

Genesis 1:8
God called the expanse "sky." And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.
Genesis 1:7-9 (in Context) Genesis 1 (Whole Chapter)

Genesis 1:13
And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.
Genesis 1:12-14 (in Context) Genesis 1 (Whole Chapter)

Genesis 1:19
And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.
Genesis 1:18-20 (in Context) Genesis 1 (Whole Chapter)

Genesis 1:23
And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.
Genesis 1:22-24 (in Context) Genesis 1 (Whole Chapter)

Genesis 1:31
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
Genesis 1:30-32 (in Context) Genesis 1 (Whole Chapter)

Yet nowehre do I read, "And there was evening, and there was morning—the seventh day.

This implies to me that the seventh day is still on-going.

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

The "creation event" is clearly expressed in opposites and contrasts even to the point of saying that God divided the light from the darkness. This same thought, where God's light penetrates, transforms or divides the darkness is expressed in many ways throughout the Scriptures as follows:

arachnophilia writes:

yes, but none of those are about the creation in 7 days, are they?

Can you show me a passage which actually says the seventh day finished?

arachnophilia writes:

they're all metaphors for something else. the author is implying the imagery of a story that everyone knew to make his point. do you agree?

No.

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

Similarly, you can't just insist on the most literal reading possible so as to change the meaning of the text to that of something radically different from what the authors originally intended.

arachnophilia writes:

but that's not at all what i'm doing. i'm insisting that it actually says god creates evil, because it does. i don't know how or why you are denying this simple fact, but there it is in black and white. (or blue and white as the case may be)

i have suggested a more interpretive reading that actually illuminates what the ancient hebrews thought about good and evil -- but you've rejected it for some unknown reason, in favor of a completely anachronistic view: evil is the abscence of god. but i'll suggest it again, below. what isaiah originally intended was to say that god creates both good and evil. if he had intended to say "god turns our evil into his good" he could have said -- and in fact does as you have pointed out. but that's not what this verse is saying.

Yes, but you cannot read one verse from Isaiah to the exclusion of the other verse in Isaiah. If Isaiah says in one passage that God creates evil, and then he says in another passage that he turns evil into good, it seems highly likely that God can also allow good to be turned into evil -- which is exactly what Isaiah warns that
people do in Isaiah 5:20...

NIV writes:

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.

Light and darkness are clearly not synonymous. Neither are good and evil.

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

Could you cite a source please because I would like to investigate it further

arachnophilia writes:

unfortunately, no. even if i took notes in class, i doubt you'd accept them.

That's not fair arachnophilia. I'd be willing to listen to an informed source which held a different opinion. I'd even be willing to read some kind of on-line source if you could provide one. I've searched quite a bit through the sources for hebrew parallelisms -- and I've yet to come across a source which states that Isaiah 45:7 is an example of synonomous parallelism.

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

The reason why I ask is because what you said above is actually wrong. According to all the sources I've read, you can have parallel relationships even within two different clauses of the exact same sentence.

arachnophilia writes:

yes, ok, i suppose you can. technical error on my part -- but that doesn't make you right either. because it's still, get this, synonymous parallelism within the line. if you hadn't already asked it, it would be you next question:

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

Good and evil are synonymous? Light and darkness are synonymous?

arachnophilia writes:

strangely enough, YES!

Then why do the Hebrew Scriptures say this?

NIV writes:

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.

arachnophilia writes:

because synonymous parallelism doesn't work with synonyms in the english sense of the word.

:confused:

Yes they do -- synonymous parallelisms do work with synonyms in the English sense of the word so long as they are literally translated. The trouble comes when one is not aware of the Hebrew idioms that may be expressed within the synonymous parallelism.

arachnophilia writes:

sometimes the words have the same meaning, but other times, objects occur in distinct, predefined pairs that are actually opposites. numbers go up by one. if you don't believe me, look at your own post:

Ok, let's take a look at it.

Synonymous writes:


Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night declares knowledge.

arachnophilia writes:

are day and night synonymns?

In Hebrew day and night comprise of one [echad] day.

In fact, the most important verse the Hebrews memorized in the Scriptures was Deuteronomy 6:4:

"Hear, O Israel! Yahweh is our God, Yahweh is one [Echad]!"

There are a few words in Hebrew that the author could have used a word the has one exclusive meaning: the numeric, solitary oneness of God ("yachid" or "bad").

Instead the author apparently chose to use the Hebrew word, "echad" which is used most often as a unified one, and only sometimes as numeric oneness. For example, when God said in Genesis 2:24 "the two shall become one [echad] flesh" it is the same word for "one" that was used in Deut 6:4 -- and even then there is a merger between more than one source.

However, nowhere do the Scriptures actually state that good and evil are one [echad]. Likewise, nowhere does the Hebrew Scriptures actually state that light and darkness are actually one [echad] -- except in relation to the physical events of day and night. Not once are these "pairs" of good and evil described in
such a fashion as a unified one with the word "echad".

arachnophilia writes:

not in english, they're not.

But we're not talking about English are we? We're talking about Hebrew -- specifically what the Israelites believed when they wrote their Hebrew Scriptures.

arachnophilia writes:

day always occurs with night...

But day and night are one [echad] day. The one day, which God created, consisted of both light and darkness - evening and day. A day, which is one, consists of two parts but it’s still one day.

In Genesis 2:24, the “one” in one flesh is echad. God joined man and woman in perfect harmony as a unit. Two become one flesh in marriage. So two people come together and join as one.

In Numbers 13:23, a cluster of grapes is echad. One cluster of grapes consisted of more than one grape. One cluster, many grapes.

In Ezra 2:64, the “whole congregation” is derived from echad. One congregation consisted of more than one individual -- 42,360 Israelites according to the Scriptures.

In Jeremiah 32:38-39, the “one heart” and “one way” is echad. “One heart” & “one way” represents the entire nation of Israel. Again, many are seen as one.

arachnophilia writes:

good always occurs with evil, and light always occurs with dark. heaven with earth, sun with moon, rivers with oceans, etc. good and evil are a pair.

While I admit that light occurs with dark in reference to day and night making one day (which is a physical process), it needs to be stated that good can exist without evil. It seems to be evil that cannot exist without good -- that evil needs good in order to define itself.

Or, restating this more approriately to the Hebrew Scriptures, could you show me at least one passage in where the Israelites expressed the idea that good and evil are one by using the word "echad"?

arachnophilia writes:

it kind of illustrates the hebrew philosophy -- that opposites often compliment each other. it's almost eastern, but then again so is the middle east, right?

It is the Middle East for sure. But no, the Hebrew philosophy does not rest on the idea that opposites often compliment each other. Opposites seem to be employed in order to further define their ideas more clearly -- but the indivual objects that are "paired" can nonetheless be described on their own by their own characteristics
independant of their "coupling".

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

Thank you for a nearly textbook definition of antithetical parallelism by the way.

arachnophilia writes:

see above. the distinction is pretty subtle, i know.

When one realizes that day and night comprises of one [echad] day, and one contrasts it to the other concept of good and evil [which is never described using echad], one finds that the distinction isn't even actually there. :(

arachnophilia writes:

what i'm trying to say is that the pair is in contrast, not the whole structure.

Actually, the whole structure is in contrast in this verse...

Synonymous writes:


Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night declares knowledge.

...because day and night comprise one [echad] day.

What does good and evil comprise one [echad] of?

arachnophilia writes:

see, in antithetical, we'd have an example like this: (from your examples)

antithetical writes:


Soundness of heart is the life of the flesh,
Envy is the rot of the bones.

arachnophilia writes:

"soundness of heart" is the opposite of "envy." "life" is the opposite of "rot." "flesh" is a predefined pair with "bones" (not an opposite pair,
btw*)

*special note: frequently, however, there are one or more synonymous elements in both members, thus making the contrast more emphatic

arachnophilia writes:

so almost every word is opposite the other, except the pair. what we have in isaiah, and follow me on this, is this:

Here...I'll repost the passage so that we can break down your logic more visibly here...

Isaiah 45:7 writes:


I form darkness,
I bring prosperity and create disaster;
I, the LORD, do all these things.

I'll post little notes as I'm reading through this.

arachnophilia writes:

a: "i" is the same word as "i".

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

This is a no-brainer. The conclusion is that "I" {meaning God) "do all these things."

b: "make" is a synonym of "create."

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

Then why is bara used only in special situations, such heaven and earth themselves, man, and these (supernatural) serpents -- as you yourself have noted?

Are we not seeing a contrast between God's "special creations" and God's "natural creations" when Isaiah invokes bara for "darkness" and yasar for "light" respectively?

c: "good" is a predefined pair with "evil."

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

I'll also note that you seem to believe that good and evil are synonymous -- based on your understanding of "day" and "night" being considered synonymous -- which seems to be another misunderstanding. Day and night are synonymous in regards to compriseing one day, but light and darkness are not synonymous in the sense of comprising one of...well...anything.

Where in the Scriptures does it say that good and evil are considered one echad of something in the same way that day and night are considered one echad day?

d: the whole line is then repeated with "light" being a synonym of "good" and "dark" being a synonym of "evil." not predefined pairs, but of the same meaning...

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

And?

...the only opposition in the entire thing occurs within the predefined pairs of "good and evil" and "light and dark." which are ALWAYS that way.

Strange that assumption you have about good and evil ALWAYS occuring that way. I can cite numerous passages which say that God is good -- yet I've never come accross a passage which outright states that God is evil. I've seen the passages you've quoted about God creating evil, and God bringing evil, and God controlling evil, but I've never yet seen you quote a passage which says that God is evil.

If the Israelites believed that God was the ultimate source of both good and evil (insteead of just good), then why do they not once just outright state that God is evil in the same way that they outright state that God is good?

arachnophilia writes:

it does not mean the parallelism of the sentance is antithetical. it's just expressing equal but opposite ideas through the pair alone.

Good and evil are not considered both "equal but opposite ideas". They are defintiely considered opposite -- but they are certainly not considered equal.

arachnophilia writes:

it is meant to equate the two, not contrast.

I actually think you're borrowing more from the Eastern religions (such as the eternal cycles of Yin and Yang), than any opinions the Israelites held when you make this statement. I've seen no passages of Scripture which states that good equals evil -- never -- not even once.

arachnophilia writes:

compare that with the example above of antithetical parallelism: one line is the compliment of the other on the whole. they both express the same idea really, and it moves in one direction.

It moves in the direction that God is in control for sure -- and it's reasurring to those readers who are trusting in God to know that he is in control no matter how bad things look. But it is not stating that good compliments evil -- or that good cannot exist without evil for that matter.

arachnophilia writes:

antithetical parallelism, i think, cannot express true opposites since every word has to be the opposite of the one above. i think opposites can only be expressed by synonyms and opposing pairings -- but i could be wrong. either way, that's clearly what's going on here.

Well...I'm glad you explained that -- because now I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.

Maybe I'm wrong, and you'll demonstrate this idea more clearly below.

Anyway, let's move on to the next thing.

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

The verbs have nothing specific to do with whether or not the verse is considered antithetical parallelism or not.

arachnophilia writes:

while sort of true, look at the facts.

word.
synonym.
pair.
same word.
synonym.
pair.

Sort of?

I've pointed out where some of your assertions here may be generallly incorrect above. For example, what you call a synonym might actually be more accurately noted as a contrast between "special" and "natural" creations. Likewise, the "pairings" which you are noting are certainly not conisdered opposite but equal anywhere
in the Hebrew Scriptures.

arachnophilia writes:

had the verbs been antonyms, it would antithetical: "I create good, but destroy evil." but that's not what it says, is it?

No, I don't think the Isaiah passage is saying "I create good, but destroy evil." The Isaiah passage is clearly saying, "I create good, and I make evil." The problem is not with what the literal words are. The problem is what do the words mean. I think the Isaiah passage means that God is in control regardless of whether good or evil befalls someone -- that all things work according to his will.

All in all, the Scriptures depict God creating by a) bringing things into existence, b) structuring the things he has created by separating them into more individualized components, or c) withdrawing so as to create by virtue of his inactivity by allowing things to flow according to their own volition.

In this sense, I believe that Isaiah is employing antithetical parrallelism in order to display that God is sovereign over all things -- that even if evil happens, then he has a plan in order to potentially turn the evil into something good..

Anyway, what do you actually think it's saying? I know you believe it means what it says -- that God creates good and God make evil. But what are you getting at beyond this?

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

In synonymous parallelism the very same thought is repeated, at times in the very same words.

arachnophilia writes:

usually. sometimes one elaborates slightly on the other (while still remaining synonymous). however, what i'm suggesting is that this is rather clear evidence of my position. it *IS* the same idea being repeated, both from phrase to phrase, and line to line.

god creating good and god creating evil are essentially the same concept, and they have to be since good and evil are an established pair in hebrew thought, even without the structure indicating a synonymous parallel.

Hold on a moment here. Even in the case of when things are authentically being "paired", this doesn't necessarilly imply "equality" at all.

For example, the sun and moon are certainly paired. However, the sun is described as the greater light whereas the moon is descibed as the lesser light. Man and woman are certainly paired. However, again, according to the patriarchal society that the Israelites emerged from, man was considered greater than woman. When light is actually paired with darkness, the light is always being shown in a way in which it is either piercing, dispersing, or separating the darkness -- again implying that light is greater than darkness. Likewise, the heavens are certainly considered greater than the earth. Similarly, when evil is actually contrasted against good, good is certainly presented as the greater choice by which one should follow.

How on earth can you claim that these pairings are equal at all?

arachnophilia writes:

if you know how the pairing works. otherwise, you might have a really good point.

What do you mean?

arachnophilia writes:

why are good and evil the same idea? although genesis reports there being darkness before light (whether or not god created it, let's not get into that again), it also reports that darkness is not NAMED "night" until "day" is made. night and day are made at the same time. so are the sun and moon, as are man and woman -- all traditional pairings. heaven and earth are made at roughly the same time (it seems to take a god a whole day to make heaven, and a whole day to make earth). but the analogy doesn't work perfectly. as you said yourself, much of creation seems to regard separation and defining. much of hebrew thought seems to regard the grouping of opposites.

it's like "north and south" really. i could be going north on a road, and you could be going south on a road. but in the grand scheme of things, we could indeed be on the very same road. good and evil seem to be two directions on the same road. compliments, that cancel each other out (or maybe not, more later on in the debate), but essentially one is just the other in reverse or upside-down. follow me?

No. Clearly, even in the case of authentic pairings, one is usually greater than the other. They do not compliment each other and cancel each other out at all. One becomes submissive to the other -- even to the point of one totally negating the other at various times.

arachnophilia writes:


just keep in mind that for whatever reason "good and evil" are a pair, and are very commonly used in conjunction, even in synonymous poetry, as "night and day" in your example above.

Yes, and this is where your logic seems to fall apart. As I stated above, night and day are considered one day by employing the word echad. Good and evil are never considered one of anything by employing the word echad -- unless you can point me to a passage which specifically states this?.

arachnophilia writes:

In antithetical parallelism, however, the thought of the first line is expressed by an antithesis in the second -- or is counterbalanced by a contrast in the second.

Antithetical writes:


My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart

arachnophilia writes:

is the thought here the antithesis of the first? man is weak, god is strong. these are actually somewhat the same idea.

:confused:

arachnophilia writes:

antithesis doesn't express an opposite.

It is counterbalanced by a contrast to the second. You're not seriously attempting to say that this isn't an example of antithetical parallelism?

arachnophilia writes:

more from your examples:

Why bother? If you can seriously look at the passage above and conclude that "My flesh and my heart may fail" is actually somewhat the same idea as "but God is the strength of my heart", then I doubt that I could convince you of the other passages.

Antithetical writes:


The integrity of the upright shall guide them,
But the perversity of the treacherous shall destroy them

arachnophilia writes:

this one's a little more clear. the idea of the first line is "have integretity." the idea of the second line is "don't have perversity." but not having perversity and having integrity are actually the same idea. one's just the backwards way of saying it. do the positive, don't do the negative. same idea. --not an antithetical by your definition.

It's not my definition arachnophilia.

Did you even read through those links I posted?

arachnophilia writes:

here's a synonymous (check your link):

Synonymous writes:


Saul hath slain his thousands,
And David his ten thousands

arachnophilia writes:

now, i mentioned earlier, numbers increase by one. i lied a little, sorry. i wasn't specific enough -- numbers that are units go up by an order. 10 becomes 100, 100 becomes 1000, 1000 becomes 10,000, etc. i think 20 becomes 30, and 30 into 40, but i forget. little off on my number pairings.

now, both of these are expressing the same idea. david is a parallel for saul. both are slaying people. but -- if i didn't understand the pairing i'd think david killed more. it's probably not actually saying that, it's just a product of pairing practices. however, it would be wrong to say that this is synthetic parallelism, even though to the unexperienced reader it's CLEARLY expression a progress. why? because the pairings doen't seem to matter that much in relation to what kind parallelism it is.

But I already listed this passage as a synonymous parallelism -- so why are you going into such great detail about why it's not synthetic parallelism?.

...

arachnophilia writes:

it's the structure, not the predefined pairs, that determine the kind of parallelism. need i prove that "good and evil" is a common pair?

I'd like to read your thoughts on this -- that is, just exactly what you mean when you say "good and evil" are a common pair. I agree that they are often paired up.

But beyond this I think you and me may have different ideas.

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

Parallelism in general may be defined not only as a relationship between two or more sentences that correspond in similarity or are set with each other -- but also with two or more clauses which exhibit similar word formulae.

arachnophilia writes:

and "good" is off the same word formulæ as "evil." predefined pair.

So what exactly are you saying here?

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

In fact, one of the examples listed as an example of antithetical parallelism is that of Isaiah 45:7 itself, "I form the light, and create darkness".

arachnophilia writes:

i know you're going to rag on me for this, but he's wrong.

I'm not going to rag you out. However, I would like to hear these same thoughts from an more authoritative source. I've noted many sources that disagree with what you're saying here. I've also noted why some of your above assertions seems to be ill-thought out.

arachnophilia writes:

and i think i've pretty succesfully shown why.

In my opinion I think all that you've been succesful in doing is saying you disagree with what more authoritative sources have to say on the matter.

arachnophilia writes:

if not, i'll show you again in summary:

ok?

Synonymous writes:


Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night declares knowledge.

arachnophilia writes:

if isaiah 45:7 is antithetical, that has to be too.

Day and night form one day arachnophilia -- one as in "echad".

What does light and darkness form one of -- one as in "echad"?

What does good and evil form one of -- one as in "echad"?

arachnophilia writes:

so if you have some special insight into the nature of parallelisms within the Hebrew Scriptures, an insight that is better than the people who actually found the nature of parallelisms within the Hebrew Scriptures, I'd like to know your source for this information.

arachnophilia writes:

common sense, the ability to read, and a knowledge of hebrew pairing practices. but like i said, if you don't believe me, look above.

I have and I'm honestly not that impressed. :(

arachnophilia writes:

now if it said, "i create good, but the devil makes evil" we'd talk.

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

No, I don't think we would even begin to talk -- because then we'd be talking about synthetic parallelism within the Hebrew Scriptures -- not antithetical parallelism. Synthetic parallelism is that in which the two members contain two disparate ideas, which, however, are connected by a certain affinity between them.

arachnophilia writes:

but that's not synthetic. look:


The tongue of the wise adorneth knowledge,
The mouth of the fool blurteth out folly.

mouth = tongue
wise ≠ fool
adorn ≠ blurt
knowledge ≠ folly.

all the words are opposites except one.

{god} create{s} good,
but the devil makes evil

god ≠ devil
create = make
good ≠ evil.

the structures are the same, and all of the words are opposite except one. it encompasses the same ideal, like the one above. the two lines share more than a certain affinity. one is the direct opposite of the other. it's classic contradiction in the bible.

synthetic, however, marches the idea forward a bit.

Alright, I think this is still debatable. For example, one case of synthetic parallelism is shown as "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: But the foolish despise wisdom and instruction". In this sense, the contrast seems to be leading into a building up of God's sovereignty.

But I'll just make this easy and say you finally got me on one. I don't feel like arguing about passages that don't actually exist in the Hebrew Scriptures -- my bad.

Note: That passage that you made bears a striking resemblance to a Mormon holy text...


Whatsoever is good
cometh from God,
and whatsoever is evil
cometh from the devil

Alma 5:40

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

*sigh*

What does Isaiah 43:7 have to do with Isaiah 45:7? Yes, creations are mentioned in Isaiah 43:7 for sure -- yet I see absolutely no reference to any contrasts whatsoever -- not one.

arachnophilia writes:

no, you don't, do you? that's sort of the point. i'm just showing that bara', asah and yatsar are all synonyms.

NIV writes:

...everyone who is called by my name, whom I created [bara] for my glory, whom I formed [yatsar] and made [asah]."

They are obviously synonyms when used in Isaiah 43:7 because of the context that it is used in -- God is calling his chosen people. In this sense, everyone who is moved by the Spirit of God, who has lives that have been shaped and molded by God, have been called home.

I form [yasar] the light [or] and create [bara] darkness [hosek],
I bring [asah] prosperity [salom] and create [bara] disaster [ra]

The passage in Isaiah 45:7, however, is still showing an antithetical parallelism because bara (special creation) is in contrast to yasar (natural creation) in the same way that darkness (hosek) is in contrast to light (or).

Would you like me to explain why asah can be contrasted to bara in the same?

arachnophilia writes:

make has a similar meaning to create which has a similar meaning to form. they are not antonyms. do you agree?

In the passage of Isaiah 43:7, based on the context of the passage, yes I agree -- they are not antonyms.

In the passage of Isaiah 45:7, based on the context of the passage, no I disagree -- they are antonyms.

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

But why are you talking Isaiah 45:18?
I thought we were discussing Isaiah 45:7?

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

you were trying to say that "make" and "create" had different (opposite) meanings

Yes. And I'm still saying this.

arachnophilia writes:

this cannot be so.

According to you they cannot be so.

arachnophilia writes:

"i make _____" has to have the same meaning as "i create _____" no matter what the two blanks actually are. they are synonyms, not antonyms. do you agree?

In the context of Isaiah 45:7? No, I don't agree.

arachnophilia writes:

actually, if i recall, you were heartily arguing against that position.

I still am disagreeing with it. I'm just pointing out that there seems to be a flaw in your own logic that allows a way for evil to exist without it being created by God.

arachnophilia writes:

see, well, the first line of this post. if god made all things, god made all things -- including evil, chaos, and darkness. personally, i believe he did, and that later texts indicate this outright. i just don't believe it is indicated outright or even implied in genesis at all -- it just seems to be something they didn't really think through until later. however, evil is certainly among god's creations, even in the garden... they just seemed to think of it as a property of everyday life.

Actually, no.

For example, on the "third day" we read...

NIV writes:


Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds." And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.

Here we see God creating vegetation -- and we also see God qualifying all of it as "good".

Later, on the "sixth day", we also read...

NIV writes:


Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground— everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food." And it was so.

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.

Here we see God refining his original granting of vegetation for food. In fact, he says, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food." He then further qualifies it by saying "all that he had made" ... "was very good".

Certainly at this point we are seeing that all the vegetation is good for man in some way, and that the green vegetation was for food -- which is part of the creation that God describes as "very good".

However, much later we read...

NIV writes:

Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Now at last, after the creation account, we read that there is this tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In short, many simply believe that something went wrong in-between the time God "created" the trees and the time God "planted" the garden.

In fact, as I've pointed out before, Ezekial seems to describe something going seriously wrong in the garden -- and he seems to indicate that rebellion from God's will is what caused things to go wrong.

NIV writes:


You were the model of perfection,
full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.

You were in Eden,
the garden of God;
every precious stone adorned you:
ruby, topaz and emerald,
chrysolite, onyx and jasper,
sapphire, turquoise and beryl.
Your settings and mountings were made of gold;
on the day you were created they were prepared.

You were anointed as a guardian cherub,
for so I ordained you.
You were on the holy mount of God;
you walked among the fiery stones.

You were blameless in your ways
from the day you were created
till wickedness was found in you.

Through your widespread trade
you were filled with violence,
and you sinned.
So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God,
and I expelled you, O guardian cherub,
from among the fiery stones.

Your heart became proud
on account of your beauty,
and you corrupted your wisdom
because of your splendor.
So I threw you to the earth;
I made a spectacle of you before kings.

Does this present a fair representation of the chronomology of the appearance of evil in the Hebrew Scriptures?

Mr. Ex Nihilo writes:

However, the main difference between your argument and my argument is that you seem to believe that the Israelites thought that when God creates something, it means he literally created something tangible -- including good and evil, even including the adversary.

arachnophilia writes:

ah ha! no, actually i'm not!

Ok...maybe I've misunderstood your position here.

arachnophilia writes:

see, i think we're really arguing for the same thing, we just need to make each see that. the point of this debate is that i DON'T think the hebrews thought of evil as something tangible at all! nor even defined in the modern sense.

Ok...then present your position clearly then.

See, when you make a statement that you DON'T think the Hebrews thought of evil as something tangible at all -- I'm left scratching my said saying, "Well then why are you arguing with me and saying that evil is not the absence of God?". In other words, from my point of view (and what I believe the Hebrews believed too) evil is nothing. When I say that evil is the absence of God I'm essentially saying that evil is nothing -- the only reality is found in God.

Don't you understand this?

arachnophilia writes:

christianity, as a contrast, seems to have a VERY tangible of what evil is. evil is the devil, doing against what god says, disobedience -- and some outside force that acts on us.

Some Christians may hold this view. However, Catholics do not -- because, unlike the Eastern Orthodox and several Protestant groups, the Catholic Church believes that evil is intangible -- Catholics believe that evil does not have substance.

arachnophilia writes:

that rather, to hebrews, evils seems to have been a property that was somewhat arbitrarily thrown around. something could be good and evil at the same time, like knowledge. or, for that matter, god. but that's where i'm going.

Many of the points you said above are actually quite similar to some Christian groups -- including Catholicism when it comes to the idea of evil being a property that was somewhat arbitrarily thrown around. The concept of something being capable of both good and evil is certainly at the heart of many Protestant churches too -- particularly with the decision theologists which posit man sitting in the valley of decision capable of choosing their own path.

However, the Hebrews never spoke a passage of Scripture which outright states that God is evil -- but they've spoken many that say God is good. I've demonstated this before -- and I think you're taking too much liberties in claiming that that the Hebrews believed that God could be both good and evil at the same
time. God is good according to the Hebrew Scriptures.

arachnophilia writes:

see, i think the parallelism in isaiah 45:7 is telling us something. i'll explain it in a way isaiah never would have thought of. we have an earth that spins on its axis. the transformation of day into night and night into day is essentially the same action: the rotation of the earth. the light that we are getting is essentially taken away from others. similarly, god cannot favor everyone at once. isaiah 45 is about declaring war.

Why can't God favor everyone at once?

Isaiah 45:1 writes:

Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings,

arachnophilia writes:

god says, conquer these countries, and i'll reward you. god is giving favor to one king by taking it away from others -- this is politics. god making peace and creating evil, or making darkness and forming light is the very same action. it's saying that god is the one who choses who lives and dies -- god makes these decisions and separations, and continues to do so. i'm sure you agree so far, right?

No. I think God sent the Israelites against many of these countries because these countries had abominable practices in the eyes of God. The Israelites taking the promised land was not a reward but rather part of a greater strategic plan in order to fill the whole world with God's will.

For example Isaiah 42:6 says, "I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles..."

Similarly, Isaiah 49:6 say, "It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth."

arachnophilia writes:

do you see why i've been making the points about "present tense" and the synonymous nature of the sentance? it kind of depends on that for it to even make sense. now, i know your thought: "but that's


This message is a reply to:
 Message 24 by arachnophilia, posted 07-23-2005 5:02 AM arachnophilia has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 30 by arachnophilia, posted 07-31-2005 1:16 AM Mr. Ex Nihilo has responded
 Message 31 by arachnophilia, posted 08-23-2005 2:46 AM Mr. Ex Nihilo has responded

Mr. Ex Nihilo
Member (Idle past 5055 days)
Posts: 708
Joined: 04-12-2005


Message 32 of 102 (237977)
08-28-2005 12:21 PM
Reply to: Message 31 by arachnophilia
08-23-2005 2:46 AM


Re: bump
arachnophilia writes:

it's now been more than three weeks since i last replied. if you'd like to continue this at a later date, due to real-life concerns or whathaveyou, that's ok by me. i hope you're ok and everything.

My apologies arachnophilia. I gave my computer to my mom as a gift -- so I don't have easy access to the internet at home. I tried to go down to the library, but I can only get 1 hour slots -- which isn't enough time for me. With summer working, and family and kids, and everything else, I just haven't been able to reply as soon as I wanted.

Anyway, since I don't have as much time as I used to -- let's just cut to the chase:


  1. god does good and evil, speaks good and evil.
  2. evil is subjective, and depends on the recipient not god or objective moral standards
  3. god is in control of all things, including (all) evils
  4. god is the original source of evil

Having read through your posts, I think we already agree on #3 as well -- although there are some finer points that we might disagree with. I think ultimately this last point, however, is the point that needs to be addressed: what is the original source of evil according to the Scriptures?

If you want me to go back and respond to your previous posts, I will. There were some very important things I'd like to comment on, such as:

arachnophilia writes:

knowing good and evil seems to form one GOD, or person of god-like qualities.

or this:

arachnophilia writes:

similarly, light needed darkness to define itself. oh wait, that's backwards, sorry. we're generally agreed, i think, that the theme of creation is order from chaos, nevermind the ex-nihilo stuff. we've talked before about the leviathan-lothan connection, and the role of the deep as chaos. i'd like to suggest that the natural state of things is evil. the chaos is evil. and leviathan is evil (his image is used to depict the devil in revelation.)

this is, i should point out, totally consistent with your point. if god, being the source of "good" went away, the universe would by nature revert to "evil," would it not? so evil then can be expressed as an abscence of god -- which is your point exactly if i'm correct. and that's fine. i agree with that. it's not what this verse in isaiah is saying, but that's an acceptable view of things. now, this is of course begging a question:

if evil is a lack of god's presence -- and the universe is naturally evil -- why?

Actually, I was itching to respond to everything you posted in the last two posts -- especially the Hebrew parallelisms. However, I just know I won't be able to respond as quickly and conscisely as I did before now that I don't have a computer at home.

I'd like to get to the heart of the matter as the Spirit leads and and finish this debate -- perhaps even taking off the time-restriction of "one week" if possible.

Let me know what you think. If not, then I'll just request for the mods here to start a thread where others can start to judge our debate.

By the way, according to the official rules, as defined by me.

the time frame: maximum time between post and response -- one week.

This didn't mean that a person would lose their turn to respond. This meant that they would lose the debate period due to lack of response. I think I'm actually the one cutting you some slack when you first missed by a day -- at least according to the rules of how I pictured an official debate.

I'm not interested in winning a debate by a technicality. Although I have and I will continue to stress using some standards when engaging this debate, I also realize that there is life outside of EvC -- and that we all have things to do with family, work, and all that.

Let me know if the time extension beyond one week is ok for you. If not, then AdminJar might as well start a new thread where others are invited to judge the debate -- and that would make our part in this discourse finished since it would then be up to "other people" to debate how well they felt we each did.

Where do you want to go from here?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 31 by arachnophilia, posted 08-23-2005 2:46 AM arachnophilia has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 33 by arachnophilia, posted 08-28-2005 4:17 PM Mr. Ex Nihilo has responded

Mr. Ex Nihilo
Member (Idle past 5055 days)
Posts: 708
Joined: 04-12-2005


Message 34 of 102 (238626)
08-30-2005 2:45 PM
Reply to: Message 33 by arachnophilia
08-28-2005 4:17 PM


Re: bump
arachnophilia writes:

this actually really suprised me, but ok.

Why did this surprise you?

arachnophilia writes:

this is really the heart of the debate, i think.

I agree.

arachnophilia writes:

the point we've been trying to get to. i don't actually know, and i'm open to some debate of course. my position here is relatively weak.

What exactly is your position? I've gone into lengthy detail about my own view. Could you at least present some idea on what you think might be the case according to the Scriptures?

_____________________

Note:

arachnophilia writes:

it was your rule, not mine. if you want to get rid of it, that's fine by me, especially given the circumstances.

Alight then. The rule on the one-week time limit is now officially scrapped from this discourse.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 33 by arachnophilia, posted 08-28-2005 4:17 PM arachnophilia has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 35 by arachnophilia, posted 08-30-2005 9:38 PM Mr. Ex Nihilo has responded

Mr. Ex Nihilo
Member (Idle past 5055 days)
Posts: 708
Joined: 04-12-2005


Message 36 of 102 (239701)
09-01-2005 4:54 PM
Reply to: Message 35 by arachnophilia
08-30-2005 9:38 PM


Re: bump
arachnophilia writes:

because you've disagreed with just about every other step of my logic... surely i expected to have to demonstrate that from scripture, at the very least.

I have demonstrated from Scripture my own views many times in this thread. We do disagree in some areas. However, we have agreed on a number of key points too.

Unfortunately I don't have the time to go into great detail about the finer points, so I'm just moving ahead to the conclusion.

arachnophilia writes:

to be totally honest, i'm not exactly sure. i think the position of scripture is that there is no real objective moral evil, because nothing can really be against god except by his will. but that all evils (plural) are created to allow us valid choice. so that would lead me to believe that god in essence created Evil capital e, as well as Good, with the intent of allow human free will.

Yes, I understand your position. But ultimately where does evil come from, where is its source according to the Scriptures -- God or man?

Do you feel that God created the "potential" for evil to happen -- or do feel that he created the universe so that there was "inevitable" that evil would indeed happen?

The Scripture do quite plainly state that God is good -- GOD IS GOOD. Yet it never says that God is evil.

The Scriptures also say that light dwells in God -- LIGHT DWELLS IN GOD. Yet it never says that darkness dwells in God.

Let me put this another way -- when it says that God is "holy", what do you think the Scriptures mean? We both know that "holy" means to be "set apart" -- but what do you think that God is set apart from?

Edit for clarificatoin: I believe that the Hebrew's concept of God's holiness was intricately linked with their concept of God being inately good -- that is, that God was "set apart" from evil. I suspect that many of the "holy items" they used were viewed as intimately good by virtue of their ordination from God himself -- they were seen as a visible sign of his holiness.

If I'm understanding your position correctly, I think you believe that the Hebrew's concept of God's holiness was intricately linked with a concept of God being above judgement -- that is, that God's actions were "set apart" from human comdemnation. I suspect that, in this sense, you believe that good and evil were used arbitrarilly insomuch that one could relatively define good and evil -- that the concepts were spuriously used in juxtaposition to the whims and fancies of the Israelites themselves.

Consequently, I think the later view (your view?) was exactly where many of the Israelites fell "off the mark" in the past. In this sense, as God's chosen people, some would seem to believe themselves as being above reproach simply because they were God's chosen people.

This is a problem that is, in my opinion, not singular to the Israelites alone -- I readilly admit that my own Catholic faith often failed this very same temptation, especially during the 400's and Middle Age.

However, as many passages of Scripture do indicate, the Israelites themselves were only considered valid representatives of God insofar as they were following God's orders. Their own "holiness" was oftentimes linked with their ability to do good in God's eyes -- therefore staying under his watchful protection. When they collectively failed to do God's will on a large scale, the ramifications were often horrific to behold. :(

This message has been edited by Mr. Ex Nihilo, 10-03-2005 12:49 PM


This message is a reply to:
 Message 35 by arachnophilia, posted 08-30-2005 9:38 PM arachnophilia has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 41 by arachnophilia, posted 10-09-2005 2:50 AM Mr. Ex Nihilo has responded

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