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Author Topic:   The Problems with Genesis: A Christian Evolutionist's View
Member (Idle past 1452 days)
Posts: 9069
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Joined: 05-21-2004

Message 17 of 200 (447384)
01-09-2008 3:11 AM
Reply to: Message 16 by IamJoseph
01-09-2008 2:43 AM

Re: Re-Genesis
16 And God made the two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; and the stars.
The word, 'LIGHT' [Luminosity] is used here, to give such luminocity at night.
no, joseph, the other form meaning "source of light" is used here. compare:
—, ; -
v'yo'amar elohim "yehey or!", v'yehey or.
and god said, "be, light!" and light was.
—, - ’—
v'y'as elohim et-ha-shani ha-maorot ha-gdolim
and god made the two great lights
you could render the second as "luminaries" or "lamps" if you wish, but it means "source of light." the first is just light in general, and the days are evidently lit.
You are correct that Genesis does NOT say the universe was created in 6 days,
there is no word for "universe" in biblical hebrew. nor is there for "planet" btw. but the picture genesis presents is the whole of known creation. that is, after all, the point of writing, "when god began creating..." as the very first words. there can be nothing before this point, by definition.
It is the anti-creationists who are the unsceintific ones here, giving no cause for their effect.
the cause is god. god commands light to exist, and it does. why does it need a source?
I fully symphatise, but science itself was introduced in this mythical theology: follow the thread of history, and ask if we would have cosmology or astronomy today, w/o the recording of a finite universe - which compelled man to ask further subsequent and relevent questions? It certainly compelled one to ask questions the authors of the bible got it wrong, and this compelled scientists to get it right? i'm not sure what you're trying to say here.
Edited by arachnophilia, : broken tags

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 Message 16 by IamJoseph, posted 01-09-2008 2:43 AM IamJoseph has replied

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 Message 18 by IamJoseph, posted 01-09-2008 3:38 AM arachnophilia has replied

Member (Idle past 1452 days)
Posts: 9069
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Message 29 of 200 (447741)
01-10-2008 5:29 PM
Reply to: Message 18 by IamJoseph
01-09-2008 3:38 AM

Re: Re-Genesis
Propostrous. You are wrong on two counts: the word 'source', or result, etc are not in the text, while it is contextually posited only with light as in lumonosity; making the night bright; etc.
joseph, surely you see the difference between these two words?
see that great big "mem" on the beginning of the second one? in general, it's a prefix that means "where." in this case, the combination of it and the first word have formed a new word, meaning "source of light." literally derived from "where the light is." so yes, the word "source" is in the text, both literally and etymologically.
The second wrong count is that the sun was created along with the galaxies [heavens], in V.1., making your premise superfluous.
heaven is created on day two. earth is created on day three. the sun and moon and stars are created on day four. one needs only to read the first chapter of genesis to see this. the first verse, which reads:
when god began creating the heaven and the earth...
it rather clearly applies to the rest of the chapter which follows and not a creative action of its own. we can tell this because it's a dependent clause, in hebrew. evidence for this position may be found in my thread on the subject, initially posted in response to you. it's also worth noting that you never once replied there.
further, "heaven and earth" is a merism, loosely meaning "everything." you are essentially saying that the rest of the chapter (where it describes creation) doesn't matter, because everything was created instantly in the first verse. this is an irresponsible, incorrect, and just rather silly way to read. why ignore 30 verses in favor of an obviously flawed reading of one? the text says the sun is created on day four. deal with it.
There is not single grammatical error in the OT, which says something for a 3,500 year document.
anyone who thinks there aren't scribal errors simply hasn't studied the text enough. and if you prefer the KJV, this point is especially ironic -- the KJV favors the qere over the kethiv. meaning, the marginal notes where people wrote "this bit doesn't make any sense, they probably meant this."
The word 'olam' = world in generic
that's modern hebrew. in biblical hebrew, olam means "eternity."
while the earth = both this planet, and earth as in physicality and matter.
eretz means "land" or "country" or "ground." the concept of a planet, in the modern sense, just does not exist in the bible.
t would have been grammaitcally wrong to mention the universe to the people of that spacetime; thus the OT uses words which can be understood by all generations.
"grammatically wrong?"
Its not confusng. science evolved, via ups and downs, but it had to begin somewhere, by a compelling, challenging tought - which is the OT. Unless someone can posit another previous or near the same time, even a document a 1000 years later than the OT, which makes stats which leads to science?
the enuma elish. older than the bible, same cosmological picture. same thing with egyptian mythology -- which was more directly connected to the greek traditions from which western science derive.
I find literally millions of stats in the OT words and verses as scientifically, historically and geographically vindicated, while it displays such with bold, specific dates and names. Remember, the most controversial and risk prone stat today is that speech endowed humans are some 6000 years old, and that the pig has a hidden biological attribute not shared by any other life form: we cannot disprove these today, despite every advancement.
what an interesting double standard.
There is an unscientific display by the anti-creationists, who have much to loose: they cannot acknowledge what is blatant, because it is the document which spurred their premises. But my pursuit s truth, and this is nly possible via truthfulness.
if your pursuit is truth, and your map is the bible, maybe you should learn how to read it correctly before making such claims. you have rather clearly demonstrated a complete disregard for the words of the bible above.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 18 by IamJoseph, posted 01-09-2008 3:38 AM IamJoseph has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 34 by IamJoseph, posted 01-10-2008 7:46 PM arachnophilia has replied

Member (Idle past 1452 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004

Message 40 of 200 (448105)
01-12-2008 12:09 AM
Reply to: Message 34 by IamJoseph
01-10-2008 7:46 PM

Re: Re-Genesis
see that great big "mem" on the beginning of the second one? in general, it's a prefix that means "where."
yes, in most cases. in this case, it indicates a source of light, not simply luminosity.
heaven is created on day two.
My bad - my version says V.1.:
keep reading.
And God made the firmament, ... And God called the firmament Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.
Genesis 1:7-8
heaven is created on day two.
'Its a heading, like a preamble, to the follow-up context, which expands on the chronological aspect of how the creating process was made
well, no. it's a dependent clause. it reads, "when god began creating heaven and earth ... 'let there be light.'" again, demonstration for this point can be found in the thread linked above, which you neglected to respond to.
even so, reading it the other way, as a "preamble" which expands the context chronologically (really not that different), heaven is still created on day two, earth on day three, and the sun and moon on day four. this is what the text says, and i don't see any point in arguing that it says something else. everyone can plainly read it. "in the beginning" must encompass these acts.
The hit songs to be written tomorrow already exists. Else they could not be written. Your reading makes the first verse superfluous - a no go.
my reading does not make the first verse superfluous. it's a dependent clause that sets the timeframe. your reading makes the rest of the bible superfluous. if everything is done in the first instant, why have the rest of it? you are clearly reading it wrong.
Eretz = earth, also used as land.
"earth" as in ground or soil, not the planet.
Olam = world, generically, as in the world to come ['olam haba'].
eternity. look at the contexts it is used for in the bible. "world" is what it means in modern hebrew. it does not mean this in biblical hebrew. it's sort of like reading livyatan as "whale" in the book of job. it rather clearly doesn't make sense, because it simply did not mean "whale" when job was written even if it does today. meanings change.
Yes. There is both the object and the subject which must be regarded. It would be inappropaite to talk to a new born baby about the universe. Later generations can conclude its relevancy today by deliberating the texts correct.y - by intergrating all other verses.
or by making stuff up, like you?

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Message 41 of 200 (448106)
01-12-2008 12:13 AM
Reply to: Message 38 by ICANT
01-10-2008 9:12 PM

Re: Re-Genesis
Genesis 1:1 is a declarative statement.
genesis 1:1 is a dependent clause.
the heaven and the earth.....this tells us what God made or created.
If the sun, moon, stars, amd galaxies surround the earth they must be considered a part of the heaven. They are definetly not part of the earth.
This then tells me that everything you can see in the universe and on or in the earth was here that day.
I believe that Genesis gives us an exact account of that day.
genesis gives us an account of seven days. heaven is made on day two. earth is made on day three. the sun and moon are made on day four. do you disagree?

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 Message 38 by ICANT, posted 01-10-2008 9:12 PM ICANT has replied

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 Message 42 by ICANT, posted 01-12-2008 6:51 AM arachnophilia has replied

Member (Idle past 1452 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004

Message 43 of 200 (448221)
01-12-2008 3:50 PM
Reply to: Message 42 by ICANT
01-12-2008 6:51 AM

Re: Re-Genesis
genesis gives us an account of seven days. heaven is made on day two. earth is made on day three. the sun and moon are made on day four. do you disagree?
Yes I disagree.
And God made the firmament, ... and God called the firmament Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.
And God said: 'Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear.' And it was so. And God called the dry land Earth, ... And there was evening and there was morning, a third day.
And God said: 'Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth.' And it was so. And God made the two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; and the stars. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.
seems pretty clear to me. i'm not sure how you can disagree that this is what it says. because there it is.
genesis 1:1 is a dependent clause.
The only thing Genesis 1:1 is dependant on, is God doing what the writer declared that He did.
no, dependent grammatically. it's not a complete statement.
Either God created the heaven and the earth or He did not.
Did God create the Heaven and Earth? or Did God not create the Heaven and Earth?
in seven days. not a single instant.

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 Message 44 by ICANT, posted 01-12-2008 6:33 PM arachnophilia has replied

Member (Idle past 1452 days)
Posts: 9069
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Message 45 of 200 (448314)
01-12-2008 11:04 PM
Reply to: Message 44 by ICANT
01-12-2008 6:33 PM

Re: Re-Genesis
Genesis 2:4 declares it was in a day.
We have been over this twice before I am not going over it again with you. If others want me to I will.
good, because teaching people basic reading skills over and over is rather tiresome. not only is genesis 2:4b onwards an entirely separate and somewhat contradictory story, but it also begins with a dependent clause that you are intentionally misrendering. b'yom does not describe a literal day, it means "when."
You know what you believe I know what you believe. I am not going to change your view and you are not going to change my view. What I believe is different than your version so let's just leave it at that.
your view contradicts the bible.

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 Message 46 by IamJoseph, posted 01-13-2008 12:03 AM arachnophilia has replied

Member (Idle past 1452 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
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Message 47 of 200 (448334)
01-13-2008 12:14 AM
Reply to: Message 46 by IamJoseph
01-13-2008 12:03 AM

Re: Re-Genesis
"b'" = IN; "yom" = DAY. So you get, IN THAT DAY. It can be employed as 'THEN', 'WHEN', etc, depending on its contextual usage.
yes, it begins a dependent clause. in this usage, the "day" part is rather non-literal. it's an idiom meaning "when." it is used to say, "when something happened, something else happened."
why would it mean 24hrs here, but not in verse 17? both mean "when"

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Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004

Message 95 of 200 (596405)
12-14-2010 6:16 PM
Reply to: Message 94 by damoncasale
12-10-2010 9:00 PM

Genesis 1-3 was in no way meant to be literal.
on the contrary, anything but literal betrays the meaning. but you have to understand that literal, to the authors, was only one particular level of understand. it shouldn't be ignored or denied, but factual accuracy is generally not the point.
if it had been, genesis 1 and genesis 2 would have been a single account.
Looking at the first chapter, we see a striking contrast between it and other creation literature. Whereas other creation literature describes the various gods who create the heavens, the stars, plants, animals, etc., Genesis 1 attributes the creation of these things to the Hebrew God. That's no coincidence, because Genesis 1-3 was meant to serve as a polemic against the religious beliefs of other nations.
yes, but no. there are many similarities between the hebrew creation myths (both of them) and the creation myths of other cultures. for instance, the cosmology described in genesis 1 is basically standard across the entire ancient near east. the marked difference, as you say, is that it is a single god responsible for creation. but this should not be surprising, as it's in the hebrew bible.
Major parts of the bible were structured in patterns called chiasm. To give a good example, Genesis 6:22 contains a very simple chiasmus:
strictly speaking, biblical hebrew poetry uses parallelism, and prose typically uses those elements in a less strict fashion. chiasmus is a particular kind of parallel structure involving reversal. for instance, matthew 19:30: "the first shall be last, and the last shall be first."
the repetition does aid in memorization, but i see it more as a stylistic factor.
The whole of Genesis 1-3 is one big chiasmus, with multiple levels of parallel sections all surrounding the central subject, which is dwelling in union with God on the Sabbath day. You can find an examination of this structure here:
i do not agree, there. you can, perhaps, draw some parallels, but they are all incredibly strained. genesis 2,3 is twice the length of genesis 1, and has an entirely different focus. it is ultimately about separation of man and god, not unity or rest.
First of all, there are only three things that are created "ex nihilo" (Hebrew bara):
as i've examined earlier in this thread, creatio ex nihilo is an inappropriate reading for bara, since it describes a division or organization of existing elements, and the genesis 1 story explicitly is not creation from nothing. for instance, it mentions in verse 1 about god creating heaven and earth, and goes on to describe how he does that later in the chapter, by separating them from the waters.
the heavens, man...and the "great sea creatures" (Gen. 1:21; Hebrew tannin). This word means something elongated, and is translated "whales" in the KJV. In this context, it should more accurately be rendered as "crocodiles". We'll see why in a moment.
"serpents" is the most literally correct. jewish tradition holds that these are levyatan and his mate. the -tan part of levyatan is serpent as well. interestingly enough, levyatan happens to be the modern hebrew word for "whale". but, as i'm sure you've read job, "whale" is likely inappropriate in biblical contexts.
The parallel structure to the creation of the animals is the introductory section of Genesis 3, mentioning the serpent. Now, why would these two animals be singled out by the Genesis account in this way?
different serpents, different connotations. one is a fearful dragon, the other a common snake.
The bible often uses animals to represent people or nations. Thus, in the case of the crocodiles, if we were talking about a nation that had been around for seemingly forever, as long as the heavens had been in existence (hence the use of bara for the creation of both the heavens and these creatures, what nation would we most likely be talking about?
Why Egypt, of course, land of the Nile and the crocodiles that live within it.
i don't see it. the authors at the time would have been far more occupied thinking about assyria and babylon, than about egypt.
rather, i suggest you look into the secret hebrew creation myth. the one where yahweh fights levyatan's mate, and kills her, and feeds his children with her flesh. it's hinted at in one of the psalms, and is found mostly in tradition. it's heavily borrowed from tiamat, the chaos/ocean dragon of sumerian mythology. her death is part of the sumerian creation myth -- it's her ribs that form the vault of heaven.
dragons are so much cooler than crocodiles...
But what, then, of the serpent? What nation could this represent? Interestingly, in Sumer, the god Enki, god of knowledge and wisdom, was described as serpent-like, always speaking deceitfully or duplicitously.
look more into zoroastrianism.
the focus here, though, is that these great entities from the mythologies of surrounding cultures were just animals, created by yahweh, to the ancient jews.
So...what we actually have is a symbolic description of an actual place -- the Garden of Eden -- which was simply a rest spot on a major trade route between Egypt and Sumer.
eden is given as being between the tigris and euphrates. which puts it firmly in sumer.
Rather than two literal trees in its garden -- the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil -- this was simply a polemic against the moral relativism espoused by the ancient Sumerians. Instead of doing either good or evil, as the mood would suit one, this text explained that one should eat "fruits" -- that is, practice actions, to once again use known biblical symbolism to explain what this means -- which would lead to life.
the problem there is that the tree of knowledge was the one withheld from adam and chavah. you cannot know the difference between good and evil if you don't know what good and evil are. adam and chavah were the ultimate moral relativists before the disobeyed god. knowing good and evil was the action god punished. now, you could argue (as many jewish scholars do) that this was the outcome god intended.
Edited by arachnophilia, : forgot link!


This message is a reply to:
 Message 94 by damoncasale, posted 12-10-2010 9:00 PM damoncasale has replied

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 Message 96 by damoncasale, posted 12-15-2010 9:30 AM arachnophilia has replied

Member (Idle past 1452 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004

Message 100 of 200 (596607)
12-15-2010 8:06 PM
Reply to: Message 96 by damoncasale
12-15-2010 9:30 AM

damoncasale writes:
i writes:
on the contrary, anything but literal betrays the meaning.
Why? To compare with Egyptian literature, did the pharaohs literally believe that, say, once the priest performed the opening-of-the-mouth ceremony on the pharaoh's corpse after he was mummified, that this magically brought him back to life (albeit an inner life in the Duat)?
I think we're splitting hairs, here.
perhaps. but i think it is quite important that we do not discard the literal to fudge some details. instead, it should be the foundation of understanding the more allegorical levels of meaning.
Did you read the article at the link I provided?
honestly? no. i will when i find some time, though. bits in the earlier sections sort of put me off. for instance,
For a myriad of reasons both in the areas of creed and scholarship, we absolutely reject this "Documentary Hypothesis". Our belief is that the entire Torah was given by God to Mosheh (ignoring for a moment the problem of the last 8 verses and the various "Sod haSh'neim Asar" occurrences cited by Ibn Ezra) and that the authorship is not only singular, it is exclusively Divine. These two statements of belief - whether or not they can be reasonably demonstrated (and there is much literature, both medieval and contemporary, coming down on both sides of this question) - are two of the 13 principles enumerated by the Rambam.
while they mention "scholarship", the emphasis is clearly on "creed". stating this so early seems like this is the conclusion they aim to reach -- and they no doubt will. when you're a hammer, everything kind of looks like a nail.
further, as far as i am currently aware, the documentary hypothesis is the prevailing academic model for torah scholarship because there simply is no other model that adequately explains the discrepancies. and a model that only emphasizes overall structure will not either -- especially not when the overall structure is the general responsibility of any redactor of any anthology of texts.
the parallels they go on to draw are... completely unrelated. i'll examine at length if you're interested, but it failed to hook as worthwhile commentary.
Regarding creation ex nihilo, I don't think I explained this very well. Just as the Hebrew word "olam" doesn't literally mean "forever" but rather an indeterminately long length of time, "bara" doesn't exactly mean creation from nothing. But the shade of meaning (as I understand it, at least) is a primacy of creation.
primacy? maybe. but certainly not creation from no raw materials. certainly, the context of genesis 1 excludes that possibility, as verse 2 goes on to describe the initial state of creation. see my thread on the grammatical reason why.
Serpents is a good translation in certain cases, although the kind of watery serpent discussed both here and in Job -- where it's called Leviathan -- has very tough scales and large teeth. Basically, it's a crocodile. (Job naturally embellishes the description a lot, but there is a precedent for this.)
i am forced to disagree. ancient israelites would have been familiar with crocodiles. the point of the description given in job is to elevate this creature to a majestic mythical status. god is ramping up descriptions of powerful things he has made, that are greater than job could even hope to be, let alone be responsible for. levyatan is clearly something much more than a crocodile, and the surrounding lore should confirm this.
further, it just parallels too nicely with the surrounding cultures. why mention crocodiles as a special creation in genesis?
Also, in Ezekiel 29:2-3, we have a specific reference to Pharaoh as "the king of Egypt, the great tannin that lies in the midst of his rivers." It's a metaphorical reference to the pharaoh of Egypt as a crocodile. A meaning of serpent really wouldn't make sense in this context.
perhaps. that sounds a lot more like a crocodile than job. but i still suspect that there is a mythological shade of meaning that this is missing.
The reason why there are parallels to Egyptian and Sumerian/Babylonian literature in the psalms and elsewhere is because this literature constituted the cultural millieu in which the bible came to be written. But rather than seeing a polytheistic origin that was later "sanitized" into an acceptable monotheistic tradition, I see an ongoing polemic against those other cultures, using their same literary style and language.
oh no, i was not disagreeing with that notion. genesis 1 explicitly moreso than genesis 2.
There are two other rivers mentioned, the Gihon and the Pishon. The Gihon is simply the Nile, and the Nile is actually called the Gihon in Ethiopia, even today. The rivers all flowing out from one another is another metaphor for the Garden of Eden being where people "flow" to and from. But the land of Eden is simply the land of Israel. Compare Genesis 15:18, which describes the promised land as lying between "the river of Egypt" and the Euphrates.
and there's a mountain called ararat even today. i'm not sure that's necessarily a good argument that they are the same. i think there's an important tradition about leaving a fertile garden (such as the fertile crescent) and tilling a desert.
The fruit wasn't simply knowledge, though. It was action. It was specifically called the *fruit* of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 3:3, cf. 2:9 and 16-17). Compare other places in the bible where the symbolic meaning of "fruits" are examined. Sometimes they're offspring -- which doesn't fit in this case, since Adam and Eve's literal offspring are mentioned in this same context. Sometimes they're deeds or actions, though, and that's what fits here.
i'm not sure that's appropriate, in that it's an odd coincidence that literal fruit, and the results/consequences of an action happen to be the same word in hebrew. it's not precisely symbolic usage until the new testament authors get ahold of the concept. even still, we use "fruit" in the same way, thanks in large part to the KJV of the bible.
In any case, in looking at Genesis 1-3, I interpreted it only using symbolism that already exists elsewhere in the bible, with the assumption that those other places would likely have drawn on the creation account for inspiration in their use of that same symbolism.
i think it's important to get the order correct. i've often debated with people here that make the fundamental(ist) error that the later work can be examined as if it influenced the earlier work. i call this the pre-hoc propter-hoc fallacy (as opposed to post-hoc...). while it's a reasonable assumption that the christian NT authors were informed and influenced by OT scripture, it is most certainly not reasonable to conclude that the OT authors operated from the same theological standpoint. that said, i am not arguing for a strictly literal reading, here. clearly, there is pretty heavy symbolism going on.
In fact, if you want to look at an excellent parallel with the tree of life vs. the tree of knowledge, to see how it was understood in biblical times, simply read Isaiah 7:14-16. This promised child will be given a good foundation so that he "may know to refuse the evil and choose the good." Now as I'm sure you know, modern Jews have a Bar-mitzvah ritual that represents a coming of age and a readiness to observe the Mosaic Law. That was simply a reflection of this ancient belief that before a certain age, one was not responsible for rejecting evil and choosing good. That was the simple moral dichotomy between the tree of Life and the tree of the knowledge of good *and* evil -- that is, the tree that represents doing whatever the hell you want, be it good or evil.
i like to explain that verse in contexts of a bar/bat mitzvah, but who knows what the ancient rituals were really like?
in any case, yes, that verse is likely a good examination of contemporary thought. however, you must remember that is not ha-etz tov v-ra, but ha-etz ha-da'at tov v-ra. the tree is the tree of knowledge, and that knowledge is of good and evil. and more importantly, the difference between the two. in other words, it is precisely the opposite of what you're driving at. adam and chavah were permitted to do whatever the hell they wanted before they ate from the tree -- there was no torah to tell them otherwise, nor any morality. they did not, and could not have known the difference between right and wrong.
it is precisely the tree that grants them this knowledge -- and thus the responsibility for their actions. which is why they must then be kicked out of the garden. god is no longer responsible. this can be understood on a symbolic level as mankind's coming of age story. just as a boy learns right from wrong, learns the law, and becomes a man -- and must leave his father's house -- so adam learned right from wrong, and was exiled. the rest of genesis goes on to provide stories of mankind's struggle with this new morality, in opposition to each other and to god, prior to the law. it is the reason behind the law.
If you look at other creation literature, they likewise use symbolism to explain the proper order of things. In the Babylonian creation story, we know that man was created as an afterthought, to serve the gods as slaves. This was probably a metaphor for the temple tax that existed at that time, where the farmers there were basically tenanted sharecroppers who had to pay a 25% tax on their harvest to the local temple.
interestingly, mankind is the first thought in both hebrew creation myths. it's just that god goes about his creation in different ways. genesis 1 portrays a god who plans, and knows everything ahead of time. this is a much later text, by P, that does not really fit with the rest of genesis. but genesis 2 does; it portrays a god who struggles with his creation, to satisfy him to the best of his ability. man is made first, and everything else is made by trial and error. mankind, throughout genesis, seems as confusing to god as god is to us. i find that intriguing.
heretical as it may be.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 96 by damoncasale, posted 12-15-2010 9:30 AM damoncasale has replied

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 Message 101 by damoncasale, posted 12-15-2010 9:00 PM arachnophilia has replied
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Member (Idle past 1452 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004

Message 103 of 200 (596623)
12-15-2010 10:42 PM
Reply to: Message 101 by damoncasale
12-15-2010 9:00 PM

damoncasale writes:
Although I would agree with you, the main reason why I'm looking past the literal meaning of Genesis 1-3 is because human existence can be demonstrably pushed back much farther than 6000 years. Normally I'd look to the literal meaning as the interpretation of choice, but when I'm forced to rule that out due to factors like this, I look for pre-existing biblical symbolism to try to explain what a passage *does* mean.
ah. you shouldn't let silly things like facts get in the way of a good story. genesis 1, and 2/3, were undoubtedly meant to be read, at least initially, as literal stories. they just happen to be factually wrong. i know this likely doesn't sit well with you, as it doesn't with frankly the majority of christians. but this is very much the case.
this is evidenced, really, by the fact that they do not agree. the redactor saw fit to include both stories, contradictory though they may be, because of some other intrinsic value. they are good stories, and culturally important, and have their place and function in the bible. that function is just something other than being factually accurate.
i find the "let's ignore the literal, it's all metaphor" interpretations generally nonsense and a waste of time. they tend to play entirely too fast and loose with the text, and gloss over many of the more interesting points -- and generally with the goal of fudging the bible and fudging reality just enough so they can be said to agree. i guess this is sort of like sanding down the corners of your square peg, and cutting into your round hole, so that you can jam one into the other. in the end, your compromise has just destroyed both. this is usually an excuse to continue believing in a "literal" (in scare quotes) bible, while trying to satisfy those niggling doubts based on a modern scientific understanding of the world. as you can guess, i'm not big on the anti-literalists in either camp.
I agree with you here, but I find it valuable to compare both the "creed" approach -- which I think actually bears some fruit in this instance -- and the more scholarly approach. About a year ago, when they covered the books of 1 and 2 Samuel in Torah study at the local synagogue, it was very insightful to hear the rabbi's commentary on the politics going on behind the scenes, and I'm pretty sure he was getting that from the critical scholarly methods they taught him in his rabbinic studies. (He's Reform, of course.) So I *do* see value in the scholarly approach, but I try to look at both sides with as little bias as possible
sure. and admittedly, i tend to pay more attention to the rabbinical approaches than i do the christian orthodox or heterdox approaches. but i do not accept every rabbinical interpretation i read. i reject probably the majority of them -- there's some old joke about two rabbis discussing the torah and having three interpretations between them. the talmud, the mishnah, and the many midrashim contain such a plethora and gamut of opinion on the scriptures that it would be impossible to accept any fair portion of them. this is actually what i find most valuable about jewish tradition -- they value thought and argument and debate, over blindly accepting the traditional.
Well, one of the things that the rabbi discussed when covering 1 and 2 Samuel is the organization of the sections of the text. He pointed out that they weren't necessarily in chronological order, and that some of the stories about David were just kind of tossed in at the end, because the compiler wasn't easily able to fit them into a complete narrative but didn't want to leave them out either.
sure. and, as best as i can understand, most books of the tanakh do not suffer the same kind of source confusion the torah does. samuel might, i honestly haven't made an in-depth study of it. i'm pretty positive that kings does. but for instance, we've already discussed isaiah. the sources there are not intermixed. one simply follows the other. same with psalms.
2) Looking for consistency with the rest of the biblical text. Not because of a need to "prove" a creed, but because as the biblical texts were compiled, texts that reinforced similar themes (such as the theme of having a high standard of ethical behavior) would've likely been chosen to be included over texts that didn't contribute to the overall narrative.
granted, but this can only go far. as i've pointed out, there does seem to be an interesting theme to genesis. or, rather, the pre-mosaic portion of the J and E documents. but the P sources seem to have been intertwined to serve as context, and largely do not drive at anything other than establishing the ethnic history of israel. except for genesis 1.
i would also like to again mention that this theme is about not having a high standard ethical behaviour. the patriarchs are routinely portrayed as very unethical. for an interesting read on the subject, i'll suggest dershowitz's "genesis of justice".
3) In looking at the chiastic structure that I see in Genesis 1-3, ...
i just do not see it. i'm sorry. i see two creation myths that rather loosely go in opposite orders, yes. but the stylistic differences are just so great that i cannot see this as the product of some scriptural unity. further, since they are driving at two completely unrelated points, and portray god in two contradictory manners... i don't see anything intentional.
but i'll give you deuteronomy.
I've spent more than ten years attempting to understand that "mythological meaning" and this is what I came up with. Basically, that the prophets took symbolism from the creation account to represent the same concepts for a more modern audience. They weren't writing history, per se, but rather a "cosmic" story of good vs. evil that used symbolism and repeated historical types to get their message across.
sounds fair enough to me. i'm not sure that story is "good vs. evil" exactly (this is an entirely too modern archetype). the specific story about the serpent has a lot more to do with chaos and order. genesis 1 depicts god's creative act as defining order -- he separates things, and sets demarcations, and establishes things. he creates from a sea, which symbolizes chaos. it is likely not a coincidence that these dragons are mentioned: the water dragon in sumerian myth was chaos. but establishing that chaos as simply one of god's creations is in a way a fundamental insult to sumerian mythology.
Even though that's the case, every single ancient culture has "creation" as a local event which happened in a specific place -- somewhere they consider to be a place of special significance, compared to other places.
i would actually argue that the ancient israelites were the exception (as they were the exception to polytheism).
clearly, the eden of genesis 2/3 is a specific place, and yahweh basically a regional god. that old chestnut about where qayin's wife came from? the author of genesis 2/3 seemed largely unconcerned with the idea that there were other people outside of eden. adam and chavah were the special creations of yahweh, but were not the only humans. "heaven" and "earth" are not definite, in genesis 2:4b. this would be fitting with a kind henotheistic notion that seem pervasive in genesis 1.
genesis 1, however, is as you say: a specific polemic against the surrounding nations and their gods. the (here unnamed) god (that is certainly yahweh) is not just the creator of eden, and the ancestors of the jewish people. he is the creator of everything. he is a much more universal and withdrawn god. this is a much later story, and part of a much more evolved tradition.
Often, it's the capital city where a king rules from. There is a Sumerian term, "Nun-ki" -- literally translated as "water place" but idiomatically meaning a "mighty city" or "that great city." This idiom originated from the Sumerian myth of Enki's origins in the watery apsu or absu, located at Eridu, and from which the long dynasty of Sumerian kings is said to originate. The biblical writers picked up on this idiom and used it in the bible in a number of places to mean a capital city.
Egypt described creation as a mound of earth rising out of the watery, swampy Nun. A bird alighted on the ben-ben stone in the center of this mound, and suddenly there was light. This stone became the foundation stone of a temple. This creation story, or variants of it, were applied to Heliopolis and several other towns in ancient Egypt, over a long period of time. So, when looking for this "place of special significance," we need to consider that the biblical account isn't going to use another culture's version of "Eden." They're going to have their own.
i'm sure you notice the commonalities with the general story of genesis 1. the important bit is that genesis 1 makes no mention of any specifics. there is no "eden" in genesis 1. adam there probably means "mankind" (especially considering that it describes adam as "male and female"). it is intentionally riffing off those creation stories, and others. this kind of story was pervasive across the ancient near east. genesis 1 is likely meant, in part, to replace said stories in ancient judah. as the book of kings will tell us, judah wasn't always very faithful to strict monotheistic yahweh worship.
Just from the structure of the text, we can identify the land of Eden as the land of Israel, and the point of this was that this was a place of special significance and primacy compared to the rest of the world.
i do not think this is the case. perhaps this would be an issue for another thread, but i think there's likely a wealth of names and places we can identify that would place them elsewhere shortly after leaving eden. for instance, everyone spreads apart from babel. where is babel, supposedly?
metaphorically, yes, eden does potentially stand in for "the land of milk and honey". but i don't think we can say that it means that literally. literally, its description is quite improbable, and under much debate.
i writes:
i think it's important to get the order correct. i've often debated with people here that make the fundamental(ist) error that the later work can be examined as if it influenced the earlier work.
That's if one assumes that Genesis was a later work.
er, actually, genesis was the earlier work in my statement. sorry for the confusion. genesis 2/3 happens to be fairly old as far as torah sources go. i was saying that it's probably inappropriate to look at books that were written after (and influenced by) the torah in order to determine what the torah means. it's also worth noting that genesis 1 is far newer than genesis 2. it was originated much closer to the time of the major prophets.
I've studied books like Jubilees, which purports to be an ancient document but in reality has a lot of internal textual evidence that it was composed in approximately the first century BC, since common rabbinic interpretations from this time have made their way into the book and have been given an ancient gloss. I'm personally not seeing the same kind of evidence for a later composition for early parts of Genesis.
no, i don't either. i would not go so far as to say "first century BC" for anything in the torah, even the newest parts. the newest bits, i might say as late as immediately upon return from babylonian exile, under the prophet ezra, as part of the canonization effort. this would include genesis 1.
the J and E bits, i'd put to maybe 900 BC? it's kind of rough, since source authorship from oral tradition (or, perhaps other collected sources, in a less rigid manner) does not particularly reflect the actual age of the story. just the most recent revision of the document as a whole. the only source we can definitively date is deuteronomy. unless you believe the business about it being "found" of course.
Well, again, I think we're coming at this from different perspectives. I think the metaphorical "commandment" that they were given was to practice what leads to life, as opposed to practicing either good or evil.
but they weren't given a positive mitzvah, only a commandment to avoid something. it wasn't so much a choice, as it was that "life" (really, physical immortality) was pulled away from them as a result of their actions.
I think the reason why the bible uses this symbolism is because at that time, the civilization of Sumer was beginning to spread across the ancient near east. They saw themselves as exploring, for the first time, the fruits of civilization, and they threw themselves into it wholeheartedly. But the way they described these fruits of civilization is probably best summarized by the Mesopotamian tale of Enkidu. Enkidu is a wild man who lives in harmony with nature. Gilgamesh interacts with him and offers to him the fruits of civilization. In order to become initiated into civilized culture, Enkidu must drink beer and have intercourse with a woman (since beer and temple prostitution were seen as the great innovations of society at that time).
surely they were. ಠ_ಠ
Upon initiation, Enkidu would have greater *knowledge*.
oh no, not the sex thing. i knew it would rear its ugly head sooner or later.
it is a common reading of ha-da'at, yes. there are literally tons of rabbinical commentary on it. i don't especially want to discuss it. i'm not sure i disagree with it, but i can't say i really agree either. the qabalistic reading is interesting, but way too anachronistic. i do like the "stealing creative power" idea, but it just doesn't really fit, imho.
I feel that it is specifically this literature (whether or not this was the actual story that Genesis 1-3 was written in response to, or a similar story) that prompted the ethical response in Genesis 1-3.
did you know that a lot of rabbinic interpretation regards eating from the tree of knowledge as good thing?
What I find interesting is that the creation of man appears in parallel in the chiastic structure of the text. That's just one more reason, to me, that it makes sense. At the very least, it's a legitimate alternative to the documentary hypothesis which should be given equal consideration.
well, like i mention, at best i see that as an interesting coincidence. it's not chiasmus, really, because the two are driving at entirely opposite points. not complimentary converses. opposites.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 101 by damoncasale, posted 12-15-2010 9:00 PM damoncasale has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 104 by damoncasale, posted 12-16-2010 7:49 AM arachnophilia has replied

Member (Idle past 1452 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004

Message 105 of 200 (596756)
12-16-2010 7:04 PM
Reply to: Message 104 by damoncasale
12-16-2010 7:49 AM

damoncasale writes:
Although there *is* value in taking that position (that contradictory material can be included and not cause a problem for an ancient biblical redactor of the text), I just don't see Genesis 1-3 as one of those texts.
on the contrary, genesis 1 vs genesis 2/3 are the texts that best demonstrate this idea. most of the other discrepancies are minor in comparison. while the J and E documents do differ slightly, it is not anywhere near the difference between J and P.
But in any case, moving on. We don't need to keep polemicizing at one another after we're both already sure what the other believes.
you must be new here
Agreed, but I think that's for a reason. We're shown that they're human and have human failings. Nevertheless, we still have a goal to aim for. One of the definitions for sin is, after all, missing the mark.
right, but i think you are missing what i'm saying. the patriarchs are not meant to be goals to aim for. rather, they are an expression of the human condition outside of the law of moshe. the interesting part of this idea is just how anthropomorphic the portrayal of god is, in the early sections of the torah. he seems subject to the same emotions, the same shortcomings, and the same uncertainty. it is only when god defines a contract between himself and his creation that there can be order, civility, or morality. when adam and chavah eat from the tree of knowledge, they really do become like god.
look, for instance, at how the source i suggested above, alan dershowitz, breaks down the stories of genesis:
  1. God Threatens -- and Backs Down
  2. Cain Murders -- and Walks
  3. God Overreacts -- and Floods the World
  4. Abraham Defends the Guilty -- and Loses
  5. Lot's Daughters Rape Their Father -- and Save the World
  6. Abraham Commits Attempted Murder -- and Is Praised
  7. Jacob Deceives -- and Gets Deceived
  8. Dina Is Raped -- and Her Brothers Take Revenge
  9. Tamar Becomes a Prostitute -- and the Progenitor of David and the Messiah
  10. Joseph Is Framed -- and Then Frames His Brothers

of course, for the actual arguments, you'll have to read the book. that's the table of contents. but i think it adequately sums up the book of genesis: a whole lot of immorality, by everyone.
I agree with establishing chaos as a rebuttal of Sumerian mythology, but as to good vs. evil, I think we both know where we stand on that.
well, like i said, good v. evil is entirely too anachronistic. the earlier texts (genesis 2/3), god is really neither good nor evil. he is portrayed in very human terms, and generally can't be summed up under either heading. in the later texts (genesis 1), god is universal, and good and evil simultaneously. and it's his job to delineate the two -- evil is the realm and authority of god, just as much as good is. this would represent the major prophets, as well. but the idea of any "evil" force out there that could even begin to challenge a "good" god would have been heretical. there is only one god, yahweh, and everything is under his power, except perhaps humanity.
Although yes, the replacement concept makes sense, I myself go one step beyond that. I believe Genesis 1 and 2-3 were composed at the same time, as a literary unit, because those were the two styles of creation literature extant in the ancient near east. I see them as complementing one another, though.
i can't see them as being composed as an intentional unit. and for a very simple reason: one of them includes ha-shem, and the other does not. and not the one that you could conveniently explain, either. only the J document operates from the idea that man knew god's name before moshe came along. E does not -- this is why they're named that way. E only refers to god as elohim or other el-based titles, and does not use the proper name of god until he speaks it to moshe. J uses it from the beginning. J is told from the perspective of a later narrator who knows the name of god (say, moshe), and E is told from the perspective of people in the stories. P operates the same way as E.
the problem is that genesis 1 would have to have been told by a later narrator. there are no people present during the creative act. they don't come about until the end of the chapter. in other words, genesis 1 and genesis 2/3 have entirely different theological points of view. if they were to be a unit, the author of gen 1 would have no problem using ha-shem, as he did in gen 2/3. so, why didn't he?
the best answer, and the one that fits all the other evidence, is that they did not have the same author, and were not written to be an intentional unit. do i think the author of gen 1 had the J document? probably. but he was contrasting that as much as he was contrasting anything else.
I sincerely doubt that. See above, regarding my opinion of Genesis 1's raison d'etre.
yes. however, it was towards the end of the biblical period where judah would have had the most contact with people from that part of the world. the sumerian myths would likely have been relayed while they were in babylon. the sumerian mythology did not particularly constitute a major threat to judaism through trade and other small interactions. but it certainly would have when babylon was trying to integrate jews into their population.
I think a better explanation for how the bible came to be in its present form (and I'm mainly speaking of the Tanakh, here) is found here:
Chapter 12: The Old Testament Periods of Canonization
Although I agree that the bible has had more editing done than just this, this is an excellent framework upon which to build an examination of those periods of editing. (I didn't know about the sign Hezekiah used to mark "authorized" books of the bible before I read this, for instance.)
oof, that one's about 100 times worse than your last link. the last one i just simply disagree with. this one is largely nonsense. for instance,
The internal indications certainly claim Moses as the author, and there are many New Testament assurances of this fact.
yeah, what? there are actually no internal indications of who wrote any of the torah. it's simply well-established tradition that moshe wrote it. the text itself certainly does not point to him, and in fact, points away from him in several prominent places. like the bit where he would have had to record his own death. and the bit where moshe describes his ability with words:
And Moses said unto the LORD: 'Oh Lord, I am not a man of words, neither heretofore, nor since Thou hast spoken unto Thy servant; for I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.' And the LORD said unto him: 'Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh a man dumb, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? is it not I the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt speak.' And he said: 'Oh Lord, send, I pray Thee, by the hand of him whom Thou wilt send.' And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and He said: 'Is there not Aaron thy brother the Levite? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee; and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart. And thou shalt speak unto him, and put the words in his mouth; and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do. And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people; and it shall come to pass, that he shall be to thee a mouth, and thou shalt be to him in God's stead.
Exodus 4:10-16
moshe basically defies god and refuses to be the spokesperson because he's not good with words. and we think this guy wrote the torah? if anything, aharun did. and surely the NT's opinion on the matter shouldn't really have any influence. it was already well established tradition at that -- and it's so much established even today that even academics who operate by the documentary hypothesis will still refer to "the five books of moses".
I think you mistake where I'm coming from. The writer of Genesis 2-3 wasn't anti-sex. On the contrary, sex in the context of marriage was seen as a good thing -- hence the specific description of marriage in this text, as contrasted with the early Sumerian practice of temple prostitution.
As far as the meaning of the "fruit" of the tree of knowledge, I don't think it was sex, specifically. That was just one aspect of it.
no no, not the fruit. the knowledge part. see genesis 4:1
וְהָאָדָם, יָדַע אֶת-חַוָּה אִשְׁתּוֹ; וַתַּהַר, וַתֵּלֶד אֶת-קַיִן
עֵץ, הַדַּעַת טוֹב וָרָע
adam yad'a his wife, the tree of ha-da'at. same word -- "knowledge".
I'm aware of that. On that issue, I think they're smoking crack, but that's beside the point.
i don't. it's the bit that brings about the law. and judaism. and christianity. etc.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 104 by damoncasale, posted 12-16-2010 7:49 AM damoncasale has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 106 by damoncasale, posted 12-16-2010 10:23 PM arachnophilia has replied

Member (Idle past 1452 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004

Message 107 of 200 (596809)
12-17-2010 12:17 AM
Reply to: Message 106 by damoncasale
12-16-2010 10:23 PM

damoncasale writes:
Well, after studying the documentary theory for Isaiah and finally arriving at the conclusion that it, too, was composed as a single literary unit, albeit by multiple authors, I don't think we're going to get anywhere on this.
perhaps. but i think perhaps you might want to spend just a bit more time studying the reasoning behind the documentary hypothesis -- and why it rejects the idea of unified composition. remember, the hypothesis was devised to explain the observed lack of unity. it is not the argument, but rather the fact the argument explains.
Yes, actually...just joined recently so I could get my questions answered regarding scientific dating methods.
i know that, i was being funny. we like to beat dead horses here, argue past each other, etc. mostly what used to go on here, a creationist would join, spew out a few old and tired canards, hear a few refutations, and then repeat the same tired canards.
i think you'll find that several of the current threads are topics that you can find threads on going back to the board's inception. for instance, jar's prophecy thread. i myself started a thread on that same topic around five years ago, and it was a continuation of a previous thread. genesis 1 vs. genesis 2 is frequently discussed -- i'm discussing it in two threads right now. one of those has kind of devolved into "let's learn to read hebrew in genesis 1:1", which i also posted a thread on about 3 years ago. it's the same old stuff, and i'm not sure we ever convince anyone of anything.
rather, i debate to convince myself, and sharpen my thoughts on the subject. you will find that my positions have changed slightly, and have grown more informed over the years. partly out of research i have had to do -- almost never because someone has radically changed my opinion.
Not the patriarchs themselves. The ideal that they are being measured against.
i think perhaps you're still missing it; i apologize if i'm being unclear. the whole point of genesis is that there is no standard: the torah has not been written yet, and moshe has not issued the 613 mitzvot of the law. the moral ambiguity is for the lack of a standard, and is what necessitates a standard.
As far as the issues you raised above, I guess it depends on one's perspective. For instance, with God threatening and backing down in the creation account, it would be illustrative to compare eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge with the Sumerian cultural beliefs. They believed that the fruits of civilization would bring life -- hence the practice of ritual temple prostitution, especially by the king whose responsibility it was to have sex with the priestess of Inanna during an annual festival in order to ensure a productive year, agriculturally speaking. God was merely contrasting that belief by saying that it would bring death, not life.
well, there was a tree of life, and a tree of knowledge. god claimed the tree of knowledge would bring death,
כִּי, בְּיוֹם אֲכָלְךָ מִמֶּנּוּ--מוֹת תָּמוּת
and the implication that i gather is not so much that god is threatening to kill them personally. it doesn't say, "for when you eat of it, i will surely kill you." it says "for when you eat of it, you will surely die." the implication is more that it is poisonous. the serpent rebuts that this is a lie -- and is proven correct by the text. in this respect, god actually lies. perhaps to protect his creation as a parent might protect their child from certain kinds of knowledge. perhaps because he worries, as in genesis 11, that this knowledge could be used against him.
I don't think God meant Adam would literally die,
no, it definitely means literal death. at least reading the story literally -- the metaphorical reading of the story may perhaps be different, but we can't interchange them at will. the author makes sure to spell this out, so there is no confusion, literally writing, "you will die a death."
As far as the flood goes, I've never been able to find evidence for a worldwide flood. I'm guessing this MIGHT mean a horribly destructive war
no. i think we're straying too far from what the text says.
And it repented the LORD that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart. And the LORD said: 'I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and creeping thing, and fowl of the air; for it repenteth Me that I have made them.'
Genesis 6:6-7
he's very upset with his creation -- not just h'adam and his wife, but mankind all like him. and animals. and everything. symbolically, he is un-creating.
For instance, the "punishment" on Adam, Eve, and the serpent, in the creation account, look more to me like natural consequences than an actual punishment.
so etiologies often go.
I don't really see that as being an issue. I see it as a stylistic difference, as would be explained by having Genesis 1 and 2-3 written by different authors.
err, use and disuse of ha-shem was a major doctrinal issue. this is not a minor stylistic difference. it represents a major shift in theology.
In fact, if one follows the toledoth theory of Genesis authorship, where the toledoth mark the section breaks between the clay tablets that the early chapters of Genesis were originally composed on, Genesis 1:1-2:4a forms one tablet, with the author being "the heavens and the earth", and Genesis 2:4b-5:1 forms a second tablet, with the author being Adam.
curious that it follows the documentary hypothesis so closely. 1:1-2:4a is P, 2:4b-4:26 is J, all of 5 is P again... as such, i don't see this as a particularly useful rebuttal. the only bit it's adding is the plainly ridiculous notion that the people described in the "tablets" are also the authors, and everyone actually wrote in third person.
i say "plainly ridiculous" because the sword of stylistic analysis cuts both ways. whoever wrote genesis 2-4 also wrote everything else attributed to J. and to think adam would have summed up his 900 year existence on a single tablet containing 3 chapters is just outrageous.
this makes the same kind of genre error that fundamentalist christians often make: genesis is not biography, or history. it is fable. they are stories written to convey a particular point, and there is an overall point. denying the unified structure of the individual source is as much of an error as claiming a unified structure across these two particular sources. (J and E had much the same goals, but P did not)
I don't think that's the case. Israel was always being warned about being influenced by its neighbors, who practiced child sacrifice, cutting themselves and bleeding in the worship of Baal, etc. I see a very good reason why the creation story would've been concerned with Sumerian beliefs and practices -- because the whole purpose of the many Ubaid settlements that sprung up across the Fertile Crescent was to facilitate trade. So the Garden of Eden, being just another Ubaid settlement, would've been directly exposed to Sumerian beliefs and practices.
i do see the later creation story as being very concerned with sumerian mythology and religion, yes. the earlier is potentially influenced by it (you can draw parallels in both, of course).
the difference in age partly comes about based on what we know about jewish history from the bible. it is a common error to think of judah as perpetually and strictly monotheistic. but the book of kings will tell us this isn't so. judah underwent a religious reformation under josiah; he banned all places of worship other than the temple in jerusalem, and drove all idol worship out of judah. it follows that judah had been more accepting of other forms of religion prior to this point.
it also follows that the strict monotheistic stuff was written after, where the more henotheistic stuff was likely written before. that simple difference can be used to date the origin of the sources in the torah, especially genesis. J and E do not display an ill-will towards other gods, until moshe gives his commandments, and joshua leads the armies into the promised lands. a strict, universalist god is completely out of place even here, but moreso before the law is given.
I think that's splitting hairs. Of course he wouldn't have recorded his own death. I don't think that argument really does anything to prove or disprove the authorship of the Torah. Even if he had people assisting him in compiling it, he could still be said to be the "author", just as books today might have an "editor" who facilitates the compilation of disparate articles by different authors to form a united whole.
that's really just the most obvious stuff. there's some less obvious stuff, like the anachronisms. for instance,
And these are the kings that reigned in the land of Edom, before there reigned any king over the children of Israel.
Genesis 36:31
Yes, I'm aware of that. But rather than the Sumerian context, which has this knowledge as some metaphysical thing which gives new life, Adam "knowing" his wife Eve, in my opinion, simply represents the intimacy of their relationship. Same word, completely different application.
i'll go one simpler. it's just an idiom; a euphemism. though the qabalists do take the metaphysical approach...


This message is a reply to:
 Message 106 by damoncasale, posted 12-16-2010 10:23 PM damoncasale has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 108 by damoncasale, posted 12-17-2010 8:53 AM arachnophilia has replied

Member (Idle past 1452 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004

Message 109 of 200 (597500)
12-22-2010 1:58 AM
Reply to: Message 108 by damoncasale
12-17-2010 8:53 AM

damoncasale writes:
Well, as I explained before, I *did* spend time considering the opposite position for Isaiah. And it made a LOT of sense...until I happened upon Avraham Gileadi's book and saw how the unity of Isaiah could be defended.
admittedly, i am not that well versed in isaiah. however, i have much better grasp on the torah, and i do not see this unity argument as a good defense against something like the documentary hypothesis. it does not seem to address the facts in support of the documentary hypothesis.
As far as Genesis goes, I've known about the toledoth theory and the chiasmus theory for a long time. I can certainly look at the documentary theory as regards Genesis 1-3, but I really don't think that knowing more about J, E, D and P will help me much. (I have a basic familiarity of what they are.)
considering that it is the mainstream academic understanding of torah authorship, it should certainly be considered. i do not think that the "toledot" idea bears much weight against it, considering the stylistic similarities within the proposed documents. certainly, toledot was a popular way to begin folk history, even across documents. it alone does not particularly denote shared or differing authorship, anymore than "once upon a time" would in english.
and surely, the "unity" and "toledot" arguments are in effect working against each other...
Well, I'm always learning too. I can't really say I've learned much here, although it does sound like you're *very* informed and well-read. For that I applaud you, even though we disagree on quite a bit. The one thing this discussion *has* done for me is informed me on how I should rewrite certain parts of my book. The main points you've raised, and the answers I gave, are things that really should be in there.
thanks, i guess? however, i'm still unconvinced that a chiasmus theory has any weight to it -- certainly, ancient hebrew books were written with such a structure. for instance, one might be able to make that argument about the book of job, which typically has job responding to his friends, in turns.
Well, I don't believe Genesis 1-3 was meant to be read literally, just like the creation literature of other cultures wasn't meant to be literal either. I mean, I hear where you're coming from, but my view of Genesis 1-3 has been markedly changed by my exposure to other ancient literature, and seeing how it was meant to be read.
i think perhaps we're talking past each other. this "literal vs metaphor" stuff is decidedly modern, and wouldn't have been of much concern to the ancient audiences, as you say, much like other ancient creation stories. however, i think it is inappropriate to jump from that logic to one where we can play fast and loose with the events of the story. there is a big difference between "literally accurate" and "literal, as literature". further, as good jewish interpretations will tell us, the literal itself is often not the point... but the more symbolic readings must still be in line with, and stem from, the literal.
I *used* to read it literally too, but I had to let go of that in order to explain the fact that human existence goes back farther than 6000 years. And then I had to come up with a good hypothesis to explain what it *does* mean. I just don't think there's any easy way to falsify either of our hypotheses.
but i do not think factual concerns are a good argument against reading a story literally. since i've already used a star wars analogy today, in my less intelligent debate, i'll use another here. we wouldn't look at the physical impossibility of a lightsaber, and conclude that they were metaphors for something else -- but we could talk about the color symbolism involved. we wouldn't look at tie fighters screaming through space, which can't transmit sound waves, and conclude that they were merely symbolic of something -- but we could talk about design features in imperial vs. rebel fighters. the factuality of the story is never really an issue, but the basic plot and images on the screen shouldn't be the final say, either.
Compare that with Jeremiah 4, especially verses 23-26. Here, God is "uncreating" too, but in this case we see that it's the result of the Babylonian army taking Jerusalem captive and decimating it.
I know God says that *he* is doing this in regards to the Flood, but he also said that in regards to the destruction of Jerusalem. And in that case, we know he used an agent to do so.
sure, but that doesn't mean we can disregard the contents of the story. it could well be the case that we can draw an argument for a parallel between the genesis flood, with a small family of survivors, and the faithful who were carried through the babylonian exile.
I understand that later Judaism made it out to be, but for me it's not a big deal. Adam, dwelling in the Garden, would've known God intimately. Perhaps that's all that this means. I'm really not interested in speculating, because I'm out of my depth here.
i think you don't quite get what i mean, here. for instance, genesis 4 ends with this phrase:
then began men to call upon the name of the LORD
adam doesn't actually use the name of god in the text, but it's presumable that he knew it. here, seth (his son), and enosh (his grandson) know it, and use it. but look at exodus 6:3
and I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name Yahweh I made Me not known to them.
this represents a huge contradiction -- was "yahweh" knows to the israelites before moses? if you sort out the sources, one source consistently claims it was, and the other consistently claims it wasn't. there's no contradiction within the sources, only between them. this is a pretty huge doctrinal issue. and it's probably not related to the similar issue in later judaism, where one avoids saying the name of god. although P is late enough that it might have avoided "yahweh" for similar reasons.
Well, unless you expect them to write something clunky like "I, Adam" every time instead of just Adam, it makes sense to me.
i expect a little more than a short story, with a plain goal in mind, to sum up 900 years of existence. and one would not have to write something clunky like that every time. a simple introduction, and then continuing in first person would have sufficed. it's just not written like a first person account: it's written like mythology. and i'm really not sure how you can argue this idea and argue for non-literal readings because the story is counter-factual.
Why? We discussed the tablet literature from Mari, Ebla and Nuzi before. From what I understand, stylistically, it's quite similar. Those writers weren't very verbose either. What would help me is seeing a good sampling of tablet translations of the various kinds of literature discovered at those three sites, tho. I haven't been able to locate a good sampling yet.
but, like i said, we can pick apart the styles both ways. not only can we pull J and E apart because of stylistic differences, we can group J together with itself, and E together with itself because of stylistic similarities. it's not really an issue of verbosity, but of how those words are used. for instance, compared the rigidity of any P source (genesis 1, or any genealogy) with anything else in genesis. anything else seems a lot more eloquent, doesn't it? it's not number of words, but how they're used.
the "number of words" bit above was that i would expect someone telling the story of their entire 900 year life to be a bit longer than barely a paragraph. or any of these posts. perhaps if they were leaving a headstone -- or some other kind of stele -- i could see that length. but they don't read like stele either.
Well, if by fable you mean stories written to convey a particular point, that's what I've been saying all along as regards Genesis 1-3.
sure. but gen 1 and gen 2/3 convey different points. not one unified point together.
It's written in a metaphorical style that *does* contain literal elements -- just as there was a literal king Gilgamesh, but he never went on a journey to search for the plant of life. That, too, was a metaphor.
i would go the reverse route. it's written in a literal style and contains metaphorical elements. (ditto on gilgamesh)
In any case, I *do* see a chiastic structure to Genesis 1-3. I know you think it's strained, but there are other elements that tie that together for me. There is a Jewish legend that before Adam sinned, his skin glowed. When he sinned, the light went out and he could see that he was naked. Although I don't put any stock in that, the way the text describes Adam's garment is interesting: kotnot 'or with an ayin. This is a play on words with kotnot 'ur with an aleph, meaning coats of light. It was referring back to the parallel passage in Genesis 1:3 where God said, "let there be light." This is simply God's spirit causing light, and Adam is figuratively "wearing" God's spirit here.
i know i said the above was strained, but this rather takes the cake. like i mentioned, there's a lot of particularly crazy rabbinical interpretation.
in any case, it's simply a coincidence that אור and עור are spelled similarly. the authors of the bible will frequently use similar spellings to "rhyme", but never so incredibly far apart. it's always the next line, or the same sentence. i mean, if you want to really stretch it, it might go back as far as verse 10:
וָאִירָא כִּי-עֵירֹם אָנֹכִי, וָאֵחָבֵא
"and i was afraid, because i was naked, and i hid myself." though here, a similar alef/ayin spelling change makes "afraid" into "naked". (note also the first person when adam speaks)
Compare that with Isaiah 30:1: "Woe to the rebellious children, says the Lord. They take counsel, but not from me, and they cover (themselves) with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they might add sin to sin!"
i think it's also inappropriate to draw a parallel between god's spirit, and light. this is a common christian idea, but is quite anachronistic for the source. rather, god's spirit is more appropriate symbolized in breath. god breathes into things to make them alive, to give them spirits or souls. for instance, the word here is רוּחִ, which may also be found genesis 1:2,
וְרוּחַ אֱלֹהִים, מְרַחֶפֶת עַל-פְּנֵי הַמָּיִם
in other words, before light was even around.
Only if you follow Finkelstein & etc., who don't believe in an actual Davidic kingdom, an actual entry into the land of Canaan by conquering the existing inhabitants, etc. David Rohl, in "Pharaohs and Kings: A Biblical Quest" does an excellent job of clearing up the Egyptian chronological difficulties in locating the Davidic kingdom in the Levant.
well, i wasn't going back that far. i haven't read finkelstein etc, and i don't particularly have an opinion on the davidic kingdom. i was speaking rather strictly late first temple judaism, just prior to the exile. the stuff that there is little about being historical.
And no, influence by their polytheistic neighbors wasn't a real issue for Israel at this point in time.
and at that time, there was an issue in judah. even the book of kings reports that there was -- until josiah cleans up the mess. this is within, i believe, 60 years of the exile. israel (the northern kingdom, post-division), on the other hand seemed somewhat more accepting of foreign gods, and was damned because of that fact.
I think that's assuming far, far too much about Israel's history. What most biblical critics are wont to do is to try to come up with a simple formula to deconstruct the bible. They think they've done so by pegging a stricter monotheism as only being instituted post-Josiah.
but again, this idea doesn't come from nowhere. it comes from the book of kings. josiah definitely did post up monotheism to a certain degree. other gods were somewhat accepted before this fact, because he had to have had something to drive out. unless we assume it's just generated controversy?
but this is not to say it's a simple formula. just that we're much more likely to see stricter monotheism after this event, and the vehement exclusion of other gods is probably due in part to josiah's reform.
I really don't think that's the case, especially with Moses destroying the golden calf en route to the promised land. (And yes, I'm sure the same biblical critics will say that's unhistorical, too.)
well, like i mentioned, we're discussing genesis, which takes place chronologically before that, and before the law is given. prior to the commandment that there should be no other gods in israel, moses himself lived as an egyptian, and among the midianites. even stranger, look at the account of jacob fleeing laban -- rachel had stolen her father's idols, and jacob seems fairly intent on getting them back to laban. hardly the idol-mashing behaviour of the conquering israelites, right?
this was to be expected, of course. the israelites had not heard the commandment to only follow one god. rather, they simply had the god their ancestors worshipped, and were not so concerned with removing other gods. a universal god in this setting would have been anachronistic.
Of course. Genesis was edited many times, in order to update the place names for a more modern readership. I'm totally in agreement with biblical *editing*.
oof. i don't even know where to begin, there. surely you know that a lot of genesis is etiological in nature? it's the story of how those places got those names. when those are the anachronisms, it kind of moves the whole story up a bit.
PS. Because I'm curious, would you mind sharing how you came to be so well-informed on biblical history, biblical criticism, etc.? I think knowing that might shed some light on our conversation.
i'm honestly not that informed.
i just read about it from time to time. and lots of debate here.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 108 by damoncasale, posted 12-17-2010 8:53 AM damoncasale has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 110 by damoncasale, posted 12-22-2010 9:25 AM arachnophilia has replied

Member (Idle past 1452 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004

Message 111 of 200 (597606)
12-22-2010 5:51 PM
Reply to: Message 110 by damoncasale
12-22-2010 9:25 AM

We seem to be running out of polemic that's not simply repeated from earlier. I'll focus on the new stuff, unless you think I'm skipping something important.
I guess what I'm saying, regarding Genesis, is not so much a "unity" argument as it is an "age" argument. The documentary theory argues that at least some of the material is younger than it claims to be, just like parts of Isaiah are younger than they claim to be.
nothing in genesis claims any age in particular. rather, the internal anachronisms point towards certain dates for certain sources. the book never actually says it's as old as the subject matter -- in fact, most books are written after the events they describe. this is to be expected.
I've attempted to look at both sides of the issue with Isaiah and ended up concluding that the "unity" argument makes more sense in its case. As far as Genesis goes, again, I only have a basic familiarity with the JEDP hypothesis, but I don't think knowing more about it is necessarily going to convince me differently than I am now. That being said, I'm not *averse* to studying it. (I've run into enough stubborn people in discussing religious matters that I'm determined not to become one of them. )
well, that's good. as i mentioned, i'm not that well versed in isaiah specifically, but with the issue regarding the torah, this is not stubbornness on my part. the documentary hypothesis is simply the best explanation for the internal structure that i have seen, and easily explains the discrepancies these other ideas pass over, or stretch to explain.
it also paints the torah as a kind of microcosm of the rest of the tanakh: we know that the tanakh is composed of multiple sources.
IMHO, this is a modern approach at understanding the text, though. I'm trying my level best to look at Genesis 1-3 in exactly the same way other ancient creation literature was written and meant to be understood. I'm not positive I'm succeeding, but I think the approach is good.
i think that rejecting the literal reading for the sake of factual concerns is decidedly more modern than ignoring the factual concerns and reading the text as it was written.
The point I'm making is that unless we learn to read these stories as the ancient writers intended them to be read, we can go around and around about what's literal and what's not. Our conclusions won't be at all accurate, though.
sure, agreed. but i just don't think an examination of these texts that is informed by modern science has any place in determining what they meant, or didn't mean literally.
Actually, this is another important chiastic structure:
Gen. 4:23 - Then men began to call upon the name of the Lord
Gen. 5 - Genealogy of Seth
Gen. 6:2 - The sons of God married the daughters of men
Basically what this means is that the descendants of Seth were these "sons of God." Has nothing to do with fallen angels, as some later Jewish sources (like Enoch) interpreted this to mean.
oof, now we're going really far off the beaten path. i'd like to suggest a slightly less crazy reading for "sons of god".
sons of israel = israelites
sons of god = ?
for instance, look at the history of revision for deuteronomy 32:8 and 9:
The last phrase, "according to the number of the sons of Israel," reflects the reading of the Masoretic text בני ישראל, a reading also reflected in some later revisions of the Septuagint: a manuscript of Aquila (Codex X), Symmachus (also Codex X), and Theodotion.2 Most witnesses to the Septuagint in verse 8, however, read, ἀγγέλων θεοῦ ("angels of God"), which is interpretive,3 and several others read υἱοὺς θεοῦ ("sons of God").4 Both of these Greek renderings presuppose a Hebrew text of either בני אלהם or בני אלים. These Hebrew phrases underlying ἀγγέλων θεοῦ and υἱοὺς θεοῦ are attested in two Hebrew manuscripts from Qumran,5 and by one (conflated) manuscript of Aquila.6
     2. Fridericus Field, ed., Origenis Hexaplorum, Tomus I: Prolegomena, Genesis-Esther (Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1964), 320, n. 12.
     3. This is the predominant reading in the Septuagint manuscripts and is nearly unanimous. See John William Wevers, ed., Septuaginta: Vetus Testamentum Graecum, Auctoritate Academiae Scientiarum Gottingensis Editum, vol. 3.2: Deuteronomium (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1977), 347; and idem, Notes on the Greek Text of Deuteronomy (Atlanta: Scholars, 1995), 513. Wevers refers to this majority reading as "clearly a later attempt to avoid any notion of lesser deities in favor of God's messengers" (ibid.).
     4. Wevers, ed., Septuaginta, 347. The Gottingen Septuagint has adopted υἱοὺς θεοῦ as the best reading, despite its having fewer attestations.
     5. The words בני אל are not an option for what was behind the Septuagint reading, as demonstrated by the Qumran support for the Hebrew text underlying the unrevised Septuagint. First, manuscript 4QDtq has spaces for additional letters following the ל of its [ ] בני אל. Second, 4QDtJ clearly reads בני אלוהים (Sanders, The Provenance of Deuteronomy 32, 156). See also Emanuel Tov, Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1992), 269.
     6. Wevers, ed., Septuaginta, 347; and Field, Origenis Hexaplorum, Tomus I: Prolegomena, Genesis-Esther, 320. The manuscript of Aquila is Codex 85.
[ed note: i've taken the liberty of replacing the cryptic academic latinized greek and (backwards) hebrew with actual greek and hebrew, for the sake of clarity.]
now, this article argues against a polytheistic reading, and for the council reading (cf: job 1, ugaritic literature, and the rest of the article). i'm tempted to agree. it also argues that the reason it was changed was because it just sounds too polytheistic. and it does -- each nation gets another god? the "council" instead probably represents a step up from polytheism, and is certainly not the last step ancient judaism makes. in any case, bnai elohim is certainly representing a set of divine entities, not human ones.
Why is this a contradiction? It only says Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, not anyone earlier than that. Right?
well, poke through genesis some more. abraham does use the name of god. for instance,
And Abraham planted a tamarisk-tree in Beer-sheba, and called there on the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God.
Genesis 21:33
i'm sure you can find more if you try.
Isn't that exactly what tablets are?
not necessarily. they could be anything.
In any case, one could say that all of the genealogical tablets in the archive in Ebla were written by the same author, because they're written in the same style. Now, I know you're referring to more specific stylistic indicators, but given that a good case can be made for the unity of Isaiah *despite* its striking stylistic differences between the two halves of the book, I would wager that a similar argument can be made for individual authorship throughout the early chapters of Genesis.
i don't think so. i'm still highly skeptical of the isaiah argument.
The problem is, we're dealing with a VERY limited section of the text (prior to Genesis 12, that is) and trying to make very important determinations based on picking out stylistic similarities and differences with the rest of the Torah. That's dangerous and can easily lead to all sorts of wrong conclusions, simply because our sample size is way too small. It's better to look at literary comparisons with other ancient cultures to see what we can learn that way, imho.
why "prior to genesis 12"? J and E extend well into numbers, P into (or rather, includes) leviticus. the sample size is the entire torah.
I'm getting that in part from Exodus 3:2, 13:21-22, and 14:19-20. It seems that a parallel is being drawn between the division of light from darkness in Genesis 1:1-4 and Exodus 14:19-20 especially. Therefore, this pillar of cloud/fire would be equivalent to God's spirit lighting things up.
no, i wouldn't say so. clearly, light was the necessity, yes, but fire seems to have been the point here. burning bush, pillar of fire, fire from heaven, burnt sacrifices, etc. you can find tons of fire imagery in the bible.
What I meant was that acceptance of foreign gods wasn't an issue during the time of the Davidic kingdom, although it was an issue later on, in Josiah's day. So what you mentioned earlier about Josiah "finding" the book of the law in the Temple being more a composition than a finding is, I think, inaccurate.
i posted a thread on this several years ago. there are certainly some salient political motivations that can be seen in the book. but i fail to see what logic you're driving at. i'm not advocating a davidic authorship of deuteronomy, but one contemporary to josiah -- when it would have been needed.
To some degree, I agree with you, but I don't think that proves that Yahweh is anachronistic in the early parts of Genesis.
er, no. just the opposite. "yahweh elohim" would have been entirely appropriate in that context, to differentiate the israelite god from the other gods of other nations. J takes this route -- E prefers to think that "yahweh" was revealed only to moses, and uses other mechanics to differentiate god: "el elyon", "el shaddai", "elohi abraham elohi yitzaq elohi yaqob", etc. what is inappropriate in this context is just elohim, without any context as to which god we are talking about. it's way too universal. and you can even see, in later texts, the confusion that monotheism has caused the ancient jewish people. for instance, the universal title "baal". which baal?
Of course it is. But that doesn't mean editing didn't take place. For example, the name of Raamses in Genesis 47:11, and then again in Exodus 1:11, is anachronistic. That was changed later, when the name of the city changed, in order to keep the book up to date.
no, i mean that many of the place names are justified internally by the text. the stories themselves are the reasons why places got their names.
Anyway, since roughly 1996, I've been researching ancient history, particularly the origin of civilization. My goal was to understand *why* the early parts of Genesis were written the way they were. Whereas a lot of biblical commentaries will point out the cultural references in later chapters of Genesis, I wanted to explore the same for the early chapters. It's been a difficult road, because the more I've read, the more I've understood that there's a wide diversity of information available. Some of it's reliable, and some of it's playing very fast and loose with facts, occasionally getting them completely wrong.
Another thing I've been picking up on in recent years has been attempting to integrate a holistic understanding of ancient culture as a way of better understanding the cultural origins of Genesis. Part of that has been spent exploring the astronomical references in things like the myth of Gilgamesh's journey, but also just by studying things like the pillars at Nabta Playa. If the ancient myths really are full of astronomical references (and I'd include the bible in that!), that could be as big of a breakthrough as the decipherment of hieroglyphics was for the study of ancient Egypt.
i think discovering significant astrological references in ancient hebrew texts would be particularly interesting. i'm not especially aware of any, and i would wager that you won't find very many if you do go looking. the reason being that astrology was basically forbidden in judaism. the most obvious astrological reference in the bible can be found in the new testament, but it reduces a probably complex sign to a mere "star". this is likely because the author knew the magi were coming from somewhere astrologically informed, but lacked the astrological information himself.
that said, i'd love to be shown wrong here. if you've got some astrological symbolism in genesis, do share!


This message is a reply to:
 Message 110 by damoncasale, posted 12-22-2010 9:25 AM damoncasale has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 112 by damoncasale, posted 12-23-2010 12:10 PM arachnophilia has replied

Member (Idle past 1452 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004

Message 123 of 200 (597745)
12-23-2010 8:29 PM
Reply to: Message 112 by damoncasale
12-23-2010 12:10 PM

Well, let me answer your other question regarding why we should make a division at Genesis 12. It's because the composition of the text drastically changes beginning at Genesis 12. Everything before that is universalist in perspective, with several genealogies, and three major -- but very short -- literary interludes: creation, the flood, and the tower of Babel. All three of these appear to be polemics specifically targeting either immorality or, in the case of the Babel story, something which isn't immediately apparent from the text, but which also has to do with immorality. Everything after this is simply the history of Abraham and his descendants. Morality does play a part, but it's no longer the defining characteristic of the literature.
i don't see any such shift. rather, i see the story of adam and his descendants. genesis 2/3/4 is every bit as non-universal as anything about abraham. and the immorality theme runs throughout. again, the stylistic analysis cuts both ways.
If I understood you correctly, you said earlier that the documentary hypothesis doesn't have an explanation for why there should be a change in the character of the text at this point.
there isn't. the writing style remains the same, though the subjects change a little. this is simply not the kind of change in character that relates to authorship.
I'm positing that one of the reasons for the change (and there are multiple reasons) is because the original medium for recording the text changed at this point. Before, baked clay tablets were used. Afterwards, likely vellum (sheep skin) was used, meaning that more material could be preserved in a much easier fashion.
we would likely see a much more drastic change if that were the case. granted, we have many more stories about abraham, and about isaac, and about jacob and his sons, than we do about adam or noah -- but, once split apart into their sources, each source retains the same style, and the individual stories are all about the same length even across sources. there just isn't a good reason to infer a change in medium, here.
But the documentary hypothesis, as it currently stands, doesn't allow for this, because it posits that the material was interwoven together at a much later date. Right?
no, of course it would allow for such a thing to have happened. J and E likely had their own sources they were working from. in fact, iirc, the documentary hypothesis basically supposes that they must have had their sources, because they agree so frequently, through duplicated stories.
Now, I think looking at the stylistic considerations, the use of different names for God (or no name, in the case of Gen. 1:1-2:4), etc., is indeed a valuable exercise. But I think that using just those considerations for purposes of dating the text is extremely unwise.
oh, of course. and completely useless past exodus 4 or so. as i mentioned, E begins to call god "yahweh" at this point. it's not that this is the only stylistic consideration; it's that it's a fairly easy example to demonstrate.
If I remember correctly, early versions of the documentary hypothesis arose out of the fallacious belief that writing didn't exist in roughly 1000 BC, around the time of the Davidic kingdom.
no, that'd have been quite silly. the earliest versions of the documentary hypothesis stem out of questioning the mosaic authorship of the torah, and the early rabbinical observations that part of the text simply couldn't have been written by moses. but it's not so much about showing that moses couldn't have written the text, but about explaining some of those descrepancies -- and the doublets/triplets, the contradictions, etc.
The documentary hypothesis has since evolved, but my point in bringing this up is that the hypothesis is mainly an artificial construct which was arrived at purely from one specific angle of analysis.
well, if the "one specific angle" is unbiased academic peer review, then yes. but that's hardly one specific angle. this is something that a lot of people in academia put a lot of study into -- and most if not all of the other angles come from outside the peer review process, and are generally extremely religiously motivated.
I'm aware of the editing of Deuteronomy 32:8-9, and even though that may be referring to a council of angels, that doesn't change the correct reading of Genesis 4:23-6:2.
i think it, and the other references to the sons of god(s), helps clarify what the ancient authors probably thought that phrase meant. i agree that going as far as enoch will lead to false conclusions, because tradition evolves. but i don't see any particular reason to think this group in genesis is any different than the clearly divine group of the same name elsewhere in the bible.
Compare Psalm 82. "God stands in the congregation of the mighty, he judges among the gods (elohim). How long will you judge unjustly, and tolerate wickedness?" This psalm is drawing a deliberate analogy between the heavenly court of angels and the earthly judges of Israel. Just as those earthly judges are referred to by verse 6 -- "I have said, you are gods, and all of you are children of the most high" -- the same can be said of the sons of God in Gen. 6:2.
yes, but it's important to distinguish the thing being analogized from the thing it's being compared to. clearly, as you say, psalm 82 is comparing the earthly judges of israel to heavenly court (there's a polytheistic reading here, too, but it's probably wrong). this does not mean that the two are interchangeable.
In fact, what it looks like was really going on in Gen. 6:2 is that the gene pool was being weakened. It looks like there were a very small minority of extremely long-lived humans who then began intermarrying with other people who were living at this time, people whose average lifespans we know from archaeology to be somewhere around 35-40 years.
again, i think it's completely inappropriate to try and use modern science to analyze the text. we are not told anywhere what anyone else's lifespan is around this time, and everyone we are given an age for lives very, very long. there's probably a textual reason for these ages, and they are probably artificially inflated.
Hence, Gen. 6:3 has man's lifespan being limited to 120 years.
i hate to be a stickler for accuracy, but this reading is totally, totally wrong.
we've covered this particular topic here, in depth, before. i won't drag you through it, but i suggest you flip a few pages ahead, to chapter 11, and start checking the genealogies. i don't think we get someone who dies before 120 until around the time of jacob. no, clearly, the 120 years was until the destruction of mankind. it takes noah roughly 100 years to build the ark.
I'm not advocating a Davidic authorship of Deuteronomy either. I'm pointing out the logical fallacy of suggesting that Deuteronomy would only have been written in the context of Josiah's reforms. Why couldn't it have originated with Moses, when the issue of worshipping other gods instead of God was also a problem?
then why exodus, numbers, and leviticus? clearly, deuteronomy is a re-issuing of the law. i mean, that's basically what we're calling it in english. the reasons for the authorship under josiah have to do, again, with certain anachronisms.
Also, both architecture and astronomical observance have had religious significance since prehistoric times. So for instance, Job 38:31-33 seems to have an ancient meaning of which we are generally ignorant today.
i think it's a pretty big jump from astronomical awareness to astrological significance. job is clearly talking about the prowess of god over the cosmos -- but i don't see astrological significance there. and if there is any, it's likely poking a sharp stick at the astrology the neighbours follow, and not actual hebrew astrology itself.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 112 by damoncasale, posted 12-23-2010 12:10 PM damoncasale has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 128 by damoncasale, posted 12-24-2010 12:25 AM arachnophilia has replied

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