Understanding through Discussion


Welcome! You are not logged in. [ Login ]
EvC Forum active members: 66 (9028 total)
63 online now:
anglagard, AZPaul3, Coragyps, dwise1, jar, nwr, Rahvin (7 members, 56 visitors)
Newest Member: Michael MD
Post Volume: Total: 884,207 Year: 1,853/14,102 Month: 221/624 Week: 105/95 Day: 34/15 Hour: 0/6


Thread  Details

Email This Thread
Newer Topic | Older Topic
  
Author Topic:   The Problems with Genesis: A Christian Evolutionist's View
damoncasale
Member (Idle past 3657 days)
Posts: 41
From: Seffner, FL, USA
Joined: 12-09-2010


Message 106 of 200 (596791)
12-16-2010 10:23 PM
Reply to: Message 105 by arachnophilia
12-16-2010 7:04 PM


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.

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.

you must be new here

Yes, actually...just joined recently so I could get my questions answered regarding scientific dating methods.

i think you are missing what i'm saying. the patriarchs are not meant to be goals to aim for

Not the patriarchs themselves. The ideal that they are being measured against.

look, for instance, at how the source i suggested above, alan dershowitz, breaks down the stories of genesis:

quote:
  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 think probably the best source for examining God's emotional state, as it were, is a book called "The Prophets" by Abraham Heschel. It's absolutely brilliantly written and captures the prophet's relationship with God very, very well. Heschel used the word "pathos" to describe God's emotions, and I think that word really sums it up. God is very intense. He has mood swings, gets angry, despondent, etc. The prophet cannot help but participate in this pathos, just because of the intimate nature of the relationship between God and the prophet.

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. I don't think God meant Adam would literally die, just as the Sumerian practice (or the later Egyptian Sed Festival, normally held at the 30-year anniversary of a pharaoh's ascension to the throne to symbolically renew his life and virility) didn't literally provide new life.

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 -- a "flood" of armies (as in Isaiah 59:19 and Jeremiah 46:7-8), but I'm really not sure. In any case, I think it's instructive to consider the natural consequences of a worldwide spirit of hatred and violence (Gen. 6:11-13). God often acts by warning about the natural consequences of doing something, even though it seems as if he's talking about a punishment. 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.

As far as the rest, where the patriarchs are shown to often be carnal men (to use a modern, Christian term), I think that's accurate. And I think what we're meant to learn from that is that Israel didn't originate from ideal circumstances, no matter how much God might have favored them. They were human and had their issues. Especially Jacob, where we see him earning the just results of his earlier deception of his brother Esau by what Laban does to him.

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.

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. 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.

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 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.

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:

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.

adam yad'a his wife, the tree of ha-da'at. same word -- "knowledge".

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.

Damon


This message is a reply to:
 Message 105 by arachnophilia, posted 12-16-2010 7:04 PM arachnophilia has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 107 by arachnophilia, posted 12-17-2010 12:17 AM damoncasale has responded

  
arachnophilia
Member (Idle past 175 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,

quote:
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.

quote:
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,

quote:
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...


אָרַח

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

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

  
damoncasale
Member (Idle past 3657 days)
Posts: 41
From: Seffner, FL, USA
Joined: 12-09-2010


Message 108 of 200 (596830)
12-17-2010 8:53 AM
Reply to: Message 107 by arachnophilia
12-17-2010 12:17 AM


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.

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. 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.)

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.

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.

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."

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 *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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Well, unless you expect them to write something clunky like "I, Adam" every time instead of just Adam, it makes sense to me.

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.

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.

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)

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. 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.

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.

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!"

Basically, what Isaiah is explaining is that the rebellious Jews were claiming that they were righteous, "covering" their sins, but not with God's spirit. In other words, it's the spirit of love that forgives human inadequacy and failing. The Jews weren't sorry, but they were covering their sins anyway. Adam was "wearing" that spirit to symbolize that God had forgiven him, but nevertheless he still had to suffer the natural consequences of his actions. And God could no longer allow him to dwell in his presence.

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.

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. And no, influence by their polytheistic neighbors wasn't a real issue for Israel at this point in time.

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 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. 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.)

that's really just the most obvious stuff. there's some less obvious stuff, like the anachronisms. for instance,

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*.

i'll go one simpler. it's just an idiom; a euphemism

Of course it's an idiom.

Damon
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.

Edited by damoncasale, : To satisfy my curiosity


This message is a reply to:
 Message 107 by arachnophilia, posted 12-17-2010 12:17 AM arachnophilia has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 109 by arachnophilia, posted 12-22-2010 1:58 AM damoncasale has responded

  
arachnophilia
Member (Idle past 175 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:

quote:
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

quote:
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:

quote:
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,

quote:
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.


אָרַח

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

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

  
damoncasale
Member (Idle past 3657 days)
Posts: 41
From: Seffner, FL, USA
Joined: 12-09-2010


Message 110 of 200 (597513)
12-22-2010 9:25 AM
Reply to: Message 109 by arachnophilia
12-22-2010 1:58 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.

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.

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. 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. )

but i do not think factual concerns are a good argument against reading a story literally.
etc...

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.

We still haven't even discussed the astronomical elements in the ancient myths. I'll do that now, just to show you that there was more to these ancient tales than meets the modern eye. The Gilgamesh epic describes a journey to "the Westland" where paradise is (e.g., NOT in the direction of Bahrain, which would be southeast). There, the giant "Humbaba" dwelt, in a forest of cedar. Along the way, he meets Utnapishtim (designated by the astrological sign for Capricorn, as in the planisphere that was found in the library of Ashurbanipal) was the only one who had been given eternal life.

Now, successive constellations were anciently assigned to arcs of 6 degrees of longitude across the planet's surface, with Egypt being Orion. (Zitman goes into detail on how we know this in his book, Egypt: Image of Heaven.) Capricorn marked the six degrees of longitude roughly to either side of the Greenwich Meridian, crossing the southwestern tip of Niger. "Humbaba" is a very ancient name applied to the minor constellation near Aquarius now called Lepus. It's this area -- southwest Niger, as laid out on the globe -- that the Egyptians and Sumerians originally came from. Thousands of years ago, before the climate shifted around 8300 years ago or so, this area was more verdant and capable of supporting a large population, as opposed to being a wasteland today. Rock art and pottery shards found in neighboring Chad indicates that not only were people living here, but that their religious motifs were comparable to predynastic Egyptian art.

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.

i think you don't quite get what i mean, here. for instance, genesis 4 ends with this phrase:

quote:
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.

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.

but look at exodus 6:3

quote:
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.

Why is this a contradiction? It only says Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, not anyone earlier than that. Right?

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.

Isn't that exactly what tablets are?

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.

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.

i would go the reverse route. it's written in a literal style and contains metaphorical elements. (ditto on gilgamesh)

Well, that's why I decided to elucidate on Gilgamesh, to show exactly what it *was* trying to say. And the central meaning of the story was in no way described literally, as I showed above. (Well, Zitman did, but you know what I mean.)

i think it's also inappropriate to draw a parallel between god's spirit, and light.

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.

Also note that later Jewish interpreters drew a parallel between the tree of life and the Menorah in the Temple -- which was lit with oil, representing God's spirit.

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.

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.

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.

To some degree, I agree with you, but I don't think that proves that Yahweh is anachronistic in the early parts of Genesis.

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.

I think we're talking past one another here. ;-)

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.

i'm honestly not that informed.

Well, you're still more informed than a lot of people I've had occasion to discuss ancient history and comparative religion with in recent years.

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.

Damon


This message is a reply to:
 Message 109 by arachnophilia, posted 12-22-2010 1:58 AM arachnophilia has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 111 by arachnophilia, posted 12-22-2010 5:51 PM damoncasale has responded

  
arachnophilia
Member (Idle past 175 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.

sure.

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:

quote:
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.

http://faculty.gordon.edu/...t/Articles/Heiser-Deut32-BS.htm


[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,

quote:
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.

indeed.

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!


אָרַח

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

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

  
damoncasale
Member (Idle past 3657 days)
Posts: 41
From: Seffner, FL, USA
Joined: 12-09-2010


Message 112 of 200 (597690)
12-23-2010 12:10 PM
Reply to: Message 111 by arachnophilia
12-22-2010 5:51 PM


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.

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.

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. 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. 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?

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. 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. 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.

in any case, bnai elohim is certainly representing a set of divine entities, not human ones.

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.

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.

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. Hence, Gen. 6:3 has man's lifespan being limited to 120 years.

well, poke through genesis some more. abraham does use the name of god. for instance,

Then I would look at Ex. 6:3, not in terms of the historical usage of one name of God vs. another, but as having a metaphorical meaning. It's not a reliable method of dating texts, that's for sure.

i'm not advocating a davidic authorship of deuteronomy, but one contemporary to josiah -- when it would have been needed.

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?

i think discovering significant astrological references in ancient hebrew texts would be particularly interesting.

Well, we do know that the practice of "measuring," especially for architectural purposes, originally derived from astronomical observance. (Compare Zech. 2:1-2 and other places where a measuring line is used.) We know this from studying the building techniques used in ancient Egypt and Babylon, as well as determining that there were ancient standardized units of measurement that were too accurate to have simply been based off of a measuring rod of some random length. If they had been just based off of an existing measuring rod, then "copying" that rod would've introduced a progressive, measurable error margin from the copying process, and we don't see that. So, because we know that any ancient architect had to use astronomical observance in order to calculate his standardized units, we can look through architectural references in the bible with an eye for any non-obvious astronomical references that might pop up.

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.

Damon

Edited by damoncasale, : Elaboration on measurements based on astronomical observation.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 111 by arachnophilia, posted 12-22-2010 5:51 PM arachnophilia has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 113 by Percy, posted 12-23-2010 4:45 PM damoncasale has responded
 Message 123 by arachnophilia, posted 12-23-2010 8:29 PM damoncasale has responded

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 19997
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 4.8


Message 113 of 200 (597722)
12-23-2010 4:45 PM
Reply to: Message 112 by damoncasale
12-23-2010 12:10 PM


damoncasale writes:

So for instance, Job 38:31-33 seems to have an ancient meaning of which we are generally ignorant today.

Here's the passage:

Job 38:31-33 writes:

Can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades,
Or loose the belt of Orion?

Can you bring out Mazzaroth in its season?
Or can you guide the Great Bear with its cubs?

Do you know the ordinances of the heavens?
Can you set their dominion over the earth?

If the above has an ancient meaning that has been lost, then so must much of the rest of Job 38, such as the very next passage:

Job 38:34-35 writes:

Can you lift up your voice to the clouds,
That an abundance of water may cover you?

Can you send out lightnings, that they may go,
And say to you, ‘Here we are!’?

I guess this is trying to tell us something about weather.

--Percy


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

Replies to this message:
 Message 116 by damoncasale, posted 12-23-2010 5:22 PM Percy has responded

  
fletch
Junior Member (Idle past 3675 days)
Posts: 2
Joined: 12-23-2010


Message 114 of 200 (597726)
12-23-2010 5:02 PM
Reply to: Message 93 by Granny Magda
10-27-2010 5:37 PM


Re: Not a Time-Line
A few points and questions. If Genesis is not literal as you say, then the account of Jesus' lineage must not be literal either. Which then means that you just "throw out" anything that you don't want to research enough to get a clear answer.

A quick thing on creative "days". The Hebrew word "yom", which is translated as day in Genesis has many meanings. Hebrew only has about 8,700 words in its vocabulary where as English has about half a million. So translation is not a straight 1 to 1 equation. The word "yom" can mean anything from 12 hours (or the hours of daylight), sundown to sundown (24 hours), a general time period, a point in time, a generation. So in short the creative "day" could have been millions of years. (And probably were). After all we are still in the 7th creative day and its been over 6000 years since that started....


This message is a reply to:
 Message 93 by Granny Magda, posted 10-27-2010 5:37 PM Granny Magda has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 115 by damoncasale, posted 12-23-2010 5:14 PM fletch has not yet responded
 Message 117 by jar, posted 12-23-2010 5:55 PM fletch has not yet responded
 Message 118 by Granny Magda, posted 12-23-2010 6:12 PM fletch has not yet responded
 Message 121 by Omnivorous, posted 12-23-2010 7:10 PM fletch has not yet responded
 Message 126 by arachnophilia, posted 12-23-2010 9:07 PM fletch has not yet responded

  
damoncasale
Member (Idle past 3657 days)
Posts: 41
From: Seffner, FL, USA
Joined: 12-09-2010


Message 115 of 200 (597729)
12-23-2010 5:14 PM
Reply to: Message 114 by fletch
12-23-2010 5:02 PM


Re: Not a Time-Line
A few points and questions. If Genesis is not literal as you say, then the account of Jesus' lineage must not be literal either. Which then means that you just "throw out" anything that you don't want to research enough to get a clear answer.

Non sequitur. Just because *parts* of Genesis are non-literal has nothing to do with Jesus' genealogy. In fact, the genealogies of Genesis are markers that indicate that at least parts of the early chapters *are* literal, and must be so.

I think you're trying to wade into a discussion that's over your head, no offense intended.

Damon


This message is a reply to:
 Message 114 by fletch, posted 12-23-2010 5:02 PM fletch has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 124 by arachnophilia, posted 12-23-2010 8:33 PM damoncasale has not yet responded

  
damoncasale
Member (Idle past 3657 days)
Posts: 41
From: Seffner, FL, USA
Joined: 12-09-2010


Message 116 of 200 (597730)
12-23-2010 5:22 PM
Reply to: Message 113 by Percy
12-23-2010 4:45 PM


Regarding the context of Job 38:31-33, the whole chapter is steeped in metaphor. The earth doesn't have literal "foundations" (verse 4). The sea doesn't have doors (verse 8). Therefore, the references to constellations in verses 31-33 are likewise intended to be understood metaphorically.

The foundation and cornerstone of the earth is the principle of justice. (Compare Ps. 82, especially verse 5.) In much the same way, "the ordinances of heaven" are intended to be understood as the spiritual principles of heaven as symbolized by these constellations.

We *do* know the meanings associated with the constellations from other cultures. For instance, Orion represents kingship. But that doesn't necessarily mean Job intended them to be interpreted the same way.

Damon


This message is a reply to:
 Message 113 by Percy, posted 12-23-2010 4:45 PM Percy has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 119 by Granny Magda, posted 12-23-2010 6:33 PM damoncasale has responded
 Message 125 by arachnophilia, posted 12-23-2010 8:43 PM damoncasale has not yet responded
 Message 132 by Percy, posted 12-24-2010 7:59 AM damoncasale has not yet responded

  
jar
Member
Posts: 33265
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 4.2


Message 117 of 200 (597735)
12-23-2010 5:55 PM
Reply to: Message 114 by fletch
12-23-2010 5:02 PM


Re: Not a Time-Line
fletch writes:

If Genesis is not literal as you say, then the account of Jesus' lineage must not be literal either.

Which Jesus lineage? Many were made up.

fletch writes:

A quick thing on creative "days". The Hebrew word "yom", which is translated as day in Genesis has many meanings. Hebrew only has about 8,700 words in its vocabulary where as English has about half a million. So translation is not a straight 1 to 1 equation. The word "yom" can mean anything from 12 hours (or the hours of daylight), sundown to sundown (24 hours), a general time period, a point in time, a generation. So in short the creative "day" could have been millions of years. (And probably were). After all we are still in the 7th creative day and its been over 6000 years since that started....

Yeah, heard that one before. Unfortunately the Genesis 1 account seems pretty clear that it is talking about plain old 24 hour days.


Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!

This message is a reply to:
 Message 114 by fletch, posted 12-23-2010 5:02 PM fletch has not yet responded

  
Granny Magda
Member (Idle past 205 days)
Posts: 2383
From: UK
Joined: 11-12-2007


Message 118 of 200 (597736)
12-23-2010 6:12 PM
Reply to: Message 114 by fletch
12-23-2010 5:02 PM


Re: Not a Time-Line
Hi fletch and welcome to the forum!

If Genesis is not literal as you say, then the account of Jesus' lineage must not be literal either.

Sorry to cut you off so quickly there, but that is not quite what I think.

I see the Genesis accounts as being both literal and allegorical. I know that sounds a little... odd to modern ears, but I believe that this would have been normal practice to these ancient authors.

What this does exclude is the idea that Genesis is meant to be an absolute and exacting literal history lesson. I suspect that the authors intended to describe events that they essentially saw as having happened (i.e. God made the world, made humanity, etc.), but they felt no qualms about using the details of the story to make the theological points that they were interested in.

I do think that this means that the resulting lineages should be treated with a great deal of scepticism, but this is hardly the only problem in that regard.

A quick thing on creative "days".

Yes, I have heard such Day Age arguments before and I so not find them convincing. As I said before, I think that the whole day-by-day chronology business is more of a literary device than anything. Anyway, I don't think this discussion really belong in this thread. Perhaps you might like to start a new thread to discuss the topic of Day Age Creationism.

Mutate and Survive


On two occasions I have been asked, – "Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?" ... I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question. - Charles Babbage

This message is a reply to:
 Message 114 by fletch, posted 12-23-2010 5:02 PM fletch has not yet responded

  
Granny Magda
Member (Idle past 205 days)
Posts: 2383
From: UK
Joined: 11-12-2007


Message 119 of 200 (597738)
12-23-2010 6:33 PM
Reply to: Message 116 by damoncasale
12-23-2010 5:22 PM


Assumptions Without Foundation
Hi Damon,

I have a problem with the way you seem to be arguing here;

The earth doesn't have literal "foundations" (verse 4). The sea doesn't have doors (verse 8). Therefore, the references to constellations in verses 31-33 are likewise intended to be understood metaphorically.

That doesn't follow.

You know, and I know, that the Earth does not rest upon foundations, but neither of us can say for sure that the author of Job 38 knew that. Indeed, I suspect that that author may well have believed in literal foundations of the earth.

You seem to be arguing in the form where you assume that any inaccuracy in the text must be explained by an allegorical intent. That is a mistake. You can't just assume that a passage is not literal simply because a literal reading would be factually inaccurate. You are excluding the possibility that the passage was meant literally, but was just plain wrong. You appear to be assuming that the text must always be true, one way or another, but never simply wrong.

This whole section of Job is mostly intent on waxing lyrical, but that doesn't mean that the authors aren't using the image of literal worldly foundations or actual stellar constellations as their symbols of choice. All they are trying to do here is repeatedly point out how brilliantly cool God is and how crappy humanity is by comparison. They're just using the device of saying "Can you do perform this amazing feat? No? God can! He's brilliant!", over and over again. The actual examples chosen to illustrate this point are almost immaterial.

Mutate and Survive


On two occasions I have been asked, – "Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?" ... I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question. - Charles Babbage

This message is a reply to:
 Message 116 by damoncasale, posted 12-23-2010 5:22 PM damoncasale has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 120 by damoncasale, posted 12-23-2010 6:55 PM Granny Magda has responded

  
damoncasale
Member (Idle past 3657 days)
Posts: 41
From: Seffner, FL, USA
Joined: 12-09-2010


Message 120 of 200 (597740)
12-23-2010 6:55 PM
Reply to: Message 119 by Granny Magda
12-23-2010 6:33 PM


Re: Assumptions Without Foundation
You seem to be arguing in the form where you assume that any inaccuracy in the text must be explained by an allegorical intent. That is a mistake. You can't just assume that a passage is not literal simply because a literal reading would be factually inaccurate. You are excluding the possibility that the passage was meant literally, but was just plain wrong. You appear to be assuming that the text must always be true, one way or another, but never simply wrong.

Well, I'm coming at Job (moreso Genesis, though) through the lens of other ancient near eastern literature. Creation literature like the Enuma Elish wasn't intended to be understood literally, but rather it had specific metaphorical meanings. It's the same with biblical literature. There are times when it becomes clear that a certain text was not meant to be understood literally, and thus one has to search out what the actual meaning is. Imagery such as the "foundations of the earth" is actually common throughout ancient near eastern literature, so I'm not just choosing to interpret that non-literally without any precedent.

Damon


This message is a reply to:
 Message 119 by Granny Magda, posted 12-23-2010 6:33 PM Granny Magda has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 122 by Granny Magda, posted 12-23-2010 7:32 PM damoncasale has responded

  
Newer Topic | Older Topic
Jump to:


Copyright 2001-2018 by EvC Forum, All Rights Reserved

™ Version 4.0 Beta
Innovative software from Qwixotic © 2021