Saturday, July 14, 2007

Biblical Cosmologies, Part 5: Pentateuchal Portraits – Genesis 1d

In Genesis 1:6-7 the function of the firmament-rakia is identified as to separate “the waters from the waters.” This separation of the waters alludes to the ancient Near Eastern perception of a vast ocean beyond the dome of the heavens. Etiologically, this dome was created through the combat-derived hegemony of the hero-architect (e.g, Marduk in Enuma Elish and Elohim in Genesis 1) and represented the victory of order over chaos. The firmament-rakia of Genesis 1 also functions to separate the watery chaos from created order. Further, rather than beginning with the Judeo-Christian teaching of creation ex nihilio, Genesis 1 begins with the assumption of primordial chaos.

Marks (1971) defines the firmament-rakia of Genesis 1 as follows:

"A translucent dome, like an inverted basin, placed 'in the midst of the waters'
[defining] the spatial boundaries of God's work...The solid 'hammered-out'
firmament restrains 'the waters' of chaos from above and receives its blue color
from them. 'Heaven' is therefore the upper protected limit of created
order."

As indicated in the above statement, the firmament-rakia is a solid dome. It restrains the outside chaos and is positioned “in the midst of the waters.” Unique to Marks is the suggestion that the firmament-rakia receives its blue color from the heavenly ocean. This point is not essential to the Genesis 1 model of the firmament-rakia, but does appear to be consistent with what will be observed in passages drawn later from Ezekiel and Revelation.

In an Evangelical commentary produced by the publishing arm of the Navigators, the following insights are given:

“…the expanse (sometimes called “the firmament”) set up in day two is the
regulator of climate. The ancient Near Eastern cultures viewed the cosmos
as featuring a three-tiered structure consisting of the heavens, the earth and
the underworld. Climate originated from the heavens, and the
[firmament-rakia] was seen as the mechanism that regulated moisture and
sunlight. Though in the ancient world the [firmament-rakia] was generally
viewed as more solid than we would understand it today, it is not the physical
composition that is important but the function. In the Babylonian creation
epic, Enuma Elish, the goddess representing this cosmic ocean, Tiamat, is
divided in half by Marduk to make the waters above and the waters below”
(Walton, Matthews, & Chavalas, 2000).

The Navigators generally support a concordist view of Genesis 1. Condordist models attempt to make Genesis 1 agree with science through such mechanism as day-age creationism. Out of step with the conventional Navigator condordism, the approach exhibited in this commentary is refreshingly scholarly and honest as it seeks to set the pericope against the ancient Near Eastern context.

Though slightly obfuscating the significance of the Genesis 1 model of the cosmos, the commentators do note that the firmament-rakia was viewed as “more solid than we would understand it today.” The commentators also note the cultural dependency of the narrative on Enuma Elish and other such mythological cosmologies.

The final reference to firmament-rakia in Genesis 1 is found in verse twenty. This verse has been used in its English translation as evidence that the firmament-rakia is an “expanse” or a non-solid construct such as the atmosphere or space itself. This verse reads:

וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים--יִשְׁרְצוּ הַמַּיִם, שֶׁרֶץ נֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה; וְעוֹף
יְעוֹפֵף עַל-הָאָרֶץ, עַל-פְּנֵי רְקִיעַ הַשָּׁמָיִם.

And spoke
Elohim, Let swarm the waters, swarming [with] living souls, and flier let lfy
above the land, upon the face of the firmament-rakia of the heavens
.

My translation above differs slightly from that found in several common versions. Most modern English versions read, “…in the open expanse of the heavens.” This translation has been used to justify the reading that the firmament-rakia is not a solid but rather the atmosphere. Hugh Ross and Norman Geisler both argue for such a reading.

The Hebrew literally reads, “…upon the face of the firmament of the heavens.” The picture created is that of a firmament that stands outside of the venue that fowl fly in. This venue is obviously the atmosphere. By implication then one concludes that beyond the atmosphere stands the firmament. The word translated “open” by many modern versions is Hebrew “panay” which literally means “face.” Hence, the passages reads, “upon the face of the firmament-rakia of the heavens.”

This post concludes the Genesis 1 creation narrative. Following posts will address allusions to the firmament-rakia in the Deluge narratives and in other Pentateuchal pericopes.

Marks, J. "The Book of Genesis." Part of Charles Laymon, Ed., "The Interpreter's One-Volume Commentary on the Bible," Abingdon Press: 1971.

Walton, J., Matthews, V., Chavalas, M. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament. Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove: 2000.

25 comments:

Imigrante said...

Rock 'n' Roll
http://imigrante.blogspot.com

Andrew T. said...

I note, Peter, that you always make the point that Biblically the Creator arranges entropic chaos into rhythmic order in be-Reishit 1.

But is that perspective so far from the truth, scientifically? Post-Big Bang, the entire universe was filled with nothing but disembodied atoms drifting through the void. But at some point, almost all the matter in the universe drifted together into well-organized, solid masses (mostly stars); in the vaccuum of space, there is only about 1 atom per square yard or so (mostly hydrogen). The law of gravity alone does not sufficiently explain how, at some point, any atomic matter from the Big Bang could have started compiling rather than continuing to drift (the force of attraction between atoms and tiny amounts of mass drifting apart, even over billions of years, is negligible, and should never be able to eventually form stars).

Daniel said...

Peter,

I don't know if you ever actually read Walt Brown's Book. I know I recommended it a number of times. In any case, there is an explanation of raqia that makes it the continental plate. I take this up in my latest paper: http://www.torahtimes.org/An%20Integrated%20Model%20of%20the.pdf:

I read Dr. Brown's updated section on live bacteria found in supposedly 25 million year old Dominican Amber. The DNA experts insists that DNA cannot possibly survive more than 10,000 years, and charge the researches with contamination. I think that the more parsimonious view is that both sides are correct. Live bacteria was recovered from the Amber, and DNA still does not last more than 10,000 years. All we have to do is rid oursevles of the 25 million year assumption.

Daniel said...

Peter,
I have to chide you for flattering the Navigators. We had a Navigator speaker at Ft. Wilderness, and he was a six day creationist.
The NAV PRESS is responsible for the "Message" bible by Eugene Peterson, where Genesis 1:2 is rendered "soup of nothingness". Reminds me of Miller's Amio Acid Experiments, which failed to produce the requied L-isomer Amio Acids. The mixture was quite racimistic.
In any case, the bias of NAV PRESS and its "Message" translator is clearly evident. It is also clear that the Hebrew means no such thing as "soup of nothingness".
There is no point in debating ancient myths when apostate Christians are busy making up modern lies and myths like the "Message" translation.
If you tell a lie often enough, people will believe it.
By the way, Hugh Ross's latest book is also published by NAV PRESS.

I read the paper on Naturalistic Methodology. The science of "origins" is a historical subject, and uniformitarianism does not apply. Furthermore, the Scripture makes it clear that God interfered in the natural course of events in the past, i.e. creation, the fall, the flood and its aftermath. He also maintains the universe. Naturalistic Methodology is merely the handmaiden of atheism.
Dont get me wrong, I believe in cause and effect and natural forces, but one must also factor in invervention into those forces by God. Without including God in the equation, and his revealed interference in the natural processes, NM will surely lead one wrong.
I suggest that an exclusive commitment to only natural forces is a kind of idolatry, i.e. the nature made me idolatry that does not acknowledge the creator God.

PeterS said...

Hello Andrew,

You make a very interesting observation about the parallel movement from chaos to order in the Bing Bang and the Bereshiyt models. Gerald Shcroeder, an observant Jewish astrophysicist, in his Science of God and in Genesis and the Big Bang posits a similar concord between Genesis 1 and Big-Bang theory.

This concord, though, is confessedly very superficial. There are far more disparities between Genesis 1 and the Big Bang than congruences. Take, for example, the time order of first appearance in Genesis 1: water, firmament, land, plants, sun & heavenly lights, water & sky life, land life, and man. Big Bang cosmology posits the same items in this order: heavenly lights, sun, land, water, no firmament, water life, land life, sky life, and man. These incongruences outnumber the congruences.

One of my well-worn drums is the point that one should not attempt to concern Genesis 1, or any biblical text, with modern scientific questions and issues. Read in context, Genesis 1 addresses questions that are outside of science. Read in tandem with science, it is found that Genesis 1 contains error and misinformation. The misinformed attempt to concord Genesis with science is a sure way to intellectual dishonesty as one will have to either bend science to agree with a reading of Genesis (young-earth creationism and progressive creationism) or one will have to bend Genesis to agree with science (progressive creationism).

PeterS said...

Hello Daniel,

I question whether you understand the paper on Methodological Naturalism (MN). The comments that you make apply much better to Metaphysical Naturalism: the belief that nature or the material world is all that exists. This paper discuses the use of MN as a means of obtaining scientific knowledge but not as the only means to knowledge or as a denial of non-physical existence.

Deluge geologists, if I can dignify any by such an epithet, use MN and uniformitarianism by default. That is, they attempt to explain geological observations by applying what is known from empirical science about hydraulics, radio active decay, and catastrophic deposition. Brown, for example, attempts to use liquefication as a model to explain the geological sorting of fossils. As evidence for his model he cites a research experiment done in Loma Linda. When, however, a deluge theorist finds it impossible to use MN or uniformitarian principles, she will then propose, ad hoc, the intervention of God. A good example of this is the proposition of hyper-radioactive decay as a means to explain radiometric dating yields--a proposition that leads to a myriad of more ad hoc propositions to explain away the heat dilemma, etc.

My point: MN and uniformitarianism is the core of empirical science. Without these assumptions, one is left with a universe that is arbitrary and devoid of predictability. To utilize these assumptions is not be an idolater unless one considers Brown and Humphreys to be idolaters for their use of MN and uniformitarianism. MN and uniformitarianism are the handmaidens of creationism too, though, creationism relies on ad hoc interventions to fill in the gaps.

One of the points in Sara's MN paper is the tendency of theistic believers to "give up" and posit God as the solution to a gap in human knowledge. Essentially, a gap or an area of ignorance is found. The believer then states, "It must have been God!" and then disavows further attempts to explain the gap through MN. How sad!

Daniel said...

**A good example of this is the proposition of hyper-radioactive decay as a means to explain radiometric dating yields--a proposition that leads to a myriad of more ad hoc propositions to explain away the heat dilemma, etc.**

Accelerated Radioactive decay is a FACT proved by the RATE project. It is entirely legitimate to say that God took care of the heat problem. This is not ad hoc because of the prior FACT of accelearated radioactive decay. Because of the prior fact, the heat must somehow have disapated without vaporizing the rock facies. That would be deductive reasoning from a given fact. It is a legitimate field of investigation to try and determine what God used to take care of the heat problem. It is also legitimate to attribute the solution to God. It is no different than attributing a timely donation to a worthy cause to God when you know very well that a human made the donation.
My only critique of creationists is their sometimes reluctance (after the facts are established) to state un unsolved problem without attributing its solution to God. Attributing a solution to God is a proposition that will always be true, even if it turns out later that he used something else to accomplish it. The reason is that God is overseeing the deterministic forces and final outcome of the process. So it follows that he is managing it.
God did it. God did w, w did y, and y did z. Leave out the w, x, and y, and we say God did z. God took care of the heat problem. The w, x, and y he used to do it are a matter to be figured out later, if further evidence of how he did it surfaces.


What makes an argument ad hoc is when the premise that leads to the need for the ad hoc arumgent is in fact speculation. For example, the suggestion that dark matter exists is ad hoc because the premise of the big bang is in fact not true.

Once again you are engaging in the art of trying to discredit creationist geologists by ad hominum attack on their credibility. However, it is the atheistic evolutionists that fit the paradigm of being the professional liars.


Another good example of ad hoc arumentation is the attempt to explain away out-of place fossils by evolutionists by remixing and overthrusts. All these aditional arguments are ad hoc because they are based on the assumption that evolution happened. The evolutionary speculation is not a proven fact. That is what makes the attempt to explain away contrary evidence "ad hoc". "Ad hoc" is really another term for "excuses" offered to support pure speculation.

Even if the facts warrant it, Naturalistic Methodology discriminates against divine attribution by defaulting to an explanation based on naturalistic forces. Uniformitarian forces may be present for a given process, but this does not mean said uniformitarian forces are the correct explanation of the fact. Case and point: continental drift. Speculating that it happens by the slow conveyor belt speculation is a NM explanation. However, saying that God did it rapidly is not. However the facts point to the later and not the former. We see that the folding and compression of rock layers is perpedicular to the direction of force and that it was by inertial compression and not by slow pushing from one end, which would have crushed and pulverized everything. Furthermore, the sediments has to be in an unsolidified, still pliable state for this to happen.
Walt Brown makes a good arument for some of the w, x's ,and y's of continental drift, but it is still valid to attribute any additional needed causes or management to God.
Even Baumgartner's CPT has some valid points. It requires more heat managagement by God, and it is entirely reasonable that God said let it heat here, but not here, and let it cool here, but not here. It would not be going too far to say that God micro-managed many things, but also that God uses the best tool, or most efficent tool to accomplish his purpose. And evolution is not that tool, because evolution postulates billion year cycles of death and decay. That's very inefficient. That's a god that powerless againt death. That's not the sort of God to believe in.

There is a concept in calculus called the 'pinching theorem'. If two equations contrain a solution to a third equation between them, i.e. pinch the third unknown, then you know that the solution lies between the two known solutions. You may not know how to solve the unknown directly, but the pinching of other facts says that the solution exists. Likewise, the physical facts and the divinve revelation in the bible constrain the solution. Many of the x's so constrained are not directly solvable, other than saying that God solves it.

Where Naturalistic Methodology runs into trouble is when it tries to explain things by naturalistic mechanisms where the Scripture reveals that God was directly invloved.

PeterS said...

Okay, I brought this up... I did not want to get into a discussion of evolution and natural history at this time, but I certainly invited this. I do not have the time nor the materials to reply to all of your points. You are welcome to reply as you see fit, but I will reply with the immediate resources that I have at hand.
I was elated when I first encountered the RATE results. I was overjoyed to read of carbon 14 in coal deposits, helium stores in uranium, and other such "evidences" of accelerated decay. This rapture was short lived as I soon encountered the "other side"--the counter arguments from scientists who are not committed to biblical inerrancy or young-earth creationism. I suspect that you have read some of the counter statements or interpretations of RATE's findings. If you have not, I highly suggest that you do this.
The fact that the meager findings of RATE have been so trumped and ballooned into such significance is evidence of how scientifically weak the findings and evidences actually are. There are so many inconsistencies and ad hoc requirements for the accelerated nuclear decay models to work, that it is only by a blind commitment to the model that a person can maintain allegiance to it. Sample inconsistency: accelerated decay evidenced by helium dissipation vis-a-vis the incomplete decay of carbon 14 in Precambrian crystal. On the one hand RATE proposes accelerate decay in the uranium samples yet on the other hand RATE is eager to point out that millions of years of decay *could not* have happened because trace carbon 14 is evidence in Precambrian crystal.
What mechanism would allow for such disparities in decay rates? Really, there are none. Ad hoc....ad hoc....ad hoc. Not to mention that there are purely geological means through which carbon 14 can be produced as a decay byproduct nor to mention the absolutely absurd nature of Humphrey's unrepeatable uranium analysis. Please see http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/helium/zircons.html for a thorough exposure of the inadequacy of RATE's flagship field evidence for accelerated decay.
Dan, you acknowledge the ability of God to use secondary means. We agree on this. I see secondary or what may be called deterministic means as God's activity through providence. What makes God any less God (or "a god" as you propose) if evolution is the providential way used? Does such a God have to be minimized into a deistic or even immoral pathos? I see so much grandeur in a view of God that allows evolution to be the primary vehicle of created order. I have already touched on this in previous posts.

Andrew T. said...

Hello Peter,

"This concord, though, is confessedly very superficial. There are far more disparities between Genesis 1 and the Big Bang than congruences. Take, for example, the time order of first appearance in Genesis 1: water, firmament, land, plants, sun & heavenly lights, water & sky life, land life, and man. Big Bang cosmology posits the same items in this order: heavenly lights, sun, land, water, no firmament, water life, land life, sky life, and man. These incongruences outnumber the congruences."

A few criticisms of your comparison:

-As you would agree, the Biblical metaphor of "waters" does not refer to literal water
-The ancient Semitic understanding of a "firmament" has obviously been superseded by our advanced and educated understanding of empty distant space, and in turn we're able to explain the terms even more fluidly in our malleable English language; not that I disregard the value of such passages out of hand, as empty space according to Einsteinian physics is a sort of fabric, with matter constituting something like ripples or disturbances in that fabric
-I might be wrong, but weren't stars (like the Sun) counted as one of the "heavenly lights"?
-The distinction between "land" and "planet" in this respect, especially as rendered in ancient semitic languages, is probably negligible enough to disregard

PeterS said...

Hello Andrew,

Yes, metaphorically, “water” or “waters” are used to signify such ideas as peoples (joyim-nations). However, there is no compelling reason for which to make the reference to waters (mayim) in Bereshiyt 1 metaphorical. The cultural, mythical, and literary context work well with literal water.

Light exits from day one, but notice, the creation of the stars is specifically referenced on day four “w’et hakochavim” (and the stars). Hence, day four chronology reveals the coming into being of the sun, the moon, and the stars after the Earth had come into being. If Bereshiyt 1 is taken to be literal chronology and it is evaluated against the backdrop of scientific chronology, it does not present much concord.

When I was immersed in Orthodox Judaism, I had little difficulty with the inconsistencies between Berehiyt 1 and science. At that time I believed in evolution, and I accepted mainstream science. The approach to Bereshiyt that I maintained while in Judaism contrasts heavily with the one that I was able to maintain in Protestant Christianity. The reason for this difference is obvious to me. Protestant Christianity is bound to the text as it is. It is not plugged into a living tradition and community of faith that inherits a malleable reading of the text. Judaism offers this: a malleable and vibrant reading of the Text. In fact, Rabbinic Judaism so often humanizes the Text while Protestant Christianity is left with the dead letter. While in Judaism, I was comfortable with genre criticism of Bereshiyt 1—considering it an anti-idolatrous polemic rather than historical narrative.

I appreciate your openness throughout our discussions. You have been willing to consider heterogeneous ideas and open your own viewpoints up to scrutiny.

Andrew T. said...

Yes, I do consider much of be-Reishit to be a protest against Babylonian/Sumerian ideas.

The primary function of the Beit-Din is to adapt halakha to the situation of the present day.

Tandi said...

Hello Peter,

May I add this to the mix for the consideration of your dichotomous neural network?

It is improper exegesis to force pagan beliefs into the biblical text simply because of linguistic similarities. ...The Bible has the right to define its own words and concepts; pagan myths are not the controlling factor of biblical interpretation....

We may explain some..... similarities as inspired polemics against pagan beliefs. In other words, rather than adapting pagan myths to Israel’s own flavor of religious bias, inspired writers consciously rejected pagan ideas.... Scriptural evidence indicates that the Israelites were familiar with pagan religions. For instance, the Pentateuch contains prohibitions from such specific idolatrous practices as human sacrifices (Deuteronomy 12:31), and boiling a kid in its mother’s milk (Exodus 23:19; 34:26; Deuteronomy 14:21; ...In fact, Ugaritic texts mention that the rite of boiling a kid in its mother’s milk was an acceptable means of approaching a god (Archer, 1974, p. 179). The mention of such specific religious rites indicates the Israelites’ familiarity with pagan practices, from which they were to abstain....

Along with its distinguished literary quality, the Bible’s ethical and spiritual concepts are unparalleled by pagan sacred literature. For instance, the gods of pagan myths are guilty of degenerate behavior of all sorts; the true God is infinite in purity. Practitioners of pagan religions constantly worked to pacify their angry gods; worshippers of [YHWH], who was quick to forgive, received undeserved blessings from His gracious hands (Psalm 32:1-5). Thus, the similarities between Biblical and pagan literature are eclipsed by the enormous differences.

Actually, there is no better indicator of the Bible’s inspiration than to put it side by side with its pagan counterparts. Such comparative literary analyses bolster our conviction that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God...” (2 Timothy 3:16).

Excerpted from Pagan Myths and the Bible, Garry K. Brantley

http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2017

Daniel said...

Peter, see my reply at:

http://torahtimes.blogspot.com/

Daniel said...

Hi Peter,
See a good rebuttal of your theory that the Gilgemesh epic has priority over the biblical account by Jonathan Sarfati.

http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs2004/0329gilgamesh.asp.

PeterS said...

Hello Tandi:

Brantley states:

It is improper exegesis to force pagan beliefs into the biblical text simply because of linguistic similarities. ...The Bible has the right to define its own words and concepts; pagan myths are not the controlling factor of biblical interpretation....

The key word here is "force." In discussing Genesis 1, one does not need to "force" antecedent pagan mythologies on the text, the text assumes their existence with variegated assimilation traditions within Israel.

It is also wrong for a reader to "force" Genesis 1 to address questions of modern science. Actually, it is not wrong, it is criminal to take Genesis 1 as a source of modern scientific exigency.

When read exegetically, the text offers many connections to pagan mythology.

Andrew T. said...

Peter:

The Biblical authors were monotheists, not pagans (staunchly anti-pagan, as a matter of fact). What part of that do you, with your thick skull, not understand?

PeterS said...

Hello Andrew,

I do not posit that the authors of Genesis 1 were pagans. I do believe that they used the current mythological platforms and genres as a platform from which to deliver their ideas.

I do not consider the authors of Genesis 1 to be monotheistic. Rather, I consider monolatry to be the status quo at the time.

Andrew T. said...

Gee, you believe that people who pled for the undoing of all pagan forms of worship used it as a platform?

Andrew T. said...

And I note how you referred to Genesis 1 having multiple "authors". As if more than a single person would have been required to write that short, extremely broad passage.

PeterS said...

Hello Andrew,

Genesis 1 was not written in a vacuum. It was written against a specific historical backdrop and, just as important, in a specific genre.

Ancient Israelite faith demonstrates a surprising degree of syncretism with pagan forms of worship. Israelite monolatry did not decry all forms and rituals from paganism. Later Judaism after the Hellenistic period displays a much more aggressive and historically redactive approach to paganism, but it would be anachronistic to project such an approach into Israelite faith systems of the pre-Exilic and Exilic eras.

Examples of analogues between Israelite ritual and worship are many. The tripartite layout of the Israelite sanctuary--viewed as the intersection between a heavenly type and an earthly priesthood--contains obvious roots in Phoenician and Egyptian analogues. A seven-branched menorah indicative of the seven "wandering stars" has roots in Sumerian-Babylonian ritual objects and lore. Tzit-tziyot are not unique to Israel--style parallels exist amongst the Assyrians and others. The festival cycle and two-tiered termini for the year (spring and fall) are mirrored in the Babylonian spring-based year and the Canaanite fall-based year; spring fertility rights involving the offering of yearling lambs with blood-painted lintels provide precedent for the Israelite Pesakh and Chag Matzot; etc.

There are numerous, literally numerous, other analogues. It would be wrong to say that the authors of the Pentateuch rejected all paganism. Many forms were adopted and altered to Israelites interests.

I do not consider the Pentateuch to be the product of a single author--other than possibly a single priestly editor-redactor who ingenuously weaved together the final production. Genesis 1 was likely composed by a single author. I should not have referred to the "authors" of Genesis 1.

Andrew T. said...

"Genesis 1 was not written in a vacuum. It was written against a specific historical backdrop and, just as important, in a specific genre."

Obviously.

"Examples of analogues between Israelite ritual and worship are many. The tripartite layout of the Israelite sanctuary--viewed as the intersection between a heavenly type and an earthly priesthood--contains obvious roots in Phoenician and Egyptian analogues."

This is true.

The Netzarim promote this fact, that the design of the Beit ha-Miqdash, while absolutely one-of-a-kind historically, did not develop in a vacuum. Go to netzarim.co.il/Shared/Xn-Misojudaized Scriptures.htm and click on the "be-Midbar 29.7" link for this.

The difference between the pagans and Israel is that the pagans worshiped many elohim and were promiscuous, and the Israelites worshiped one Elohim and were ethical.

"A seven-branched menorah indicative of the seven "wandering stars" has roots in Sumerian-Babylonian ritual objects and lore."

In ancient times, numbers, especially 1, 2, 3, 7, 10, and 12, were used to represent certain concepts such as creation and unity. Pursuant to this, ancient alphabets were all numerical. 7 was viewed as among the most profound, and the candelabra of seven branches as a design unique to Judaism.

"Tzit-tziyot are not unique to Israel--style parallels exist amongst the Assyrians and others."

Rarely used, if I'm not mistaken, though clearly depicted in carvings, pre-Israelite "tzitzyot" did exist. If I correctly remember, the design of such "proto-tzitzyot" were different, with vastly different religious connotations from a constant physical reminder to serve the Creator. The most important distinguishing factor of all, however, was the blue thread intrinsic to Hebrew tzitzit.

"The festival cycle and two-tiered termini for the year (spring and fall) are mirrored in the Babylonian spring-based year and the Canaanite fall-based year; spring fertility rights involving the offering of yearling lambs with blood-painted lintels provide precedent for the Israelite Pesakh and Chag Matzot; etc."

The dating and intent of Pesakh and Khag ha-Matzot was to celebrate the Exodus from Egypt.

"It would be wrong to say that the authors of the Pentateuch rejected all paganism."

We see clearly in the earlier texts of the Bible that the Israelites in general had a tough time rejecting idolatry. Later Beit-Dins obviously took good care of that.

"I do not consider the Pentateuch to be the product of a single author--other than possibly a single priestly editor-redactor who ingenuously weaved together the final production. Genesis 1 was likely composed by a single author. I should not have referred to the "authors" of Genesis 1."

I consider the JEDP theory authoritative, and that before even the proto-Torah documents were written, there was a lengthy tradition of oral transmission. I believe that Mosheh Rabeinu was the editor of the final product, as explicitly mentioned in the texts.

Andrew T. said...

Hello Peter,

No reply?

Andrew T. said...

Interesting clip discussing origins of human life:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRf_0ymAWog

PeterS said...

Hello Andrew,

Hey, I do not mean to ignore you. I just cannot always reply as quickly as my mind thinks or think as quickly as I want to reply.

You often surprise me. I am surprised by the comfort that you exhibit with a biblically semi-conservative approach and an informed approach about broader issues. Sure, I see that you bend the broader issues such as pagan analogues in your favor, but I still am surprised to read in your replies an amalgam of agreement and animosity toward liberal scholarship. By the way, this is not meant to be a back-handed compliment. It is a compliment.

Maybe I should not be overwhelmingly surprised. For several years I was aware of such parallels and possible antecedents. I was able to assimilate them into my conservative thought schemas in such a way as to avoid having to accommodate my thinking to them. Though, the eventual weight of such information eventually caused disequilibration and propelled the reprogramming of conservative constructs.

The seven-branched candelabra is not unique to Judaism. Analogues have been found in
Sumerian-Babylonian religious ritual with an apparent symbolism connected to the place of the seven “wandering stars.”

Your approach to the JEDP is unusual but fully unique. Several conservative Protestants have noted the “toldot” arrangement of Bereshiyt and have proposed that there were “toldot” tablets used in the Mosaic composition of the Pentateuch. The “toldot” tablet idea, though, differs widely from the JEDP hypothesis (or its variants) as it deems Moshe as the eventual editor-redactor of the Pentateuch. I have read several Orthodox and Conservative Jewish thinkers, rabbis, and scholars who accept conventional JEDP/documentary ideas. Some consider Moshe to be the initiator of a legal process that culminated in the codification of legal corpi by later batei din.

Thank you for the Yirmeyahu link. I hope to addres this soon.

PeterS said...

Hello Andrew,

Yirmeyahu is to be commended for his general approach to science. He accepts the overall framework of mainstream cosmology and the natural history of earth including the theory of evolution. He seeks to understand the Creator as consistent, logical, and the utilizer of consistent, logical laws that mirror the Creators character. I agree with him on several aspects of his approach to science, and I think that he does better than many many Christian thinkers in his synthesis of theism and science.

Yirmeyahu's begins his session with a brief explanation of Y-Chromosome Adam (YCAdam) and Mitochondrial and X-Chromosome Eve (MTEve). I have to admit that I expected him to approach this topic in a way similar to Christian apologists like Ross and Rana in Who was Adam? Such approaches to YCAdam and MTEve assume that these honorific individuals are static in human phylogeny. Ross, Rana, et. al. treat MTEve as the actual first woman of homo sapiens sapiens and YCAdam as Noah (in the "bottle-neck event" of an anthropologically universal flood). However, YCAdam and MTEve are relative individuals--subject to change depending on the the number of humans included.

Yirmeyahu, fortunately, does not fall into the fixity of YCAdam and MTEve. In fact, he attempts to use the verbs of Genesis 1 to demonstrate the possibility that Genesis anticipates the chronological separation between these individuals. Though I consider his eisegesis a stretch, I must admit that I appreciate the Judaic-Rabbinic ability to find non-literal meanings in the biblical text.

The stretch that I refer to above also is reminiscent of the fact that I consider his utilization of Genesis 1 to be beyond the intent of the passage. It would be interesting, though, if he could demonstrate that earlier Jewish readers and interpreters noticed a similar pattern in the text.