Re: 'ish vs. 'adam

Garry DeWeese (deweese@ucsu.Colorado.EDU)
Wed, 5 Jun 1996 12:28:17 -0600 (MDT)

I'm not sure what to make of your reply, Dick:

On Tue, 4 Jun 1996, Dick Fischer wrote:

> Ah, it's refreshing to see that no one wants to give an inch. Of course, your
> reading of Scripture is without flaw. It's the biologists that have it all
> wrong. This posting should be on Talk Origins where it would do some good.
> Think of all those infidels deceived by Darwinism who could use these
> hermeneutic devices to make pen and ink changes to their science textbooks.
I was impressed with the generally high level of the discussion between
you and Glenn; I'm puzzled by this sarcasm. Neither I nor any thinking
person I know claims a flawless interpretation.

> Umberto Cassuto is the author of one of the finest Genesis Commentaries ever
> written. When it came to the flood, all men died. Where the Bible alludes
> to flood survivors, Cassuto pointed that out too. It shocked and disturbed
> me. How could the Bible be contradictory? It took awhile before it finally
> sank in. Cassuto was merely reporting what he believed the Bible said. If
> there was internal inconsistency it wasn't his fault, look to the author.
> Cassuto wasn't a defender of the Bible, he was a translator whose skill was
> superior to the text!

This is strange. How could a translator's skill be superior to the text
he is translating? I don't understand your meaning.

> I'm not as gifted as he was, and I doubt you are either.
No, never claimed to be. But Cassuto (I have his commentary) is not
claiming to be God's revelation. Scripture does.

> I'm sorry, but your infallible interpretation runs afoul some commonly known
> biological data. Either you are wrong, or you are right and the Bible is wrong.
> Take your pick.

Again, I'm unclear as to your meaning. Do you think I claim an infallible
interpretation? Never! Or are you saying that on my interpretation the
Bible is infallible? How would you know that, seeing as that has not come
up before? But if that is your meaning, it would be right: I do believe
in the infallibility of Scripture.

But here's my major disappointment with your response. It is a central
claim of your view that 'ish and 'adam have meanings quite different from
each other and together their meanings are quite different from the
traditional understanding. Given your revisionist claim, the burden of
proof is on you to demonstrate from the semantics of biblical language
that your meaning is to be preferred. You have offered no evidence for
this, so far as I can see, other than (i) glossing certain texts on the
basis of your claim, and (ii) tacitly claiming superiority for your claim
because it makes your overall view more coherent.

Now merely making an assertion, or making it many times over and very
loudly, is not the same as offering evidence for it. Coherence is
important to a final theory, but the evidence must come first. Why
should I believe your proposed meaning for 'ish and 'adam is correct? I
need to see evidence, hear an argument, not repetitions of the assertion.
I made four points questioning your claim.

Someone (I deleted his post) had cited Harris, Archer & Waltke in
opposition to your proposed meanings for 'ish and 'adam. Your response, I
felt, was inadequate; you dismissed them as "theologians" and thus not to
be considered seriously. My first two points were in response to that.
You have not answered this argument.

Then I cited additional studies by relevant scholars which disagree with
your proposed meanings for 'ish and 'adam. You have not responded to

Finally I cited Gn 2:23 as being IMO fatal to your claim. (BTW, see
Cassuto on this verse.) But you have not responded to this either.

Dick, you worked long and hard during the past weeks to lay out your
position carefully. I appreciate that. Now I assume that the testy tone
of your response to me was perhaps due to fatigue. Certainly you
expected your view to be critiqued. But if, in response to an argument,
the best you can do is respond with sarcasm, then I can only assume you
have no solid counterargument to offer.

Garry DeWeese