Re: The Genesis Factor
Mon, 24 May 1999 18:27:27 EDT


You wrote

<< On what do you base your claim that the order described in Gn.1 may
be lightly ignored? Is there a more valid reason beside that of
satisfying the demands of the god Evolution? >>

It is not just evolution that tells us the order of events is scientifically
wrong. In Gen 1, before the dry land appears on day 3, the earth is covered
with a Deep ocean (Gen 1:2). There are reasons both from astronomy and
geology to believe that when the earth was formed it began at temperatures
too high to have an ocean, or indeed any water at all upon it.

On the other hand, when you leave Gen 1 in its ancient Near Eastern context,
it makes all the sense in the world that it began with a Deep ocean (a
"Tehom", which is a proper noun not derived from but nevertheless related to
"Tiamat", the watery goddess of a Babylonian creation account called Enuma
elish). When you then run into the solid sky and the ocean above that sky
(not a canopy) on day 2, you have even more reasons to see that the account
is following the "science" of the day.

In addition there is an important reason for believing that Gen 1 is related
to Enuma elish. There is a parallel between Gen 1 and E.e., which is not
generic, namely the splitting of the water. As W.G. Lambert pointed out in a
paper which aimed at 'deBabylonizing" Gen 1 as much as possible, the parallel
of splitting the water in a creation account is unique to Gen 1 and Enuma
elish. Many creation stories around the world have the sky split off from
the earth; but, only Gen 1 and Enuma elish have primeval water split in two.

The significance of this for your question is simply this: Gen 1 follows the
order of events in Enuma elish. As E. A. Speiser wrote in the Anchor Bible
commentary, "the order of events is the same, which is enough to preclude any
likelihood of coincidence." He went on to point out that the similarity of
the order of events was recognized by conservatives as well as liberals, and
he reprinted the chart given by the conservative Heidel. This chart notes
eight consecutive events:
1. E.e. begins with divine spirit and cosmic matter being coexistent and
coeternal. Gen 1 begins with divine spirit and cosmic matter, but the divine
exists independently and creates the cosmic matter.
2. E.e. has primeval chaos: Ti'amat enveloped in darkness. Gen 1 has the
earth a desolate waste, with darkness covering the deep (tehom).
3. E.e. has Light emanating from the gods. Gen 1 has Light created.
[I want to add here that "day" and "night" in the sense of a 24-hour
cycle are mentioned in E.e. before the creation of the sun.]
4. E.e. has the creation of the firmament. Gen 1 has the creation of the
5. E.e. has the creation of dry land. Gen 1 has the creation of dry land.
6. E.e. has the creation of the luminaries. Gen 1 has the creation of the
7. E.e. has the creation of man. Gen 1 has the creation of man.
8. E.e. has the gods resting and celebrating. Gen 1 has God resting and
sanctifying the seventh day.

Although particular objections could be made at several points this basic
similarity of order is so compelling that even Merrill Ungar, who was an
arch-conservative and teacher at Dallas Theological Seminary for decades,
said in his Archaeology of the Old Testament, "However, in one aspect the
similarity is of such a nature that it could hardly be accidental. This is
in the matter of the _the sequence of events_. The order might easily have
been altered with regard to the creation of the firmament, the dry land, the
luminaries and man. It seems certain that there is some connection between
the two accounts."

No one supposes that Enuma elish was following Genesis. But, the splitting
of the water, the solid firmament, etc suggests that Genesis was following
the tradition in Enuma elish (not the 7 tablets of E.e. per se. but the
tradition behind them). Further, if the events in Gen 1 were the original
revelation and pagan creation stories like Enuma elish were just corrupted
versions (as "conservatives" like to rationalize) , there would be numerous
examples of creation stories around the world with a splitting of the
primeval waters and the order of events we see in Gen 1 and E.e. But, in
fact, Gen1 and E.e. are the only creation stories with these similarities.

The evidence from astronomy, geology, biology and even the Bible (when it is
interpreted IN CONTEXT) indicates that God accommodated his revelation in Gen
1 to the science of the times and the tradition in Enuma elish in particular.
It is the THEOLOGY in Gen 1, which stands in radical contrast to the
polytheism, magic, myth, and animism in Enuma elish, that sets Genesis apart
and marks it as inspired-- not the "science" and not the order of events.

Yours for the sake of the Truth,

Paul S.