Re: Gen 1-11 as history
Sat, 14 Aug 1999 11:44:49 +0000

At 08:21 AM 08/14/1999 -0400, George Murphy wrote:
Chapters 12 & following take place in a clearly defined
>geography While geographical details are generally peripheral in 1-11.

I would disagree with this.

In Genesis 2 we have 4 rivers named: Pishon Gihon Tigris and Euphrates. We
have Eden as a locality, we have the land of Havilah and the land of
Ethiopia named. Two of the rivers and Ethiopia (Cush) are real places.

In Genesis 4 we have the land of Nod which is east of Eden.

In Genesis 10 we have a possible reference to Cyprus and Tartessos; Babel,
Erech, Accad, Calneh Shinar, Ninevah, Rehoboth, and Calah are all cities
named in this passage. Caanan is defined as the boundaries of Gerar, Gaza,
Sodom and Gomorah, Admah Zebooim and Lashar. Peoples are mentioned living
from Mesha to Mt. Sephar.

In Genesis 11 we have Shinar again as well as Ur and Haran.

Now the fact that we may not know the definitions and localities of all
these items does not negate the fact that geography did play a fair role in
Genesis 1-11. Our ignorance of the locations of some of these sites is not
sufficient justifictation to mythologize them.

Many of these, including the Tigris and Euphrates, Ethipia, CAanan,
Ninevah, Erech Accad, Cyprus and Tartessos are known places and clearly
defined geography. To say that there is not much geographic information in
Genesis 1-11 flies in the face of the list I compiled rather rapidly above.

The people in
>12 & ff have real characters, do distinctive things, and _say_ things.
OTOH, we are
>really given nothing about what kind of person Noah was except that he was
>& he doesn't get to say anything during the flood story at all.

All that could indicate is that the story is ancient and the details lost.
It doesn't mean that Noah is fictional. Narmer, the first Egyptian Pharoah
is also not mentioned as having said anything. His deeds are recorded but
no speeches. We are told he was a great man but not much more than that.
And Narmer is a real historical person. Your criteria would place Narmer
in the doubtful category. Poor Narmer doesn't get to say anything in his
accounts either. That doesn't mean we can ignore him. The artists who
painted the caves in Upper Paleolithic Europe have even less of a record.
We don't know their names, we don't know what they did. No one tells us
what they said. Yet they were real people--nameless and facesless as they
are. And there were even people who didn't paint and left NO trace of their
existence. They too were real people. I know nothing of what my great
grandfather said. I know a few things that he did. By your criterion we
might discount his existence as well. And I know nothing about my
Great-great-grandfather except his name- I guess he doesn't exist either.
Thus I must conclude that it is as you suspected, I have no ancestry and
was hatched from under the lettuce leaf. :-)

It seems to me you are presenting a very poor criterion for being a real
person. And while Paul and I disagree on how to solve the problems Genesis
1-11 creates, at least we agree that most people took this as history over
the centuries and to me that brings the implication that this was meant as
history. Thus it is either true history or false history, but it was an
attempt at history.

Foundation, Fall and Flood
Adam, Apes and Anthropology

Lots of information on creation/evolution